Saving With Office Station

Mike and Dawna McLelan. Amanda C. Gregg photos

Mike McLelan
Owner, Office Station

Tell us about your business.

In October 2011 I formed the company Office Station. I then partnered with the Office Depot wholesale division to bring the Office Depot Discount Program to Kaua’i. The Office Depot Discount Program is designed so that small businesses (or individuals) can receive the same special negotiated discount rates that large corporations receive. Our key features are savings on almost every Office Depot product and service, free delivery, no minimum purchase required, and shopping at an Office Depot store or online and receiving the same discounts.

How did you get started in this business and how long has it been going?

In 2009, I retired from a senior vice president position with a multimillion-dollar telecommunications company. While there, I was on the executive leadership board. We would meet for three days every month to review all aspects of the company. One of our main priorities was to control and cut costs while still providing quality service. In September of last year, we had started purchasing office supplies using the Office Depot Discount program. By purchasing through the discount program, the company realized a substantial savings. Upon hearing this, I decided that if this was so successful in cutting costs for a multimillion-dollar company, then it would be beneficial for small businesses on Kaua’i as well. So, in October of last year I came out of retirement and started Office Station. I then negotiated an agreement with Office Depot to have the same benefits and features of the Mainland program approved for Hawaii. I officially launched the Office Depot Discount program in January of this year. Office Station is now a member of Kaua’i Chamber of Commerce.

Where are you from originally and what role does that play in your business?

I was born in California. I came to Hawaii in 1970 to surf. I immediately fell in love with the people, the lifestyle and the aloha of Hawaii. I quit the university in California I was attending (senior year, last semester) and enrolled in the University of Hawaii. I bought a 40-foot boat, moved aboard and learned to enjoy the rhythm of the Islands. I graduated in 1971 from University of Hawaii. While at UH, I was fortunate to have Gavin Daws as one of my professors. He introduced me to the culture of Hawaii. Now, 41 years later, I am still fascinated by the history of the Islands. I may not have been born here, but I have always felt that I belong here, that I am a child of the ‘aina.

What sets your business apart?

The Office Depot discount program has been described as the “Netflix” of office supplies. By purchasing through the program, Kaua’i businesses now can receive the negotiated discount prices on office supplies that many large corporations on the Mainland receive. For, as we are well-aware, discounts and free shipping are not features we usually enjoy on Kaua’i.

Why do you do what you do?

I have been blessed to be a blessing. Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” I have been married for 38 years to the love of my life, Dawna. We have four children and nine grandchildren. So I am still exploring, dreaming and discovering all life has to offer.

What motivates you to get up and go to work every day?

It is easy to go to work when you enjoy what you are doing. Besides developing the program for all the Islands, I also am working closely with groups, associations and charities to build fundraising programs. I create an Office Depot landing page to be put on the group’s website. The “Shop Online” button immediately links to the Office Depot website. I also create a customized Office Depot discount card with the group’s logo to be used at the store. When the group’s members/supporters purchase office supplies through the Office Depot Discount program, a percentage of the purchase goes to the group. There is no charge to develop the fundraising program for them. It is proving to be very successful way to generate income for groups.

Do you have a business motto or philosophy?

Philosophy: Life is not a dress rehearsal, so live life to the fullest. Motto: Taking Care of Business.

What is the most challenging aspect of your business?

Overcoming misconceptions and changing buying habits. I am sometimes told that the program seems too good to be true, so it is challenging to get people to realize that there is no “catch” to enjoy the benefits of the discount program. There is no cost to join, no membership, no commitment or minimum purchase required. Businesses on Kaua’i are slow to try new programs, so it takes time for them to change their buying habits. I inform them that the program does not cost anything to take advantage of the discounts, so give it a try – simply buy the office supplies that they would normally purchase and realize the savings.

What is your business plan for the future?

The program has been very well-received and successful on Kaua’i, so I am expanding the program to include the Neighbor Islands. On the islands that have an Office Depot store, people can shop at the store and receive the same discount as online. Whichever way they choose to purchase their products (store or online), they will receive the discount rate with the full support and service from Office Depot. Also, the fundraising aspect of the program is proving to be quite successful in Hawaii and on the Mainland. Very large groups and associations are contacting me to build programs for their organization.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?

That is a hard question to answer. I pray about it and wonder myself. However, I try to live by what St. Augustine said: “Love God with all your heart and soul and mind and then go out and do what you want.” I will know what I am to do when it is time to know.

Where can people learn more?

Call me toll free at 1-866-851-4733, email mike@officestation.org or go online to www.officestation.org.

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