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Your products. Your colleagues. Your business.








Give Something


A philosophy on giving

something back

The Verdict Is In

Turn the tables on tough

economic times



At HP, we’re committed to the environment.

We provide inventive, high-quality products and services

that are environmentally sound—from the very first

stages of product design through manufacturing and

distribution, customer use and recycling.

Our recent packaging innovations for Original

HP LaserJet and inkjet cartridges alone were estimated

to have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by over

37 million pounds of CO 2 in 2007. 1

In addition, since 1991 we have offered the HP Planet

Partners program that provides free and convenient

return and recycling of Original HP print cartridges.

Thank you for your commitment to the environment.


Estimates are based on projected 2007 print cartridge sales in the United

States and Canada. Global warming gas (carbon dioxide equivalents)

emissions reductions calculated based on anticipated 2007 sales,

using packaging configurations before and after recent improvements.

Environmental impacts modeled with SimaPro 7 (PRé Consultants,

The Netherlands, 2006) lifecycle inventory software. Carbon equivalency

factors from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Calculations

from www.usctcgateway.net/tool/.

© Copyright 2008 Hewlett-Packard Development Company L.P.

The information contained herein is subject to change without notice.

Business partner

In the Box























Out of the Box

Grab every Growth


While there may not be much good

economic news at the moment,

there are still opportunities out there,

and aggressive dealers will make every

effort to identify them. We want to help.

That’s why we have loaded this issue

with tips, suggestions, and strategies

for how to grow your business. Many

of these you can put to work almost


Start with a quick look at “The Line

On...” section beginning on page 5.

While this material may not increase

sales directly, it does present some interesting

offers and new product opportunities.

Then check out the article looking

at Friends Business Source starting on

page 19. This independent dealer isn’t

letting a business slowdown get in the

way of growing sales. There are a couple

of sound ideas here—including one on

coffee sales—that almost any independent

dealer can put to work.

If you’re willing to make a relatively

small investment in the future of your

business, then one of the SmartDeals

flyers that United Stationers produces

could be the perfect addition to—or

even the beginning of—your own marketing

program. The SmartDeals flyers

and marketing campaign have been

producing great results—a 30 percent

bump on promoted items—for a growing

number of independent dealers. Get

all the details beginning on page 36.

Part of staying on the growth track is

making sure your pricing remains competitive

and your margins are protected.

In “Priced to Sell,” starting on page 33,

United’s Item Content And Pricing

System (ICAPS) is presented as one

of the best tools for dealers to keep up

with fluctuating costs.

Our article on acquisition campaigns

on page 14 is full of tactics that other

dealers are using to grow their account

base. One suggestion here is to consider

using new approaches, including

social media and e-mail marketing. If

you would like to improve your current

e-mail program or get started with a

new one, e-mail us at emailmarketing@


Michael Chazin

United Stationers Marketing | mchazin@ussco.com




Looking for the strong,

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shredders are your perfect match.

Shred your documents faster

and quieter than ever before.

Maximum sheet destruction

Auto shut-off saves energy

Paper collection bags make recycling easy

Shreds CDs, paper clips, staples and

credit cards

Includes 2 years on-site service

Choose the one that meets your productivity

and security needs: GLS28, GLX20,

GLM11 or GLHS9

View the demo at


© 2008 ACCO Brands. All rights reserved.

ACCO ® and ShredMaster ® are registered trademarks

of ACCO Brands. GBC ® is a registered trademark

of General Binding Corporation.

The Line On...

| ... News | ... Office Products | ... Tech | ... Jan/San | ... Furniture | ... Promotions | ... Kudos |

Ors NAsCO is the leading source for industrial

and safety products, which ship from the closest of

eight distribution centers to your facility or end user.


for safety products and industrial supplies


... News

if yOur dealership serves industrial custOmers or

those that aren’t in traditional offices, those customers might

be in the market for industrial supplies, safety supplies, or

both. Now, the more than 150,000 products carried by ORS

Nasco are available to be purchased via the JanSan Special Order

Group, now known as the “JanSan & Industrial Special Order Group.”

ORS Nasco, a United Stationers subsidiary, is the leading

source for the industrial MRO (maintenance, repair, and operations),

safety, and related needs of your end-user customers,

allowing you to become an even more valuable single-source

supplier. Your United Stationers’ account manager will receive an

ORS Nasco catalog for reference and use in discussion with you

about available ORS Nasco products.

After obtaining a quote from the special order group and placing

an order, ORS Nasco products will ship from the closest of

eight ORS Nasco Distribution Centers to your facility or to your

end user, whichever you choose. Turnaround time for shipping

of ORS Nasco special orders is approximately two to three days,

depending on availability.

There’s no minimum order requirement

with ORS Nasco, but freight rates will

apply on all orders below $1,500 (their

freight prepaid level). Additionally, any

order placed below $100 will be assessed

a small order charge of $5, as stated

in ORS Nasco’s published terms and


All-sTAr suPPLIer To purchase ORS Nasco products or for all related product

inquiries, contact the JanSan & Industrial Special Order Group by e-mail at

jansanor@ussco.com or by phone at 800-788-2266, ext. 5954.

You can use the recently launched Web site—BiggestIndustrialBook.com

to promote safety and industrial supplies to your customers.




The Line On ...

… Tech





Historic moment

recorded on paper


... Tech PSP

PREFERRED we’ve cOme a lOng way

frOm the rOmance and

novelty that surrounded the

fi rst moving pictures. Image

SUPPLIER technology has evolved, and

today’s multimedia projectors combine data, video, and

audio to provide the ultimate in visual impact. Circumstances

often require a projector with precise image

reproduction, but in an affordable package.

The new professional series projectors from Sharp, a

leader in multimedia projectors, are built to handle most

business, education, or cinema projection needs. Ease

of use and low-cost design make them an excellent

choice for the offi ce, classroom, or travel.

Sharp Notevision XR32S, XR32X, and PGF262X

projectors provide superior features, performance, and

reliability. All models utilize the Texas Instruments (TI)

DDR DLP long-life high-performance picture technology,

in combination with digital image processing, to provide

… Office Products

United’s Preferred Supplier Program recognizes suppliers in key product categories that share

our commitment to providing outstanding products, value, and dealer support.


Multimedia projectors meet every imaging challenge

seamless picture quality. The DLP optical system

supports a remarkably high contrast ratio, along with

crisp, bright, and detailed images from both computer

and video sources.

Portable and lightweight (6.4 lbs.), all models

feature 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratios, front exhaust,

quick start, low fan noise, fi lter-free design, interactive

help menu, and full-function remote. With the latest

in image enhancement, the XR models offer a 3x

speed, 4-segment color wheel, and the PGF262X

has a 6-segment wheel with TI’s “Brilliant” color


To reduce the cost of ownership, all models offer

an extended 4,000-hour lamp life with an advanced

eco-quiet mode.

CATCh The ACTION Review the complete line of

Sharp multimedia projectors on biggestbook.com.


Remanufactured cartridges make a good match

innOvera inKJet cartridges can help you save money and

conserve natural resources. They are often remanufactured by a

company other than the manufacturer of the printer, but will not

affect the quality of printing.

Innovera has launched new remanufactured inkjet cartridges for

the HP #10, 11, 74, 75, 88XL as well as for the Canon CLI 8 series.

These remanufactured cartridges provide high-quality results at a

fraction of the cost of OEM cartridges, and are they all made in the USA.

fINd yOur MATCh A chart listing compatible Innovera inkjet

cartridges is located in the Classified Zone.

paper has always played an

impOrtant rOle in histOry.

A World Series ticket, a playbill

from an award-winning Broadway

show, or a newspaper heralding a

signifi cant event, such as NASA’s

fi rst moonwalk, have had special

meaning for many. But on a

larger scale, paper also provides

a historical glimpse into our nation’s

highest offi ce.

Paper once again provided

generations with a peek into

what’s important as presidential

inaugural invitations were sent

out last year. One of Neenah

Paper’s fi nest eco-friendly papers

was selected for the invitation to

the January 20 inauguration of

President Barack Obama. More

than 1 million inaugural invitations

were engraved and printed

on Neenah FSC-Certifi ed paper

with 100 percent post-consumer

fi ber


You’ll find a large selection

of recycled paper products

on biggestbook.com.

6 March/April 2009

... Paper


United’s Preferred Supplier Program recognizes suppliers in key product categories that share our

commitment to providing outstanding products, value, and dealer support.


Send your letters in environmentally friendly envelopes


… Office Products



How you can save money


accOrding tO JOel maKOwer, founder of

GreenBiz.com and a consultant with leading

companies on strategic sustainability issues,

businesses can profitably integrate green

thinking into their operations in a way that

creates value. By offering their customers

green products, dealers demonstrate they’re

prepared to help them use sustainable goods

and services.

