Let me introduce you to our Cheboygan Area Chamber of Commerce’s Member of the Month for July, Williams Office Equipment! Located in the downtown business district at 312 West Elm Street, it is centrally located for all your office equipment needs! I had the pleasure of interviewing owner, Ron Williams and he gave us insight into this family owned business.
LVP: So, tell me about yourself and your business. How long have you been in business? How many employees do you have?
RW: Williams Office Equipment is celebrating its 35th Anniversary, serving Northern and Central Michigan since 1984. As a Toshiba authorized franchise we cover a 300 mile radius of Cheboygan. We chose Cheboygan as our headquarters because it is centrally located to our coverage territory and close to the I-75 Corridor. We employ four manufacturer trained equipment and IT technicians to service approximately 1200 clients in Northern and Central Michigan.
LVP: What inspired you to start a small business? How did the idea for your business come about?
RW: The business was founded by my mother and father, Michael and Deanna Williams after my father was transferred to the area by a large national office equipment chain. The difficulty with logistics and supporting customers in Northern Michigan at the time prompted him to go out on his own to provide a better level of service.
LVP: Have you had any formal training/education for your work or are you self taught?
RW: All of our staff have degrees or certificates in Business, Electronics or Computer related fields . We are required by Toshiba to attend training in Chicago, Dallas or Los Angeles each time a new series of machine is released, which is about every two years. Operating a business in Northern Michigan can be difficult. Personally, I feel my service as a Tank crewman/commander in the US Army for nine years has also contributed to my ability to maintain business operations.
LVP: What are you excited about bringing to the community? What makes others get excited about your work?
RW: Without sounding boastful, Cheboygan is lucky to have us headquartered here. We provide a very high level of equipment and support that you do not find in most rural areas. The local governments, schools and business benefit from the close proximity because they do not have to pay the high cost of travel from a large urban area to obtain that level of equipment and support.
LVP: A lot of time and energy can be focused on your business even when you have a “day off”. When you are not working or running ideas for your business, what do you like to do for fun?
RW: I serve as the President for the Cheboygan County Fair Board and marketing director for the Fair, which requires a good portion of my free time. I enjoy spending time with my wife and life long resident Ricci (Willey) Williams, whom I have been with for over 30 years. We enjoy all that Northern Michigan has to offer with our two daughters. Taylor, who is attending Delta College in Midland and Caitlin who is attending Grand Valley.
LVP: What is your favorite aspect about what you do? What keeps you motivated?
RW: Our business is unique in the fact that we travel a lot and go to the client, rather than the client coming to us. I enjoy meeting many new people in the way and am able to network with many of Northern Michigan’s influential people.
LVP: What have you found is your best way to market to your target clients?
RW: We use many forms of advertising, however I believe the best way to gain new clients is recommendations from existing clients. We enjoy a very strong reputation for service and very high customer retention rate. I believe that is a big asset in a small community.
LVP: What do you love about Northern Michigan and it’s communities? Specifically where you live?
RW: Being on the road as much as I am, I really enjoy Northern Michigan’s scenic beauty.
Ron finishes up by stating, “I believe in Cheboygan. We have our challenges as any community does, but we have the same geography and foundation as the western side of the state. We need people in leadership positions to foster growth and Cheboygan could easily be a Traverse or Petoskey level community. Stay the course!”
Make sure to follow Williams Office Equipment on Facebook and LinkedIn to keep up to date on their latest involvement with the community and see how they can help you with your office equipment needs!