Government contracts hikes volume for Access Products

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Shown is Bob Roth, President of Access Products, Inc. inspecting one of his companies remanufactured toner cartridges with his General Manager, Marie Oharek.

Shown is Bob Roth, President of Access Products, Inc. inspecting one of his companies remanufactured toner cartridges with his General Manager, Marie Oharek.

Last year, Access Products, Inc., a toner cartridge and printer supply company, won what could be considered its golden ticket.

The Colorado Springs business became one of 15 companies nationwide with a blanket purchase agreement to sell office supplies to the federal government.

Within months, the deal to sell toner cartridges, printers and other items boosted monthly orders from 590 to nearly 1,500 and put the company in the top 5 percent of office supply resellers to the federal government.

Now, the company that pulled in $6 million in revenue in 2010 is projecting more than $18 million this year.

“It’s amazing,” said Bob Roth, owner and president of Access Products.

Roth was a Navy pilot for 12 years and landed in Colorado Springs on assignment. It was a great place to settle, he said, so he got out of the military to start his family and ran storage test labs for Hewlett-Packard for close to a decade.

He briefly ran a small business with a partner before leaving in 2009 and wondered what he was going to do next.

That’s when the printer and toner cartridge opportunity arose.

“It’s the definition of serendipity,” Roth said. “I was at a charity luncheon and a broker — he only had the listing three weeks — said, ‘I’ve got something perfect for you.’”

Two days later, Roth inked the deal with the company’s former owner and started learning his way around the 8,000-square-foot warehouse on Center Park Drive, where every day, pallets of toner cartridges come in for remanufacture.

Remanufacturing used cartridges — taking them apart, rebuilding them, refilling them with toner and reselling them — represents about 15 percent of the business.

But it’s the new deal with the government that has put the company on the fast track. In the past five months, the company has hired seven employees for a total of 17.

In 2010, President Barack Obama charged all government agencies with reducing procurement expenditures by 3.5 percent in 2011, according to the U.S. General Services Administration. It was part of the Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative developed to save the government an estimated $48 million a year by using blanket purchase agreements.

For Access Products, it meant lowering prices to compete for the bid, said Rebecca Rose, the company’s order-processing administrator. Every order comes through her desk and with new federal clients such as the Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs and Agriculture departments, the company is making up the price cuts in volume.

“Orders have tripled,” she said.

In November, the company launched a website so government clients can order electronically. Since then, online sales have jumped from $5,000 to $53,000 a week.

“It’s almost scary when you think about it,” Roth said.

Part of the company’s appeal in winning the coveted blanket purchase agreement was its access to more than 700,000 items such as computer desktops, laptops, monitors and servers.

“We have about 45 distribution points,” Roth said. “We can do next-day delivery, for example in Washington, D.C., from several different locations.”

Even though the company moves product across the country, it is almost unknown locally.

“We just shipped pallets (of supplies) to Marines deploying,” Roth said. “But we haven’t done much business development with bases here — people don’t know about us.”

He aims to change that. This year’s plan includes marketing to local businesses, which right now make up about 2 percent of total sales.

In the meantime, Roth has already struck a deal with one of the largest resellers of office supplies, and the two companies will partner to sell products to the government.

“That could take us from a top-5 percent company to a top-1 percent,” Roth said. “Potentially, we could be the largest reseller of office supplies to the federal government if this all goes smoothly.”