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Small Business Awards: Business supply company is one-stop shop

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, April 19, 2012, at 7:16 a.m.
  • Updated Thursday, April 19, 2012, at 7:33 a.m.

More information

Kevin Ulwelling on Midwest Single Source

What is the most important factor that helped you compete in the past year?

“Our diversity of products we sell, ranging from office to printing to promotional items, apparel and mail. In essence anything a business may need to buy to function, we can provide.”

What is something about your company that would surprise Wichita?

“How long we’ve been here. Thirty-five years last year, and we have many employees who’ve been with us 20-plus years. We’re locally owned with a single owner who’s lived right down the street. People can drive right by. Our biggest challenge is letting customers know what we can do for them.”

What’s next for your company?

“A year ago, I would have said we’re looking to stabilize, and we went out and acquired a company, Computer Mailing Inc. in Kansas City. So I’d really say stabilization this time, too. It was a tremendous growth opportunity, blending two great companies.”

More information

Midwest Single Source

Founded: 1976

Owner: John Osborne

Employees: 70

Address: 1501 E. 1st St.

Phone: 316-267-6333

Website: www.ssource.com

Kevin Ulwelling brought a sports background to Wichita, one he’s now shifted into the equally competitive arena of office supplies.

Ulwelling, former baseball coach and athletic director at Newman University, is president of Midwest Single Source, Wichita’s one-stop shop for almost everything a business could want.

It’s been an interesting ride for Ulwelling, whose relationship with company owner John Osborne began during Osborne’s term on the Newman board.

“I think that John saw me on the move career-wise,” Ulwelling said. “I was taking on a lot more, and the timing was right. Newman is a wonderful place. I was there 12 years, and I loved it. I was just ready for a new challenge.”

Midwest Single Source’s business niche is the one-stop shop approach in a competitive industry marked by specialization.

“We feel this kind of service is extremely valuable,” Ulwelling said. “Those who utilize it reap benefits like one truck with everything into their dock, getting one invoice on their account, seeing one sales rep and seeing one person dedicated to customer service. There are a lot of folks touching a lot of things.

“These are ways for our customers to become more efficient. It helps them buy and anticipate needs a lot better. Partnership is a big word for us.”

Midwest’s motto is “Solutions Through Service,” and it involves all employees, Ulwelling said.

“We value input from employees, and we allow them the flexibility with their children and kids, encourage them to see those events,” he said “We understand that things come up in life.”

The company’s challenge going forward is competition, Ulwelling said.

“I’ve heard more times than I care to sitting with current customers, ‘I didn’t know you could do T-shirts. We just ordered a thousand,’” he said. “We want to be up-front and hopefully there will be a maturation of that thought. We can provide things to our customers that people consider a national contract, and we’re right in their backyard.

“We’re going to continue to push that, and being a part of this award process allows us to preach that message.”

Reach Bill Wilson at 316-268-6290 or bwilson@wichitaeagle.com.

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