WEST PALM Beach front, Fla. (AP) — Halsey & Griffith Inc. commenced as a 168-square-foot stationery retail store in downtown West Palm Beach in 1921, and this thirty day period the family members-owned business that has reinvented itself various occasions is celebrating the iconic business’s 100th anniversary.
Established by John L. Griffith and William L. Halsey, the organization has persevered in the facial area of hurricanes, the Excellent Despair, Planet War II, a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1991 and a 1993 restructuring, when it shifted its emphasis from retail to the copier organization.
Longtime location people will remember its heyday from the 1960s to the 1980s, when its retail outlet at 313 Datura St. was the location to go for place of work, art and engineering materials, cameras and photographic provides, books, items and greeting cards.
“Plus it was air-conditioned! Absolutely everyone in West Palm Beach shopped at Halsey & Griffith,” the company’s president, Robert L. “Robbie” Siemon, 72, reported. James Waugh, Robert’s grandfather, purchased Halsey & Griffith from the founders in 1948.
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Halsey’s, as it was generally known as, turned a regional chain with 11 retailers from Vero Seashore to Boca Raton. In the 1980s, Halsey & Griffith was a single of the area’s prime business office suppliers, employing 175 persons and reporting yearly profits of $12.5 million.
Many improvements have occurred considering the fact that then. In 2016, the firm rebranded alone as HGi Systems, immediately after it moved away from offering office household furniture and supplies. Now, Siemon mentioned, It’s a South Florida leader in the copier small business, promoting and servicing copiers, printers, mailing methods and document-administration systems.
With an business office in West Palm Seaside and a distribution heart in Miami Gardens in close proximity to the Golden Glades Interchange, the now 45-personnel business serves prospects in Palm Beach front, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
This year, HGi began a new enterprise beneath the Halsey & Griffith umbrella, HGi Technology Services, a comprehensive-services IT enterprise. “We believe our IT Services will be a quite crucial portion of our company in the long run,” Siemon reported.
In January, Siemon’s son Blake, 48, who begun doing work comprehensive-time at the firm in 1999, will become its president, whilst Robert Siemon will keep on to perform there. Robert’s brother James manages the money finish of the enterprise. The two have led the firm considering the fact that 1989 soon after their late father, Robert T. “Bob” Siemon, retired.
Blake Siemon, a graduate of Forest Hill High University and Florida Atlantic University, labored at Halsey & Griffith’s warehouse on Old Okeechobee Street when he was in higher university.
“A great deal of youngsters from Forest Hill worked there and confirmed up after hrs to pull orders that ended up all set for delivery at 5 a.m. the next early morning,” Blake Siemon claimed.
The enlargement into IT services focuses on customer support and excellent advice for compact to medium-sized businesses.
“For a couple many years we have been encouraging people with efficiencies, program and electronic workflow and content management. It hasn’t been a big aspect of our enterprise. We are having that skills and heading into IT providers,” Blake mentioned.
A single of the most difficult intervals transpired just after the initial office source superstore opened in Boca Raton in 1988. A West Palm Beach area promptly adopted. Many mother-and-pop workplace supply suppliers across the nation went out of business enterprise.
“The superstores pressured us to modify our concentrate when I took around the business in 1989. We understood we experienced to diversify. We didn’t get out of the business office supply enterprise until finally 2018. We downsized dramatically to 3 locations,” Siemon mentioned.
Halsey & Griffith grew to become an approved Ricoh copier vendor. They formerly experienced sold the copiers, but regretably the improve did not manifest speedy sufficient, and the company was forced to file for bankruptcy. By January 1993, having said that, it experienced paid out off its financial debt and could after once more obtain on credit history from sellers.
“At that point I produced the selection to go to Miami and run the copier division,” Robert Siemon explained. “Before that I had an exterior man or woman. I commuted on Tri-Rail for 30 years, until the pandemic.”
A new period had started, and development ongoing in the copier division, putting the business again on sound footing. The Siemons attribute the company’s longevity to a support-oriented way of undertaking business enterprise that goes again to founders Halsey and Griffith and was continued below their family’s possession.
“Blake represents the fourth technology of the Waugh/Siemon spouse and children to provide in a management part in the enterprise,” Robert claimed. “This is something we are extremely proud of due to the fact only 3 per cent of loved ones businesses are however in business enterprise in the fourth generation.”
“Halsey & Griffith has expert many ups and downs, but we have been in business for 100 several years,” Siemon stated. “Halsey & Griffith has been a big portion of the West Palm Seashore community for the previous 100 years and has utilized more than 1,000 persons.”
The business was founded in the course of the actual estate increase of the 1920s when Griffith and Halsey, like thousands of many others, arrived to West Palm Seashore to make their fortunes. Griffith identified the require for a stationery retail store and opened a 12-by-14-foot store on what was Poinsettia Avenue.
In just a year, Griffith moved the retailer to a larger sized place at 220 S. Dixie Highway, and then to the Guaranty Setting up. At seven stories, it was one of West Palm Beach’s 1st “skyscrapers.” Developed in 1922, it is now on the National Register of Historic Spots and is situated at the corner of South Olive Avenue and Datura Avenue.
In the course of this time, Halsey approached Griffith and made available to place up some income to turn into a companion, founding the Halsey & Griffith organization in 1923. In 1925, the downtown retailer was moved to 313 Datura St., a house Halsey owned. The setting up in the beginning experienced a few storefronts on the ground floor. Halsey’s occupied one particular and rented the other two. The prime two floors have been the Halsey Lodge.
The early a long time were not often straightforward. The Terrific Miami Hurricane strike on Sept. 11, 1926, and halted the Florida land increase. Then on Sept. 6, 1928, the Okeechobee Hurricane struck West Palm Seashore and caused the Lake Okeechobee dike to fail. Far more than 2,500 individuals died in the hurricane and quite a few of them drowned in the Glades place all over the lake.
Following came the stock industry crash of 1929, and the business enterprise limped along for the future 15 or so a long time.
Throughout Globe War II, manufacturing constraints on products not linked to the war hampered provides. It wasn’t right until soon after the war finished these supplies commenced to circulation and company started to increase. In 1955, Griffith and Halsey died in six months of each other.
But nationwide, occasions were being fantastic, and the retail business started to expand, with the to start with department retail store opening in 1957. The ultimate new branch debuted in Port St. Lucie in 1990.
“In addition to marketing workplace materials, and furniture, we also marketed art materials,” the late Margaret Siemon wrote in a business heritage. “The well-known Black artists, the Highwaymen, ordered or traded their artwork for paint and canvases above the decades.”
When typewriters and carbon paper are no longer applied, the Siemons emphasize that their mission has remained the same as a reliable associate for Florida firms.
“What fulfills me is that there is a legacy, not just that of my spouse and children, but the great name of the company that we get to have on and utilize to different factors,” Blake Siemon mentioned. “We are a relic of a bygone era as to how we tactic enterprise. That doesn’t make us inconsequential. Individuals nevertheless want to start with-course support.”
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