'It was a tough decision after 100 years'

While looking back on the history of Wirick’s Office Products, which was recently acquired and merged with Integrity Business Solutions, Tim Bullerdick points to different pictures framed together. Bullerdick co-owned Wirick’s and will remain on staff as an account executive with Integrity. 

Tim Bullerdick has been know as “Tim from Wirick’s” for years.

Ealier this year, however, Wirick’s Office Products – a local company with more than 100 years of history behind it – was acquired and merged with Integrity Business Solutions, headquartered in Grand Rapids.

“We were all to the point where none of our kids were active in the business and we were getting to the age where we were ready for retirement. We decided Integrity was a good choice for us,” said Bullerdick, previous co-owner of Wirick’s and now account executive with Integrity Office Products. “For one, we knew the owners very well. We had worked with them for years. They were competition, but they were friendly competition. We made the decision to sell the business to them.”

“We had a lot of good support from all these people who kept us viable all these years and we hope that continues because we are not going away, we just have a new name now,” he said.

Wirick’s can trace its roots back to 1908, when John Reichardt opened J.H. Reichardt Book Shop, selling books and stationary.

Reichardt also owned a style shop for women’s clothes, a men’s store and a gift shop, Bullerdick said, and later expanded the bookstore to include office products.

In the 1950s, Sherm Wirick was hired on working for Reichardt’s son, Jack. Wirick purchased the company in 1970 and in 1992, sold the business to his daughters and their husbands, Steve and Sherri Kosanic and Bullerdick and his wife, Pam.

“We look at ourselves as the fourth generation of two families – two generations of Reichardt’s and Wirick’s. To have a business go on that long and through that many generations is unusual, I don’t think you see that happen that much,” Bullerdick said.

In 2008, Wirick’s was recognized for its 100th anniversary with a resolution from the City of Grand Haven. The resolution congratulated the Reichardt, Wirick, Kosanic and Bullerdick families, their ancestors and descendents for doing business as a family since 1908.

Over the years, Wirick’s has seen many changes of location, first moving into downtown Grand Haven, then shifting out of retail and relocating to the industrial district.

“About 9 years ago, we decided not to do retail anymore,” Bullerdick said, noting the change came as part of a national trend. “We divided the building up and rented out half of it and we were in there as a stockless dealer. We didn’t carry much inventory at all except paper.

“We started buying paper by the truckload and storing it elsewhere because the building couldn’t handle it. We decided that we would lease out the whole building – that’s when The Pump House leased it and we moved out into the industrial park with a loading dock and warehouse space of our own. We have been doing that for the last six years.”

Bullerdick said with only about 5 percent of sales being retail, a national consultant gave a recommendation to go stockless.

“It was a tough decision after 100 years,” he said. “It was a bit sad because people liked to come in and look around and shop. I think whenever something has been around for that long and is no longer there, it’s missed.”

The decision to be stockless did not affect sales, Bullerdick said, but did give Wirick’s the opportunity to spend more time on the commercial end of the business, which has continued to grow.

While customers can no longer go test office chairs or sit at display desks, they can still purchase products from Wirick’s – now Integrity Business Solutions, online.

“Things change over the years,” Bullerdick said. “We were able to compete with the big box stores that have a presence in town as well. That’s been a good thing.

“We would like to thank the community for their local support. There is probably no way we would have survived all these years without that local support.”

Now with ownership duties passed to Integrity, Bullerdick said he and Steve Kosanic can concentrate on sales and on spending more time with their families.

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