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Copy Graphics, R.J. Young continue growth mode

Perhaps the truest measure that a company has become a not-so-small fish in a big pond is when the bigger fish are attracted. That was the case when R.J. Young Company of Nashville, a large, multi-state office equipment and service company, purchased Hattiesburg-based Copy Graphics. In fact, Copy Graphics had been so successful in creating a strong brand that R.J. Young decided the company would continue operating under the Copy Graphics banner. It is now known as Copy Graphics, an R.J. Young Company.

“One of the biggest factors in our decision to acquire Copy Graphics is that they have a like mindset of R.J. Young,” said Matt Lawson, director of marketing at R.J. Young. “Ron (Doebler) has done a great job of taking care of his customers, which is one of the underlying keys to success of R.J. Young.

“There’s a reason that we haven’t acquired any other companies since we bought Copy Graphics. We are not interested in going out and buying just any company to gain the territory. We look for quality. Ron and his team are definitely quality.”

Small beginnings

Copy Graphics was established by Doebler and his father, Ray, in 1981 in Hattiesburg. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Copy Graphics grew from an office equipment provider and service company serving all of South Mississippi. Moreover, Doebler and Copy Graphics quickly became an icon of the community, especially through its membership in the Area Development Partnership.

By 1996, the company held an impressive 60% of the Hattiesburg market share in copiers, printers, fax machines and other office equipment as well as service. Having conquered the Hub City, Copy Graphics opened its first office outside of Hattiesburg in Jackson that same year, and subsequently established operations in North Mississippi at Tupelo and on the Gulf Coast at Biloxi.

All of this success and growth did not go unnoticed. In 2003, R.J. Young purchased the company, and not only retained the Copy Graphics name but the Doebler name, as well. Doebler is still affiliated with Copy Graphics today.

The history of R.J. Young is somewhat similar. The company’s roots go back to 1955 when Robert J. Young formed the company in downtown Nashville. There were only four employees, and it took two years for the company to surpass $100,000 in revenues.

In 1958, John Crunk joined the company part time as a delivery person. Nine years later, Crunk was a minority owner and R.J. Young had moved into a larger facility. (R.J. Young moved into its current 22,500-square-foot corporate facility in 1973.) In 1986, Crunk became the sole owner (he currently serves as chairman), and revenues exceeded $6 million.

In 1981 and following in his father’s footsteps, Chip Crunk started working part time in the company’s warehouse. He has since been promoted through the ranks, and today, Chip is president and CEO.

In 2005, the company celebrated its 50th anniversary with a bang as revenues exceeded $50 million. Today, the company has 13 operations in Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama as well as Mississippi, and employs approximately 300 workers. According to the company, it is the fifth-largest independent office products dealer in the nation.

R.J. Young offers a wealth of products and services. Just a few of its services include document management, business resource management, in-house financing and buyer’s resource center. Its products encompass copiers, printers, fax machines, scanners, onsite copy centers and supplies, among others.

As with Copy Graphics, R.J. Young is known for its community involvement through donations to schools, churches, charities and other non-profit organizations. In fact, giving back to the community is so important that the company has written it into its mission statement.

Lawson emphasized that R.J. Young goes to great lengths to ensure employee satisfaction. John Crunk once said, “You don’t have to tell good people how to take care of customers; they just know.”

To show his devotion to his staff, John Crunk once promised that if the company could pull off a $1-million month, he would treat everyone to a cruise. And, the staff promptly accomplished that milestone.

Bigger and better

Lawson said what differentiates R.J. Young, which is a dealer of such brands as Ricoh, Canon, Oce and Muratec, from its competition is service and its “We Make It Right Guarantee” program. “If a customer has a billing problem, we’ll make it right,” Lawson said. “If a customer has a problem with a copier or printer, we’ll make it right. It doesn’t happen often, but if we can’t make it right, we will refund the customer’s money. ‘We Make It Right’ is truly a reality, a way of life at R.J. Young.”

The R.J. Young-Copy Graphics “marriage” has produced results. Copy Graphics employs approximately 50 workers, and in August 2005 moved into an approximately 10,000-square-foot office/warehouse complex on J.M. Tatum Boulevard in Hattiesburg. When R.J. Young bought Copy Graphics in 2003, it was a $6-million company. In 2005, Copy Graphics saw revenues exceeding $10 million.

More growth is expected. Lawson said R.J. Young’s goal is to gain revenues of $100 million by the year 2009, and the parent company anticipates revenues of between $15 million to $20 million at Copy Graphics in the next three to five years.

Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at northway@msbusiness.com.

About Wally Northway

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