How a Family Business Evolves Through 60 Years of Change - Top Tips for Changing with The Times
How does a company that started out selling typewriters in 1959 evolve and thrive in the age of digital technology?
Hilyard's Business Solutions has never been afraid to expand its offerings, moving seamlessly into the modern age of office integration without sacrificing local family values. Here are a few of their top tips for changing without compromising their values:
1. A company needs to be able to embrace new business trends and not be afraid to take chances. In 1959, Charles Hilyard purchased a company called the Typewriter Exchange and opened Hilyard's, Inc. on Shipley Street in Wilmington. The early days involved selling typewriters and adding machines to the area businesses. When typewriters began to take a backseat to computers and fax machines, the company was willing to add new elements to its business model, adapting to its customers' changing needs.
2. A company should always educate themselves on the latest developments. Through the years, Hilyard's has seen the evolution of the fax machine, computers, the internet, and mobile technology. Yet, they didn't allow themselves to get stuck in an old-fashioned mindset and continuously educated themselves on the latest technology and business trends to best serve their customers.
3. A business should be open-minded and work with younger generations to bring in fresh points of view. Charles' youngest son, Robert, joined the company in 1977, and worked his way through the company working in all areas of the business. Rob guided Hilyard's through the evolution of copiers as well as adding additional lines of business to the company like computer networking, computer hardware repair, and document management software. Today, Hilyard's Business Solutions employees six family members across three generations, with Robert serving as CEO and his wife, Susan as President.
4. Technology changes quickly. Providing staff with the availability to keep up with these changes is critical. While we talk about the paperless office, people are still creating paper documents. Recognize that the new generation of workers exchange information differently and understand that they may not use paper the way previous generations did. As a business owner, it's important to recognize when trends change so you can capitalize on the change or backfill the revenue that you may lose when a trend changes.
5. Adding new lines of business is often the key to growth. In 2017, Hilyard's added voice solutions through the acquisition of Collins Business Systems in New Castle, another family-owned business, adding phone technology to the company's portfolio. In 2018, they acquired Automated Copy Systems in Salisbury, MD. Employees from both of those companies remain working at Hilyard's.
6. A company can only succeed thanks to the community around it. That's why Hilyard's stays involved in its own community. In addition to serving businesses in their community through the products and services they offer, you'll also see their team helping out the local community by painting houses, delivering food, giving blood and more.
7. Empower your management team to make decisions and be participants in the company's growth and new ventures. It's important to receive feedback from your employees to let you know when they see new technologies that can help them do their job more efficiently and also when they spot things that can help their customers. Remember that employees have families that are affected by the company decisions and growth. If you're stressed most likely they are too, so you need to be open and share what is happening with the company – both successes and failures.
ABOUT HILYARD'S BUSINESS SOLUTIONS
Celebrating its 60th year in business, Hilyard's Business Solutions has been serving customers in Delaware, Southeastern Pennsylvania and the Maryland Eastern Shore since 1959. The family-owned business founded by Charles Hilyard delivers cutting-edge technology and unsurpassed personal service. Hilyard's provides its customers with a one-stop-shop for document management, IT solutions, office machinery, print services, and more. Learn more at hilyards.com.