2021: Office Partners remains a small and lean outfit where, despite fixed roles, everyone constantly wears multiple hats. The group’s mission is quite simple: to help its 125 members stay alive and thrive.
And thrive they continue to do, said CEO Matthew Hebert in a recent OPI Big Interview. He referred to the fact that many of its dealers had their best year ever during the pandemic as a result of demand for PPE and also all manner of homeworking-related tech equipment which combined more than compensated for steep declines in other categories.
Office Partners does not go after large rebates the way other groups do. Its priorities are different, according to Hebert: “We want to help dealers with shipping, so we ask vendors for lower or free freight terms. And we ask for lower minimum order values and better pricing. Those are the three key areas for our group of dealers. Getting better negotiated terms on these things is going to help our dealer base sell more products, rather than waiting 90 days or a year for any type of rebate.”
The group’s sweet spot remains the small to medium-sized dealer – typically family businesses – because it is these independents that really value the personal touch the same way Office Partners does. That said, in early 2020, it launched OP Direct, a direct-buy subgroup for larger independents. This, admits Hebert, was not a planned move, but came about from a perception that larger dealers need more options in the US market. OP Direct currently comprises four operators: Hawaii-based HSC Office Products, School Toolbox in Illinois, Business Essentials in Texas, and Indoff in Missouri.
2019: It’s been a good year with steady growth so far for US dealer group Office Partners. The death of former CEO Jim Hebert last year presented obvious challenges, but his son and successor Matthew Hebert says that its vendor partners and dealer members have given the business great help and support during a difficult time.
A raft of new marketing ideas are on the horizon, with the focus firmly on making it easier for consumers to select a product, including booklets showcasing bestselling items and mini catalogues specific to each category.
The business has also launched a popular new marketing product called Solutions that makes it easier for dealers and consumers to get the products they specifically need. A number of these, covering for example ‘Back to School’, ‘Executive Office’, ‘Made in the USA’ and ‘Filing’, have been launched so far and more will be rolled out over the remainder of the year.
2018: Following the sad passing of OP industry veteran and founder of US dealer group Office Partners, Jim Hebert, his son Matthew has taken on the CEO mantle. It’s been a very difficult year for Jim and first and foremost, he is very grateful to all of Office Partners’ vendors and dealers for their support during that time.
The group has been in business for 20 years and this year signed an agreement with jan/san buying group TUG which gives its dealers the opportunity to buy off TUG’s programmes. Office Partners this year has been in expansion mode, adding new members and also looking outside the traditional OP industry for different types of vendor that can help its dealers.
Diane Hebert (Jim’s wife) now runs the GSA Furniture side of the business and this continues to grow. Office Partners’ new catalogue, meanwhile, now has videos and interactive pages that talk about the products on offer so that customers can make a more informed buying decision.