Family-owned FM Office Express, has been in business for 24 years and has been successful in the market by offering a wide breadth of products and services for its customers, including office supplies, furniture and industrial supplies. Since its beginning, FM’s market coverage has expanded across upstate New York, experiencing both organic growth and growth through acquisition.
The dealership has expanded with the addition of divisions selling office furniture and industrial products. “We became a contract furniture dealer with the purchase of a furniture dealership here in Rochester,” says Fabricio Morales, president and CEO. Not long after that FM purchased a Steelcase dealership in Albany, New York, and then last year the Steelcase dealership in Syracuse.
“We have a showroom and warehouse in Rochester and a contract furniture showroom as well,” says Morales. “So we have two outlets in Rochester.” There are also showrooms and warehouses in Albany and Syracuse, as well as a sales office in Brooklyn.
Improving the customer experience is the company’s main goal, along with increasing the quality of its product offering. To that end, another division, also based in Rochester, employs a separate sales force to sell industrial supplies. “That side of the business has been growing,” says Morales.
The success of both industrial product sales and furniture sales combined to produce positive sales growth last year. Interest among furniture and industrial supply customers contributed to that growth, and Morales is pursuing this opportunity in every possible way. “Both furniture and industrial supply customers have shown an interest in expanding the relationship and including office supplies with their orders,” he says.
“The greatest opportunity for me is to have a good balance of cross selling across recurring customers,” he says. He encourages salespeople to talk up the availability of office products to industrial and furniture customers and supports their sales efforts in every way possible. More important are the solutions that FM Office Products provides. “If we find solutions for the customer they will more than likely continue to come back to us,” he adds.
Successful sales efforts are the key to growth and Morales contends that finding and recruiting salespeople is one of the biggest challenges he faces. It’s difficult to find talented people with experience, he laments, and once someone is identified and hired, the next challenge is to get them properly trained. One of the keys to success in hiring salespeople, says Morales, is to “support happy healthy and engaged people,” which has set the stage to attract the next generation to the FM sales team.
With the office products industry being jostled on every side by big box competitors, internet sellers and other double-barreled competitors, Morales contends that it’s technology that holds the answers for continued success in the B2B market. The Amazon effect is especially prevalent. “Technology needs to address the changes in customer behavior,” says Morales. “They want something quick, that’s easy to purchase.”
“We need to try and stay ahead of our customers’ purchasing behavior,” he says, while recognizing that like any small business, responding effectively to what is a rapidly changing market is far from easy. “We have to keep our eyes open for any new developments we can take advantage of,” he says.
Key management team members: Fabricio Morales, president and CEO; Deborah Morales, general manager, Office Products Div.; Ann Miller-Michaels, general manager, Contract Furniture Div.; Janet Bott, CFO
Products carried: furniture, office supplies, industrial supplies, janitorial supplies, coffee services
Year founded: 1995
Annual sales: $50+ Million
Number of employees: 110
Key business partners: S.P. Richards, TriMega, Steelcase, Indeal, HON, Kimball International, National