Browns buy MyOfficeProducts



Browns swoop for MyOfficeProducts


Former Allied team now at the head of largest independent dealer in the US after WB Mason


Howard and Michael Brown are back in the US office products industry with a bang after acquiring the country’s second-largest independent dealer MyOfficeProducts (MYOP).


The former Allied owners set up HiTouch Business Services in May 2010, promising to hit the acquisition trail. After several quiet months they have now propelled themselves to the number two position in the US independent dealer channel – behind mega-dealer WB Mason – with the acquisition of $130 million Tennessee-based dealer MYOP.


HiTouch CEO Michael Brown told OPI that MYOP hadn’t specifically been a target from the beginning, but that the opportunity had presented itself when it became apparent that MYOP’s private-equity backed owners were looking at an exit strategy.


"We had been tracking a number of companies for months, but really wanted to see how they were performing coming out of the tough 2009 business environment," said Brown.


"From the outset of our discussions, we saw immediately that HiTouch and MyOfficeProducts shared not only a common mission and values, but our service offerings and geographic reach complemented our respective focus on customer service and growth," commented Howard Brown, HiTouch’s Chairman.


"As operating companies within HiTouch Business Services, the combined offerings of MyOfficeProducts, Rentacrate and ShredX allow us to truly stand apart with the most uniquely comprehensive business services solutions available today in the market," Brown added. "We are very well positioned for continued growth."


MYOP’s former CEO and Chairman Bobby Rolfe has now left the business, but the rest of the management team, including John Frisk and Butch Johnson, are staying on.


As Chairman of HiTouch, Howard Brown will continue his oversight and management of all corporate activities and growth initiatives. Michael Brown will serve as CEO of HiTouch and will oversee the MYOP, Rentacrate and ShredX operations.


The MYOP name will be kept on as the go-to-market brand for HiTouch’s office supplies business. "It’s a very strong brand and we will continue its outreach into the rest of the country," confirmed Michael Brown.


MYOP’s leadership team includes John Frisk (President), HiTouch executive John Palmer (COO), Butch Johnson (EVP of Merchandising) and Jeff Sammons (CFO).


"We are thrilled to be part of such an innovative and experienced team," said Frisk.


"With our combined talent, resources, experience and reach we offer a whole new level of service by delivering unparalleled solutions to businesses that demand value. Whether they include day-to-day office supplies, secure document management, office moves or facilities management, our new company can offer customers an immediate return, making businesses more profitable and efficient."


MYOP, based in Brentwood, Tennessee, was founded in February 2002. Within just a few years it became one of the largest national independent office products companies in the US after an accelerated roll-up strategy, with more than 300 employees serving over 44 markets across 16 states.


All employees will retain their current positions at each of the company’s locations, with plans to add more staff in the near future. There are also plans to increase the national sales force and current staff at the company’s Brentwood headquarters.


"We’re investing heavily in the Tennessee area," said Michael Brown.


One major change to the MYOP business will be a transition from the current stockless model to a stocking model that the Browns favoured during their time at Allied.


In the short term this means further investments at the MYOP Tennessee warehouse and HiTouch’s own facility in New Jersey, while Michael Brown says plans are already in place to open a California facility in the near future.


However, Brown admits that the current HiTouch presence in 25 states and 45 markets still does not provide sufficient concentration in terms of a distribution standpoint, so fill-in acquisitions can certainly be expected. The one glaring white spot on the map is in the north-east of the US, and that region has been highlighted as a priority. The advantage of making the first acquisition such a major one is that any future acquisitions can be rolled into the MYOP business.


The Browns are not just focusing on office supplies. "We will continue to execute our long-term strategy of becoming a multi-billion dollar global business services company with the capability to serve customers of any size, in any industry," stated Michael Brown.


With both HiTouch and MYOP first-call SP Richards dealers, that’s good news for the wholesaler. Given the Browns’ lofty ambitions, could it develop into a relationship that rivals, or even exceeds, that between United Stationers and WB Mason?


That’s certainly a possibility. Michael Brown says 2011 sales could already reach $200 million without the impact of further acquisitions, and with the father and son’s apparent ‘Midas touch’ you probably wouldn’t bet against them achieving their goals this time around either.