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Chandler's named Business of the Year

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By Calen McKinney

 

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He knew his business was nominated, but says he never expected to win.

Sitting in his office supply company's showroom, Bill Chandler says he believes his business has stayed the test of time because the community has supported him.

And Chandler was recently shown just how much the community supports his business when Campbellsville/Taylor County Chamber of Commerce members voted his company, Chandler's Office Supply, the Business of the Year.

The award was presented at the Chamber's annual banquet. Board member Ritchie Gaddis made the presentation.

The recipient must be a Chamber member in good standing for at least three years, be involved in community activities, give its time and money to organizations and show leadership. Other nominees were Amazon.com and Taylor Regional Hospital.

"This year's recipient is a friend to all, not just through their business but also in many of our day-to-day lives," Gaddis said. "They will go above and beyond to help others with their needs."

Chandler's, the oldest existing business in Taylor County, is family owned and operated, Gaddis said.

"This business was started in 1892," he said. "They have been serving the community for over a century. It can be a very wonderful place when you run out of some office supplies in the middle of a project.

"They strive to provide the highest quality supplies so as to meet your needs."

In accepting the award, Chandler said he is appreciative of being honored by his peers. Last week, he echoed that same sentiment.

"We're having a minute impact on Taylor County when compared to them, but I do appreciate the honor," he said. "It's always nice to be recognized by your peers."

Chandler's, which sells office furniture and supplies, boasts eight employees. Many have been with the company for 20 years or more.

Chandler's began in 1892 as Chandler Novelty Co. Chandler said his grandfather, William, sold magazines, greeting cards, fishing equipment, Bibles, gifts, garden seeds, school textbooks and much more.

"At Christmas, we would handle toys," Chandler said.

After his grandfather died, Chandler's father, Joseph, took over the business. He died in 1960 and Chandler's mother, Olive, took the helm. Chandler and his wife, Jill, took over in 1998 after his mother died.

Joseph Chandler sold some office supplies, Chandler said, and always said he believed there was a lot of potential in the business.

"Mother was good at the gift end of it," he said. "But now it's evolved through the years to where we're [selling] systems, machines and copy equipment."

The secret to Chandler's success, Chandler said, is simple.

"The people that work here," he said.

When a customer orders a copy machine from Chandler's, he said, the purchase comes with service from employees who have a combined 50 years of experience.

"And they're good. I would put them up against any technicians in the country."

He said his employees regularly attend trainings to stay up-to-date on the changing technology of office equipment.

"We're a very service-oriented business," he said. "We try to be competitive."

Though Chandler said residents might find their product elsewhere for a cheaper price, he said, "We hang our hat on service."

Since the downturn of the economy, Chandler said, business has been a bit tough.

"I've seen it better, but I've also seen it worse," he said. "I've made a lot of mistakes over the years. If not for people taking care of my family, we might not have survived."

And Chandler said that's why being honored by his peers, the people who have helped him over the years, means a lot to him.

"You appreciate that. You can't help but appreciate it. Humbled by it. At the same time, I realize that I need to continue to be a ... contributing force in the community as much as possible.

"I really do appreciate it and it's gratifying," he said. "And the community and this town has been good to our family and hopefully we give back to the community in kind."

The Chandlers have two children, Sue Kocian of Louisville and Joe Chandler of Houston. They have three grandchildren.

Though neither of the Chandlers' children have expressed interest in operating Chandler's someday, Chandler said he hopes it will continue nevertheless.

Chandler said he doesn't know if retirement is in his future, but said he hopes to see Chandler's continue after he is no longer at its front desk.

"Hopefully, the business can be passed on to people who will provide the service ... to customers that they've come to expect through the years."

And Chandler says the Chandler's business doesn't have to operate using his namesake on its sign.

"I don't care what they call it, as long as they take care of the customers and the people who work here."

Award Winners

This is the third in a series of four stories about this year's winners of the annual Campbellsville/Taylor County Chamber of Commerce awards.

This year's winners are:

Citizen of the Year - Laura Wilds

Educator of the Year - Farrah Hord

Business of the Year - Chandler's Office Supply

Outstanding Chamber Investor - Citizens Bank and Trust Co.