|Traded as||NASDAQ: ESND|
|Headquarters||Deerfield, Illinois, United States|
|Robert Blaine Aiken Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer|
|Products||Business products, office supplies, electronics, furniture, industrial, janitorial|
|Revenue||$5.085 billion (2013)|
Essendant, formerly known as United Stationers, is a leading national wholesale distributor of workplace essentials, with consolidated net sales of $5.3 billion. In 2013, it ranked 484 (478 in 2012; 467 in 2011) out of the Fortune 500 companies. Essendant stocks a broad assortment of over 160,000 items including traditional office products, office furniture, janitorial and break room supplies, technology products, industrial supplies and automotive aftermarket tools and equipment. The company's network of 70+ distribution centers allows it to ship products, most overnight, to more than 90% of the U.S. and next-day delivery to major cities in Canada for its 30,000 reseller customers. Essendant is headquartered in Deerfield, Illinois and also has operations in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). In addition, the company operates as an online retailer and sells industrial tools direct to end consumers.
Essendant stocks products in these categories:
Janitorial and Breakroom Supplies: Essendant holds over 25,000 items in the following areas: Janitorial supplies ( cleaners and cleaning accessories), breakroom items (food and beverage products), food service consumables (such as disposable cups, plates and utensils), safety and security items, and paper and packaging supplies.
Technology Products: Essendent stocks over 10,000 items including imaging supplies, data storage, digital cameras, computer accessories and computer hardware items including printers and other peripherals.
Traditional Office Products: Essendant is one of the largest national wholesale distributors of a broad range of office supplies. It carries approximately 23,000 brand name and private label products such as filing and record storage products, business machines, presentation products, writing instruments, paper products, shipping and mailing supplies, calendars and general office accessories.
Industrial Supplies: Essendant carries approximately 100,000 industrial items including hand and power tools, safety and security supplies, janitorial equipment and supplies, various industrial MRO (maintenance, repair and operations) items, oil field and welding supplies, and automotive aftermarket tools and equipment.
Office Furniture: Essendant is one of the largest office furniture wholesale distributors in the U.S. It stocks approximately 4,000 products including desks, filing and storage solutions, seating and systems furniture, along with a variety of products for niche markets such as education, government, healthcare and professional services.
Essendant serves a diverse group of approximately 30,000 reseller customers. They include independent office products dealers, contract stationers, office products superstores, computer products resellers, office furniture dealers, mass merchandisers, mail order companies, sanitary supply, paper and foodservice distributors, drug and grocery store chains, e-commerce merchants, oil field, welding supply and industrial/MRO distributors, and other independent distributors.
Marketing and Customer Support
Essendant provides value-added services designed to help their customers market their products and services while improving operating efficiencies and reducing costs.
The current officers of the company include:
- Robert Blaine Aiken Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer, Director
- Earl Shanks, Senior Vice President - Chief Financial Officer
- Timothy P. Connolly, Chief Operating Officer
- Eric A. Blanchard, Senior Vice President - General Counsel & Secretary
- Ric Phillips, President of ORS Industrial
- Girisha Chandraraj, Senior Vice President & Chief Digital Officer
- Carole Tomko, Senior Vice President - Human Resource Officer
- Janet Zelenka, Senior Vice President - Chief Information Officer
Essendant offers a number of private label brands to its reseller community. These brands include Innovera (tech products), Windsoft (sanitary paper products), Universal (office products), and Alera (Office Furniture).
The company was incorporated in 1922 under the name Utility Supply Company. During the early 1930s, the company published its first office products catalog. The concept was such a success that the business was further expanded with the opening of its first retail store in 1937. In the early 1950s, in addition to its catalog and retail operation, management recognized growing opportunities in the office products wholesale business. In 1970, the company opened its first state-of-the-art distribution center. As time passed, the Company found it difficult to compete as both a retailer and wholesaler. So, in 1978, the retail operations were sold and the Company began to operate exclusively as an office products wholesaler.
To provide the capital to further its growth, United Stationers went public in 1981. In 1984, the Company established MicroUnited to capitalize on the growth in the computer supplies sector. The company's MicroUnited division focused on the distribution of peripherals and supplies to computer products resellers. United Stationers recognized that its marketing programs and distribution infrastructure would be attractive to customers within other industries. Therefore, the company established its United Facility Supply Division in 1994 to participate in the distribution of facility maintenance supplies.
In June 2002, United Stationers announced that, as part of its succession plan, Richard W. Gochnauer, 52, would become the company's chief operating officer and a member of the board of directors, when he joined United on July 22.
In December 2010, United Stationers announced that P. Cody Phipps, the company's Chief Operating Officer, would become president and CEO when Richard W. Gochnauer, CEO, retired at the annual shareholders’ meeting in May 2011.
