EVERETT – This is a different kind of David and Goliath story. In this one, instead of slaying the giant, the little guy goes to work for him, and gets rewarded.
Woodburn Co. – a family-owned office equipment company operating out of a downtown Everett storefront – is the primary supplier of photocopier services for Nordstrom Inc. across 27 states.
The company directly services all Nordstrom’s Puget Sound locations, while coordinating with manufacturer Ricoh Inc. to provide service at stores outside the region.
“If they have a store in San Antonio, we find a dealer like us in San Antonio to service that store,” owner Frank Fukui said.
It was a big stretch for a little company, co-owner Penny Fukui said. “They took a chance with us. We only have 10 employees.”
But it seems to be working. The company – which only landed the service contract in April – was named one of Nordstrom’s suppliers of the year in 2005.
It was a proud honor, Penny Fukui said. The Nordstrom hallmark is outstanding service to customers, she said. “They expect the same customer service from their vendors.”
The Fukuis have owned and operated the business since 1989, when they bought it from founder Jack Woodburn. It’s a small family business, with children and sons-in-law pitching in.
Their bread and butter, Frank Fukui said, is their base of local accounts, which includes Cascade Bank, the city of Everett, Snohomish County PUD and Snohomish County government.
But in 2004, they bid on a contract to provide copier service for the city of Seattle. “Lo and behold, we won,” he said.
With that experience under their belt – and assistance from the state’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center, which helps small businesses bid on government contracts – the Fukuis went after the Nordstrom contract.
They partnered with a Bellevue company, Print Inc., which would provide the copiers while Woodburn serviced them.
“It was a seven-month process,” Penny Fukui said. They filled out a 2-inch-thick request for information, and responded with a proposal that was equally thick. Then, after qualifying, they entered an online “reverse auction” in which Nordstrom solicited bids from competing suppliers – most of them major manufacturers.
Winning the contract meant a big push for the whole company, they said – family, current employees and even a retired worker who came back to help.
“We wouldn’t have won the award without our staff and our crew,” Penny Fukui said.
Their goal for 2005? “Just keeping our focus,” Frank Fukui said. “Our county is growing pretty well, and we need to share in that growth.”
Reporter Bryan Corliss: 425-339-3454 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who: Owners Frank and Penny Fukui
What: Supplies and services copiers and other office equipment. Clients include Nordstrom Inc., the cities of Everett and Seattle, Cascade Bank and Snohomish County PUD.
Where: 2815 Rockefeller Ave., Everett.
Employees: 10, including family members.
Revenue: Close to $2 million in 2005.
Notable: Nordstrom Supplier of the Year in 2005.
Quotable: Ricoh is a Japanese company, but only a handful of its dealers are minorities. When we show up at meetings, everybody thinks were from corporate, Penny Fukui said.