by Kris Ann Hegle
SBJ Contributing Writer
Terry Holcom remanufactured his career with remanufactured mailing equipment.
The 32-year veteran with Pitney Bowes retired early at age 55, then began his own business in 1994.
A friend in Kansas City who had worked with Holcom at Pitney Bowes suggested he start selling postal supplies, such as scales, tape, ink and sealing solution. Within months, The Supply Shop was born.
Several members of the Holcom family run The Supply Shop. Holcom's wife Judy handles sales and routine business matters from the couple's home office in Highlandville.
The Holcoms' son Ken, who also has experience servicing postal machines and other office equipment, works alongside his father in the repair shop, located in downtown Nixa.
"Pitney Bowes treated me good," Terry Holcom said. "But Springfield's growing, and there's plenty of room for some friendly competition." Pitney Bowes didn't have a non-compete clause when Terry Holcom retired.
In addition to servicing office equipment, Terry and Ken Holcom remanufacture Pitney Bowes machines. The used machines are stripped down and rebuilt from the base up. A remanufactured machine is less expensive, carries the same guarantee as a new machine and appeals to customers who must economize, according to the Holcoms.
Another source of business comes from recharging laser cartridges. The Holcoms recharge cartridges for Hewlett Packard, Apple, IBM, Epson, Mita and Panasonic laser printers, fax machines and copiers.
"On average, I'd say a new laser cartridge costs about $125 where a recharged cartridge is only $90," Ken Holcom said. "Some people are afraid to get a recharged cartridge because they think it might void the warranty, which isn't true, or because it was done improperly before. We refill the toner, clean the blade, clean the drum and charge the roller."
Last September, The Supply Shop became a Francotyp-Postalia dealer, and began selling the company's postage meters. According to Terry Holcom, Francotyp-Postalia equipment is increasing in popularity because it has fewer moving parts, which means fewer service calls.
"Postal equipment is much more sophisticated than it used to be," Terry Holcom said. "That's because the post office's requirements have changed so much. Now you've got presort mail, ZIP plus four, bar coding, carrier-route sorting, you name it. If any of this equipment breaks down, a business will have a hard time getting things done."
To decrease downtime, the Holcoms said they make an effort to respond quickly to customers' service calls. In fact, much of the Holcoms' time is spent on the road traveling to job sites.
"Once we get a call, we're there within four hours," said Terry Holcom. "That's something, considering our customer base stretches from just south of Interstate 44 to just east of West Plains to the Kansas state line."
In addition to servicing and remanufacturing mailing machines and equipment, The Supply Shop delivers postal supplies free of charge. While this convenience attracts customers, the single biggest advantage The Supply Shop offers is low prices, according to the Holcoms.
Indeed, lower prices mean more business. During the past five years, The Supply Shop has attracted several large service accounts, including Union Planters Bank, Southwest Missouri State University, Evangel College and Central Bible College.
Friendly, personal customer service also has helped the business grow, said Judy Holcom. As The Supply Shop continues to attract new customers, the Holcoms anticipate hiring new employees, including a salesperson and a service technician.
"I'm working harder than I ever did, but it's more fun," Terry Holcom said. "I have a wonderful rapport with my customers, and I enjoy saving them money."[[In-content Ad]]
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