OP industry marks milestone events



Champagne corks have been popping non-stop across the industry this year. A bumper number of firms have been celebrating corporate milestones.


The biggest birthday bash of the year has been Smead Manufacturing’s celebration of its centenary year.


Since Charles Smead created the bandless file in the small town of Hastings, Minnesota, in 1906, the company has come a long way. A century on, and it makes almost 5,000 products and operates 14 manufacturing plants across North America and Europe.


In celebration of its anniversary, the manufacturer published 100 Ideas for Better Organization, a booklet designed to ensure future productivity and efficiency in the workplace. It provides advice on how to take charge of issues including space and time management, and gives tips on how best to administer paperwork.


Smead’s SVP of sales and marketing, David Fasbender, attributes the company’s ongoing success to its ability to plan for the future: "Smead has very successfully anticipated future trends over the last century through continuous consumer insight and the understanding of trends in the workplace."


Another big event has been the celebration of The Pen Shop’s 60th anniversary. One of Europe’s largest chains of writing instrument retailers, The Pen Shop was set up by brothers Thomas and George Allen in June 1946.


The company now has stores and concessions in 25 cities and airports across the United Kingdom.


To mark the anniversary, managing director Colin McClymont announced some expansion plans. He didn’t disclose specifics, but said: "We are seeking opportunities to expand all divisions over the next five years, and I look forward to being able to make announcements soon."


2006 has also been an important year for OP giants Staples and Office Depot as both are celebrating 20 years in business.


On 1 May 1986, Staples opened its very first store in Brighton, Massachusetts. Today, the company is the world’s biggest seller of office products, reporting 2005 revenue of $16.1 billion.


Staples marked its 20th birthday in considerable style by hosting the first ever remote opening of the Nasdaq Stock Market from its headquarters in Framingham, Massachusetts. Both Staples chairman/CEO Ron Sargent and Nasdaq president/CEO Bob Greifeld attended the opening bell ceremony at the start of the trading day.


Sargent said: "As Staples celebrates its 20th anniversary, we are very proud of what we’ve accomplished."


Just five months after Staples first opened its doors, Office Depot followed suit and opened its first store in Lauderdale Lakes in Florida, on 9 October 1986. It has since grown into a $15 billion, Fortune 150 company with operations in 36 countries, employing 50,000 people.


Not to be outdone by its rival, Depot also celebrated the event by getting involved with a stock exchange ceremony. Depot’s CEO, Steve Odland, rang the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange.


To thank customers for their continued support over the past 20 years, the company sponsored a travel promotion throughout October called "The Office Depot 20 Fly Free". Customers had the chance to win $10,000 in air travel from Orbitz.com, to be used to supplement small business travel budgets or for holiday flights.


Last month, Depot posted Q3 net sales of $3.49 billion.


Isaberg Rapid, has also got something to celebrate. This year marks its 70th birthday. From humble beginnings as a small workshop set up in Hestra in Sweden in 1936, Rapid now has a 33 percent market share in staplers in Europe and annual revenues of €100 million ($125 million). It also has its own development and manufacturing facilities in France, China and Sweden.


Business Products Group International (BPGI) is marking ten years in the independent office products market.


Headquartered in Washington DC, BPGI is the world’s largest consortium of buying groups, consisting solely of independent office products dealers. It consists of 20 buying groups in 13 countries worldwide, including is.group and TriMega Purchasing Association.


As part of the group’s celebrations, BPGI recognised ACCO Brands as its Global Vendor of the Decade at its 10th AGM held in San Francisco, California. Group chairman Ben Wensing said: "As we celebrate our 10th anniversary, we feel that BPGI has been successful in no small part due to the support of our vendor partners. It was time for us to formally recognise the contribution and today we are pleased to present our BPGI Global Vendor of the Decade award to ACCO Brands in appreciation of ten years of superior performance."


August 2006 meanwhile saw the 25th anniversary of the first IBM PC. On 12 August 1981, the IBM 5150 was launched. The model cost $1,565 and came equipped with a memory of just 16K. Some 25 years later, in the age of mass communication, it is hard to imagine life in the home or the office without one.


A year of such gaiety is testament to the strength of office products as one of the stalwart industries of the 20th century. Here’s to the next 100 years!