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Published: Monday, 4/14/2003

Once-sleepy supply firm a standout

BY JON CHAVEZ
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
An Officeville catalog sits in an area the company is remodeling to add 3,500 square feet of space. Scott Wayne, left, and Louis Meeks are in the background. An Officeville catalog sits in an area the company is remodeling to add 3,500 square feet of space. Scott Wayne, left, and Louis Meeks are in the background.
LISA DUTTON--NO PHOTO CREDIT / BLADE Enlarge

ADRIAN - When it comes to running a business, Louis Meeks and Scott Wayne are fast learners.

After all, prior to 1995 they had no experience owning a company and the office-supplies industry didn't cross their radar screen until 2001.

Yet in January Service Source, Inc., which Mr. Meeks and Mr. Wayne bought in 1995, took the No. 102 slot on Inc. magazine's list of the 500 fastest-growing private firms in America. A year ago, they turned a business-to-business office-supplies franchise with a sleepy $100,000 in monthly sales into a $1-million-a-month business.

The firm expects to do $15 million in sales this year, despite a setback in its office-supplies business, and it continues to add customers .

``We're a pretty quiet company in the sense that we're downtown in a nondescript building without signs up,” said Mr. Meeks, president of Service Source and Officeville, the name of their blossoming office-supplies operation.

The former has a contract with Airborne Express to sell its overnight shipping service to businesses. Officeville sells businesses office supplies, which Mr. Meeks and Mr. Wayne purchase from wholesaler United Stationers, Inc., Customers buy both services through Service Source's call center in Adrian, which is manned by about 65 workers.

Service Source began seven years ago in West Bloomfield, Mich., as Midwest Transit Corp. It had no assets other than Mr. Meeks, who had left a job in the insurance industry, and Mr. Wayne, a 401(k) planner.

``We didn't buy anything. We simply said, `Okay, we're selling overnight shipping,''' Mr. Meeks said. They hired people to sell shipping services over the phone, and two years later moved to Adrian because the labor pool was better for a call center.

In 2001, the two men bought Service Source, another Airborne reseller, with 500 customers and an office-supplies firm, based in North Carolina. They added sales people and added business.

Yvonne Perry, administrative assistant at Business and Pleasure Travel, Inc., in Livonia, Mich., is glad. ``I have dealt with [national chains] - we have four offices - and sometimes I can't find the supplies I want or I don't know what their catalog name is or the order number is,'' she said. ``Officeville will look it right up for me.''

Small Business Profile is a weekly feature on local companies. To be considered, send information about your company to Small Business Profiles, Business News, The Blade, P.O. Box 921, Toledo, Ohio 43697-0921.



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