Jackson firm acquires long-time Natchez office supply

Published 12:17 am Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ben Hillyer | The Natchez Democrat — Kimbrell Office Supply owners Scott and Nancy Kimbrell put their customers first, like Scott’s dad Fred Kimbrell did when he started the business 57 years ago.

NATCHEZ — For 57 years, the owners of Kimbrell’s Office Supply have put their customers first.

Earlier this month, that goal led to a decision to sell the company to a larger, Mississippi-based office supply retailer — Barefield Workplace Solutions.

“They are very, very customer-oriented, the way we’ve always tried to be,” said Kimbrell’s owner Scott Kimbrell Sr. “It will be a positive change for our customers.

“We’ll have more products, more technology. Their buying power will be better. They carry several lines of office furniture that we don’t have right now.”

Fred Kimbrell started Kimbrell Office Supply 57 years ago in Natchez.

Kimbrell said for most customers the only changes they’ll see in the immediate future include better online ordering and a broader array of products.

“They want to make this as seamless as they can to the customers so they won’t see any significant changes,” he said.

Other than ownership of the assets and additional technology for ordering, billing, payroll and other back office details, from the customer’s perspective, Kimbrell said the changes will be invisible.

The staff will stay the same.

“I’ll be here,” Kimbrell said. “Dell Lawrence is going to continue to be here. Butch Hosea has been an outside salesman for us for more than 30 years, and he’ll still be here.

“We’ll have the same delivery staff and the same store personnel.”

“I’m going to be here, I enjoy it,” Kimbrell said. “And I’ll be able to get out more and spend more time with our customers.”

The only personnel change will be a reduction in work time by Kimbrell’s wife, Nancy.

“She’s been trying to retire for a few years,” Kimbrell said. “This will help her get there.”

In addition, the merger will allow Natchez customers access to a team of office designers at Barefield that can help businesses plan office furniture projects.

The Natchez business will also remain in its current Main Street location.

Kimbrell’s father started the office supply business in Natchez on Jan. 8, 1955, and it’s been one of several Kimbrell family businesses ever since.

The sale of the office supply and furniture business will not affect the Kimbrell family’s other businesses, including Natchez Printing, their File Depot storage business and Kimbrell’s Digital Solutions, a Xerox sales business.

“We have two children, Scott Jr. and Martin, and neither of them have interest in the office supply or furniture business,” Kimbrell said. “Scott Jr. and I have Kimbrell’s Digital Solutions, and that’s not going to change.

“Those will be in the same building, same location, and use the same phone number.”

Barefield Workplace Solutions is based in Jackson. The company has been in existence since 1946.

Paul Maczka is its president and leads the company.

In addition to the Jackson location, the company operates office supply businesses in Meridian, Vicksburg, Greenville and New Albany.

Maczka said competition from national office supply retailers has made it difficult for independent businesses to compete, “particularly in the technology side of our business.”

For smaller businesses to match the technologies offered by larger retailers is difficult, he said.

“What we hope to do is vastly expand what their offerings have been and use our purchasing power to allow them to become more competitive than they have been in the past, but with the same people customers have known and worked with before,” Maczka said.

He said the company does not plan on changing the name of the business for the foreseeable future.

“For the indefinite future, we plan on doing business as Kimbrell’s Office Supply in Natchez, that’s obviously an acknowledgment of the great goodwill they have there in Natchez.”

Though the paperwork was signed two weeks ago, customers will see few changes in the days ahead. On Feb. 1 the Barefield will transition Kimbrell’s billing and other back office functions into its existing system.

Kimbrell said he’s looking forward to the transition, particularly, what it means for their long-time customers.

“We’ve got so many good, loyal customers,” he said. “That’s been the forefront in the whole thing. They’ll see new, better technology soon.”