Family business adapts over generations

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Print this page by Veronica Garabelli

Office Plus Business Centre in Danville has changed its name five times in the past 75 years, but the office supply store has been owned by the same family since its founding in 1937.

The business represents “the spirit of what a family business is,” says President Charles R. Haynsworth III, who notes that his grandfather, father, sisters, sons and uncle have worked for the company. 

The store, which originally sold office machines, was named Ace Office Supply by Haynsworth’s grandfather, Charles Haynsworth Sr., so it could be listed at the beginning of the phone book. When the company founder died in 1960, it was renamed Haynsworth’s Inc. and later Haynsworth’s in his honor.

Charles Haynsworth III and his uncle, William, took over the business in the ‘90s after the death of Haynsworth’s father and renamed it Haynsworth’s Office Plus. In 1997, they decided to drop the family name. The change was a tough decision, Haynsworth says, but a necessary one. The company worked with Independent Stationers, based in Indianapolis, a buying group that helped small office supply stores brand themselves and create a corporate image to compete with big-box stores.   

“Our name was a deterrent for business, to some extent, because people associated that with local, hometown, high price,” Charles Haynsworth III says. “We thought it was important to gain marketing of a national brand.” 

Office Plus Business Centre not only gained a new name in 1997 but also a new image. The Haynsworths renovated the Danville store and placed new logos on company vans and uniforms to gain name recognition. “We try to market who we are and our logo, so, over time, our logo has become a lot more recognized,” Haynsworth says.

The company now sells a wide range of office supplies and office furniture. It also has some unusual items in its inventory. Customers, for example, can buy a gun safe, a product whose use is not limited to storing guns, Haynsworth says. “We have customers who want to store bulky files, so, safes are better products for that storage,” he says.

Haynsworth believes Office Plus Business Centre stands out in competition with big-box retailers because of its longstanding connection with customers. “Because my staff knows our customers, they become involved and connected to our customers,” he says. “They end up talking to them about things that are going on in their lives, so, it is a relationship as opposed to a transaction that is going on with someone at the other end of the phone.”

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