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This is Fred Ball for Zions Bank, speaking on business.

Sometimes the name of a business really says it all. Office Equipment is a business in Price and there is no mistaking what they do.

Duane Steele started selling office equipment in 1948. He was working for ZCMI as a traveling salesman in the Eastern Utah territory. His compensation was straight commission but ZCMI also paid him 5 cents for every call he made. He slept on a cot in the back of the warehouse when he was in Price. In the late 1960s, he broke his leg during his work and found himself on crutches and with $500 in savings. With that princely sum, he decided to go into business and opened a store on Main Street in a state historical site building.

In 1983, Curtis Steele, Duane's son, and Scott Sjostrom purchased the business and became complete office outfitters for Carbon and Emery Counties and from Blanding to Vernal in Eastern Utah. Curtis said that they generated the Office Max concept before there was an Office Max.

I asked Curtis and Scott how tough is it to compete with Office Max and Staples and other giant nationwide competitors. The response was quick and emphatic. They provide great price, service and provide individual training, advice and trouble shooting. The mass merchandisers can't give that needed attention.

Their biggest frustration is the corporate mentality of centralized purchasing where the assumption is that saving a few dollars on a purchase is sound business. In reality, after paying shipping costs from a centralized warehouse and having time delays in receiving the merchandise and having no local service support is really false economy.

Office Equipment generates about 25 percent of its revenues from computer sales, 40 percent from office supplies, 15 percent from copiers and the rest in miscellaneous supplies. The company provides walk-in copying service and other tools and equipment to facilitate the needs of its customers.

Business is good and the compensation is better than Duane Steel's old nickel a call pay schedule.

For Zions Bank, I'm Fred Ball. I'm speaking on business.

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