Office supply taps technology

Teresa and David Kareus recently announced the merger of Valley Office Supply with Source Office Products, touting the advantages of combining resources to improve purchasing power and customer service.

When it comes to using technology to improve efficiencies and service, though, the Grand Junction business was up to speed well before the merger with the larger firm based in Golden.

When the Kareuses took over the family-owned Valley Office Supply seven years ago, they inherited an operation that lacked some pieces of modern technology.

Because they value their time away from work, the two searched for and found a software company that could computerize 90 percent of the systems at the company. The new systems managed orders, shipping, accounts receivable and other functions essential to a business seeking to thrive in the highly competitive field of office products. With the systems in place, the couple was able to transition from owning a mostly retail and business supplier to a warehouse-style supply company.

The software changes followed a line of other changes that occurred over the years for the business founded in 1980.

A telephone-based system was in place in the 1980s when the Glen and Betty Dennis family brought in computers to track shipments, accounts payable and accounts receivable.

During the same period, a wholesale house in Chicago opened warehouses in Denver and Salt Lake City. In a flash, a three-week interval between placing an order in Grand Junction and receiving delivery from Chicago shrank to two days.

“Now, an order could be overnighted here,” Teresa Kareus said. “That’s how we grew in the mid-1980s.”

Automation was important to the decision to continue operating the business in 2004 because the Kareuses enjoy mountain biking and other outdoor activities. “There’s a freedom to be more casual here,” Teresa Kareus said, noting she has an exercise bike in the office.