Grand Valley office supply business merging with Front Range company

An office supply company with local roots and more than 30 years of operation in the Grand Valley is merging with a Front Range company that’s enjoyed rapid growth during a soft economy.

Valley Office Supply recently notified customers it’s merging with Source Office Products of Golden.

The Golden company is a decade younger than Valley Office Supply, yet Source Office Products has expanded with locations in Colorado and Wyoming as well as Atlanta.

Representatives with both companies said their business cultures are similar, attributing expansion to customer service even as other office supply firms downsize their operations.

“The key to the relationship is almost identical values,” Ken Larson, president of Source Office Products, said during an exclusive interview with the Business Times. “The cultural fit is really important.”

Larson was hired last fall after working for Corporate Express for 15 years and another nine months for Staples after the national chain purchased Corporate Express.

Larson said national office supply chains have downsized in recent years, often eliminating customer service workers. The result is that many customers are on their own when shopping for products. The merger with Valley Office Supply offers an alternative, he said.

For example, Source Office Products will continue the Valley Office tradition of delivering products free of charge — even if the order is a single pen.

Local employees will remain in place in Grand Junction. Teresa and David Kareus, co-owners of Valley Office, will shift gears, becoming manager and account manager, respectively.

The merger presents Source Office Products with a public relations issue. The Kareus’ boasted of their company’s success as a locally owned and operated business with long-term ties to the Grand Valley. Company contributions to local charities long has been part of doing business. Source Office Products will continue to contribute to Mesa County organizations, said Sam Winfrey, vice-president of strategic accounts.

Yet, a portion of company profits will be shipped out of town to the Golden headquarters.

“We are still local,” said Teresa Kareus. She said customers will call the same phone number and talk to the same employees working at the Grand Junction office. “I don’t think it’s a conflict at all.”

Said Winfrey: “I think it’s the best of both worlds.” He said customers will benefit from the economies of scale and pricing a large company can offer, while supporting a local office that could add employees. Moreover, the company is based in the same state. “We’re not from New York,” Winfrey added. “I drove here.”

Source Office Products has added more than 20 employees since the beginning of last year and now has a staff of more than 100. Larson’s said the company’s reputation has grown to the point it doesn’t recruit workers. Potential employees seek out the company.

Said Kareus: “They’re primarily full-time jobs with benefits.”