Creating added value through innovation

while keeping the earth’s precious resources

in mind is a hallmark of an innovative and

responsible company—and a great business

partner/supplier. In this spirit of commitment

to innovation and delivering solutions, Quality

Park introduces a new line of sustainably

certified envelopes, Park Preserve—the new

standard in business envelopes.

Park Preserve includes 10 of Quality Park’s

best-selling business envelopes, conveniently

packaged in 1,000-count configurations in a

compact, earth-friendly, and sustainable bulk

pack carton for easy use and transport. Hand

grips are even built into the sides of each

carton for easy carrying.

When emptied, these bulk cartons (made

with 75 percent recycled content) become

… Promos

completely reusable as highly desirable

letter-size file boxes for home or business use;

they’re also completely recyclable after final

use. Enclosed complimentary Avery 6573

labels make relabeling the box for one’s own

use a simple task. All of these features are

offered for no additional cost versus the cost

of traditional paperboard boxes.

The envelopes themselves are certified by

the Sustainable Forestry Initiative ® (SFI), continuing

Quality Park’s ongoing commitment to

environmental stewardship and implementing

sustainable business practices. The SFI

standard includes fiber sourcing requirements

that promote responsible forest management

on all suppliers’ lands. The related chain-ofcustody

certification tells buyers how much

certified fiber is in a specific product.

With the capacity to create more than

50 million envelopes a day and more than

2,000 stock items available in a wide range of

styles and sizes, Quality Park delivers proven

mail communications solutions that assist in

building and growing your business.

QuALITy PArK seTs BeNChMArK For more

information on stocking your inventory with these green

benchmarks, call your United account manager today.


Get them while they last

the 2009 inventOry clOse-Out sale is

underway and offers great deals on discontinued

furniture, ink and toner, office products,

technology, and janitorial supplies. Dealers

can purchase items on price plan 1A.

Further details on the sale and a full-color

PDF with consumer pricing can be found on

the Resellers Classified Zone. The sale runs

through June, but be sure to act fast as supplies

are limited.

with the ecOnOmy applying

bOttOm-line pressures, there is

added incentive to increase productivity

and minimize printing costs in

high-volume laser print environments.

HP LaserJet print cartridges can help.

Original HP LaserJet high-yield

print cartridges for high-volume

printing environments produce more

pages than standard cartridges, so

your customers gain the benefits of

less printer interaction and reduced

cost-per-page printing. Depending on

the printer type, on average, HP highyield

cartridges can reduce cost-perpage

by up to 25 percent.

HP LaserJet dual packs and Color

LaserJet tri-packs, on average, cost

10 percent less than their stand-alone

counterparts and reduce the time

associated with ordering and receiving

inventory. They also offer superior

print quality.

Your customers can save time and

money with a convenient tri-pack of

HP Color LaserJet print cartridges—

one each of cyan, magenta, and yellow—for

higher-volume color printing

environments. They’ll get the same

trouble-free, photo-quality business

printing at a lower price.

HP’s consistent quality and reliability

create great-looking documents

with fewer interruptions and user

interventions, which saves your customers

time and lowers their printing

costs. You’ll benefit as well from the

better margins these high-volume

cartridges make possible.

BesT Buys Full details on the 2009 Inventory

Close-Out sale can be found in the Classified


The COLOr Of MONey sAVed Visit

www.suppliesInfo.com for additional

money saving options from HP.




The Line On ...

... Promos


E-mail marketing drives incremental sales

cOmpetitiOn fOr space in cOnsumers’ inbOxes

is mOre intense than ever as the big boxes increase

their e-marketing efforts. To keep up with the Power

Channel and help our dealers get ahead, we’ve created

the highly successful SmartDeals Campaign, a turnkey

solution that combines SmartDeals fl yers with promotional

e-mails sent directly to your customers.

Currently, we send SmartDeals e-mails to over 20,000

consumers per month on behalf of our dealers. The

e-mails are designed to drive incremental sales through

value-added offers, discounts, special pricing, and gifts

with purchase that are sure to appeal to your customers.

The latest numbers show that participating dealers

have enjoyed a 30 percent lift on promoted items.

It’s clear that e-mail marketing should be a key

part of every marketing plan whether you have 100 or

100,000 customers. Whether you’re new to e-mail

marketing or a seasoned professional,

sign up for our E-mail Marketing

Best Practices series. Every

month you’ll receive an e-mail from

us with e-marketing best practices,

tips, and “how-to’s” to help you

succeed. Topics include “Collecting

Customer E-mail Addresses,”

“Effective Subject Lines,” and

“Staying Compliant with CAN-


No time to become an e-mail

expert Don’t worry. The Smart-

Deals Campaign is 100 percent

turnkey. Just send a list of your

customers’ e-mail addresses, and

we’ll send promotional e-mails

with your logo and contact information directly to your

customers. We even include a link to your Web site so

customers can connect directly to your home page.

GeT e-ACTIVe If you would like to improve your current

e-mail program or get started with a new one, e-mail us at




United’s Preferred Supplier Program recognizes suppliers in key product categories that

share our commitment to providing outstanding products, value, and dealer support.


Leading the way in health care

sales opportunities

... Kudos


Sullivan’s marks

50th anniversary

fOr years, the health PREFERRED

care industry has been

receiving “reminder” items

such as pens and sticky

notes for free from pharmaceutical

companies with company or product


logos on them. In July 2008, the Pharmaceutical

Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)

Board of Directors revised the PhRMA Code on Interactions

with Health Care Professionals to prohibit

offering these reminder items to health care professionals

or their staff.

This means that the health care industry will now have to buy these items, so they need

to be quickly educated about your products and offers. The market for sticky notes with

company or product logos is estimated at $100 million, and the market for pens is estimated

to be four to fi ve times larger than the market for sticky notes.

To support you, 3M offers customizable sell-sheets featuring the Post-it ® Note and Flag

products most likely to be used by your health care customers. These sell-sheets can be

printed and handed out by your sales representatives, packed in orders, or attached to an

e-mail sent by your inside sales representatives.

sullivan’s Office

supply, Starkville,

Miss., celebrates

its 50th anniversary

this year. Founded

by Don and Carolyn

Sullivan in 1959,

today the company

continues as a familyowned


and maintains a downtown Starkville location

featuring a 20,000-square-foot furniture

showroom. The Sullivan’s daughter,

Linda, and her husband, Steve Langston,

along with their children, Lorin and Tyson,

oversee company operations.

To commemorate the anniversary,

Sullivan’s held an open house this past

January. The whole Sullivan family,

including founders Don and Carolyn,

were on hand for the celebration.

WhAT’s uP, dOC Please visit www.3mproductivity.com/distributors for more information.

8 March/April 2009

The Line On ...



The smart way to promote new technology

with the pace Of technOlOgy accelerating

and competition growing tougher, dealers need to

give their customers the best deals … and make

those deals available faster than ever before.

SmartDeals Hot List gets the latest information into

your customer’s inbox with a monthly e-mail that

provides exceptional deals on new technology.

The Hot List offers a first look at new products.

Dealers who have been using Hot List since its

introduction last spring are excited with the results

so far and are looking forward to even greater opportunities

in 2009. Deals are effective for 60 days.

By using the SmartDeals Hot List, dealers can

present their customers with a “shopping list”

offering monthly deals on 30 to 50 SKUs, including

new products and product lines; end-of-life, closeouts,

and discontinued items; overstock items; and

special “while supplies last” offers.

... Kudos

ileene wist, president Of wist

Office prOducts, Tempe,

Ariz., passed away on Dec. 29,

2008. She managed the thirdgeneration

family business with

her husband, David, and held the

title of president for more than 20 years.

Ileene received several community awards from

organizations such as the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

and Arizona Woman magazine. She willingly

shared best practices to strengthen the dealer

channel and invested in a Civic Economics study

that provided an in-depth look at the economic

With each Hot List

e-mail, dealers receive a

customizable PDF, which they can easily

download, add their logo and pricing, and

create their own promotional material.

Then, they can simply e-mail, fax, print,

and hand out their own flyers to drive

sales. It’s that easy!

Following a successful introduction last

year, the SmartDeals Hot List is now open

to all interested dealers.

GeT IT WhILe IT’s hOT Learn about the Smart-

Deals Hot List. Contact the United Technical Sales

Group in Orchard Park, N.Y. at 888-700-2279.

Remembered by United Stationers for the legacy she left behind


problems that arise when big box organizations

come into a community. This study has been used

successfully by several dealers in their efforts to

win local business.

Ileene is survived by her husband, David, and

two sons, Robert and Ian Wist, who will continue

the legacy of success at Wist Office Products. A

memorial fund in her name has been established

with the Arizona Humane Society.

LeGACy Of suCCess Donate to the Arizona

Humane Society in the memorial fund for Ileene Wist

at www.azhumane.org.

... News





Longtime United

employee retires

when pattie duKe started

wOrKing for United

Stationers back in 1967, the

headquarters and warehouse

were located in one building

on Lake Street in Chicago.

