Perry Krieger, second-generation owner of Harvey’s Office Plus in Twin Falls, Idaho, describes his dealership as an old-fashioned office supply company that primarily sells supplies and furniture. The market spans five Idaho counties and one county in northern Nevada.
Krieger grew up in the business. He started working at the dealership as a teenager delivering furniture and performing other jobs as needed. It might not have been his first choice, but he jumped at the chance to take over the business when his parents were ready to retire.
“I bought the business in the summer of 2007 and all the numbers were based on the previous ten years,” says Krieger. “Right after I bought it, the entire economy went through an economic downturn. That was my first year in business.” Right out of the gate he lost seven major clients. He couldn’t even ask his father for advice as his parents were on a two-year humanitarian mission.
The business started to turn around five years ago and has delivered sales increases year on year since then. Last year’s increase was small, but still positive. “We were up from the year before, and we’re on track to equal that result, if not go a little higher than last year,” says Krieger. Harvey’s fiscal year ends in June.
Growth at Harvey’s Office Plus has been organic and has come mostly from existing customers. “We are finding a few new customers, but we have emphasized furniture the last couple of years, and much of our growth has come from that,” says Krieger.
While office supplies are readily purchased online, the same cannot be said for furniture. “People are reluctant to buy furniture online,” says Krieger. “I may not be able to sell as much liquid paper as I used to, but I can still sell furniture,” he says. “People still come to their local office supply company to buy that.”
Harvey’s is located almost midway between Salt Lake City and Boise. “We’re on the edges of those two markets so our competition for furniture sales is primarily contract dealers,” says Krieger. Sales are primarily mid-market lines with a concentration on what’s available from Independent Suppliers Group, including lines from HON, Global, HPFI and United Chair. “We rely on a broad spectrum of furniture manufacturers,” says Krieger. “We pretty much supply anything a client wants as long as we can get it.”
An installation crew of three is kept busy full time; when additional help is needed, experienced installers can be hired as needed. “If we can’t get the project we do contract installation work for other companies that sell into our area,” says Krieger. “We do a lot of contract installations.”
On the supply side of the business competition tends to be a host of online sources. “Our biggest competitor is probably Amazon,” says Krieger. He has attended numerous seminars on how to keep Amazon off Main Street, but says it is nearly impossible to achieve.
“When you try and get the supply business from some of the smaller towns they tell you: “I just ordered from Amazon yesterday.” He says this really frustrates his salespeople. “The communities want local support, yet they can’t figure out that buying pens from Amazon hurts us,” he says. “It’s a real education process.”
A good deal of construction currently is occurring in the Twin Falls area, which translates into solid sales increases for Harvey’s. “Some new manufacturing companies have come to town and that’s driving some of the growth,” says Krieger.
“We’re still primarily an agricultural economy in southern Idaho – potatoes, sugar beets and milk,” he adds. “As long as people eat we see the business growing.”
Key management: Perry and Pam Krieger, owners
Products carried: Office supplies and furniture
Year founded: 1980
Sales volume: $1.2 million
No of employees: 7