Oetken Office Machines, Creston

Bill Oetken received assistance from the Iowa Small Business Development Center at Southwestern Community College on company formation, writing a business plan, preparing a budget, and developing sales projections so he could purchase an existing office machine company that has been part of his community for more than 60 years.

In 1995, Bill Oetken was recruited from his job as produce manager for Easter’s Family Center in Creston to be a sales representative for Steve Maltzahn’s business, Creston Office Machines. Oetken had a degree in business and an interest in sales so he jumped at the opportunity, not realizing that leap would someday lead him to business ownership.

Oetken worked in the capacity of sales representative for Maltzahn’s business until five or six years ago when Maltzahn began to talk about retirement. Bill had watched the business change and evolve as the Internet became more and more important in business. Following a lot of discussion, Bill and his wife, Penny, made the decision to purchase the business. They worked out an agreement with Maltzahn so that Bill could earn a certain amount of stock in the business each year for five years, so he would have a substantial amount invested in the business by the time Maltzahn retired. According to Bill, this made financing a lot easier when it came time to purchase the business.

The ball really started rolling for Bill during April of 2012 as Maltzahn’s retirement grew closer and Bill contacted SBDC Regional Director Dave McLaren.

“Meeting with Dave at the SBDC was probably the best thing I’ve ever done,” explained Bill. “He helped me think of things I never would have thought of otherwise…from paperwork to dealings with the bank, I can’t say enough about what Dave has done for me.”

Dave helped the Oetkens with formation of their limited liability company, an LLC Operating Agreement, acquisition of a Federal Employers Identification Number (EIN), and completion of Iowa Business Tax Application, as well as writing a business plan, preparing a budget, and developing sales projections.

The comfort and advice Dave offered throughout the purchase were also of great assistance. “I was worried about getting through those first three months,” Bill explained. “Dave calmed me down, talked me through it, and gave me an idea of what to expect. It helped a lot.”

Following the change in ownership in January 2013, the Oetkens have been amazed at how close to exact the SBDC sales projections have been. Bill said that he and Dave went over figures from the last three years of business so they could look over comparables, and so far everything Dave had projected was spot on and even a little better.

Overall, Bill has changed very little about how the business is run since he took ownership. His business approach is far from high pressure sales. Instead, he builds trust with the help of estate planning attorney practicing in Cedar Rapids and loyalty with his customers so they don’t look elsewhere.

This office machines company has been a part of the Creston community for more than 60 years. Bill is going to do his best to keep the store in town for another 60 years. When asked if he had anything else to add he replied, “We always stress the ‘buy local’ and we thank everybody for what they have done and what they will continue to do.”

Be sure to check out all that Oetken Office Machines has to offer at the store at 110 North Elm Street in Creston, or online at www.officemachinesco.com.

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