Ten Years In – Our Garage Story

Often you hear the stories of how great companies started, many of which started in a garage, or a basement. Its our ten year annivesary at Innovative, and looking back we have a garage story of our own.

It was the summer of 2001 (maybe we should hire Bryan Adams to write a song about it?), and we were in the throes of whether we would open or not. Corporate Express was acquiring US Office Products, and it all hinged on 12 Account Executives making the choice to not make that transition and follow their dream of making sure their customers were able to receive the level of service they deserved. They made the bold choice to take the leap of faith and follow us into a new chapter, bringing local relationship based service back to the office products industry.

Calling it a leap of faith was putting it lightly. At the time, the company name wasn’t even set in stone, and our office left a lot to be desired. Picture the scene… some borrowed space in the building of another company. It was a mezzanine in a warehouse, a set of iron stairs up to a concrete deck over-looking the warehouse, with a small railing and a shabby corner office in that small open space. That was it, there was nothing else to speak of. The people that made the choice to join us in this adventure were betting their livelihoods on nothing more than a vision (Livin’ on a prayer, you could say).

In less than a month, we put together an office space and company, and opened for business. We threw up some studs and sheetrock to seperate our mezzanine from the warehouse, laid down some carpet, rigged up some electrical and phones, and brought in used furniture. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked.

It was a long summer in the heat, with limited ventilation and a very small space. But we were running on adrenaline. The excitement of building a company from the ground up, everyone was on the same page with the same vision, purpose and drive. Then three months after we opened, September 11th happened and the economy took a dive. A bad time to be trying to start a new company when many businesses started cutting back, or were reluctant to make any changes. But we weathered the economic storm and grew rapidly.

Starting a company in a decade that has seen two economic downturns certainly stacked the odds against us, but we’ve managed to stick to our vision, make some opportunistic moves and achieve consistent double digit growth for ten years.

When I remember back to the story of our first year, I think it truly defines what is at the heart of our company. The secret sauce if you will. Its not the name, or the building, or the products, its the people. The kind of people who cared enough about the vision to bet it all and take the tough road.

Since 2001 we’ve more than tripled our workforce while maintaining the same culture of relationship based local service. We just celebrated our tenth anniversary on Friday, and set out the vision for the next ten years. Are you in for the ride?

PS – Don’t worry, within the first year we moved out of our “garage” and into a real office.

To view the pictures from our Tenth Anniversary Pig Roast, visit our Facebook page.

About Jason Player
Chief Information Officer for Innovative Office Solutions. Responsible for making sure that all employee, customer and supplier partners have the information they need to meet their goals.

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