She started as an order

fi ller and worked in various

warehouse positions until her

fi nal position in receiving at

United’s West Chicago, Ill.,

distribution center. That was

the last job she held with

United when she retired at

the end of January.

Pattie never worked for

another employer during her

entire working life. Over the

years she watched the company

grow to more than 30

distribution centers and has

seen warehousing change

from an entirely manual

operation to one that is controlled

largely by scanning

technology and computers.

Pattie looks forward to

traveling during her retirement

and volunteering her

time with handicapped




Large law firms


use up to

sheets of paper per lawyer each year,

equaling about a half-ton of paper each year per lawyer.

10 March/April 2009

The Line On ...


... Paper


United’s Preferred Supplier Program recognizes suppliers in key product categories that

share our commitment to providing outstanding products, value, and dealer support.


Save dollars through reliability; spend pennies to impress

Of all the things your customers have

to worry about, paper shouldn’t be one of

them. Did you know that paper jams cost

your customer, on average, about $7 per jam

By reducing the rate of jams from the usual

1 in 7,500 to 1 in 10,000, your customer could

save nearly $50 per pallet of paper. That’s

$1.25 a carton! Over time, that really adds up.

Hammermill Papers offer quality, consistency,

and reliability that help your customer

save money and look great.

Hammermill pledges that office professionals

won’t experience more than one jam

in 10,000 sheets. Every day papers such as

Hammermill Tidal MP, Hammermill Great

White 30 percent Recycled, and Hammermill

Fore MP are manufactured with optimal

moisture content, consistent formulation,

and superior smoothness that make this

guarantee possible.

... News

When you factor in all the costs of

making color copies, paper represents

only about 4 percent of the total. Yet the

quality of the paper can make a big difference

in how documents look. When

the total cost of printing or copying one

document on premium paper is

26 cents, compared with 25 cents for

ordinary copy paper—including equipment,

toner, and labor—why skimp

A new brochure from Hammermill is

designed to help you trade up customers

to this higher-margin paper. This

piece demonstrates the dramatic difference

in print quality between ordinary

copy paper and Hammermill Color

Copy—for just a penny more per copy.

Hammermill Color Copy offers sharper

images, brilliant colors, professional

quality, and it is backed by a jam-free


Penny Wise For copies of the Hammermill Paper Penny

Wise promotion, contact your United Stationers account


... Tech







Charity begins at Vision

As part of the United Values exhibition at the Vision Show

last November, dealers were invited to fill out a card with their favorite

charity for a chance to win a contribution from the United Stationers

Charitable Foundation. Two dealer cards were drawn at the end of the

show and the indicated charities were sent to the Foundation Board

for approval as grant recommendations. Both were approved by the

Brian Gidley

Board and grants were made to the dealers who were selected.

Brian Gidley of Shetler Printing and Office Supplies, Middlefield, Ohio, presented a check

for $500 to his local American Heart Association affiliate on behalf of the Foundation.

Jeff Eschelman of Reliable Office Solutions, Riverside, Calif., presented a $500 check to City

of Hope on behalf of the Foundation.

The United Stationers Charitable Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the company, exists

to coordinate and mobilize United Stationers resources to make a difference in the lives of

those in need through financial support and hands-on involvement.

GIVING BACK For further information on the Foundation, contact John Jaraczewski at


Do your customers want to produce highquality

documents without streaks or smears with

print cartridges that are cross-compatible with the

original brand

Innovera color ink and toner will work as replacements

for original brand cartridges. When your

customers run out of branded cartridges—for

example, a yellow cartridge—they can replace them

with Innovera compatible cartridges and be assured

they will work.

All that is needed is a quick calibration of the machine,

which is always needed even if only original

brands are used, and the Innovera toner will work

perfectly. Let your customers know they can simplify

their color printing with Innovera color.


Innovera cross-compatible color cartridges

can be reviewed on biggestbook.com.

12 March/April 2009


... News


United Dealer training program expands


dealers—United Dealer Training (UDT)—has expanded its

offering for 2009. It has experienced signifi cant growth in

both the number of programs offered and the number of dealer personnel


“More programs in more formats—workshop-led training, online training,

Webinar training, and the newest option, podcasts—make United Dealer

Training the most adaptable learning experience for independent dealers,”

says Ken Smith, director of fi eld marketing and United dealer training,

United Stationers.

Historically, dealers who attend UDT fi nd it extremely useful and see the

results of training in their bottom lines. Dealers who took UDT last year grew

their sales with United by more than $9 million—on average 7 percent more

than dealers who did not receive training.

For the fi rst time in 2009, UDT is offering training bundles that group

various course formats together, enabling dealers to sign up for complete

education, training, and coaching programs. These

blended learning packages include elements from

each of United’s delivery methods and allow dealers

to participate in a broad assortment of programs.

“Dealers can sign up for a package and meet all

of their training needs for the year, and save over

the cost of à la carte training,” explains Phil Barnette,

manager of United Dealer Training.

Podcasts are the latest addition to the UDT regimen. They are available at

www.udtradio.com and provide dealers the ability to pass along up-to-theminute

training and information to their entire sales team. Each participant

can receive and play back the information when and where they choose.

United Dealer Training also works in conjunction with United’s Talent Track

program. The Talent Track program effectively helped dealers attract, hire,

and retain over 450 salespeople in 2008. Enhancements to this program will

continue to be made available to dealers, ensuring they will be able to attract

top-level sales candidates.

GET SMART A complete UDT workshop schedule with dates and locations can be

found on www.ussco.com. In addition, interested dealers can send an e-mail to


... Jan/San


OfficeJan Resource Center is now live


innovative new tool designed to assist in growing your OfficeJan

business. With more than 150 pages of valuable OfficeJan-specific

content, more than 25 interactive videos, and a wealth of promotional

sales tools and educational information, consider this your “one

destination” for all the critical information you need to generate more

OfficeJan sales.

In the OJRC, we’ve created a simple, comprehensive, and effective

category communication tool for disseminating OfficeJan information

that can help you and your associates be more effective in selling Jan/

San and breakroom products.

The OJRC resides on your desktop computer or wireless device,

and can be forwarded by e-mail to any of your fellow associates. It

features real-time updates, seamless inclusion of audio and video,

and fast navigation with 80 percent less bandwidth than standard html

Web sites.

The OJRC is a Web portal that houses all OfficeJan related information

and promotional materials such as:

•Pricing announcements

• Mid-year new product introductions

•Marketing e-flyers

•Point-in-time promotions

•Product education

•Category training

•And more...

TAKE A TOUR Log on to www.officejan.com and see everything OfficeJan centrally

located on a single platform.







• Rotate effortlessly

from portrait to

landscape view

• Two sizes:

DBL-4814-23 Letter

DBL-4815-23 11”x 17”

• Front panel

removes for

easy updates!

Elk Grove Village, IL • Oshawa, ON




Customer acquisition

strategies meet 21st

century realities

14 March/April 2009

This is a good

time for those

of us who aren’t


because we’re


customers left

and right.

– Jamin Arn

Aggressive independent dealers are working to transform the industry’s

tired customer acquisition strategies into sales tools more in tune with

the mindset and practices of today’s buyers.

As with all business strategies, sales acquisition or conversion is fundamental

to boosting a company’s bottom line. Office products dealers

with the foresight to recognize the need to fine-tune and reinvent their

customer conversion programs enjoy the measurable results of steady

growth. Many have serious planning, implementation, and follow-up

programs, while others are less formal but just as serious in their efforts

to turn prospects into customers.

“You have to reinvent yourself every few years,” says Jamin Arn,

president, Office Pro, Janesville, Wis. “If you don’t, you’ll become a dinosaur.”

Too many dealers follow a hit-and-miss approach when it comes

to acquiring new customers. Many completely miss the boat, he says.

“This is a good time for those of us who aren’t complacent, because

we’re snagging customers left and right.”

Office Pro is somewhat unique in that a large portion of recent customer

acquisitions came through company acquisitions. “I bought a

document shredding company, another small office supply business,

and a used office furniture company,” he says. “I recognized a long time

ago that paper clips and pencils weren’t going to make a profit.” He

believes dealers need to have a big volume to keep the doors open.

Engage Your Prospects

Aggressively engaging prospects face-to-face to learn what their “hot

buttons” are, what they pay, and what they could be paying for those

same products is the customer conversion approach that Ray Seefeld,

president, Superior Business Products, Schenectady, N.Y., has his

salespeople follow. “We started an attack campaign 10 to 12 years ago

with United,” he says. “We present flyers featuring 30 to 35 commodity

items at loss leader pricing, along with the United Big Boy catalog that

we price aggressively to go after new business.” Years ago, his salespeople

were able to make a call using these pricing tools and wait a

month to follow up, says Seefeld. Today the market is too competitive—

now you need to follow up within two or three days.

