Gordon Flesch Co.

Increased competition in the hardware space is the biggest challenge facing Gordon Flesch Co. The company’s primary business for the past 60 years has been selling printers, copiers, fax machines and other business equipment, but the competitive nature of the market is creating more price pressure than ever before. The answer, according to Patrick Flesch, vice president of sales for the western region, is not simply better and more efficient machines, but more complete service.

For the past few years, Gordon Flesch Co. has been transitioning from a purely hardware reseller to a service company specializing in technology solutions.  Moving into enterprise content management (ECM) and information technology services is creating more value for the hardware products Gordon Flesch Co. sells. The customer now has one place to go for all of its office technology needs instead of enlisting multiple vendors to manage different facets. 

Flesch says the company’s full suite of technology offerings and the way it supports its clients has made it stand out from the competition while preparing Gordon Flesch Co. for the future. “In 10 years, I see us being a management services company that also sells copiers and printers,” he says.

Growth Mode

Gordon Flesch Co. was founded in Madison, Wis., 1956 and is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. Flesch’s grandfather, the company’s namesake, was inspired to start his own company after seeing 3M’s then-revolutionary Thermofax technology, an early photocopying device. Gordon Flesch borrowed $10,000 from his father-in-law to buy a warehouse and made a deal with 3M to distribute Thermofax machines.

Xerox was the dominant copier company in the market during Gordon Flesch Co.’s early years. Then Savin came along with its liquid toner technology and Gordon Flesch Co. saw the potential. The company began selling Savin products and the business took off. By 1979, Gordon Flesch Co. was opening offices in Chicago and Columbus, Ohio, staking its territory around the Great Lakes region. 

With its movement toward IT solution, Patrick Flesch says his family’s company is again ready to grow its market share. “We’re in full expansion growth mode,” he says. “We’re evaluating where to go next [and] acquisition opportunities.”

Gordon Flesch Co. is divided into two territories. The western region includes the headquarters in Madison and offices in Appleton, Wis., and Chicagoland. The eastern region includes Columbus, Indianapolis and Milwaukee, managed by Mark Flesch, vice president of sales – Eastern Region. 

The company remains family owned, with Patrick and Mark Flesch representing the third generation of family leadership. 

“It’s very humbling,” Patrick Flesch stresses. “I truly consider every day I come to work a real privilege.”  Flesch adds that there is pressure to remain profitable and keep the livelihoods of Gordon Flesch Co.’s 600 employees intact. To do so, he says he’s willing to take on any role. 

The company also operates the Gordon Flesch Charitable Foundation, an organization made up entirely of Gordon Flesch Co. employees. The foundation has donated more than $1 million to community groups since 2001.

Making a Transition

Hardware is still Gordon Flesch Co.’s primary business, but the company’s biggest growth area is coming from its IT services business, according to  Flesch. Customers are turning to Gordon Flesch Co. for ECM, a kind of document management and document workflow process improvement. Through ECM, Gordon Flesch Co. helps clients scan in bills, invoices and packing slips, then intelligently route those electronic files into searchable digital storage. “I really see long term that being a pillar for our company,” Flesch says.

Small- and medium-sized companies with 20 to 100 employees are the heart of Gordon Flesch Co.’s customer base for IT services. Those clients are often too small to be able to afford their own chief information officer to handle technology needs. “We have the ability to go into our markets and provide something to the small/medium business market that really isn’t there in my opinion,”  Flesch says.

Gordon Flesch Co. launched its Virtual CIO (VCIO) program in January 2014. The VCIO is a dedicated person in each of the company’s six markets who fills the role of a CIO without the salary cost. The VCIO meets with customers to develop a three-year technology roadmap for their business. The VCIO then follows up on a quarterly basis to ensure clients are following the plan and to help them stay ahead of their competition’s technology. “It’s really a fully outsourced solution for our customers,” Flesch explains.

VICO is helping customers to find an approach that makes sense for their business and make sense of technologies such as cloud storage. Gordon Flesch educates its customers its customers on the advantages and disadvantages of such technologies. “The cloud is a buzz word right now and you’ve got to make sure it works for your company,” Flesch says.

In the two years since the VCIO program began, Gordon Flesch Co. has built its IT services customer base to 170 businesses. As that pool of clients has grown,  Flesch says the company is beginning to recognize several trends. Many customers are multiple location-type businesses, such as dental clinics or property management companies, that need to manage information flow across several sites. “We’ve been able to help in a lot of instances and take that IT headache off the business owner’s plate,” Flesch adds.

Gordon Flesch Co. sees promise in ECM technology for warehouse operations. Digital records can free up inventory space and help distributors meet customers’ just-in-time delivery demands. Technology can eliminate redundancy and quicken the completion of manual, time consuming tasks such as billing, invoice and packing slip filing. The company is using Laserfiche document management software to convert its own distribution center into an example of the effectiveness of ECM. Flesch calls it “eating our own dog food.” “If we consume our own products that we sell, we’re only going to be better when we go out into the market and talk about our solutions,” he explains. Gordon Flesch Co. has already seen a measurable improvement.

In addition to expanding its IT services, Gordon Flesch Co. is growing through acquisitions. The company purchased Ohio-based Cambridge Connections last October. Cambridge Connections, which specializes in integrating Laserfiche with SAP, AutoCAD and other software systems, was a longtime partner with Gordon Flesch Co. on cloud and ECM solutions. The acquisition has created national opportunities for new ECM customers, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

Flesch says securing an ECM services contract with the federal agency expanded his vision of the company’s future. “There is no geographical limits to where you can go and sell those services,” he explains.

Gordon Flesch Co.’s inroads into technology and the prospect of future acquisitions is energizing the company, Flesch explains. “That’s the most exciting part of my day, hearing about where we’re going next and what’s new and exciting,” he adds. 

Current Issue

Check out our latest Edition!

 

jim editor wdi

Contact Us

Wholesale and Distribution International

150 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 900
Chicago, IL 60601
312.676.1100  312.676.1101

Click here for a full list of contacts.

Latest Edition

Spread The Love

Back To Top