A local business still is going strong as the baton is passing from one generation to the next.
Michigan Office Solutions (MOS) has been in business for over six decades. William Reed and a couple of other partners founded the office equipment company in 1957. The company was first called Commercial Equipment Company and was located in Grand Rapids.
The three partners went door to door selling different types of office equipment, according to Stacey Reed, the vice president of administration and third-generation family member working at the company.
Paul Hartley, president of MOS, said the company was founded at a time when copiers weren’t as prevalent as they are today.
“Everything was direct impression,” Hartley said. “There was a master and you push that master against a piece of paper and put some ink (on it) … press it against a paper and that was direct impression. Then came xerography, and they did (the copying) through lenses. Then came analogy; there was no digital, so it was basically light. Then laser printers were invented by Xerox. Then digital (technology) brought all kinds of different (opportunities) for copier machines.”
Now, MOS has adapted to the era of digital technology to sell multifunctioning copier machines created by its parent company, Xerox. Hartley said the industry’s constant changes keep the company on its toes.
Stacey Reed said MOS stays relevant by examining its customers’ technology needs and recommending the best fit.
“Knowing what our customers’ needs are and knowing what the industry has to offer so that we can go to that customer and find a solution,” she said. “Technology is changing and it is changing so fast. It is not just trying to copy 10 pages of paper — that is rarely what (copying machines) are used for now.”
In addition to the copy, scan and print functions, Hartley said many products now connect with customers’ devices and allow for translation of invoices into multiple languages. The office machines also are being used to store old documents that previously took up space in filing cabinets, he said.
Advances in technology present other concerns, however.
“Five years ago, (information) security wasn’t such a huge deal; now security is massive,” Hartley said. “We look at different aspects of security. Is the document secure? Is the device you are working with secure? Are you preventing intruders from coming in? We are partnering up with major players like McAfee.
“That wasn’t (our) impression of what a copier was,” Hartley added. “People 20, 30 years ago couldn’t conceive of that because there weren't digital copiers until somewhere in the ’90s, so now it is a whole different world.”
Throughout the past 60 years, MOS has more than transitioned the family business from one generation to the next. It has grown from one small business in Grand Rapids to featuring eight locations throughout the state with hundreds of employees, according to Hartley.
In 1981, the company changed its name to WS Reed Company and sold office equipment through manufacturers. In 2002, the company was acquired by Global Imaging Systems Inc. Michigan Office Solutions was formed and incorporated WS Reed Company’s employees in 2007. Later that year, Xerox purchased Global Imaging Systems, which now allows MOS to have a national presence.
“What is really cool about it is that I don’t know what is going to be there in 10 years — none of us knows what is going to be here in 10 years — but we do know that if we serve our customers well, our business will continue,” Hartley said.