It took 28 years for OPACS in Mesa, Arizona, to generate its first $100,000 furniture order. That was close to two years ago and since that time owner Travis Kimmel has reoriented his approach and made furniture a much more important part of the business.
“One of our supply salespeople found the opportunity and positioned us to be considered,” Kimmel said. That order came as a revelation and Kimmel realized that furniture presented a strong opportunity for growth. “We believed there was a bigger opportunity out there from our customer base,” he says. “Then we started to actively look for a furniture specialist.”
After such an expert was added to the team, salespeople could tell a different story. If customers demonstrated an interest or need for furniture the specialist could be brought in. “Our ability to land furniture projects ramped up quickly,” he adds. “Yes, it took 28 years to get our first large furniture sale but in less than two years since we’ve been able to close about a dozen projects of similar size.”
The dealership’s move last summer from Scottsdale to Mesa went a long way toward supporting the growing furniture sales effort. The new facility includes a 9,000 square foot warehouse and another 4,000 square feet for a working showroom.
The open presentation in the new working showroom offers a considerably different appearance to that found at the dealership’s former site. “We were always more of a back-room operation and never wanted clients to come to see our office,” says Travis. “This is quite different.
“Our office supply reps have a new confidence to talk to their customers about furniture opportunities,” says Kimmel. “And they have reinforcements who can come with them and intelligently speak the language.” The next planned development is to bring in an additional designer.
A new web presence also was launched to support the newly established furniture offering—Arizona Corporate Interiors. To fully establish its furniture capabilities, OPACS recognized the need for a furniture-only website. “We don’t hide the fact that it is part of OPACS but we felt the need to market furniture under a different name,” says Kimmel.
The launch of this second site has called attention to the need for further development work on the office products website. The technology in use at OPACS has reached the end of its useful life and Kimmel has realized that this year he will most likely have to make a change. “That is definitely one of our priorities to move off that platform,” he says. “We are going to look at a few options.”
In addition to furniture, the OPACS has also found new opportunities in break room, janitorial supplies and print and promotion. Over the past few years these categories have accounted for most of the growth at the firm but supply sales have stayed steady. The other categories offer better margins but it was office products that established the business and the category still shows life.
Big-box competitors continue to cut expenses and customer-facing overheads. “That makes it easier than ever to differentiate ourselves from them,” says Kimmel. Smaller customers opt for the perceived ease of ordering from Amazon, but more mid-size customers have transitioned back to OPACS because they appreciate the hands-on customer service and the benefits of being able to get a live person on the phone.
The independent identity is one of the strengths that OPACS brings to all its operations in the Phoenix market. “I think it is more crucial than ever to offer people a different choice in the marketplace,” says Kimmel. “I don’t believe that everybody out there wants to do business one way.”
Key management team members: Travis Kimmel, Donna Kimmel, owners. Mark Turkovich, sales manager
Products carried: Full line office products. Furniture: Trendway, 9to5, Maverick Desk
Year founded: 1988
Annual sales: $7 million
Number of employees: 18
Key business partners: SP Richards, TriMega, Trendway, ECi
% of total sales generated