Getting those first appointments to garner new customers has

become more sophisticated in its methodology, according to

Jeff Gardner, founder and president, Maximum Performance Group,

Palatine, Ill. “I see more dealers paying for services that get them a

first appointment.” They use telemarketing firms that call consumers

in a geographic area. They call these companies and use a multistep

process to engage the decision-maker into agreeing to an appointment.

“They’re sort of an outsourced appointment gatherer,”

Gardner says.

He also says that OP dealers can learn some resultsdriven

tactical aspects of cold calling. Unlike the traditional

method of learning the name of the decision-maker through a cold call

and then returning to the office to phone for an appointment, today’s

method is markedly different. You need to start connecting as soon as

you walk into the office. Your ultimate intent is to meet the buyer, and

you can do so without an appointment if you follow the model that sales

consultants teach. “Ask if the decision-maker is available for you to

introduce yourself and offer your card, so that he or she knows who you

are when you do call for an appointment,” says Gardner.

How To Recognize Best Prospects

A good way to identify who your best prospects are is to analyze your

current database and compare the similarities of great customers

against your prospects. “We look at some of our customer categories

that are perhaps most profitable or that encompass our highest gross

sales customers, and look to see what other customers are within that

segment,” says Michael Thompson, president, Evos, Inc., Chandler, Ariz.

“Right now, we’re trying to focus on markets that are less affected by the

economy, such as medical and law offices.”

According to Shanker Krishnan, professor of marketing, Kelley School

of Business, Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind., identifying your best

customers may hinge on how your capabilities match up to the needs

of the client. “This might be a process of comparing what you do well

against what the customer is looking for. Many times you’ll find the relationship

mismatched—what the customer needs isn’t a good fit to your

capabilities, and you may be losing money trying to service them.”

Some independents feel their best customer potential can be found

among locally-owned businesses, says Bill Stinnett, founder and president,

Sales Excellence, Inc., Evergreen, Colo. “They believe that local

businesses are more likely to remain loyal to each other over a longer

period of time. There’s also a kind of pride that encourages businesses

to keep the money in their own community.” As a result, it’s vital to

become an active community member through your local chamber of

commerce and other business or civic organizations through which you

can be part of the “cross-pollenization” of buying and selling among

local companies.

Differentiate Your Business

An equally important part of customer conversion strategies is your

ability to define and market what makes your company unique among

your competition.

Arn asks, “Who buys from me Why do they buy from me What

makes me different” Then he ties all these findings into an advertising

program that drives home his unique selling proposition. He

has devised a new “pain point” that his salespeople focus on

when prospecting for new business. “Four years ago, life was

great, money was coming in, and companies were buying from




anybody who brought them free cookies. But times have changed,”

says Arn.

Customers know that to keep their jobs they have to stay in business

and that means cutting operating costs. “We guarantee that we will save

them money if they let us analyze the top items they buy,” he says. As a

result, he has converted what were once wasteful processes into more

efficient, cost-saving systems. Concentrating on keeping companies in

business during economic down times is enough to differentiate Arn

and help turn prospects into customers.

Thompson finds his differentiating factor is his customer seminar

programs.” We offer productivity seminars in conjunction with major

manufacturers. They range from filing processes, to ergonomics to

creating better marketing pieces,” he says. This process of making

companies look better and function more efficiently plays a large part

in Thompson’s customer acquisition initiatives.

Stand Out From The Pack

Various dimensions of service can differentiate you from others in the

field, says Krishnan. “One dimension can be your expertise, at which

point you serve as a consultant regarding a product and how it best

fits into a customer’s process.” Another dimension of service is your

responsiveness to customer emergencies resulting from a lack of planning

on their part. “Using service examples to differentiate yourself

among your customers tells them what you really stand for and offers

huge customer acquisition opportunities,” he says.

Making your Web site more noticeable to potential customers has

a great deal to do with the economies of Pay-Per-Click ® advertising,

according to Stinnett. When a prospect types in a keyword relating to

office products, and you subscribe to Pay-Per-Click, your ad immediately

appears at the side of the results page. “I think that is brilliant,” he

says. “With print advertising you might spend $10,000 to $20,000 for a

single magazine page ad that may or may not be seen let alone drive “

prospects to your Web site. Paying a few cents or a few dollars to have

someone arrive at your Web site is an efficient use of your funding.”

Another set of guerrilla-marketing tactics that are within the budgets

of most dealers include mailing letters, sending faxes, and e-mailing,

says Gardner. You’re more likely to make contact and generate a quicker

response via e-mail today than by using the phone to set appointments

with decision-makers. “These days everybody is going toward

e-mail marketing,” he says. Constant Contact ® is a popular product

used to easily distribute regularly scheduled e-mails—especially newsletters—to

your customer base.

A successful campaign that Seefeld developed is primarily an online

effort. “We put together an e-mail program called Superior Blow-Out

Pricing. It’s a natural tie-in to our name—Superior Business Products,”

he says. “The campaign is aimed at cross-selling our products to different

customer segments.”

To some extent, social networking is even making inroads into how

businesses advertise today, according to Krishnan. “I’ve seen creative

uses of YouTube using stories to capture the attention of potential buyers

at a very low, yet highly effective cost.” You’re now able to create

mini-commercials for your products and services. Krishnan also recommends

using trade show participation to reach potential customers.

Make sure you develop a creative presence with a stand-out booth,

with products and services presented in a unique way. “Selling through

a local trade show can be a huge opportunity for today’s independent

OP dealers,” he says.

Analyzing Your Efforts

It has often been said that if you can’t measure a process, you can’t

control it. “This might involve simple details that smaller dealers don’t

often pick up on,” says Stinnett. Simply capturing how buyers heard

about you, what drove them to your Web site, or prompted them to call

are important metrics that will identify if what you’re doing has changed

Right now,

we’re really

trying to focus

on markets

that are less

affected by the

economy, such

as medical and

law offices.

– Michael Thompson



1. Engage your prosepects

2. Recognize best prospects

anything. “Include a drop-down box on your Web site where visitors

can indicate how they learned of your company. Have your telephone

sales people ask at the end of the inquiry or order process how they

heard about you,” he says.

Once you figure out where your business is coming from, you can

invest more heavily in those activities that work. “Without some sort of

yardstick, it’s just impossible to gauge the success of your advertising,”

says Stinnett. Seefeld holds monthly follow-up sales meetings that he

calls “funnel meetings.” “We all get together and exchange information

on the status of current prospects and projects,” he says. These are in

addition to regular meetings between his salespeople and sales manager

to assess the progress of prospect conversion.

Measure Performance

There is one tracking effort that Thompson calls his “On Boarding” program.

“Once a customer comes on board she gets a follow-up call after

the first order asking her opinion of our service and product performance.

We also have our accounting people contact the new customer

to set up billing procedures,” he says. These ongoing touch points

provide opportunities to help measure, analyze, and potentially improve

customers’ internal processes while obtaining feedback on their buying


The office products business is a different animal from years ago,

according to Seefeld. Yet, there are still market niches waiting to be

targeted by OP dealers, whose offerings and services are matched

to those unique market segments. Whether your business model is

a traditional commercial business, an Internet-only company, or you

reach prospects through strong telemarketing efforts, understanding the

mindset of your potential prospect and adjusting your sales and marketing

initiatives accordingly will lead to steady customer acquisition and

continued success well beyond the 21st century. O|L

We present flyers featuring

30 to 35 commodity items

at loss leader pricing, along with

the United Big Boy catalog

that we price aggressively to go

after new business.

– Ray Seefeld

3. differentiate your business

4. Reach potential buyers

5. Analyze your efforts


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Trade Secrets

the management team at Friends Business Source: back row, left to right,

Amy Brown, sales manager; Dennis Mitchell, head of purchasing; Peg Schroeder,

human resource director; and Betsy Hughes, vice president of sales and marketing;

front left to right Ken Schroeder, CEO, and Dale Alt, COO.





Friends Business Source uses a tactical

approach to maintain near-term sales,

positioning themselves to come back

strong when business picks up

No question that 2009 is going

to be a challenging year. With

the country’s economic turmoil,

it’s tough to get a solid perspective

on the commercial climate

and business opportunities.

Companies aren’t necessarily

cutting back, but they’re learning

to be more efficient than

ever. The common response

from customers has become,

“Isn’t there a less expensive





Trade Secrets

They value our ability to perform a business

review that shows what they’re buying and

offers some cost-saving solutions.

” —Betsy Hughes

“Instead of furnishing whole offices, people

are buying individual pieces,” says Brown. “That’s

why transactional furniture is moving.” The entire

Friends’ sales staff was introduced to the latest

Alera products and received sales training last fall

at United Stationers’ headquarters in Deerfield, Ill.

With the move to more transactional furniture sales,

Alera has become the top seller.

Bound together Management at Friends

Business Source has chosen not to participate

in the economic downturn. Paying attention to

every customer detail should sustain Friends

through a protracted period of slower sales.

There are many responses dealer personnel can

make when customers raise economic objections.

