Bruce Collins, President
In the Beginning
The concept for Collins Distributing was discussed with me when I was twelve years old in a sidewalk café in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. My father, Bill, explained to his family that his employer wanted him to move from our home in Memphis in his role as regional sales manager.
We didn't care for the idea much and then he explained another option. He could go into business for himself, selling typewriters and such, to the dealer network he had developed in many years of sales on the road. He explained it may be tough at first and the family needed to be ready to make sacrifices if needed, but he knew he could make it work.
So Collins Distributing was born in 1971. With a station wagon and office equipment and supplies stored in our carport attic, he hit the road. During the 70s and 80s, Collins Distributing had great success and had developed a wide range of products and a very loyal customer base. Products started with typewriters and ribbons and grew to calculators, copiers, typewriter elements (remember those?). We even made private-label spray paint for machine touch-ups. The most lucrative product for Collins was re-conditioned typewriters, a concept that has been reborn today at Collins with copiers.
The Trouble Years
Collins fell on bad times in the late 80s and early 90s. The company was having trouble adjusting to the lack of demand for reconditioned equipment due to the new lower priced equipment in the marketplace. Also, margins were sharply lower and inventory requirements were higher which meant borrowing money.
On top of tough business conditions, Bill still the active President of the company, started an eight year battle with Parkinson's disease. Before long, Collins couldn't keep up with its competitors and business dwindled.
Collins Distributing Reborn
In 1995, I bought Collins Distributing Company. After graduating from college in 1980, I spent my time as a CPA, banker and developed something of a reputation for rebuilding broken companies. Well, Collins Distributing was broken.
I would like to say I rode in on my white horse and saved the day, but there was much more to it than that - Hard work, luck and timing played a big part. In the course of six months, in late 1995, we had obtained much needed working capital from SBA loans, hired knowledgeable and experienced personnel and re-established our distributor relationship with Sharp which had been lost. Before you knew it, we were back in business. In 1996, our sales surpassed $5 million which was the largest year in the history of Collins Distributing and already exceeding our five-year plan.
As a side note, my father, Bill passed away later in 1996 but I would bring him down to work every now and then, let him sit at his desk (which is mine now), go to the post office to open checks and greet local dealers. He had seen his company reborn.
Collins Distributing Today
Today our company is one of the leading office equipment distributors in the country with sales of approximately $40 million annually. We represent four of the finest manufacturers in the country; Sharp, Toshiba, Samsung, and Konica Minolta. We also are one of the leading distributors of reconditioned "off-lease" copiers in the country.
What's the reason for this success? There are many, but one stands out above the rest. Collins Distributing has assembled the finest staff of any company I have ever been around. Every company President says that - but I really mean it. Our people care about their work which is to serve you, the dealer. We deliver our services the old-fashioned way - with hands-on personal service. We can also be as automated as you want but have found success in "Delivering New Technology, the Old -Fashioned Way".
Experience the Collins Difference
Many of our readers have already experienced the Collins difference. If you haven't, please give us a try. Here is a brief explanation of the things that separate us from our competitors.
- Full Line Distributor. This means that we carry every piece of hardware, every accessory, supply and OEM part for the manufacturers that we represent. In other words, we're not a "close-out" buyer.
- Technical Support. Our eight technicians are some of our most valuable assets. Collins provides toll-free technical support on all the products we sell. Our technicians are factory certified and experts in networking and software installation. We also provide an invaluable tool in our Collins Tech Plus Service Site which provides manuals, parts guides, technical bulletins, equipment diagrams and much more.
- Training. Collins offers three day training sessions to dealers, both sales and service training. These are offered at both our Memphis and Cerritos, California offices, and sometimes off-site. Our training provides hands-on servicing including networking and software installation. We'll even throw in lunch each day.
- Knowledgeable Sales Staff. Our sales staff is as knowledgeable about our industry as anyone. They understand the equipment, can help you build out with the correct accessories, know supplies and can even help you with cost analysis, and other factors to help you make the sale.
- Extend Unsecured Credit. We prefer to ship your product and extend credit terms with you. Where else can you have someone warehouse all your inventory needs and give you thirty days to pay for them? You may have already picked up your check from your customer. What a deal.
- Extension of Manufacturer. Collins is truly an extension of our manufacturers, but probably a little more responsive and accessible to the individual dealer. From product to installations to service support to training, we can provide everything the manufacturer can.
The best way to really experience the Collins Difference is to place an order. Give us a chance to earn your business - you won't regret it!