BY HEIDI ULRICHSEN
An office products supplier with a long history on Elm Street has been sold to industry giant Grand & Toy this week.
Muirheads Basics is the leading distributor of office products in many parts of northeastern Ontario. The company has been owned since the 1980s
by Tom, Bill and John Querney in Sudbury and Don Wyatt in Timmins, although it was founded in Sudbury in the 19th century.
The company started in 1891 when Dan Baikie opened the Sudbury Book Store. Frank Muirhead purchased it in 1915 and changed the name. His
son, Bill, sold it in 1972 to Alan Querney, father of Tom, Bill and John.
Muirheads took on the Basics label a number of years ago after they joined the national office supply buying group.
The family-run company has grown to the point that the takeover by office supply company Grand & Toy was needed before they could expand any further, says Tom Querney.
?With our growth, we?ve basically maximized what we can do out of our existing facilities. We needed new warehousing. One of the factors was to identify what the payback would be on that kind of thing,? he says.
?There?s a whole bunch of other factors involved too. Just where the market is going, and what the long-term would look like. Also, where the various partners are with their careers, and when they want to retire.?
For now, the Querney brothers and Wyatt will stay put to run the stores. Grand & Toy will keep all of the company?s 70 employees.
Operational changes will happen slowly, Querney says.
Over time, the Muirheads name will be married to the Grand & Toy name. Invoicing and catalogues will eventually change, but for the short term, it?s business as usual.
?We?re trying to minimize all that change for the customers as much as possible.?
Muirheads has always prided itself on good customer service, and Querney says he believes this tradition will continue with the new owners.
Grand & Toy wanted to buy Muirheads to spread its presence in Northern Ontario, says the company?s president, Peter Vanexan. The company already has stores in North Bay and New Liskeard.
Across Canada, Grand & Toy has 65 retail stores and is the leading supplier of office products, paper and technology. Like Muirheads, it was also founded in the late 1800s.
?Muirheads is a very nice company. It?s well positioned in Sudbury and was very attractive to us. Culturally, the two companies are a very good fit.
We both have over 100 years of history of servicing our customers,? says Vanexan.
?It?s a very nice market in Northern Ontario. It?s quite attractive to us. We?ve been up there in New Liskeard and North Bay for quite awhile. Sudbury
and Timmins adds to it. This puts us in a good position to be able to further enhance our service to Northern Ontario.?