February 1, 2023

Brad Marolf

Business & Finance Wonders

Legendary West Palm Seaside Small business Marks 100 Yrs | Florida Information

By SUSAN SALISBURY, The Palm Seaside Article

WEST PALM Beach, Fla. (AP) — Halsey & Griffith Inc. commenced as a 168-square-foot stationery store in downtown West Palm Beach in 1921, and this thirty day period the spouse and children-owned business that has reinvented itself various times is celebrating the iconic business’s 100th anniversary.

Started by John L. Griffith and William L. Halsey, the business has persevered in the confront of hurricanes, the Great Melancholy, Earth War II, a Chapter 11 individual bankruptcy in 1991 and a 1993 restructuring, when it shifted its aim from retail to the copier enterprise.

Longtime spot residents will remember its heyday from the 1960s to the 1980s, when its keep at 313 Datura St. was the area to go for office, artwork and engineering supplies, cameras and photographic supplies, textbooks, gifts and greeting cards.

“Plus it was air-conditioned! Anyone in West Palm Beach front shopped at Halsey & Griffith,” the company’s president, Robert L. “Robbie” Siemon, 72, reported. James Waugh, Robert’s grandfather, bought Halsey & Griffith from the founders in 1948.

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Halsey’s, as it was normally named, turned a regional chain with 11 suppliers from Vero Beach front to Boca Raton. In the 1980s, Halsey & Griffith was 1 of the area’s top workplace suppliers, using 175 men and women and reporting annual earnings of $12.5 million.

Several adjustments have happened because then. In 2016, the firm rebranded alone as HGi Technologies, right after it moved away from advertising place of work household furniture and materials. Now, Siemon reported, It is a South Florida leader in the copier organization, promoting and servicing copiers, printers, mailing techniques and doc-administration methods.

With an business office in West Palm Seashore and a distribution heart in Miami Gardens in close proximity to the Golden Glades Interchange, the now 45-worker firm serves prospects in Palm Beach front, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

This calendar year, HGi begun a new company under the Halsey & Griffith umbrella, HGi Technological know-how Expert services, a total-assistance IT corporation. “We think our IT Services will be a really critical element of our enterprise in the future,” Siemon mentioned.

In January, Siemon’s son Blake, 48, who started off working whole-time at the firm in 1999, will come to be its president, although Robert Siemon will continue to perform there. Robert’s brother James manages the economic stop of the business enterprise. The two have led the corporation due to the fact 1989 right after their late father, Robert T. “Bob” Siemon, retired.

Blake Siemon, a graduate of Forest Hill Higher College and Florida Atlantic College, labored at Halsey & Griffith’s warehouse on Previous Okeechobee Street when he was in substantial university.

“A large amount of youngsters from Forest Hill labored there and showed up right after several hours to pull orders that ended up ready for shipping and delivery at 5 a.m. the up coming morning,” Blake Siemon explained.

The growth into IT services focuses on client service and fantastic tips for little to medium-sized businesses.

“For a couple of yrs we have been aiding people today with efficiencies, software package and electronic workflow and content material management. It hasn’t been a massive portion of our business enterprise. We are taking that expertise and heading into IT services,” Blake mentioned.

A person of the most hard periods happened right after the very first business supply superstore opened in Boca Raton in 1988. A West Palm Seashore site swiftly followed. Numerous mother-and-pop business office source stores throughout the nation went out of enterprise.

“The superstores compelled us to improve our concentrate when I took in excess of the business enterprise in 1989. We understood we had to diversify. We didn’t get out of the place of work source business enterprise till 2018. We downsized drastically to a few places,” Siemon mentioned.

Halsey & Griffith became an licensed Ricoh copier dealer. They previously had bought the copiers, but unfortunately the improve did not occur quickly adequate, and the company was compelled to file for bankruptcy. By January 1993, even so, it experienced paid out off its credit card debt and could when once again purchase on credit from suppliers.

“At that position I made the determination to go to Miami and run the copier division,” Robert Siemon stated. “Before that I experienced an outside person. I commuted on Tri-Rail for 30 several years, right up until the pandemic.”

A new period had begun, and advancement continued in the copier division, putting the company back again on reliable footing. The Siemons attribute the company’s longevity to a provider-oriented way of performing company that goes back again to founders Halsey and Griffith and was ongoing less than their family’s ownership.

“Blake represents the fourth era of the Waugh/Siemon relatives to serve in a management position in the corporation,” Robert reported. “This is some thing we are extremely proud of simply because only 3 per cent of loved ones corporations are still in enterprise in the fourth technology.”

“Halsey & Griffith has experienced many ups and downs, but we have been in business for 100 years,” Siemon explained. “Halsey & Griffith has been a massive portion of the West Palm Seashore community for the earlier 100 years and has employed much more than 1,000 men and women.”

The firm was established all through the genuine estate increase of the 1920s when Griffith and Halsey, like countless numbers of some others, arrived to West Palm Seashore to make their fortunes. Griffith recognized the have to have for a stationery retail store and opened a 12-by-14-foot store on what was Poinsettia Avenue.

Within just a 12 months, Griffith moved the shop to a larger sized site at 220 S. Dixie Freeway, and then to the Guaranty Constructing. At 7 stories, it was one particular of West Palm Beach’s to start with “skyscrapers.” Built in 1922, it is now on the Nationwide Sign-up of Historic Sites and is situated at the corner of South Olive Avenue and Datura Street.

All through this time, Halsey approached Griffith and made available to place up some cash to become a lover, founding the Halsey & Griffith organization in 1923. In 1925, the downtown keep was moved to 313 Datura St., a home Halsey owned. The setting up at first had a few storefronts on the floor flooring. Halsey’s occupied 1 and rented the other two. The top two flooring have been the Halsey Lodge.

The early yrs had been not often straightforward. The Fantastic Miami Hurricane hit on Sept. 11, 1926, and halted the Florida land growth. Then on Sept. 6, 1928, the Okeechobee Hurricane struck West Palm Seashore and caused the Lake Okeechobee dike to fall short. Much more than 2,500 men and women died in the hurricane and a lot of of them drowned in the Glades space close to the lake.

Up coming came the inventory industry crash of 1929, and the business limped along for the upcoming 15 or so several years.

All through Environment War II, manufacturing constraints on merchandise not linked to the war hampered provides. It wasn’t until after the war finished individuals supplies began to circulation and enterprise started to boost. In 1955, Griffith and Halsey died inside of 6 months of each and every other.

But nationwide, moments ended up excellent, and the retail company began to grow, with the to start with department retail outlet opening in 1957. The remaining new branch debuted in Port St. Lucie in 1990.

“In addition to promoting office supplies, and home furnishings, we also offered artwork materials,” the late Margaret Siemon wrote in a organization history. “The well known Black artists, the Highwaymen, acquired or traded their artwork for paint and canvases over the several years.”

Although typewriters and carbon paper are no extended utilized, the Siemons emphasize that their mission has remained the very same as a honest partner for Florida organizations.

“What fulfills me is that there is a legacy, not just that of my household, but the superior title of the firm that we get to have on and implement to various things,” Blake Siemon said. “We are a relic of a bygone period as to how we solution business enterprise. That doesn’t make us inconsequential. Individuals nonetheless want initial-class service.”

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