In April 2015, United Stationers announced the departure of P. Cody Phipps, the company's Chief Operating Officer, and Director Robert Blaine Aiken Jr. would take over as interim CEO.
In early 2015, United Stationers announced the re-branding of the company to Essendant. The brands operating under the Essendant name will be United Stationers, Azerty, LagasseSweet and ORS Nasco. The company settled on Essendant because it is a combination of “essentials” and “ascending". The new company name is set to become effective in June 2015, pending shareholder approval. Also announced was plans to restructure that include taking a $9 million charge to exit certain business and layoff an undisclosed number of employees.
June 1, 2015, United Stationers became Essendant. United Stationers Supply Co., Azerty, LagasseSweet and ORS Nasco will come together under the Essendant brand starting in June, while MEDCO will follow shortly thereafter. The company's symbol on the NASDAQ Global Select Market changed from USTR to ESND.
July 22, 2015 Essendant announced that its Board of Directors appointed Robert B. Aiken Jr., president and chief executive officer effective immediately. Mr. Aiken, who was serving as interim president and CEO since May 2015, also would continue as an Essendant Board member.
Mergers and acquisitions
To expand their line of business, on October 31, 1996 the company acquired Lagasse Bros., Inc., a wholesaler of janitorial and sanitation supplies.
As competition in the late 1980s intensified within the office products industry, consolidation at all levels of the industry became commonplace. In June 1992, United Stationers acquired Stationers Distributing Company, a $425 million office products wholesaler in Fort Worth, Texas. This transaction made the Company a $1.5 billion wholesale distributor.
In March 1995, the Company merged with Associated Stationers, a $475 million general line wholesaler.
On April 3, 1998, United Stationers acquired Azerty, a $350 million wholesaler of computer consumables. Azerty was founded in April 1983 by Marvin Frackt as the US subsidiary of Inter City Papers Limited of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Bill Dueger was the first manager of Azerty, reporting to Marvin Frackt. Subsequently, the company's MicroUnited division was merged into Azerty. In July 2000, United Stationers increased its geographic penetration in Canada by purchasing Azerty Canada, a $115 million computer consumables business. The company was renamed Azerty/United Canada after merging the Azerty and United operations.
To broaden the Lagasse division's reach, the company completed the acquisition of Peerless Paper, a $75 million wholesaler in the janitorial/sanitation industry, in January 2001.
In May 2005, Lagasse completed the purchase of Sweet Paper, a $250 million distributor of janitorial/sanitation, paper and food service products. This acquisition expanded Lagasse's product line and enhanced its scale and infrastructure in key markets.
On March 31, 2006, United Stationers decided to sell its Canadian division. In June 2006, the company completed the sale of certain assets associated with its Canadian division.
To diversify and expand its product and customer base, United Stationers acquired ORS Nasco, a $285 million wholesale distributor of industrial supplies, on December 21, 2007.
On March 1, 2010 United Stationers successfully acquired their first technology company, privately owned MBS Dev, a Colorado-based software provider. A Microsoft Certified Partner, MBS Dev will retain its name and operate as a separate unit within the larger company.  MBS Dev specializes in implementing Microsoft Dynamics AX software for wholesale distribution companies in vertical markets and was named one of Inc. Magazine's 500 Fastest Growing Companies in 2009.
In November 2012, United Stationers signed a stock purchase agreement to acquire 100% of the outstanding shares of O.K.I. Supply Co. (O.K.I.) for an all-cash purchase price of $90 million.
On May 29, 2014, United Stationers announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, United Stationers Supply Co., signed an agreement to acquire 100 percent of the outstanding shares of CPO Commerce, Inc., for an all-cash purchase price of $30 million, with up to an additional $10 million to be paid in three years based on performance.
On September 11, 2014, United Stationers signed an agreement to acquire MEDCO, a United States wholesaler of automotive aftermarket tools and supplies, and its affiliates including G2S Equipment de Fabrication et d'Entretien ULC ("G2S"), a Canadian wholesaler. The all-cash purchase price is $130 million, subject to closing adjustments, with up to an additional $10 million to be paid over three years based on performance.
On December 17, 2014, United Stationers announced the sale of MBSDev to ProjectAX.
Essendant maintains company locations in the following regions: Albany, Atlanta, Baltimore, Birmingham, Boston, Canada, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Harrisburg, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami, Minneapolis, Muskogee, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Francisco, Seattle, South Bend, St. Louis, St. Paul, Tulsa, Visalia.
- "United Stationers Names Gochnauer as Chief Operating Officer".
- "Big interview: Cody Phipps", Office Products International magazine, March 1, 2010. The interview is with Cody Phipps, President of United Stationers.