By Joanna Ernst
Marked by uncertain economic times, viagra dosage the plight of the small business owner has been an ongoing problem. In many U.S. cities, check the toll of a long-term recession has rendered small companies helpless against such choppy waters. The larger corporations, meanwhile, take the reigns and realize their longevity. This leaves the local businesses underwater in the competitive sink-or-swim markets of most any industry.
But that’s certainly not the story for every small business in the Richmond metro area. In fact, despite the financial challenges and societal changes, some of these companies closer to home manage to become fixtures in the communities they serve. Unlike the stores that must close shop, these local companies appeal to a regular customer base and become quintessentially Richmond by reputation. This can also be said of the surrounding counties, such as Petersburg, Dinwiddie, and Chesterfield, among others.
One such small business falling under this time-tested and customer-approved category is Johnson Office Products, Inc. A minority owned and operated office supply company, this store was established in 1980 by C. Henry Johnson as a one-man operation. Today, having faced a highly difficult economy and changing technological times to boot, this office supplier is a staple for the neighborhoods served. As a full-scale office solutions center, Johnson Office Products even provides next-day delivery in the Metro Richmond area.
C. Henry Johnson took the time to reveal how he’s kept his business going for more than 32 years. Having defied the odds of various obstacles, this smart owner sets a great example for entrepreneurship turned success in Central Virginia.
“The growth of Johnson Office Products was very natural in the sense that we have always put the customer first,” Johnson explained. “We have always operated with the Golden Rule in mind: Treat customers the way you want to be treated. Johnson Office Products began as a service company for repair and maintenance of office equipment, particularly typewriters.”
Of course, that sounds like a long stretch from the tapping on touchscreens today. But Johnson managed to help his business grow with the times to keep up with the needs of his customers.
“After several years of providing excellent service, we decided to expand into office products,” Johnson continued. “The expansion was a perfect fit since we had established ourselves as a reliable company. Our customers were willing to give us the opportunity to fulfill their office products needs.”
Johnson advised that the most effective offices require a number of tools. For one, clear communication among staff is crucial along with the ability to handle requests from clients in a timely manner. Johnson Office Products is based on the North Side of Richmond, where Johnson “strives to be the type of business that the community supports and is proud to have.”
So, how does a business stay around for more than three decades, defeating the competition of corporate giants? “We strive to provide quality products and services at fair market value with quick delivery,” summed up Johnson. “We connect with business associations and build business and personal relationships. I believe it is very important to build relationships first with the aim to grow your business.”
Operating your own business is a monumental task for every owner. But on the subject of skin color, social views have changed quite a bit even since 1980. Johnson naturally mentioned that minority businesses have the same obligation to the community. He also added, “Small business, and particularly minority-owned businesses, need to be more supportive of each other. The challenge to compete with larger companies makes it a must for small and minority businesses to develop partnerships and joint ventures. The playing field is not always level, so it is important that minority businesses become one voice in order to create change. I am an optimist, and I believe a change is going to come.”
His positive attitude toward his products’ quality and his commitment to the community are both evident. It is these underlying values that have helped define how Johnson Office Products has withstood the test of time while standing apart from international suppliers.
When asked his advice for other aspiring owners, this experienced entrepreneur answered, “In today’s environment, the most important thing is to sell yourself. A businessperson who has a good attitude, pleasing personality and a concern for his or her client can become a better salesman. I believe the way to sell a product is to first sell yourself, and the door is open to sell your product or service.”
But there’s no actual secret formula to success, Johnson noted. Instead, “what one must possess is determination, an attitude of gratitude, and a belief that you are bigger and better than all the obstacles faced in life and business.” He believes that, especially in business, it’s crucial to never quit and to never stop growing and learning. “Challenges and obstacles are vehicles to help us grow and develop to our highest potential,” said Johnson.
Embodying these beliefs in his own business, Johnson is also a down-to-earth Richmond resident who loves riding his bike on a beautiful spring evening after a busy day in the office. “I love the parks, the close proximity to the rural areas,” he added, “I am an outdoors person who truly loves nature. I am also a health enthusiast. My suggestion for longevity is to do three things: Eat correctly, eliminate junk food and processed foods and get plenty of rest.”
Johnson had made his rounds in the Richmond region and beyond. In 1949 he was born in Hanover County. His family relocated to Mount Vernon, New York, when he was ten years old. After attending high school there, Johnson was drafted in the Army and later attended SUNY Purchase (State University of New York). After two years there, he opted to attend Empire Technical School in New York City. Upon graduation, he worked in New York and Connecticut for several years, returning to Virginia in 1980. And the rest, of course, is history for Johnson Office Supplies.
“No one knows that Former Mayor Henry Marsh inspired me back in 1980, while I was reading an article in “Ebony” magazine concerning his mayor role in Richmond. After that article, I was compelled to move back to Richmond,” Johnson shared.
To get a business going, Johnson urges the ambitious “to plant that idea or thought with your family, friends and associates,” citing the Norman Vincent Peale quote, “A man becomes what he thinks about most of the time.”
Johnson Office Products is ever evolving and expanding into exciting new products. New to the market, Johnson is introducing a product distributed through Johnson Health Products. This innovative item is a tooth and gum wash intended to replace existing toothpastes. Made of seven natural herbs for a positive effect on teeth, Johnson’s tooth and gum wash heals sore gums, strengthens gums, freshens breath and kills bacteria.
“We are proud to be a manufacturer and distributor of a product that is made by African-Americans,” Johnson concluded. To place orders from office supplies to natural toothpaste, you can call Johnson Office Products at (804) 329-3474 during business hours, or visit www.johnsonofficeproducts.com.