Digital Office Equipment's new headquarters, occupying the middle bend of the Ogeechee Crossing shopping center south of Statesboro, has a sort of Silicon Valley in-miniature feel to it.
The Blackmons, who own the company, are installing a gym where employees can get their exercise while at work - and work while jogging on a treadmill. On the ground floor they have a classroom with a big, interactive smart screen. The conference room upstairs will double as a showroom for the latest digital copiers, and guests can even buy duplicates of the office furniture.
Much of it is about serving customers. Some of it is about attracting and keeping employees, such as the Georgia Southern University students the Blackmons sometimes recruit but who often go to larger cities.
"We're hoping now, with what we've done here and shown people, that we can keep some of these people here, make them want to stay, because we've got a big firm," said Digital Office Equipment Vice President Roy Blackmon. "We've got a lot going for us. They can learn a lot from us. We'll send them off to schools, we send them to training, we do everything."
Starting the company
When he and wife Debbie, DOE's president, started the company in Statesboro in 1999 as Copy-Q, it was just them and one service technician. But they already had more than 25 years industry experience, having worked together since they married in 1971, a year after Roy first went into the copier business in Atlanta with Smith Corona Marchant.
Copy-Q's opening came as the industry was evolving from analog copiers to digital copiers that often function as printers and fax machines. The Blackmons changed the name to Digital Office Equipment in 2001.
Today, the company has about 30 employees, including those at its Augusta office, which opened in summer 2014.
So the company has moved to a new Statesboro headquarters, having long since outgrown the 4,500-square-foot rented space it previously occupied on Northside Drive West. Measuring about 13,000 square feet, Digital Office Equipment's new home at Ogeechee Crossing on U.S. Highway 301 South gives the company almost triple the space and allows product warehousing, as well as sales, service and remote monitoring, to be brought under one roof.
The Blackmons actually bought the entire 24,000-square-foot shopping center, becoming landlords to currently three other businesses.
The company sells, and often leases or rents with service contracts, multifunctional digital copiers. Its main brands are Sharp, LexMark, Kyocera CopyStar and Xerox. It is sells and sets up servers and other computer hardware, and provides software solutions to improve document flow, document retention and workflow management. It offers VOIP, or voice-over-internet phone services. Besides these truly digital products and services, Digital Office Equipment carries office supplies" from gem clips to furniture," said Vice President of Operations Brad Blackmon.
But he said the company rarely seeks to sell a specific product on its features alone.
"We take a consultant approach when we go to a customer's location," he said. "Instead of trying to sell them one item, we consult about their business practices and figure out how they can streamline their workflow."
The Savannah-based Optim Healthcare chain of medical facilities and the Bulloch County Board of Education with its 15 schools are two of the company's largest customers. It also serves the hospitals and school systems in most surrounding counties.
Brad Blackmon is Roy and Debbie Blackmon's son. His sister, Courtney Mills, is now the company's vice president of administration.
Digitial Office Equipment has ranked fourth in the nation in Kyocera CopyStar sales, Roy Blackmon said. DOE was also the first Georgia dealership to receive the Managed Print Trust Mark from CompTIA, the information technology trade association. The company's ability to provide disaster recovery plans for its customers was a consideration, Brad Blackmon said.
"We pride ourselves on our support," said Debbie Blackmon. "We guarantee four-hour response time, and that is on-site response, not a phone call."
"We overstaff our service department to make sure we can continue to meet those timelines," Brad said.
Buying Ogeechee Crossing
The Blackmons bought Ogeechee Crossing one year ago and had the portion their company has occupied rebuilt from the outer walls inward. They had Palmer Architect do the interior layout and and a redesign to give the place a new face toward the highway. Pope Construction did the work in about eight months.
DOE moved in Jan. 15, but the place needs about another month to be completely finished. As of last week, an elevator had yet to be installed that will carry some of the heavier equipment to the second floor and make use of the stairs optional. Also to be added are photos and awards on the walls, signs and multiple screens.
Exercise equipment had yet to appear in the employee gym, but Brad Blackmon indicated it will include at least one TrekDesk where employees can log onto the same software they have at their regular desks while walking or jogging. The tanning bed is in a side room. Bathrooms with showers are also provided.
Much of the service work is done at customers' business locations, but there are workstations for service technicians provided in the building.
The company recently hired an inventory manager and another service tech but is looking for additional people in sales and the IT help desk.
"We've done a lot for developing how we're going to recruit people with this new building, too," Brad Blackmon said.
Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.