One approach is to wait for better times—but who

knows how long that will take. A different tactic is

to take a contrarian approach. That’s what’s driving

Friends Business Source in Toledo, Ohio. “We are

choosing not to participate in the downturn,” says

Amy Brown, sales manager for Friends.

That’s easier said than done. In the slowing

economy, Friends has scaled back its growth projections

for 2009. Existing accounts are buying less

than they did last year, and those sales need to

be made up. “We’re adding a lot of new accounts,

making up for lost business from the accounts we

do have,” says Ken Schroeder, president and CEO.

In a customer analysis related to the automotive

industry, Friends projected that these companies

will purchase only about 20 percent of the volume

that they did last year. There are 82 customers

that fall into this category, and they are all among

Friends’ largest accounts. “That’s why our goal is to

go out and acquire new customers—to replace the

volume we’re going to lose,” says Brown.

“We haven’t really lost accounts; we are just

losing business from the ones we have,” adds

Schroeder. Particularly noticeable has been the

fall-off in office furniture sales. Friends has a wellestablished

furniture business, but last December

sales took a nosedive.

No Easy Task

Opening new accounts isn’t necessarily the easiest

assignment, but the sales organization at Friends

relishes the challenge. Helping Friends in its efforts

is the fact that its big box competitors have their

own problems. The central and northwestern Ohio

market had been largely dominated by Corporate

Express. When it was bought by Staples, the shakeup

began. Some of its sales reps jumped ship on

their own; many more were cut.

“They cut an enormous amount of their sales

staff,” explains Betsy Hughes, vice president of

sales and marketing, “so the relationships that had

been there are no longer.” The upheaval creates

huge openings for independents such as Friends

to move in and pick up new accounts.

Salespeople Step Up

Friends relies on a highly structured sales process

that starts with an intense training regimen encompassing

almost any situation. “We take a lot of time

with new reps to teach them the questions they

can ask to develop programs for customers,” says

Hughes. With this concentrated preparation, even

new reps can have a positive impact.

Business reviews are an important resource that

salespeople use to gain the confidence of larger

accounts. “They value our ability to perform a business

review that shows what they’re buying and

offers some cost-saving solutions,” says Hughes.

When customers and prospects share their purchasing

details, including pricing, it gives the sales

person valuable specifics to prove the benefits of

doing business with Friends.

“We get as much data as we can and keep it on

file so we know where we have to be with our pricing

to get the business,” says Brown. The structured

sales process allows new salespeople to be pro-

20 March/April 2009

ductive from day one. Holding them accountable

gives them an incentive to perform. “We set goals

and expect results,” says Brown. “We measure

them every month and reward those who achieve.”

Marketing Makes A Difference

Sales are split fairly evenly between inside and outside

sales, and two different marketing programs

aid those efforts. “We used to split the business

between United and another wholesaler,” explains

Shroeder. Last year, Friends moved all its business

to United, impressed by the quality of its marketing

materials. “Partnering with United to market

to customers, and distributing everything through

United’s facilities, has saved lots of money.”

The national reach that United offers allows

Friends to work with national accounts as well

as local companies. When salespeople encounter

accounts outside the main trading area, they

emphasize that Friends is part of a national distribution

network. Close to 10 percent of its sales are

drop-shipped to customers across the country. That

distribution reach helps overcome the perception

that Friends is a small player.

Going beyond what customers normally expect

is standard operating procedure among all Friends’

employees. “Our customer service team must get

back to a customer within the same business day,

whether or not they have an answer,” says Hughes.

“The competition will call back two days later.”

Sales reps are expected to be just as responsive.

A report is produced every morning that lists

out-of-stock items, and the first activity for the customer

service team each day is to review the list.

“They call our customers and let them know that

the product isn’t going to be there,” says Hughes.

“Then they ask if they would like a substitute product

or to keep it on order.”

Niche Markets Play A Role

A concentration on niche markets—both product

and customer oriented—also helps to keep sales

in positive territory. The firm added a Jan/San

specialist several years ago, and this has provided

sales reps with more confidence. When they need

information that goes beyond their training, they

can call in the specialist.

To generate interest and increase sales, the

Friends Coffee Club was created. The Friends

Web site has a Coffee Club link that helps pull in

customers and prospects. The club offers Keurig

brewing systems, and interested customers can

request free demonstrations. “We broke into a

couple accounts because of the Coffee Club and

started selling them supplies,” says Schroeder. “It’s

an effective way to open doors.”

The Internet is used extensively by Friends to

provide information to customers and prospects

and to generate sales. Online sales have been

growing consistently and account for roughly

48 percent of the business. Friends currently is

working with ECi to implement United Smart

Search. Once that system is active, online sales are

expected to grow to 60 percent.

A key online success factor is an in-house Web

designer. “We can keep our Web site living and

breathing,” says Hughes. Microsites are also being

used as a communications tool for larger accounts.

Everything a purchasing agent at a larger company

needs to communicate to end users within

the company is published on that page, which

simplifies the purchasing agent’s job and positions

Friends as a trusted source for larger accounts.

It’s that attention to nearly every customer detail

that sustains Friends Business Source through the

ups and downs of the business cycle. O|L

Friends started selling

coffee a little over

a year ago and has

already produced sales

of $150,000. “It’s

one area that is not

down in this economy,”

says Brown. “People still

drink their coffee.”

Meeting Your Customer’s


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Data Storage solutions. Data Management represents one of the fastest growing categories within United

Stationers. Are you sure you are offering your customers all the unique Data Storage products they’re looking for

The Right Solutions For Every Customer – A Quick-Reference Guide

Identifying the right storage solution for every business can be a challenge, due to the many variables impacting

each company’s unique needs. United Stationers offers the widest selection of Data Storage solutions scaled-to-fit

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United Stationers is unmatched in our commitment to staying ahead of the technology curve. You can count

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Going, Going Green




Give Something

Back shares

its philosophy

of care

Giving back to the community

also means giving back to the

environment. Sean Marx and

Mike Hannigan recognized this

when they founded their business

supply company in 1991.

After years of experience selling

green products, they continue

to develop marketing strategies

and ideas about what it means

to be green.

At the Root

Aptly named Give Something

Back Business Products, Inc.,

the company is based on actor

Paul Newman’s business philosophy

employed by Newman’s Own

food company. A non-profit, Give

Something Back (GSB) follows its

namesake—it sells office products

at a lower price than most

retailers and then donates more

than half of its after-tax profit to

community-based organizations.

Another important tenet of

the business is caring for the

environment. “We have

always been committed to the

environment, and we forecasted

a growing demand,” says

Stephanie Schlect, director of

sustainability for GSB. “From the

beginning, we decided that we

would be a part of the movement

to introduce more environmentally

responsible products.

We sold recycled paper before

it was popular to use it.”

GSB began its green product

offerings with recycled paper

and remanufactured toners.

Currently, 35 percent of its printing

is done on recycled paper

with soy-based inks and 15 percent

of the total product offering

is green—and those percentages

continue to grow.

Walking the Green

As its product line has

increased, GSB has also developed

green marketing strategies.

But GSB has found that the

most important practice is to be

a model and lead by example.

Actions speak louder than ads.

“We need to make certain

there’s a link between what

we sell and what we do,” says

Schlect. “Customers are overwhelmed

by green messaging

every day and can sniff out a

green washer. Part of our success

has been our authenticity

and credibility.”

To centralize green policy,

GSB management considers all

their processes and how they

24 March/April 2009

We sell green

products in

tandem with

solutions that

help customers

do more with



GIVING GREEN Stephanie Schlect, director

of sustainability for Give Something

Back Business Products, explains how

delivery trucks reclaim boxes.

can deepen their commitment to

the environment. To further this

goal, they developed the Box

Take-Back Program. “If green

products are delivered in a box

that is too large or contains plastic

packaging, our message is

undermined,” says Schlect. To

take responsibility for packaging,

GSB utilizes its delivery

trucks to collect boxes on return

trips. This has allowed GSB to

optimize its use of truck fuel and

reuse some of the 77,000 boxes

that are used every year.

Selling Green

“The biggest objection we face

with green products is price,”

says Schlect. “To combat this

challenge, we try to set promotions

in place that help us

increase demand that over time

will lower the price. We also offer

Web specials that are almost

exclusively green products.”

Schlect also shares some

other guidelines GSB maintains

for marketing green products

and services. It comes down to

four words: specificity, relevancy,

transparency, and resources.

Schlect’s advice is to be

specific when selling a product.

Instead of simply saying that

using a product will help the

environment, GSB prefers to use

quantitative details to compare

the environmental impact of the

product to similar products, and

to demonstrate how it is relevant

to the customer.

To build a relationship with

the customer, GSB strives to be

transparent in its processes and

to act as a trustworthy resource.

“We show the steps we are taking

and have an open dialogue

with our customers, communities,

employees, and competitors,”

says Schlect.

GSB staff also works

closely with United Stationers

to improve packaging, Web

content, product descriptions,

and marketing. GSB draws

on its partnership with United

Stationers to help ensure GSB

is delivering a high level of customer

satisfaction and meeting

customer expectations throughout

its operation.

