One on One

Six and a half years ago Richard Gentile opened his office furniture and supply business with a unique approach to management.

At Total Office Solutions, 931 S. Tejon St., he leads employees with positive reinforcement and encourages them to think more about their interactions with customers and co-workers.

A “13 points of culture” document serves an employee handbook of sorts and as a guide to harmonious business and office relationships with an emphasis on integrity and respect.

The document urges employees to thrive spiritually as well as intellectually and financially, and it also admonishes them to appreciate diversity in its many shapes and forms.

That management style, which is intended to create the ultimate in customer satisfaction, is what has helped Total Office Solutions compete with the big, corporate-run office suppliers around town.

Running a local business inspires Gentile to support community programs, and he’s particularly proud that money spent at his business is cycled back into the community. He said the purchase of his business’ current location, represents an intention to stick around for a while.

Gentile took time recently to tell CSBJ about himself and his business.

Organization: Total Office Solutions Inc.

Position: Owner/president

Hometown: New York, N.Y.

How long have you lived in Colorado Springs: Since 1978.

Education: My background is in business, sales and marketing.

A few words about your company: We are a total value office products company. Total Office Solutions provides an extensive line of office products, computer supplies, office furniture, and break room and janitorial supplies. In addition, we also offer interior design as well as printer cleaning and repair services.

Recent accomplishments: We have purchased and remodeled our new building at 931 S Tejon St. We redesigned our Web site, wrote our vision for the next three years and designed position agreements for each team member for a clearer understanding of what is expected of them. In July, I finished the 120-mile "Triple-by-pass" bike ride in less time than last year.

Biggest career break: Six and a half years ago, I started Total Office Solutions and introduced the new independent office product dealer concept to Colorado Springs. As a result, we have niched ourselves as a world-class organization with approximately 400 clients and we have experienced 12 percent to 16 percent growth each year.

The toughest part of your job: It is perception, getting the word out to the community that bigger is not better. Educating potential clients that locally owned businesses are just as price competitive, however, we are much more responsive and caring to the needs of each individual organization.

Someone you admire: I admired my father. He was a man of integrity, honesty and compassion and his family and his relationships were most important to him. He was a great teacher.

About your family: I just remarried a year and a half ago to my wife, Pam. I have two sons in college. My oldest son, Tate, is in graduate school to become a doctor of chiropractic, and my youngest son, Chris, will be graduating from UNC in December.

Something else you’d like to accomplish: Continue to build a world-class organization that will grow and thrive without me, help my wife to build her business and to build my house on my land in Mexico.

How your business will change in the next decade: I believe that people and organizations will continue to migrate away from mass marketers and big box companies in search of local companies like mine with continued focus on the Internet, incredible customer service and cost-effective systems to help procure, distribute, manage and control material and supply expenditures. People are starved for high-quality customer service and relationships.

What book are you currently reading? "The E-myth Mastery" by Michael Gerber. He helps you grow your business in a practical and productive way.

What is the one thing you would change about Colorado Springs? I would like to see us become better stewards of our city and planet. We need to explore and utilize alternative fuels, create better mass transportation and become less dependent on foreign oil.