WEST PALM Seashore, Fla. (AP) — Halsey & Griffith Inc. commenced as a 168-square-foot stationery keep in downtown West Palm Seashore in 1921, and this thirty day period the family members-owned corporation that has reinvented by itself various times is celebrating the iconic business’s 100th anniversary.
Started by John L. Griffith and William L. Halsey, the enterprise has persevered in the deal with of hurricanes, the Fantastic Melancholy, Planet War II, a Chapter 11 individual bankruptcy in 1991 and a 1993 restructuring, when it shifted its emphasis from retail to the copier small business.
Longtime space residents will remember its heyday from the 1960s to the 1980s, when its store at 313 Datura St. was the location to go for office, art and engineering supplies, cameras and photographic provides, guides, presents and greeting cards.
“Plus it was air-conditioned! Everybody in West Palm Seaside shopped at Halsey & Griffith,” the company’s president, Robert L. “Robbie” Siemon, 72, explained. James Waugh, Robert’s grandfather, bought Halsey & Griffith from the founders in 1948.
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Halsey’s, as it was typically named, became a regional chain with 11 merchants from Vero Seaside to Boca Raton. In the 1980s, Halsey & Griffith was a person of the area’s prime place of work suppliers, using 175 persons and reporting annual revenue of $12.5 million.
Many variations have transpired considering that then. In 2016, the enterprise rebranded itself as HGi Systems, just after it moved away from offering office environment household furniture and supplies. Now, Siemon claimed, It is a South Florida leader in the copier company, promoting and servicing copiers, printers, mailing methods and document-administration programs.
With an office environment in West Palm Beach and a distribution heart in Miami Gardens near the Golden Glades Interchange, the now 45-employee firm serves shoppers in Palm Seaside, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
This 12 months, HGi commenced a new organization less than the Halsey & Griffith umbrella, HGi Technologies Solutions, a full-provider IT company. “We assume our IT Expert services will be a extremely critical element of our enterprise in the long term,” Siemon mentioned.
In January, Siemon’s son Blake, 48, who started functioning complete-time at the company in 1999, will become its president, while Robert Siemon will continue on to do the job there. Robert’s brother James manages the fiscal stop of the company. The two have led the business considering the fact that 1989 just after their late father, Robert T. “Bob” Siemon, retired.
Blake Siemon, a graduate of Forest Hill Higher University and Florida Atlantic College, labored at Halsey & Griffith’s warehouse on Aged Okeechobee Highway when he was in large faculty.
“A good deal of young ones from Forest Hill worked there and confirmed up right after several hours to pull orders that were being completely ready for supply at 5 a.m. the up coming early morning,” Blake Siemon reported.
The expansion into IT companies focuses on shopper support and excellent assistance for small to medium-sized companies.
“For a couple years we have been serving to folks with efficiencies, software and electronic workflow and written content management. It hasn’t been a large aspect of our company. We are getting that abilities and heading into IT companies,” Blake explained.
1 of the most tricky periods transpired soon after the 1st office offer superstore opened in Boca Raton in 1988. A West Palm Beach site quickly adopted. Numerous mom-and-pop workplace source suppliers across the nation went out of business enterprise.
“The superstores pressured us to change our concentrate when I took above the business in 1989. We understood we had to diversify. We did not get out of the business office provide company right until 2018. We downsized drastically to three destinations,” Siemon claimed.
Halsey & Griffith turned an licensed Ricoh copier supplier. They earlier had bought the copiers, but sadly the improve did not manifest quick adequate, and the company was compelled to file for personal bankruptcy. By January 1993, having said that, it had paid off its debt and could the moment once more acquire on credit history from distributors.
“At that stage I produced the final decision to go to Miami and operate the copier division,” Robert Siemon claimed. “Before that I had an outdoors person. I commuted on Tri-Rail for 30 yrs, right until the pandemic.”
A new era had started, and advancement continued in the copier division, putting the organization back on stable footing. The Siemons attribute the company’s longevity to a provider-oriented way of doing company that goes back to founders Halsey and Griffith and was continued underneath their family’s ownership.
“Blake signifies the fourth technology of the Waugh/Siemon loved ones to serve in a leadership part in the organization,” Robert reported. “This is one thing we are incredibly proud of due to the fact only 3 per cent of family members organizations are however in company in the fourth technology.”
“Halsey & Griffith has expert quite a few ups and downs, but we have been in small business for 100 years,” Siemon said. “Halsey & Griffith has been a significant section of the West Palm Seashore neighborhood for the previous 100 years and has utilized much more than 1,000 people.”
The corporation was established in the course of the serious estate increase of the 1920s when Griffith and Halsey, like thousands of other folks, came to West Palm Seashore to make their fortunes. Griffith regarded the will need for a stationery store and opened a 12-by-14-foot store on what was Poinsettia Avenue.
Within just a 12 months, Griffith moved the store to a greater site at 220 S. Dixie Highway, and then to the Guaranty Creating. At seven stories, it was one particular of West Palm Beach’s first “skyscrapers.” Created in 1922, it is now on the Nationwide Sign-up of Historic Sites and is positioned at the corner of South Olive Avenue and Datura Avenue.
All through this time, Halsey approached Griffith and made available to put up some revenue to develop into a companion, founding the Halsey & Griffith agency in 1923. In 1925, the downtown store was moved to 313 Datura St., a home Halsey owned. The creating originally had three storefronts on the floor floor. Halsey’s occupied a person and rented the other two. The best two flooring were the Halsey Resort.
The early several years had been not always simple. The Fantastic Miami Hurricane strike on Sept. 11, 1926, and halted the Florida land boom. Then on Sept. 6, 1928, the Okeechobee Hurricane struck West Palm Seashore and prompted the Lake Okeechobee dike to are unsuccessful. More than 2,500 persons died in the hurricane and a lot of of them drowned in the Glades area around the lake.
Up coming came the inventory sector crash of 1929, and the small business limped together for the next 15 or so a long time.
In the course of World War II, producing limits on objects not linked to the war hampered supplies. It was not until finally right after the war finished those supplies began to circulation and business enterprise commenced to increase. In 1955, Griffith and Halsey died inside of 6 months of every single other.
But nationwide, instances ended up fantastic, and the retail enterprise commenced to increase, with the very first department retail outlet opening in 1957. The last new department debuted in Port St. Lucie in 1990.
“In addition to advertising office materials, and home furnishings, we also offered artwork provides,” the late Margaret Siemon wrote in a firm historical past. “The well-known Black artists, the Highwaymen, procured or traded their artwork for paint and canvases over the yrs.”
Whilst typewriters and carbon paper are no extended utilized, the Siemons emphasize that their mission has remained the exact same as a honest spouse for Florida firms.
“What fulfills me is that there is a legacy, not just that of my family, but the great identify of the business that we get to carry on and implement to unique matters,” Blake Siemon claimed. “We are a relic of a bygone era as to how we strategy company. That doesn’t make us inconsequential. People even now want initially-class service.”
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