After working for Xerox, the multibillion dollar copier company, for 13 years as a top salesman and manager, John B. Gillon Jr. was given an opportunity to become an entrepreneur.
Gillon, 37, is the owner of Office Evolutions Inc., a Houston-based company that exclusively sells Xerox copiers, printers, fax machines and office supplies. The business, founded in 1995, employs five sales representatives and earned $2.3 million in revenue last year.
“I’ve always had a desire to be an entrepreneur [and] this was a business I knew,” says Gillon, who started his company through the Xerox Agency program. The program, created in 1984 by Xerox, was an initiative to increase market share and customer satisfaction in rural areas. Now available in urban communities, it allows Xerox to contract out its small-and medium-size accounts to small business owners. The goal is to provide the personalized attention of a small entrepreneur using the support and resources of an $18 billion corporation.
In 1994, the program was launched in 14 areas of Houston, and made available to small business owners to service company clients whose copier needs did not exceed 50,000 copies per month. Gillon, who capitalized on his long-standing relationship with Xerox, landed an indefinite contract to service an area of about 15,000 businesses, including law firms, medical offices and restaurants.
To get started, he invested $40,000 in personal savings to lease office and showroom space, install a phone system, purchase furniture and office supplies and hire sales representatives. Xerox supplied the inventory. Customers can view the equipment in a showroom at Office Evolutions.
Making the transition from sales manager to entrepreneur was relatively smooth for Gillon, but like many start-ups, he experienced some internal problems. “Initially I tried to do everything myself. I tried to figure out the accounting, the taxes. I was spending too much time doing things I did not know a lot about [so] I quickly got an accountant, an attorney, a payroll service and professionals in those areas.”
Office Evolutions Inc., 3701 Kirby Drive, Suite 730, Houston, TX 77098; 713-526-3131