Coming up in the office equipment industry, Matt Mawby knew early on how to separate his business from larger, more established copier companies — customer service.
Mawby thought if his competitors weren’t going to provide the level of service customers were asking for, his company would.
So, he said, it was a goal for Professional Business Systems Inc. to separate from the pack through delivering on the promise of high customer service.
“In the beginning, we used to joke that we wanted to be able to see our customers in the Walmart aisles and be proud of that promise we made to them,” Mawby said. “Rather than have customers, we wanted to have good friends. And we have lots and lots of good friends.”
Today, the Bentonville-based company is one of the largest providers of office equipment in Northwest Arkansas, with 28 employees and roughly 850 customer accounts in the region.
“We’re as committed 30 years later as we were in the beginning,” Mawby said. “We talked about promises and we have adhered to those promises. We haven’t let growth stand in the way of doing what we say we’re going to do. At the end of the day, it’s our word.”
Professional Business Systems buys its products from several manufacturers including Konica Minolta, Hewlett-Packard and Kyocera. Once those companies ship their equipment to Bentonville, some merchandise goes to a warehouse, and some goes to the firm’s 2,000-SF showroom floor at its Bentonville headquarters.
Customers can shop for the products they want — namely copiers, printers, and wide-format systems — and then Professional Business Systems will deliver and set up the product for them at their business.
Mawby, 50, was in on the ground floor when Professional Business Systems was founded in 1986 by his father-in-law, Marvin Gray.
In 1996, Gray retired, and Mawby took over the company as general manager. He also became a part owner, and proceeded to lead the business to new heights.
By the time he was recognized as a member of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s Forty Under 40 class in 2000, Mawby had established the firm as one of the top 10 Minolta dealerships in the country.
His customers came to know him as “The Minolta Man,” and his firm was generally referred to as PBS.
But earlier this year, Mawby formally announced a rebranding back to Professional Business Systems, a concerted effort, he said, to underscore the company’s professional approach to customer service.
“We definitely feel the name is important,” Mawby said.
If he weren’t the owner of his own small business, Mawby might be drawn to a career in real estate. He’s had a hand in several successful commercial investments in Benton County through the years, including the building where he goes to work every day.
In 2004, Mawby and a business partner developed the 40,756-SF Metro Market shopping center at the corner of 28th Street and Walton Boulevard. Mawby eventually bought the building outright in late 2009 for $2.75 million, then relocated his business there from Rogers.
“Where we were with the economy, I had vacant space in that strip center, and it just made sense to occupy the space and pay ourselves,” he said. “It’s a fantastic location.”
Professional Business Systems will celebrate its 30th birthday on Sept. 1 this year. Mawby said the company will formally recognize the occasion, but didn’t lay out specific details.
Mawby, who is a board member of Legacy National Bank of Springdale, said it will be especially gratifying to celebrate the milestone as somewhat of a family occasion. His oldest son Mitchell, 25, joined the company three years ago as director of sales. Mike Mawby, Matt’s brother, came on board about a year ago as director of business development.
His youngest son Matt, 21, who is a student at the University of Arkansas, has also shown an interest in joining the business.
“The gratifying part to me is not just being able to come to work every day with your son, but that I feel like it’s going to work with an individual I can trust like no other,” Mawby said. “It’s very rewarding.”