For Chip Crunk, president and CEO of R.J. Young, it’s all about the “document.”
In a recent meeting with Crunk, we discussed how R.J. Young has evolved as a company through its 58-year history.
“We are focused on the management, utilization, support and security of documents,” he said. “Even though we live in an increasingly digitized world, in a strange way we’ve also seen an increase in printed documents.”
The company is well positioned to deal with both print and digital document management.
“As time passes, there will be less focus on hardware, and more focus on software, storage, and digital management, including the cloud,” he said.
Crunk grew up in the business, taking the helm from his father in 1996. At that time, the company had sales of $18 million and approximately 120 employees, and all of its business base was in Tennessee. Crunk has grown the company into the fifth-largest independent office products dealer in the United States, handling lines that include Canon, Ricoh, Samsung, and others. Today, R.J. Young has sales in the $105 million range, and employs more than 480 people, with offices in five states. In Mississippi alone, the company employs over 150 people, and Crunk says that Mississippi is one of their best overall markets.
When asked the reasons for their growth and success, Crunk pointed immediately to the company’s philosophy on “hiring the right people.”
“We spend a lot of time with every potential employee,” he said. “It’s vital to find the right fit for every position in our company, and as a result, we have very little turnover.”
That contact does not extend only to HR and hiring managers. Crunk makes it his priority to personally interview every potential employee. “For me, it’s all about the right team,” he emphasized. “We grow our managers from within.”
Asked what he likes about doing business in Mississippi, Crunk pointed to a favorable business environment, a highly qualified and motivated work force, and an “excellent competitive situation.”
Crunk says he has two concrete objectives for every company customer. “We want to help businesses operate more efficiently, and we want to help them save money.”
To accomplish these objectives, the company has as one of its stated missions “to provide 100 percent customer satisfaction backed by our ‘We make it Right’ Guarantee.’”
How does R.J. Young expect to grow in the coming years?
“We’ll be focusing increasingly on office automation, cloud storage, mobile printing and software,” he said. “These areas will become more and more important with each passing year, and one thing we know: Technology isn’t going to stand still.”
Asked what concerns he sees on the business horizon, Crunk talked about the uncertainties surrounding the Affordable Care Act, and what it will mean to his and many other businesses.
“It’s hard to plan when you really don’t know what to expect,” he said. “One thing that seems to be certain is that costs will escalate for many businesses. But we just don’t know how much, or what that will mean in the long run.”
Crunk said that his company is committed to providing good health benefits for its employees, “even if costs do escalate.” But he also indicated that he knows other companies that are actively considering dropping their health coverage altogether and just paying the penalty.
“In some ways,” he said, “Obamacare is a monstrosity of a bill that is so complicated that the average business person can’t possibly wade through it.”
What else could Mississippi do to grow its business base?
Crunk believes that the state should evaluate its tax structure, pointing out that several of the surrounding states (Florida, Tennessee and Texas) do not have a state income tax.
“Believe me, companies that are considering relocation or new facilities definitely look at these kinds of things,” he said.
Asked if he had an advice and suggestions for entrepreneurs, Crunk said that two things are absolutely necessary: “Cash, and expertise.”
“Whatever investment anyone thinks is necessary to establish and grow and business, I’d suggest they double that amount. That would be a lot closer to the mark. And if a business can’t attract the right talent, it’s not going to make it in today’s world.”
Given the success that R.J. Young has had over the past 15 years, it’s hard to argue with these conclusions.
Contact Mississippi Business Journal publisher Alan Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 364-1021.
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