Office Outfitters opened at its new location Tuesday, Sept. 7.
The business, which is owned by Bill and Mary Zimmermann, is now located at the corner of Badger and Washington streets in the former Fox Valley Technical College building.
The building was constructed about 50 years ago and was originally the home of Ev’s Supermarket, eventually becoming the local site of Fox Valley Technical College.
The Zimmermann’s bought the building in December 2008 – one year after their purchase of the business that was formerly called The Lighthouse.
Previously, they leased space in the building that is located at the corner of Main and Fulton streets.
“We had a three-year lease,” Bill Zimmermann said. “So, we were looking for a new home. We knew we had to do something. This was just ideal.”
He said they wanted to stay downtown, and their move allowed them to do so.
This past January, construction began in the former FVTC building and was scheduled at that time to take advantage of the time of year that carpenters are not as busy.
They worked with Steve Laedtke on the design work, and David Thoe did the construction.
For the Zimmermann’s, it was important to use local businesses for their project, and among those who were used were Bauer Electric and Stu’s Home Interiors.
“We have 1,000 square footage more, but it’s more efficient, because it’s all one level,” Bill Zimmermann said. “We could start with a blank sheet of paper.”
In all, the square footage totals about 7,000, and the square footage for the retail space is unchanged at about 2,500 square feet, he said.
He said Office Outfitters handles office supplies, pack and ship and printing.
“All three are very different and have their complexities,” he said.
In their former space, employees had to head into the basement for boxes for the pack and ship area of the business.
“We tried to think of putting everything where we needed it,” Bill Zimmermann said.
In the print and copying area, two graphic designers can help design items for others.
He said there is a nice work flow, with a separate area for finishing work following printing.
There is also plenty of storage room – important for the Zimmermann’s who buy paper by the semi truckload, allowing them to compete with the prices of the big-box stores.
They took their time in creating the new space for Office Outfitters.
When Linens ‘n Things was going out of business in Appleton, they saw an opportunity for their own business and headed there to purchase light fixtures.
When it came time to choose colors for the walls, Mary Zimmermann selected warm colors, including gold and red.
She and Bill did all of the painting and finishing work.
Over the course of two weeks, their employees worked on moving the stock from the old space to the new space.
In all, Office Outfitters employs eight people (five full time and three part time), and Mary Zimmermann said the staff was wonderful as they decided which items to move – and when.
Her husband said the new space allows them to provide new services.
Among them is paper shredding – an idea that was that of their friend Don Fisher.
Iron Mountain Company – the same company that does a lot of commercial shredding for banks, is handling the shredded material.
The shredded material is kept secure and is recycled.
“People can bring in whatever they need shredded. We will weigh it,”
Bill Zimmermann said. The cost the customer pays for the shredding is $1 per pound.
Bill Zimmermann said plans also call for the creation of a self-serve area where people will be able to bring in their laptops and use a laser printer.
He also said that Office Outfitters has a catalog with more than 30,000 items in it that can get here overnight.
In the store, customers will see items on hand, such as five different printers and six different shredders (for those who want to do their own paper shredding), with dozens more of those items available through their catalog, he said.
“A lot of people don’t know we are in the office furniture business,”
Bill Zimmermann said. “About 100 pages of the catalog are dedicated to furniture, and again, we can get it overnight and we can deliver it for free. If you come in and find something you like, we will deliver it the next day.”
And, their move to the new location also includes green energy.
After they bought the business, he thought it would be ideal for solar panels and did his homework, attending the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair and talking to several different contractors before making a decision.
There are 99 solar panels on the building’s roof, enough to meet the electrical needs of the building and business. “A meter on the outside of the building measures how much goes out to the grid,” he said.
They are happy to be in their new space and said their employees were fabulous the two weeks prior to opening at the new location.
“The employees drove the move. They were excited,” he said. “They just did it, and they did it very smart.”