Online Support Offered

As part of being a green

resource, the company includes

a MyGreenGSB page at its Web

site, www.givesomethingback.com.

Here, business owners can track

their green purchasing and find

tips on how to reduce their carbon


In a struggling economy,

customers may be more likely

to choose the cheaper option,

instead of the greener one, but

Schlect says that GSB hasn’t

seen any disproportionate fall in

sales of green products.

“We sell green products in

tandem with solutions that help

customers do more with less—

it’s ‘eco-efficiency,’” Schlect says.

“We also offer ways for customers

to track and control their

spending. In an economic downturn,

people want more control

and reporting.”

If green products are marketed

correctly, a tighter budget

can actually emphasize their

appeal. Like many companies,

customers are realizing the

responsibility they have to the

community and the environment—the

kind of responsibility

that propelled the creation of


26 March/April 2009

Look what’s new


in 2009

Universal’s offering

for 2009 has something

new for everyone.

Check out our new family

of Universal office products

that look sharp and perform

impeccably. We’ve also

expanded our eco-friendly

product offering with many

products that help customers

meet green initiatives. All of

our products boast the

Universal trademark ‘quality

for less’. Here are just a few…

Stress-free mass mailings!

Universal’s new address labels won’t

leave damaging residue in your printer.

Heavy-duty jobs No problem.

This compact and powerful stapler is capable

of stapling up to 60 pages with a single touch.

Bring it all together.

Made of quality, sturdy board, our new

binders keep you perfectly organized

and open with just the click of a button.

Easy-to-use, everyday.

Universal’s sleek manual stapler works

in a flash for everything you need stapled.

Don’t U look sharp.

Universal’s new, quiet electric pencil

sharpener is stylish and looks good

on your desk.

Retractable is all the rage.

Our retractable dry-erase markers, highlighters,

and permanent markers work longer and

better when there’s no cap to lose.

Pivotal new design.

Universal’s 2009 correction tape dispenser

has a swivel tip and is retractable.

IDs, flyers and signs.

Try our newly redesigned multi-sized laminators

for anything from business cards to 11 X 17

signs and documents.

Go to www.biggestbook.com

for more information.

Three new reasons to

print it.

file it.

staple it.

order it in 2009.

Perfect penmanship

and savvy style.

Our long-lasting pens come with

German ink and Swiss-made tips

in great affordable styles.

Niche Market

Pleading guilty

to extraordinary

customer service

is the best way to

become the sole

supplier to a law


28 March/April 2009

The good news regarding opportunities to market

office products to legal firms is that everybody

who is successful in this niche today started on the

ground floor and had to earn their customers’ trust

and business over time. If that sounds like other

markets, no problem!

The bad news is that experts say it is a tough

market to break into and that the legal community

is incredibly loyal. Hmmm, sounds like a challenge!

“I look at our largest client in the legal profession

and realize that we’ve evolved from a secondary

supplier to the primary supplier, and now we

are their sole supplier,” says Graham Schooley Jr.,

sales manager for Echo Office Products, a privately

owned and operated dealer in Houston that serves

all of southeast Texas. “We are just relationship


Jordan Kudler, president of Crest Office

Products/Skill Graphics Corp., an independent,

family-owned business since 1973 based in Long

Island City, N.Y., just outside of Manhattan, agrees.

“Positioning yourself as a secondary vendor prepared

to fulfill those emergency needs is a terrific

way to start out,” he says. “Ironically, we were secondary

or tertiary vendors to the largest law firms

that we deal with today as their primary suppliers.

It truly was an earned position.”


Earning that position as primary or sole office

products supplier to a law firm is a process

that takes time, say those who do it well today.

Moreover, it takes an extraordinary level of customer

service. “It’s not about providing more products

or different products,” says Joe Fuzak, COO/CFO

for All-State Legal, a family business started 60

years ago to provide office products to attorneys,

based in Cranford, N.J. “It’s about over-servicing

your clients.”

“Office products are not a sexy business,” adds

Jeffery I. Kahn, president of OTS Legal, a division

of All-State Legal based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.,

where they’ve sold office supplies solely to attorneys

for 31 years. “Attorneys can get their office

products anywhere, so you’ve got to be different.”

On the short list of what it takes to be different

as an office products supplier to the legal market

is the perspective of 24/7 order fulfillment, above

and beyond a Web site. “All of our sales people are

able to process orders remotely,” says Kahn. “We

have a system in place to identify orders placed

by salespeople after-hours so that when the warehouse

staff comes in, they know to pick those items

and get them out right away.”

“The law firms that we have the closest and

strongest relationships with have our home numbers

and our cell numbers. It is not uncommon to

find an e-mail on your Blackberry at 7 a.m. with an

It’s not about


more products

or different


It’s about



–Joe Fuzak,



All-State Legal

emergency need that must be fulfilled that morning,”

says Kudler. “Certainly there are limitations to

what you can do, but you have to be prepared to

spring into action.”

“In one situation, we got a call that a client

needed over 3,000 packets of pink 3M tape flags

and they needed them the next day,” says Kudler

with a chuckle, remembering the hustle it took to

fulfill that request. “We had to make arrangements

to overnight them from all over the U.S. Twenty-four

hours later there wasn’t a pink tape flag to be purchased

in the country—but our client’s request was


“We are involved in a price-competitive industry;

a lot of people make buying decisions based

on price alone,” says Schooley. “If you take that

approach with buyers in the legal market you will

fail more times than you will succeed. Of course

they want to be good financial stewards, but they

are looking for how you will make the procurement

side of the business easier for them.”

In some cases, over-servicing your legal clients

requires you to anticipate their needs before

they’ve even been expressed. “We keep a lot of

the items most often requested by our legal clients

on our delivery truck at all times,” says Schooley.

“It happens often that a client will call or stop the

delivery person with an emergency need and we

can usually respond very quickly because the item

is already on the truck.”

Fulfillment Frenzy

“Typically the needs that come from this type of

client are more urgent in nature than our other

clients,” says Schooley. “It happens frequently that

same-day fulfillment is required.”

“It costs money to make sure that we have the

higher-end, less-used products available to meet

their needs when they are going to trial the next

day and require something,” says Fuzak. “You are

either in this business or you’re not.”

All experts agree that to support their legal

clients they must maintain an inventory of typically

requested items. “This includes specialty items that

most general dealers don’t carry,” says Kahn. But, if

you’re selling to lawyers, you’ve got to have them.

And with that there is a cost.”

“Law firms tend to be more demanding and

less tolerant of us not being able to fulfill their

needs,” says Kudler. “They expect a very quick

response time.”

One example shared by Kudler of an item he

keeps in stock specifically for those last-minute

calls is luggage carts. Attorneys use the luggage

carts to tote their documentation and legal briefs

to court and often realize the need for an additional

cart only hours before they require it. “We recognize

that this item is mission critical to them and we




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keep them on hand,” says Kudler. “We also replace it in our inventory

immediately after selling one!”

“We keep a lot of legal industry products on hand and that

has increased over the years as we service more law firms,” says

Schooley. “We also have a great relationship with United Stationers

to effectively meet the turnaround that these customers need to get

prepared for trial.”

Still Room for Traditional Tactics

Within the realm of the sales model to legal firms, there is also room

for several aspects that are familiar to the independent office supplies

dealer. A supplier can expand from a single line to meeting all needs

of the client, for example. “We recently negotiated a program with

a mid-size law firm that is shifting all of its janitorial and break room

supplies to our firm,” says Kudler. “They want to single source their

office products the same way any other business does.”

“If you wanted to just provide office supplies to a legal firm, you

could,” says Schooley. “They would see you as an office supplies

provider and the opportunity you’d be missing out on would be enormous.

The actual office supplies are really a very small part of their

spend in overall copy operations.”

Schooley recommends having a variety of specialty papers in

specific cuts on hand, as well as report covers in different weights and

colors, and index tabs that are used specifically in court proceedings.

“Having all of these items available from one consolidated vendor

offers your legal clients a simple solution,” says Schooley.

Kahn reminds dealers to mind the basics of their business and

offer their legal clients value-added support. “A couple of years ago

there were changes with the U.S. Postal Service regarding the cost

to mail envelopes. We spent hours figuring out the puzzle as to what

size and what depth and what specific envelope will qualify for which

rates. We took that to our customers,” says Kahn. “They couldn’t have

found that with a big box store. Our customers look to us for those

answers.” O|L


Secrets to


Selling to Legal





Invest time in building relationships between your

account team and those with purchasing power at the law

firm. Reinforce the concept that when they need you to do

something important and time-critical for them, they can

count on you. Start as a secondary or tertiary supplier and

build the relationship through exceptional service.

Customer service is critical. Establish a system

for order taking and fulfillment at all times of the day, every

day. Be prepared to deliver industry-specific items within

hours, not days.

