Success Story - McAleer’s Office Furniture
“The challenge you face when you come into a second-generation business like ours, is how you will accomplish change while keeping all the great things that made the business successful in the first place” according to Melissa Cross, President of McAleer’s Office Furniture Co., Inc., and daughter of company founders Jim and Camilla McAleer.
Melissa’s father started the business in 1979, and despite a little set back called Hurricane Frederic, which forced the new store to close for two weeks soon after it opened, the business has been going strong now for 40 years. The company has grown from three employees – Jim, Camilla and another employee – to 19 today.
McAleer’s is a full-service office furniture dealership, offering both new and used furniture, interior design services, delivery and installation services. The company is headquartered in Mobile with stores in Mobile and Pensacola.
Three of the McAleer’s seven children, Melissa, Sarah McAleer, Vice President of Business Development and David McAleer, Manager of the Pensacola location, are involved with the day-to-day operation of the business. Since Jim retired in 2015, the challenge for them is to keep the high standards set by their parents while at the same time exploring new opportunities and ensuring relevance in an ever-changing market.
As part of that exploration, they started pursuing government contracts. “We learned about PTAC (Procurement Technical Assistance Centers) through the local SBA office, and since becoming aware of their services, have taken full advantage of all they offer,” Melissa said. The company became a client of the Alabama SBDC Network / Alabama PTAC Program in October of 2017.
“We have attended matchmaking sessions, as well as seminars that take you through the basics of how to obtain federal contracts. We were also assisted personally by Gerald Dunlop, PTAC small business advisor located at the University of South Alabama, whose help was invaluable. He set us up on the Bid-Match program and gave us direction as to where to start. He also connected us with people who could assist us in the process.”
The company is headquartered in a Historically Underutilized Business Zone, and they are currently pursuing HUBZone certification. Joining the HUBZone program would make the business eligible to compete for the program’s set-aside contracts. HUBZone-certified businesses also get a 10 percent price evaluation preference in full and open contract competitions.
In the meantime, the company subcontracted to Commando Contracting, LLC, in 2018 on two purchases for Veteran Affairs totaling $95,728. “If we had not learned this through the PTAC program, we never would have found the partner we did with Commando Contracting, LLC.”
In 2015, the business was named the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year and Alabama Retail Association Gold Retailer of the Year and Business Council of Alabama 2016 Small Business Game Changer Winner.
It’s obvious the second generation of McAleer’s is carrying on the tradition of success.