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40 years after opening, resilient local business Daniel Office Products keeps on chugging

November 9, 2018

For almost a quarter-century, Daniel Office Products has made its home in a little brown house at the southern edge of The Woodlands.

The small, nine-employee office supplier has survived the likes of the 1980s oil glut that brought economic growth in the area to a screeching halt and the advent of big-box and online retailers that led to the end all of its similar-sized competitors.

Despite the challenges and ups and downs, President Bob Daniel said the company takes no chances.

“We can’t take any account or client for granted,” Daniel said. “Not for a minute.”

Daniel Office Products got its start in 1978, shortly after Daniel’s parents, Raymond and Winona, moved to Montgomery County from West Texas in order to return to Raymond’s Conroe roots.

Two years later, the business followed one of their biggest and most dedicated clients down to The Woodlands.

“We’re selling office supplies, but we’re also selling an experience,” Daniel said.

Since then, and their move to the little brown house on Nursery Road, Daniel Office Products has sold the experience of working with a small-scale office supply dealer to hundreds of clients. Their strategy, Daniel said, began with his dad’s aversion to clutter in the warehouse.

“It drove him crazy to have inventory and stock that wasn’t moving very well,” Daniel said.

The company pioneered the “stockless inventory” business plan, where low on-site inventory keeps overhead expenses low. In partnership with their wholesaler, Daniel said, the company is able to fill orders the day after they are placed.

“With this business model we were able to compete and actually grow,” Daniel said.

The office supplier is an active member of the chambers of commerce of both The Woodlands and Conroe and was named a finalist for the Lone Star College District’s Small Business Award in 2007.

The presence of locally-owned small businesses is essential for the community, said the CEO of The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce, JJ Hollie.

The chamber is partnering with American Express to bring Small Business Saturday on Nov. 24, where shoppers are encouraged to patronize their local businesses on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year.

“It’s very important to support those small businesses and recognize the value they bring to the community,” Hollie said.

There was no Office Depot or Office Max when Daniel Office Products came to The Woodlands, there was no Amazon or Wayfair, or any other online office supply retailer.

Their emergence has made it difficult for small businesses to stay competitive, Hollie said. But organizations like the chamber work on policy to benefit businesses and supply resources and networking opportunities for up-and-coming business owners that may not be knowledgeable on running a company.

“Small businesses are really the backbone of the economy,” Hollie said.

For the Daniels, that work extends throughout Montgomery County and into Harris County.

“The most important person in this business is the customer,” Daniel said. “Without a customer or client there is no business.”

As the business has grown, so has its offerings — adding Keurig coffee machines and cups, health and safety supplies as well as office furniture.

Daniel assumed the role of leading the company in 1996, and continued his father’s work of supplying to churches, other small businesses and school districts, lapping up accounts in the Conroe, Spring, Willis and Montgomery Independent School Districts. The challenge, he said, comes from not just gaining new accounts, but retaining them.

“That’s what we’re after,” Daniel said. “You’re only as good as your last performance.”

mrincon@chron.com

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