Hope Hurst Lanham is the third generation of the Hurst family to be at the wheel of the 93-year-old Hurst Business Supply and Office Furniture.
But she’s the first to manage the store’s new location at 500 Buck Lane. Hurst moved from its location at 257 E. Short Street — where it had been for 67 years — at the end of April.
The move has poised the company for expansion, Lanham said.
“I felt like it would be a good opportunity for the company to move forward and continue our tradition,” Lanham said recently while sitting in one of the facility’s new working showrooms.
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Several factors prompted the move of the company headquarters, namely: the age of the building on Short Street and a lack of accessibility for larger tractor trailer trucks to get in for deliveries.
Steve Snowden, chief operating officer at Hurst, said the new location also allows the business easier access to New Circle Road, enabling them to reach their clients easier.
“This is just more consumer-friendly,” Snowden said of the new location. “A lot of good parking space out here, it’s not hard to find, directions are easy to give, so those are some of the driving forces.”
One of the highlights of the new facility are the working showrooms, according to Snowden. They mean employees are able to work as potential customers come through the building and observe the office supplies and furniture in use.
Lanham started as CEO of the company in July 2011 shortly after her father, Richard Hurst, passed away. Lanham said she has to give a lot of the credit for the company’s success to her father and grandfather, Ollie Hurst.
“I think they both, especially my dad, had a lot of foresight with realizing that you’ve got to grow and expand and evolve,” she said. “And I think having good people is very important.”
64 percent of family businesses account for U.S. gross domestic product
A 2003 Herald-Leader story about the business stated that Ollie Hurst formed Hurst & Byars Printing Co. with his high school friend Robert Byars in 1923.
Ollie Hurst bought out Byars Printing in the early 1940s and changed the company to Hurst Printing Company. Richard Hurst, Ollie Hurst’s son and Lanham’s father, began his apprenticeship at the company when he was 15.
In 1978, Richard Hurst took over the company, according to a Value News profile. In 1979, Hurst Printing Company announced the consolidation of its printing operation with Butler’s Printing and then became Hurst Office Suppliers.
According to Lanham, the company started going by Hurst Office Suppliers and Hurst Interiors in the 1980s until about five years ago when it became Hurst Business Supply and Furniture Solutions.
From Ollie Hurst’s understanding of printing to today’s technology laden landscape, Hurst has always had to adapt to the times. For example, Snowden said the company has started an online marketplace for customers to view and purchase their products.
“You have to change in this industry and you have to adapt and you also have to be able to integrate technology,” Snowden said.
The majority of family businesses understand the importance of embracing digital, according to a 2014 Family Business Survey
Changing with the times or not, statistics do not favor the businesses like Hurst. According to the Conway Center for Family Business, only 12 percent of all family-owned businesses survive into the third generation, and only three percent operate at the fourth generation and beyond.
Lanham and Snowden are not shaken by this, and are confident of the company’s longevity even in the face of bigger businesses such as Staples or Office Max.
In fact, they see it this way: The advantage Hurst has over “the big guys” is the bigger stores have a tendency not to provide adequate and personal customer service. In contrast, Hurst has built a name and relationship with their clients in not only Lexington but Louisville, northern and eastern Kentucky as well.
“Two generations back that brand recognition has carried over from first generation to second generation to third generation, so a lot of our business is built on that branding and name recognition,” he said.
Being a small business, we need to convey the fact that we can compete against the big players in our market
Richard Hurst, in a 1998 interview with Value News
Lanham is looking toward the next generation. She started working at the company when she was 13 years old and is currently searching for a way to get her son, Andrew, involved this summer.
Looking forward, however, does not prevent Lanham from looking back at the company’s rich history and the family that has been involved.
“In one point in time, I don’t know how much they actually worked in the business, but my grandmother had stock, and my aunt and dad’s sister,” Lanham said. “So its always been a family business, but whether it’s true blood family I believe we all feel like we’re all a family.”