Faye’s Office Supply
Faye Gish runs a busy office supply business where she explains earnestly, “I don’t have staff or employees, I have a fantastic team.” Today there are nine team members, and she will celebrate her 20th anniversary as Faye’s Office Supply. Faye’s is a member of the Orange, Culpeper, and Madison Chambers of Commerce.
She started out by doing bookkeeping and renting a third of her father’s building in Locust Grove; she poured her earnings into buying inventory for the office supply business she wanted to build. Faye comes from a family of entrepreneurs. Her father mentored her and her four siblings, each of whom owns a business along with a lot of her nieces and nephews. Office supply appealed to her personal bent for organization. In six and a half years, she grew into half her father’s building and then occupied all of it.
During this time, Faye had become friends with a woman who owned the office supply store in Orange. When she was ready to sell, she asked if Faye was interested in buying it. Within two days, Faye had two locations, but eight months later she consolidated her business in the Orange location She is part of a buying group that allows her pricing to be competitive, and the Central Virginia SBDC helped her to identify her best customer targets so she could more effectively focus her sales and marketing efforts.
Now her team includes her husband, son, and daughter along with five others dedicated to customer service, the quality Faye sees as 95% essential to her success. At team meetings, insights and suggestions are shared, including observations by their delivery driver, Faye’s son.
When she had questions, Faye turned to the SBDC, and she has taken advantage of a number of SBDC workshops, including a retail program that was part presentation and part on-site visit. As a result of the “fresh eyes” and the expert’s evaluation, she made changes in the store’s physical appearance and signage. She appreciates the range of SBDC programs, from meeting the needs of start-up companies to those of older, growing businesses like hers. As the recent recession hit, the SBDC produced a useful checklist about how to cut costs, a document she shared with fellow Chamber members.
Faye notes that “the hard part is working in your business while also working on it.” Clearly she finds it energizing to take webinars and SBDC trainings while also managing her team, serving her clients and building her business. She laughs that her duties include “sales, accounting, deliveries, promotion, and bathroom cleaning.” And clearly, she’s looking forward to the next twenty years of her business and counting on the SBDC to be there for her.