Norwood-based School Outfitters sells a large variety of traditional furniture you'd expect in the classroom, like chairs, desks, chalk boards and computer carts. The company also furnishes high-tech school and office equipment, including MP3 players, digital projectors and software.
As its name implies, school sales make up about 45 percent of the company's business, but School Outfitters also sells to churches, libraries, corporations or any place looking for quality office furniture and supplies.
School Outfitters was founded by partners Tom Brennan and Tom Green, both from the Cincinnati area. Green's family is known locally for selling school teaching tools at the long-established John R. Green Company
in Covington's MainStrasse Village
"We started out selling school furniture, desks, dry erase boards and chairs through direct marketing to schools," Brennan said.
The company launched in 1998 with catalog sales. "We had some sales, but in 2000 we launched a Web site and it was a success. It took off from there," Brennan said.
The company has grown from three people at its founding, to 83 today. School outfitters also has a 23-person IT team in Vietnam and a warehouse in Little Rock, Arkansas. Employees in Norwood have jobs ranging from IT, writing and sales to accounting, web design and more.
The company's emphasis on product knowledge and customer service helps set it apart and has kept School Outfitters growing, Brennan said.
"Early on we realized with the Internet, you need to mix people with technology. We put a very human face on the Web site. When you call you get a person, and our people have a lot of product knowledge. We find out what needs the customer is trying to fulfill in the buying process and what we can do to help them with that," he said.
Writer: Feoshia Henderson
Source: Tom Brennan, founder School Outfitters