Member Minute profiles are meant to highlight Chamber member businesses in a format that can be read in a few minutes. This Interview was conducted by Intern Claire Harpool.
The team at Midwest Single Source received some well-deserved recognition in August when the company was named the 24th largest distributor in sales throughout the United States (the only Kansas distributor included in the Top 50) by the Print Services and Distribution Association (PSDA).
The company was also chosen by the Wichita Urban Professionals as the Corporate Award Recipient at their 3rd annual Dreamchasers event. This award is given to a company that encourages diversity as displayed by its business practices and community presence.
Kevin Ulwelling is the President of Midwest Single Source Inc. “Both of these recognitions are special in their own way. To once again be one recognized as one of the leaders in our industry and documented by PSDA shows the consistency of sales we’ve maintained and expanded through the years,” he said. “The Corporate Award was a complete surprise, but it truly shows how involved and intertwined we are into the Wichita community and how many organizations we are lucky enough to partner with.”
Tell us about Midwest Single Source.
The company was founded by John H. Osborne in 1976. We are a distributor of office supplies, printing, promotional items, corporate apparel, furniture, mailing equipment and much more. We are headquartered in Wichita and have locations in Oklahoma City and an office with a warehouse in Topeka.
Tell us a little bit about Max.
We formally introduced Max in March of this year. He has always appeared on our marketing literature, but we had referred to him as the ‘Running Man’. There was a competition to officially name him and we invited our employees and customers to submit ideas through social media outlets. The winning name chosen was Max, to promote and remind our customers how they can ‘maximize’ their spend by utilizing our various business capabilities.
What is the best thing about doing business in the Wichita area?
Many businesses in the Wichita area appreciate and support their local business partners. We have been able to create very trusting and loyal long-term relationships with our customers that have progressed throughout the community.
What has the Chamber provided you?
An opportunity to communicate our services to other businesses in the area, especially through the Chamber’s platforms and events.
What has been the best thing about Chamber membership?
They do a good job recognizing members on milestones and awards they’ve received. The Chamber also does a great job with events. Exposure is phenomenal; Leadership Wichita is another great example.
Can you describe your most recent business success?
We recently hired Ashley Dalian as our Director of Sales Operations. Over the past three years, we have been looking for someone to lead our fantastic sales staff as we plan for future growth. We eventually did find the perfect candidate!
Where do you attribute your success?
We have allowed ourselves to evolve. We started as a two-man shop designing and printing forms. Gradually we started providing office supplies, which lead into promotional opportunities, followed by apparel and mail room solutions. We have a very forward-thinking owner who is not afraid to take some risks. He has allowed us to operate strategically. The bottom line is we have great people (52 employees in 3 locations).
What is your favorite chamber event and why?
I think it would have to be Exposure. It is very well run and promoted event. The intent and networking opportunity is excellent. It is a great celebration of all the local business.
On a scale from 1-10 how much would you recommend Chamber membership?
I would give it a 10. If you are in business in Wichita, then you need to continually increase your visibility with more people and the Chamber allows you to do that. Getting involved in the Chamber should be a no-brainer for any company.
What do people not know about your business that you would like them to know?
Our online capabilities rival many of the largest national companies. We are capable of building online stores for apparel, print, promotional items and more. Having these ‘company stores’ set up can save massive time and energy during the ordering process, while also controlling the brand that you want to celebrate!
What about your business are you most passionate about?
We are passionate about our online capabilities and getting the word out. It is our goal to make it as easy as possible for our customers to place orders online. We will continue to invest in software and technology, as this is the direction many of our industries are going.
Complete this sentence when a customer walks into my business they will feel like…
They are the only customer we have. They will receive the timely response and the type of service that will make them continue to want to do business with us, regardless of size or needs.
Where do you see your business in five years?
We have a very aggressive sales growth plan, so it will be interesting to see how that flushes out. As our history has dictated, we will continue to look for additional ways to streamline our processes to better serve our customers.
Do you have a favorite business book?
I do; “The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.” I most appreciate the book as it helps recognize where issues may be hidden, and outlines opportunities for dealing with certain situations.
Is your company involved in any civic or community activities?
We are involved in numerous activities including USD 259, Wine Fest, Air Capital Classic, Exposure and Bloktoberfest. We are also heavily involved with Wichita State University, Newman University, Friends University, and other school districts throughout the state.
Would your company or organization like to be featured in a Member Minute profile? Just send your request to Courtney Sendall or give her a call at 316-268-1153.