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Local company heads up digital copier revolution

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by Diane Rarick

SBJ Contributing Writer

One of Jim Quesenberry's business mantras is "Work hard, work smart, have fun."

So, whether Quesenberry is guiding Corporate Business Systems to an average sales growth of 62 percent per year, repeatedly winning large copy machine contracts or making fun of his hairline in company TV commercials, his mantra is obviously working.

The company's major obstacle when it opened in 1993 was simply getting started with no customer base, in a business that was already competitive, Quesenberry said.

"I also believe that 'people buy from people.' Knowing the challenges that faced us, we committed very early on to long hours and hard work. We knew that we had to do more, and try harder, because essentially every customer that bought from us had never dealt with us before. Additionally, because of this, we had to be more aggressive in our pricing and do a better job of providing solutions," he said.

Quesenberry set out to hire the best local talent he could and build from there. In Corporate Business Systems' second year of business, its sales jumped an amazing 96.4 percent over the first year. In 1998, Corporate Business Systems did $2.8 million in sales, up 60 percent from 1997. Quesenberry expects another 55 percent to 60 percent growth rate for 1999.

After spending several years in cramped quarters in the Southern Hills Shopping Center, Quesenberry took a leap of faith and bought a 7,000-square-foot building at 509 S. Cavalier two years ago. Renovated offices and plenty of warehouse space (with room enough for employees to shoot baskets) make it comfortable quarters for the growing company.

Corporate Business Systems' major products are Savin digital copier/printers, DocSTAR Electronic Filing Systems, JetFax fax machines, and Risograph digital duplicators.

To get a jump on the competition, Corporate Business Systems invested heavily in digital technology and training two years ago, and the early investment has paid off. More and more of its clients are seeing the benefits of a digital copier that is networked into a computer system.

"Most all of the new products on the market today are digital, and by being digital, they will connect to your computer network, giving you the ability to both fax and print directly from your computers," Quesenberry said.

With a digital copier, there is no need to print a copy on your personal laser printer, take it to the copy machine, and stand there doing the manual work it takes to produce collated sets, according to Quesenberry.

With the click of a key, you can send a document right to a digital copier and have it make the correct number of collated copies for you. The cost of printing documents directly to a digital copier averages a penny a page, vs. 6 cents per page on a laser printer.

Corporate Business Systems has its own certified NetWare administrator on board, a service that some of his competitors outsource. "Our method eliminates the finger-pointing" between the computer system and the copier/printer, Quesenberry said.

School districts in the area have made up a large chunk of Corporate Business Systems' customers. For the third time in a row, Corporate Business Systems has won the copier contract for the Springfield R-XII School District.

With the completion of the recently signed contract, Corporate Business Systems will have worked with the school district for eight years, providing about 1,000 copiers that make 4.2 million copies per month.

Other satisfied school district customers include Branson, Reeds Spring and Mansfield. Corporate Business Systems also recently won contracts with the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce, Loren Cook Company and Axiom Partners Payroll Network.

Quesenberry likes to talk about the quality of his staff and their years of experience in the business. "We have great people," he said. And Quesenberry is always on the lookout for talented people to join the team. "We invest very heavily in training, not only on the technical side, but also on the sales side."

Three-fourths of the Corporate Business Systems staff of 20 have college degrees. Four employees recently attended the Connectivity Institute in Philadelphia to learn the latest in digital technology. The sales force averages 15 years of experience, and the service staff averages 12 years' experience. Duffy L'Huillier is director of sales, Ken Hathaway is service manager, and Julie Vaughan is office manager.

Quesenberry plans to implement an employee stock ownership plan by the end of 1999, and already offers a company-paid health care plan and 100 percent matching contributions to employees' 401(k) plans. Corporate Business Systems will add dental and vision insurance to its benefits by the end of the year.

"For a 5-year-old, small company, our benefits are impressive," he said.

With the continued demand for copies in offices that increasingly use electronic means of communication, will the dream of a paperless office ever come true? Definitely no, Quesenberry said. With paper mills projecting 15 percent growth this year, and the fact that 68 percent of electronic mail is printed out, there seems to be no truth to that rumor, he added.

"People that say the paperless society is about to come are wrong flat out wrong."[[In-content Ad]]

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