Stay in tune with market pricing. You must

always be competitively priced in your market. Law firm

purchasers are loyal, but they aren’t a charity!




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MIND Your Business



How to keep a handle on

changing prices during an

economic downturn

About this time last year, gasoline prices started to

noticeably increase. By the summer, prices had risen so high

that many Americans changed their driving habits. Although gas prices

are far lower now than they were a year ago, you probably still know

the price of a gallon of unleaded, as well as the price of a barrel of oil.

It’s a simple matter of paying attention to what’s important. During good economic

times, it’s easy to be less focused on costs and prices. However, all that has changed,

and these tough economic times mean it’s a new game when it comes to prices.


In many ways, the current economic environment can be a positive for the office products

industry. Although businesses across the board are slowing, business in America

certainly won’t stop. Companies still need office supplies, furniture, and technology

items to keep running. That’s why it’s crucial that office product dealers keep a sharp

focus on pricing. There is still business to be had and money to be made, although staying

competitive and profitable is certainly more challenging these days.

Here are a few considerations for effective pricing when the economy is contracting.

PrICes Are IN A NeAr-CONsTANT sTATe Of fLuCTuATION. In the past, office product

suppliers were much more disciplined about putting through changes—particularly

increases—as they usually only happened quarterly. In today’s world, changes come at

virtually any time. Technology is a big driver of many of these changes, because “new”





MIND Your Business

items don’t stay new for very long. Dealers need to stay

flexible and respond in a similar fashion.

dON’T Be AfrAId TO ChANGe yOur PrICes freQueNTLy . . .

Also in the past, many office product dealers have been

reluctant to raise prices, or to raise prices too quickly.

By not raising prices, you give up margin and leave

money on the table.

. . . BeCAuse yOur COMPeTITOrs AreN’T AfrAId TO

ChANGe TheIr PrICes. The “big box” stores change

prices on their Web sites very often, even daily. They

know what’s selling, what isn’t, and where to raise or

lower prices accordingly. Take note of how your competition

prices its merchandise.

items, changes in description or unit of measure, or

similar changes. (See sidebar)

ThINK IN The “BeAr” MArKeT. Recent news reports

have surfaced that shoe repair businesses are booming.

It’s a tiny industry, but in tough economic times,

people will repair their shoes rather than buy new ones.

Similarly, what products or services do you offer that

are in demand in hard times Offering deals on these

items can increase orders and promote traffic to your

catalogs or Web site for other products.

As the saying goes, the devil is in the details, so don’t

let big plans for your business get squeezed by stale

pricing. Keeping on top of your costs and resale pricing

will make a big difference to your bottom line. O|L

dON’T hesITATe TO LOWer PrICes WheN yOur COsTs

GO dOWN BeCAuse yOu Need TO sTAy COMPeTITIVe. Yes,

the costs of products do go down. Again, think about

technology items. Computers and printers are moving

targets. The newer versions may be faster, better, and

cheaper, but they get even cheaper after they have

been out for a few months. Strategically lowering your

prices keeps you competitive with the big guys.





Pricing is an issue that all industries face, so keep the

following in mind when setting your prices.


Remember the “4 Ps of Marketing” Product, Price,

Placement, and Promotion. Using special pricing on

high-demand items can bring people in the door or

to your Web site or catalog. Deals and promotional

items that save people money are particularly hot right

now, so don’t pass up the opportunity to promote them

whenever possible. (See “Get Results with SmartDeals”

on page 36 in this issue.)

TAP The eXPerTs. Use every tool at your disposal to

make sure your pricing is up to speed—both your

costs and selling prices. One of the best tools available

for United dealers is ICAPS, or Item Content

And Pricing System, which provides automatic e-mail

updates on price changes, and new and discontinued


PrICes uP TO sPeed

United dealers have access to a great tool called ICAPS,

Item Content And Pricing System, which helps users get more

timely information on costs and resale pricing.

As Bonnie Kudia, item content pricing systems manager

at United, explains, “Price changes happen so quickly, it’s

important to update your pricing on a monthly or even weekly

basis, and move away from changing prices only quarterly.

“ICAPS has a number of advantages,” continues Kudia.

“For example, dealers can set up a template for a file so that

on a weekly or monthly basis, they can receive an e-mail with

cost changes, sell price changes or both. Dealers can also

sign up for updates on new and discontinued items.”

Depending on your computer system, the data can be

directly imported to your pricing program. However, dealers

can choose to do it manually if they prefer. On United’s Web

site in the ‘Classified Zone,’ there are step-by-step instructions

on setting up files based on whatever schedule the

dealer prefers, and United’s Customer Technical Support

group is there to assist with any problems.

For more information about ICAPS, contact your United

account manager.

34 March/April 2009


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GREAT Resources


The aggressive discounts, gifts,

and rebates found in the monthly

SmartDeals flyers are helping

dealers achieve incremental sales.

Successful businesses—like great sports teams—anticipate

changes in the “game” and adapt their playbook to win. Since

the name of the game in office products is the right product at the right price, United

Stationers offers dealers a winning strategy: SmartDeals.

SmartDeals is a monthly promotional campaign that offers aggressive discounts, giftwith-purchase

offers, free gift cards, instant rebates, and mail-in rebates to your customers.

The SmartDeals flyers can be imprinted with the name and logo of the participating

dealer, and can be mailed or e-mailed directly to dealers’ end consumers.

“The SmartDeals campaign is one of the most aggressive and exciting things we’ve

ever given our dealers to take to market,” says Jim McCann, director of marketing for

United. “We’ve had early success with the e-mail marketing, but whether it’s the print or

e-mail version, the amazing SmartDeals offers are driving incremental sales.”

Getting Results

SmartDeals started in 2006 as a technology products campaign. However, in April 2008,

SmartDeals For The Office was launched, offering a wide range of popular office products,

including paper, writing instruments, furniture, break room, and janitorial supplies.

Dealers can sign up for one or both versions of the flyer.

Since its launch, SmartDeals For The Office has become one of United’s most popu-

36 March/April 2009

lar promotional flyers. And that popularity is

backed by performance. Dealers subscribing to

SmartDeals have averaged a 30 percent unit lift for

items promoted in the flyer. Dealers who don’t use

SmartDeals averaged no growth on these same


United takes a team approach to selecting the

SmartDeals items. “We conduct extensive research

with suppliers to determine which deals and

discounts to include, and an internal committee

reviews each offer to determine its market impact,”

says McCann. “The aggressive pricing combined

with other great offers make this piece stand out.”

By the Numbers

According to Tom Merrihew, vice president and

general merchandising manager of office products

at United, the SmartDeals program is uniquely built

to track success. “Traditionally, it’s difficult to tell

which advertising vehicle drives the sale, because

the same item might be advertised in different

places. With SmartDeals, each item is on a separate

price plan, allowing comparisons between

dealers who use SmartDeals to those who don’t.”

“The hundreds of thousands of technology flyers

we distribute monthly are delivering results,” adds

Douglas H. Nash, vice president, general manager

of the technology category at United. “For example,

printers featured in SmartDeals have averaged

almost 100 percent growth compared to the

previous six-month average. For the same six

months, featured tech accessories averaged almost

55 percent growth, and data/media storage products

averaged 65 percent growth.”

Merrihew believes that SmartDeals is a ‘no-lose’

strategy for dealers. “We pass the discounts from

our suppliers to our dealers, so everyone keeps

their margin, and the end consumers get some

amazing deals,” he explains.

Growth Versus Decline

“We know SmartDeals is working,” says Merrihew.

“The circulation is increasing, and we’re getting

positive feedback from the dealers.”

Another example of SmartDeals success can

be found in the instant rebates that are offered.

“In December 2008, dealers using SmartDeals

For The Office saw a 20 percent increase in sales

for instant rebate items in that month’s flyer,” says

McCann. “Dealers that didn’t use SmartDeals saw

sales decline 10 percent on those products. The

SmartDeals campaign also reinforces the fact that

independent dealers are very price competitive,

which is crucial in this economic climate when

buyers are more price conscious than ever.” O|L


Here are some suggestions for maximizing your marketing

efforts from an expert at United—Jim McCann, director of


• Create a year-long marketing plan and live by it. Your

United account manager is a great resource for this. Build

a plan that includes every marketing piece you use, then

focus the rest of the year on executing the plan.

• Get tech savvy with e-mail. Start collecting your

clients’ e-mails. E-mail is becoming a primary marketing

communication vehicle for dealers.

• Leverage tools available from marketing experts. At

United, we conduct extensive research to make sure we

have the right products at the right price. Additionally, flyers

sent using MailDirect generate up to 20 percent more

redemptions than those distributed by hand.

SmartDeals gives us about a 10 percent redemption

rate, whereas our typical mail out fl yers get a 3-4

percent return. We’re also having great success

e-mailing SmartDeals to our customers. It presents

a fabulous image for us. We’ve been doing e-mail

marketing for 5 or 6 years, so the ability to

e-mail the SmartDeals fl yers is a good fi t for us.

