In the nearly 36 years it's been in business, Bircham's Office Products has had a perception problem with customers.
The store doesn't sell office products - at least not the paper, pencils, manila envelopes and other items that many people associate with Office Depot, Office Max and Staples. But that hasn't stopped customers from walking in the door wanting to buy pens, receipt books and the like.
"That was just the name that was chosen back in '78 when the place got started," said Paul Bircham, 47, who succeeded his father, Ed, as owner in 2004. "They were actually selling toner for Xerox machines. That's where the 'office products' came into it, and it just kind of stuck."
To more accurately reflect the direction of the business, Bircham's will change its name June 1 to Axis Business Technologies, a Bircham's company, Paul Bircham said.
The name is meant to symbolize the idea that the office world revolves around the copiers, document management software and other high-tech services that Bircham's offers.
"The name change in and of itself is more reflective of what we do," he said.
The company also has spruced up its longtime headquarters at 3004 N. Nevada Ave., giving it a more up-to-date look and feel with new flooring, walls, light fixtures and landscaping, among other upgrades, Bircham said. The company also has a new logo that's being added to the building.
Ed Bircham has an office at the building, even though Paul Bircham has owned and operated the business for a decade. The elder Bircham became known over the years for his "opinion ads" that ran in local media, in which he espoused conservative - and sometimes controversial - views on local public policy issues and national news of the day.
Paul Bircham, who ran his own copier company before taking over his father's business, said the name change wasn't an effort to distance the company or its name from his father.
"It's really more of just aligning ourselves with what we truly are: selling technology as opposed to office supplies," he said.
Bircham's Office Products started in September 1978 by selling copier supplies. Shortly after, it began selling and servicing analog copiers. It added fax machines in the 1980s and, as technology advanced, added digital laser copiers and printers in the 1990s.
Now, it sells multifunctional digital copiers that are used to scan documents, archive them electronically and retrieve them anytime or anywhere via a smart phone, tablet or other device.
In addition, the company markets a document management software program that can be customized for users - scanning, storing and retrieving documents, Bircham said. The program is being used at the Air Force Academy, and by medical groups at Air Force bases in San Antonio; Dayton, Ohio; and Yokota, Japan, he said.
"We really just don't want to be selling copiers any more," Paul Bircham. "We want to utilize the copiers' scanning capability to implement software that's going to make organizations more efficient, more productive. That's a long way from Bircham's Office Products."
Industry competition is fierce, Bircham said. Large national corporations with local and regional offices offer the same types of copiers and services. But Bircham said he hopes locals choose to do business with companies like his, which employs 22 people and contributes to the area's economy.
"I firmly believe that being local and buying local and supporting local establishments is crucial to the economy of this town," he said.
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