Longtime Joliet office supply company sold
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain email@example.com July 24, 2012 1:22PM
Updated: August 26, 2012 6:12AM
Martin Whalen Office Solutions, a company founded 76 years ago in Joliet, has been sold to Global Imaging Solutions, a Xerox company.
The deal closed July 13, said Joe Whalen, a third-generation family member who ran Martin Whalen with his brothers Marty and Daniel since the late 1980s. In addition to selling the office technology and software side of the business, the Whalen brothers also sold their furniture division to Warehouse Direct in Des Plaines.
Most of the company’s 85 employees will stay put in their jobs, Daniel said. Some opted to leave and get severance packages because they didn’t want to drive to the relocated furniture division in Des Plaines, he said.
But the office outlets in Channahon, Tinley Park and Bradley will stay open, and the company’s name will remain the same. Customers shouldn’t notice any changes, Joe said.
“You’re still going to have the same service technician coming out,” he said.
The brothers will continue in management roles: Marty will remain as president and CEO, Daniel will remain as vice president, and Joe will be a consultant for the furniture division.
Marty said Xerox purchased Global Imaging Solutions to increase its presence in small and midsized markets. Now Global Imaging purchases profitable family-run businesses and gives them centralized assistance while letting them continue to operate in the same manner that made them successful, Marty said.
Joe said there were a few companies interested in buying Martin Whalen but Xerox came in with a “really fair” offer that allowed the Whalens to continue to serve customers as they had in the past.
Marty said the business has changed a lot from typewriter repairs to copying and office supplies to a new era of document management, which includes network storage, workflow and reproduction services.
Having a global company like Xerox own community-based Martin Whalen is crucial as the document era continues to transform in a digital age, Marty added.
“We look at it as kind of a marriage of the two best things: An international brand with tremendous products and research and development with a very local brand with excellent customer service for 76 years.”
Before the sale could go through, the Whalen brothers needed approval from their mother, Suzanne Whalen.
“She’s 110 percent on board and that was very important to us,” Joe said.
Martin Whalen was founded by Suzanne’s father, Joseph L. McGrath, who was a typewriter repairman in Indiana when he was asked to travel to Joliet to set up a typewriter sales and service dealership on Jefferson Street across from the courthouse.
In the 1950s, Suzanne’s husband, Martin J. Whalen, took over the business along with another Whalen son-in-law, Bob Borgstrom. The two brothers-in-law ran the business, called McGrath Whalen Office Equipment until the 1970s when they split the company up into Martin Whalen Office Solutions and McGrath Office Equipment.
Martin J. Whalen died in 1999. The Borgstrom family continues to run McGrath Office Equipment.