We are a 25-year-old company, and we’ve been

with United for all 25 years. I think this is the

best marketing program that United has

ever come out with.

– Ray Seefeld, Superior Business Products

Schenectady, N.Y.

SmartDeals user since 2007

Take a look at the sample SmartDeals flyer

that was mailed with this issue of OfficeLine.

The January 2009 fl yer was our first month using

SmartDeals fl yers. Suddenly, the phone was ringing

off the wall during the last days of December. We

were pleasantly surprised because we were getting

call after call. SmartDeals has definitely increased

our volume because it’s a great “gateway” piece

that gives us an opportunity to put the general

line and sale catalogs into customers’ hands.

SmartDeals has also been effective as a new business

development tool. So far we’ve gotten two new

clients just from January’s mailer.

– Randy Keel, Laser Tech USA, Inc.,

Offi ce Express #1551

Cedar Rapids, Iowa




The Wireless


Your Customers

Are Looking For!

Unleash The Office –

And Your Sales

Today Wireless Technology is a term on the lips

of IT professionals in nearly every industry. Do

you have the know-how and wireless product

offering to respond to your customers’ needs

We have all the latest technology to set offices

everywhere free! Don’t miss out on a chance to

capitalize on this exciting industry trend.

Cutting The Cord

You have to admit, cables are both ugly and

awkward. But worse, they tether you physically

to an electronic device. So unless your

customers like being chained to a high-tech

“post in the ground,” they’ll want to consider

wireless options wherever they are available.

Wireless technology is designed to give them

easy access to networking, increase freedom

of movement and eliminate the snarled nests

of cables that may be encroaching on homes

and offices.

Wireless Desktops

An obvious place to “unleash” is right on the

top of your desk. Unsightly snake-like cables

can be eliminated with a wireless keyboard

and mouse. We have an extensive selection

of both, to fit any office environment without

breaking the bank.





Wireless Networking

Means Sharing

One of the fantastic things about going wireless

is the ability to share Internet service and devices

like printers or stereo systems with multiple

computers over a local network. To start, you need a

wireless router to securely broadcast your Internet

connection, but then all sorts of new networking

options become possible depending on the equipment

capabilities. We bring you an extensive array of the

latest wireless networking solutions so you can help

customers of all sizes achieve a more efficient and

production environment.

Mobility and

Wireless Technology

With the ever-changing landscape of business today,

Internet access is as important on the road as it is

in the office or at home. Your customers can now

access the Internet wirelessly from almost anywhere

with most laptops using a wireless notebook card. We

have all the latest tools to help them stay connected,

wherever they may roam!


Chat it Up Wirelessly

Whether they’re looking for an on-the-ear Bluetooth

device for handsfree mobile phone use, a wireless

handset connected to a landline, or the ability to use

internet service for telecommunications with a VoIP

handsfree headset, we offer the options that give

your customers the freedom of speech – just

about anywhere.

If you’re not currently offering the best wireless

solutions to your customers, it’s not too late to set

them free. For more information about offering the

latest and greatest technology products, contact

the United Stationers Technology Sales Group at






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by Jack Truong

| Vice President | 3M Office Supplies Division

Meeting a Common Challenge

If your business is like most businesses, your main goal is to find ways

to increase sales and profits, reduce costs, and maintain a competitive

edge. A well-managed business that achieves these goals will be among

those most likely to survive—and thrive—over the long term, even in

difficult economic times.

But while it’s essential that your business does well, it’s also important

for you to consider what you can contribute to the community you

serve. After all, the companies and individuals who buy and use the

products and services you provide are part of that community. Your

“giving back” will enhance your reputation and endear your business

with your customers.

If you’re looking for a place to begin, let me suggest donating to the

City of Hope. The National Office Products Industry has supported the

City of Hope with fundraising efforts for nearly 30 years.

The City of Hope is dedicated to finding innovative, more effective,

and less toxic treatments to cure cancer, a mission that touches communities

across the nation. Every office worker either knows or has

known someone with cancer, if they haven’t had it themselves. Many

have lost friends or family members to this dreadful disease.

We in the National Office Products Industry—manufacturers, wholesalers,

and dealers alike—must galvanize our efforts to fight this menace

and find a better cure. While we may compete in business, we can

come together as colleagues to support this common cause—for our

customers, end-users, and ourselves.

From golf tournaments to silent auctions, there are many ways to

raise money, and 3M will give you an added incentive to participate

through an exciting promotion this spring. For every dollar you donate

to the City of Hope between March and July 2009, you will receive points

toward a trip to Wonewok, 3M’s corporate retreat in northern Minnesota.

Whatever the size of your company, by joining this effort you can help

make a difference.

Jack truong enjoys the tranquil Japanese Garden at the City of Hope,

an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center located in Duarte, Calif.



Share your valuable experiences

with readers of “The Final Word.”

If you could give a new dealer just

one piece of advice, what would it

be Can you describe your most

challenging sales call and how you

responded Send your submission



c/o United Stationers

One Parkway North Blvd.

Suite 100

Deerfield, IL 60015-2259

or via e-mail to:


subject line “The Final Word”


ACCO . . . . . . . . . . . . . .PAGE 4


AVERY . . . . . . . . . . . . .PAGE 9

BROTHER . . . . . . . . . BACK COVER

C-LINE . . . . . . . . . . . . PAGE 21

DURABLE . . . . . . . . . . . PAGE 13

ECI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PAGE 30

ESSELTE . . . . . . . . . . . PAGE 25

FELLOWES . . . . . . . . . . PAGE 18


INNOVERA . . . . . . . . . . PAGE 32

KIMBERLY-CLARK . . . . . . . PAGE 35

ORS NASCO. . . . . . . . . . PAGE 11



UNIVERSAL . . . . . . . . . . PAGE 27

OfficeLine is published bi-monthly by United Stationers Supply Co. for the benefit of its independent dealers and suppliers in the office products industry. To obtain a complimentary subscription, please visit www.ussco.com/resellers/gi_officeline.shtml

or contact your local account manager. The publisher reserves the right to deny subscriptions based solely on its discretion. Advertisers may contact the publisher at officeline@ussco.com for rates and schedules.

42 March/April 2009

Great news for 2009…

New Alera Products for 2009

Providing great quality and value at an

affordable price

...lots of new

function and

style in the

Alera family...

…at prices that

sit comfortably

with everyone.

If our furniture could talk...

…it would bubble over with excitement about our new

products for 2009. It would brag about the rigorous

design standards and quality processes required before

any of these new products earn the right to join the Alera

brand. And then it would whisper how affordable prices

and quick delivery make it possible to furnish an entire

office with character tomorrow.

• Valencia Laminate Flipper Training & Meeting

Room Tables offer flexibility and function

• Walnut Woodgrain Folding tables in three

sizes offer great quality at a value price

• Updated Veneer Bookcases in three finishes

– improved engineering, finishes and


• 2100 Series Steel Desks expanded to include

72” desk, 60” credenza and keyboard

tray options

• 5000 Series Lateral files expanded to include

42” sizes and combination cabinets

• Valencia Accessory Additions – Glass door

sets with satin metal frame and matching

optional pulls

• Wire Shelving Accessories added including

shelf liners, wire baskets, hooks, back

supports, poles, shelves in all sizes, s-hook

shelf connectors, shelf clips, solid surface

shelf insert

• Black Anthracite Finish Wire Shelving – NSF

certified for both wet and dry environments

ideal for restaurant applications

• More Seating Options:

Sparis Executive Leather Hi-back Chair –

Lowest price point

o Napolean Leather Chair with baseball

stitching accommodates individuals of

petite stature

o Ravino Leather and Chrome Chairs –

Big & Tall seating supports up to 450 lbs.

– matching standard seating allows one

style for entire office

o Madaris Leather Executive Chairs with

Mahogany trim

o Clio, Franco and Carreo series include

extra cushioning with soft-touch leather

and NO TOOLS REQUIRED assembly

o Rici II Thin Profile Fabric Chair –

upgraded fabric and ergonomics

o Wrigley Task Seating expanded to offer

24x7 versions

o New vinyl stack chairs great for

breakroom use

Furniture with character.

Perfect printers for those who know the predictable choice

isn’t necessarily the best choice.

Welcome to Plan b.

Up to 21ppm


Network Ready Color Laser Printer


Wireless Color Laser Printer


Color Laser All-in-One

Plan A is following the crowd. Plan A is doing the expected. When it comes to printing, Plan A is not your best choice. It pays to look

a little closer and then choose Plan B from Brother. ® We make printers and all-in-ones that give you more. More features. More

affordability. And up to 21ppm 1 color and monochrome output speeds. It’s the

value we build into all our products. And your reward for being smarter. And

choosing Plan B. Visit us online at www.brother.com


pages per minute.

© 2009 Brother International Corporation, Bridgewater, NJ

Brother Industries, Ltd. Nagoya, Japan


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