Jennifer Smith

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Jennifer Smith
Innovative Office Solutions
CEO

2019: US independent dealer Innovative Office Solutions is consistently heralded as an exceptional example of a women-led business with Jennifer Smith at the helm.

This year, for example, the company has received a WBE Gold Star Award from the Women’s Business Development Centre. This is presented to a certified Women Business Enterprise (WBE) with a track record of outstanding success.

2019 has seen the business continue to go from strength and it has been recognised as one of the fastest growing privately-held companies in the country, receiving several awards in recognition of that. Smith herself will receive the BSA Leadership Award during the 2019 BSA Annual Forum which is taking place in her home town of Minneapolis, Minnesota, in early September.

Look out for our Big Interview with Jennifer Smith in the October issue of OPI.

2018: Minnesota, US-based independent dealer Innovative Office Solutions is led by CEO Jennifer Smith. 2018 saw her achievements recognised when she was hailed as ‘Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year’.

Major company news over the past 12 months include its acquisition of Viking Office Supply. Based in Alexandria (MN), Viking has sold office products, furniture and business equipment in the area since 1972 and has become known locally for its personalised delivery services.

Smith described the move as the “perfect fit”. It follows the company’s Brown & Saenger acquisition in January this year as part of its expansion drive. The business was recognised by US publisher Inc. in its Inc. 5000 listing of the fastest-growing companies in the country for the ninth consecutive year, with a growth rate of 94% over the last three years.

2017: Minnesota-based independent dealer Innovative Office Solutions continues its relentless march onwards and upwards.

Growth extends across the board with an increased headcount – 14 so far this year – and geographic expansion in the form of new delivery partnerships in support of regional contracts. The company has also expanded investment in resources and talent to grow the workplace safety category.

Jennifer Smith and the team have had yet another notable year of recognition including:

  • 9th year of Inc. 5000 fastest-growing private companies in America
  • Minnesota Business Magazine – Top 100 Companies to work for six consecutive years
  • Twin Cities Business Journal – 50 Fastest Growing Companies
  • Association for Corporate Growth Minnesota – Bold Award Winner in Category, and Boldest of the Bold overall winner
  • Jennifer Smith – EY Entrepreneur of the Year

The awards are certainly well-deserved as Smith nurtures both the business strategy and the team. This year has seen the development of a new ‘InComparable Service’ training and standards, as well as an enhanced wellness programme.

2016: It’s been a hugely busy time for CEO Jennifer Smith and her team. Celebrating its 15th anniversary year in 2016, Innovative Office Solutions marked the occasion by surpassing the $100 million threshold.

In addition to another acquisition – certain assets of North Country Business Products – the company continues to explore further opportunities in this area.

Innovative has been very successful in a wide range of adjacent product categories this year, posting record growth in the facility, breakroom, print and promo, furniture and technology categories. It also added two new expansion categories: kitting and assembly services, and large format signage.

The company as a whole has also grown over the year, with 16 new positions being added so far in 2016. In terms of its professional development activities, Innovative launched its Learn-Teach-Grow employee education programme, and revamped and relaunched the Innovative University for new employee on boarding.

2015 NEW ENTRY: 2015 has been a year of both organic and acquisition growth for US dealer Innovative Office Solutions. Co-founded by current CEO Jennifer Smith in 2001, her vision at the time was to make working professionals more productive.

Since then, Smith’s entrepreneurial spirit has helped expand Innovative to touch on every area of office life and become a single-source office solutions company. Part of large dealer group network Pinnacle Affiliates, Innovative is now one of the fastest-growing independents in the business supplies sector in the US.

Factoring in the acquisition of S&T Office Products at the beginning of 2015, the company is hoping to reach revenues of $100 million by year end. But, as Smith says, along with that growth comes the need for change. “Most of our challenges around change relate to scalability – how to grow without losing touch with what is most important. To accomplish this, we worked hard to develop and implement processes for efficiencies while maintaining our company culture.”

As is the case for so many companies in this generally declining sector, opportunities for category expansion have been huge for Innovative and contribute a considerable percentage of total sales.

For 2016, Smith and the team are actively exploring additional technology-focused categories. Smith’s progressive thinking extends beyond her own business. As a leader and a woman working in business, she is very active as a mentor with the Women Venture Organisation and as a member of the steering committee for the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.