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VOL. 128 | NO. 62 | Friday, March 29, 2013

Memphis Chemical Rebrands as 1Source

By Andy Meek

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When Memphis Chemical & Janitorial Supply Co. was sold to new owners in 2000, the company’s product mix consisted almost exclusively of chemicals and janitorial supplies, and the company served a client base of mostly local churches.

In the years since then, though, the company has grown on several fronts. It added office products and furniture in 2011 and safety and industrial supplies in 2012 to its product mix, and today the company’s clients include First Tennessee Bank, Memphis City Schools, Methodist Hospital and Memphis International Airport.

Which is why the company has decided a new name, encompassing a broader and clearer identity, is in order. Memphis Chemical, which was founded in 1968, will now be known as 1Source.

“The reason we expanded our offerings over the years is we knew our customers wanted to consolidate the number of vendors they buy from, consolidate their invoices and consolidate their transaction costs,” said company president Laurita Jackson. “They want one-stop shopping. And with our growth, we’re able to give them more efficiency in running their businesses.”

The company’s products and services already reflect this, but now its leadership wants the company’s image to reflect the fact it’s looking to be a one-stop shop for a wide range of business needs. Those needs include janitorial and office supplies, office furniture, safety and industry supplies and green, environmentally friendly products.

The idea of “one source” that’s now a part of the company’s name extends beyond the products to its customer service. The goal is for customers to make, for example, only a single call to find everything they need for their business. Solutions are customized, complimentary training is provided when customers order new products or services, and certified technicians regularly service all brands of floor cleaning equipment.

Technicians also are quickly available if needed.

“We had primarily been a janitorial supply company, supplying janitorial supplies, paper products, things like that,” said Jackson, who is leading the company’s growth, national presence, and strategic partnerships.

She has been with the company since 2004, and she is the daughter of George Brown Jr., who bought the company with a former business partner in 2000.

“Over the last couple of years,” Jackson continued, “we’ve expanded our product offerings to include furniture, office products, industrial and safety supplies. So with that, we knew the time had come for us to change our name to reflect our new offerings. One of the advantages of the new name is we don’t have any limitations on what we offer or geographical limitations in the new name.”

The company’s management, in addition to Jackson as the president, includes Brown as the CEO, Hank Brown as vice president of operations and Ralph Johnson as account executive. Among its awards and recognitions, 1Source has picked up a Memphis Quality Cup Award from the Greater Memphis Chamber and the Administrator’s Award for Excellence from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

As the company was continuing to ramp up growth over the past year, Brown said last fall that 1Source is clear-eyed about its mission.

“We understand that at the end of the day, we’re going to have to compete,” Brown said. “At the end of the day, we’re going to have to be able to provide a value proposition to the customer as any other business has to do.”

Meanwhile, other elements of 1Source’s growth are still evolving. The company, for example, has placed a big emphasis on its technology platform.

“We’ll be launching our new website soon, and our Web store is part of the website,” Jackson said. “So that when customers place their office products orders as they traditionally do, they can place those on our website. So we’re definitely very excited about this new phase in our company’s growth.”

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