AGS Business Systems Inc. has a new home in Nanaimo
The business system sales and service company, which is now in its 38th year, recently moved into its new location at 1850 Northfield Road. Owners Bill and Jackie Millar and Peter Moss had been searching for a building to purchase for years, and the new site, on one of the busiest streets in Nanaimo, is equally visible as their former office on Bowen Road, where they'd been for the past seven years.
"We're dedicated to Vancouver Island and we're always looking for other opportunities to expand the business into other locations on the Island," said Millar, president of the company which also has locations in Parksville, on Stanford Avenue, and Courtenay, on Cliffe Avenue.
"We've worked hard to make the business what it is today." AGS offers sales and service for Ricoh copiers, printers, faxes, computers and business machines, and covers the Island from the Cowichan Valley to Port Hardy with 20 staff members.
"Our sales and service teams are on the road constantly, meeting with existing and potentially new customers and introducing them to the newest ways of printing, scanning, copying and other office requirements that are currently available in a field where technological advances move quickly," Millar said.
"When customers call us requiring service, they usually need assistance right away in a busy office environment, so we'd be nowhere without our service teams and their hard work." The Millars welcomed Moss as a partner four years ago, and the arrangement has worked wonderfully for the company.
Bill Millar, as President, oversees the office; Jackie looks after several key accounts, and Moss, who joined AGS after a lengthy and successful tenure as a dealer-owner, then Ricoh branch sales manager in Edmonton, is the company's Vice President of Sales Vancouver Island.
"We've been able to grow a solid business on the Island, and we're very glad to have Peter join us and help us keep the momentum going," said Millar, who bought the business on January 1, 1993 with his wife and partner Jackie from Allen Smallenberg, who founded the business.
Jackie first met Peter when they golfed together at a Ricoh golf tournament, and Moss has family on the Island. "I planned to come here anyway," said Moss. "Our plan was to come here, but talking to Bill and Jackie accelerated our plans. We found we had a very similar ideology of doing business, in the way we treat employees and our customer-comes-first attitude."
Joining the Millars at AGS was a perfect fit for Moss. "This is more what I feel comfortable with. I understand how small, medium and large businesses operate, and I know what they need. I understand their cost and cash flow efficiencies - that's what I like to do," Moss said. "That's what we want AGS to market. AGS offers total document management solutions through the implementation of electronic work flows to help reduce our customers' pay per usage, and ultimately reduce their costs. That's the strategy we share when we walk into a customers' office."
Being owner-operators is an advantage, and Millar believes that gives AGS an extra level of understanding that helps them understand their clients.
"We're at the same level of understanding as our customers because we're in business ourselves," he said. "There's a big difference between which side of the cheque you sign. That makes all the difference."
Moss added: "We understand the realities of business, as we've gone through what other business owners have. We're in the trenches, too."
Prior to coming to the Island to buy AGS, Millar had a lengthy, distinguished career in sales and management with 3M in Toronto and Edmonton. The Millars have worked hard and made several key advancements over the years. The first was in 1999, when they moved from Hirst Avenue in Parksville to a location across from the Coastal Community Credit Union next to the Island Highway, which gave them more visibility.
Coastal Community also became one of their best clients, solidifying their customer base, and injecting added confidence into the company.
"That gave us a new lease on life," Millar recalled. "We felt good about ourselves, and we hit $1million in sales for the first time. That was a very big year for us, and it's been all uphill from there." Adding Moss as a partner has enabled AGS to climb to a new level.
"Every day, he's out there with sales people making calls, and he's a first class person. There's not a day goes by that we're not thankful for having Peter come and join us."
Moss added: "I never have to wake up in the morning and say 'I have to go to work', because I love what I do. I like being out there in front of the customers."
Millar believes "the difference between AGS and the multinationals is we're here to stay, and we deal with all the changes in the marketplace. We're a part of Vancouver Island. Working for ourselves, we sign the front of the cheques. But we've also had the experience of working for the corporations where we signed the back of the cheque.
"We'll continue to plough the field we've always ploughed, concentrating 100 per cent on Vancouver Island. There's not an area on the Island that we've not found, or have in our sight," said Millar. "We say that AGS stands for A Great Store, and Always Great Service," stated Millar. "We've outlasted a lot of companies’ in this business that have come and gone, and we'll continue to concentrate 100 per cent on Vancouver Island."
Originally Published in the Vancouver Island Business Examiner