Harry Macey III

Harry Macey III, co-owner of Perry OfficePlus, addresses the crowd Friday during a celebration at the Santa Fe Depot in downtown Temple marking 100 years in business.

The business of Perry OfficePlus is business — everything to make work life workable.

If an army runs on its stomach, a business runs on desks and chairs — and pencils and janitorial supplies.

The North Temple company kicked off its centennial Friday with a birthday party marking the exact day the business began, Jan. 10, 1920. Proclamations and pizza ruled the observance at Santa Fe Plaza.

More celebrations are planned throughout 2020.

The company is a certified Historically Underutilized Business by the state, with Debbie Macey as the majority owner with her husband, Harry B. Macey III.

What began as a modest printing business in a rented storefront 100 years ago has evolved into a sprawling business supply house that offers everything from paper clips to efficient office furniture.

Looking for expanding business opportunities, the Maceys purchased the already-successful business from JW Perry in 1994. While Harry Macey focuses his attention on in-house operations, Debbie works full time from home and on the road, developing customer relations and new businesses.

The company began in the post-World War I years as American Printing catered to local businesses, printing tickets, letterheads, notices, invoices, vouchers, coupons, cards, labels, posters, receipts and timetables — the paper essentials for commerce in the 1920s through the 1970s.

JW Perry (1930-2015) bought two Temple printing houses in the 1960s and merged them to create American Printing. From there, he expanded to business supply services, selling pencils, adding machines, papers and, finally, office furniture, in retail outlets. That was the beginning of Perry Office Products.

Eventually, Perry spun off and retained the office supply business from American Printing, which he sold in 1988.

The Maceys bought the business in 1994. Assuring a smooth transition to the Maceys, they worked with Perry for about a year after the sale. But one issue popped up early in the relationship: Should the new owners change the name to Macey Office Products? Whatever the decision, the Maceys realized it would be a gamble.

“JW told me, ‘The least you shake people up, the better. If you change the name to Macey Office Products, whatever you do, do it,” Harry Macey said. “But just remember, people are going to want to know what’s going on.’ So, I kept the Perry name and added the ‘Plus’ in 1996. For several years, nobody even knew JW had sold the company.”

Besides, Perry’s company brand was still valued and trusted in Central Texas, and the company had a solid reputation. “We could see no reason to change it. As long as we don’t mess this up, we’ll be just fine,” Harry Macey said.

Office furniture developed into one of Perry OfficePlus’ most popular product lines.

Over the years, the business had flourished, delivering products to local companies, including health care institutions, from a collection of several warehouses scattered downtown.

The Maceys realized that as the company’s services grew, the disconnected sites were hard to manage. By 2005, they bought a former Coca-Cola bottling plant at North Third and West Nugent, about a mile north from downtown. The 1948 building offered offices and extensive warehouse space where employees could seamlessly store and assemble furniture, then ship to customers.

“We were able to pull everything together into one area,” Harry Macey said. “We had 57,000 square feet. In a short time, we had filled it up. Then, we asked where did all this space go?”

Most recently, Perry OfficePlus furnished the new buildings in the downtown Santa Fe Plaza development — offices of the Temple Chamber of Commerce, Temple Economic Development Corp. and the Temple Independent School District.

“The traditional office supplies are pens, pencils, calendars and paper, but nowadays everything is digitized,” Harry Macey said. “All those are declining. As office technology changes, people need computer desks rather than traditional desks. If we are going to stay in business, we needed to start shifting our marketing to new lines.”

Another threat to his business? More people working from home.

“Office furniture sales are now flat. Predictions are that sales will decline about 3 percent a year. Office products are also declining. So we’re looking elsewhere for new markets,” he said.

The Maceys have expanded into promotional products and janitorial supplies, a growth area. Perry OfficePlus now regularly delivers products throughout Central Texas — West, Waco, Gatesville, College Station, Austin and Copperas Cove. The company also operates a courier system in 25 other states with regional wholesalers. All this is accomplished with 44 employees, seven box trucks and three supply vans headquartered in Temple.

The secret to Perry OfficePlus’ continued success is simple: “Convenience,” Debbie Macey said.

“We have to think about the convenience side of businesses. People still like the personal touch. It’s all about customer service. They like to be taken care of, and we have excellent customer service,” she said.