Bigger, better Featured

9:53am EDT July 22, 2002

Paul Hanna takes the success of his company, Meritech Blue, in stride. Though the hard numbers speak volumes — 1998 revenue of $18 million, projected 1999 revenue of $25 million — Hanna isn’t willing to rest on those laurels or other recent recognition, such as being named Digital Dealer of the Year in North America (two times running) or receiving the Konica Dealer of the Year award.

That’s not to say that Hanna, who founded the company in 1995 after leaving a well-paying job as vice president of sales for another office equipment dealer, doesn’t realize how fast he’s built Meritech Blue in only four years. As a former professional football player — he was a nose tackle in the former United States Football League — Hanna certainly knows the highs of success and the lows of failure.

“Our quick growth’s been driven by great management, great service and a great sales force,” explains Hanna, who’s quick to deflect accolades away from himself and toward his staff. “But it’s also been because of a number of key acquisitions.”

The most significant was last year’s purchase of Edwards Business Machines in Canton. That move added 1,000 customers to Meritech Blue’s stable, boosting its customer base to close to 7,000 in a territory that already stretched from Lorain to Ashtabula.

When Hanna started Meritech Blue in 1995, it was with just four people. He had limited resources, and couldn’t even get a small business loan. But 26 of his former co-workers soon followed Hanna to Meritech Blue, and with an aggressive sales campaign led by Hanna’s enthusiasm, the company grew quickly.

Under Hanna’s leadership, Meritech Blue’s “Commitment to Excellence” was born. He created a pledge of reliability, accountability and total customer satisfaction and instituted a motto among his staff that says, “A satisfied customer is not loyal, only a completely satisfied customer is loyal.”

It’s that type of enthusiasm that’s helped forge Hanna’s team-building charisma and made Meritech Blue the type of work environment to which people flock.

Today, Hanna employs more than 120 people, and Meritech Blue is the nation’s second largest office equipment supplier. Hanna’s next goal is to reach $50 million in revenue by 2001, and he says he doesn’t plan to rest until he reaches that plateau.