TURNING THE PAGE
SECTION 01 1 5
THE NEW SMEAD LOOK
Reasons to Believe
A letter from Casey Avent
New Smead Plaid
The legacy of Smead is cultivated by quality, innovation, and craftsmanship.
Smead has defined the importance of family legacy and woven their rich history into who they are today. This book encapsulates the Smead brand, representing Smead’s continued commitment to culture, community, and legacy. Smead is turning the page onto the next century, uniting iconic heritage with contemporary design for the modern worker.
THE LEGACY OF
The Smead Manufacturing Company has been a trademark of American quality for over 100 years. As the 1900s arrived, a new century was the catalyst for innovation, creation, and progress. In 1906, Smead invented the Bandless File, eliminating rubber bands and strings to hold files closed, creating a simple, efficient filing system. Charles Smead's new ideas on office and stationery products helped elevate his company to new heights; however, after his sudden death, the company was handed over to P.A. Hoffman in the 1910s. Fortunately for Smead Manufacturing, Hoffman was a great businessman and would continue building upon Smead's philosophy of high-quality products and excellent customer service. P.A. Hoffman would be the first Hoffman to lead what became by its 100th year a family- owned enterprise with nearly 3,000 employees and over 5,000 products. 1906 est.
The 1920s continued to be an epoch of expansion for Smead. Filing needs were addressed with pockets, expandable folders, and a new line called Vertical File Folders, a heavily purchased product sold by Smead today. In 1928, Harold Hoffman stepped in to run Smead after his father had suffered a stroke and the Great Depression hit the U.S. less than a year later. During this dark period, Smead persevered as a company by finding ways to offer needed filing and organization products to its customers. Following the Great Depression, Smead endured the Second World War. New-age sciences and technology not only contributed to the war efforts but to the company’s product development as well. When WWII began, staffing was never an issue, as most employees were female and unaffected by the military draft. The success of Smead through the war helped shed light on the fact that women could produce great work and keep the company running while also earning profits. Women had made their mark on Smead, which was only the beginning.
Among the new products introduced during the 1920s was a new line called Vertical File Folders.
1906 The Smead Manufacturing Company is founded
1905 Albert Einstein proposes his Theory of Relativity
1908 Henry Ford introduces his new Model T, the “Tin Lizzie”
Harold Hoffman, 1928
1915: START OF
WORLD WAR I
1911 Frank Mueller joins Smead; staff total reaches six
1910 Nearly 10 million Americans are shopping via Mail Order
1915 Transcontinental Phone Service begins
SMEAD BANDLESS FILE IS INVENTED
P.A. HOFFMAN GAINS OWNERSHIP OF SMEAD
HAROLD HOFFMAN ASSUMES CONTROL OF SMEAD
1928 P. A. Hoffman suffers a disabling stroke. His son Harold Hoffman takes over active management of Smead.
Founded in 1906 in Hastings, Minnesota with six employees crafting their single product— the bandless file.
After the sudden passing of Charles Smead, P.A. Hoffman gains ownership of a promising and young company.
1929: START OF THE GREAT DEPRESSION
1936 Smead gets first
1920 19th Amendment ratified, women get right to vote
1928 Discovery of Penicillin
noted “big” order of 500 brief covers
SMEAD'S BIGGEST SINGLE GOVERNMENT JOB
MRS. EBBA C. HOFFMAN BECOMES SMEAD PRESIDENT
Smead’s biggest single government job during the war: producing 2 million five-piece wallets for the Navy.
Following her husband’s sudden passing, Ebba Hoffman was compelled to take the presidency of Smead Manufacturing.
Ebba Hoffman purchases 23-acre site for new headquarters and manufacturing facility in Hastings, Minnesota.
1939: START OF WORLD WAR II
1937 Smead purchases
1944 Harold Hoffman and Ebba Benson marry
1941 Japan attacks Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. U.S. enters World War II
Hastings’ oldest brick building, built in 1866
The legacy of Smead defines quality, innovation, and excellence. Much like a strong material fabricated into a product to ensure its permanence, Smead has been held fast by the unquestionable leadership of strong-willed females since Ebba C. Hoffman took leadership. Growing up on a farm near Cannon Falls, Minnesota, Ebba lived a modest and earnest life. Her background undoubtedly gave her a strong work ethic and bold vision to become such a successful leader. After the unfortunate passing of Harold Hoffman, Ebba was in quite a challenging situation. Knowing that Harold had intended to pass the company to their children, Ebba decided to take on the challenges of running the business and save the company for her family. On November 15, 1955, the farm girl from Cannon Falls had walked into Smead's headquarters and took her place in the president's chair. Ebba embraced all employees and wanted to learn the ins and outs of the company. She was known for her common sense, hard-work ethic, optimism, and loyalty. Many thought Ebba would have to withdraw from the business and sell Smead off, but most office workers were delighted to see her push forward and keep the company en route to success. Smead integrated new ideas and technologies as the years progressed, and Ebba was responsible for Smead's most significant period of growth towards the 21st Century. From customizable labels and tags to self-adhesive fasteners, Smead set the pace on all-filing solutions, and in 1974, Smead
was named Wholesale Stationers Association Manufacturer of the Year. Ebba Hoffman considered Smead an extension of her own family. Apart from customer recognition and setting the curve within the industry standards, employee satisfaction was at an all-time high as many employees remained with Smead for most of their careers. In 1995, with more than $230 million in revenues, Ebba proudly stated, "Smead now ships much more product in just one week than it did that first year I assumed control of the company." By 1998, Mrs. Hoffman had advanced Smead to 44th on the top 500 women-owned businesses list. That same year, she gracefully bowed out of the presidency, letting her daughter Sharon Avent take over as President and CEO. To no surprise, Ebba would still visit the office from time to time to make sure the transition of the presidency was seamless and employees were content. In February 1999, after a brief illness, Ebba Hoffman passed away. Her legacy lives on at Smead and with everyone and everything she touched, even those who never knew her.
1947: START OF THE COLD WAR
1945 Smead plant established in Logan, Ohio
1953 Smead office and
1947 McDonald's first hamburger stand
1950 Charlie Brown created
warehouse established in Chicago, Illinois
“She (Ebba) had a genuine concern, as Sharon does today, for the employees. You feel that. It permeates through the whole organization.”
DAVID FASBENDER, SMEAD SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT
1958 Smead acquires Yale Filing Supplies Co. in Los Angeles, California
1960 Distinguished Service Award given to Ebba Hoffman
1954 Brown vs. Board of Education
ALPHAZ COLOR-CODED FILING SYSTEM INTRODUCED
EBBA HOFFMAN INDUCTED INTO THE MINNESOTA HALL OF FAME
1977 Ebba Hoffman is the first woman to be inducted into the Minnesota Business Hall of Fame.
1980 Smead earned widespread recognition as the leading provider of color-coded shelf filing systems.
The AlphaZ system assigned colors to the letters of the alphabet to speed up filing and the retrieval of folders.
1964: START OF VIETNAM WAR
1967 Third generation John Peter Hoffman joins
1971 Smead’s fifth plant
1963 MLK Jr. makes his
"I have a Dream speech"
opens in McGregor, Texas
POST CONSUMER RECYCLED CONTENT
SHARON AVENT NAMED PRESIDENT
1998 On July 1st, 1998, Mrs. Hoffman turned leadership over to her daughter.
Smead Week is celebrated in Hastings, Minnesota Tenth Street is renamed "Smead Boulevard."
To meet a demand for recycled products, Ebba converted all Smead paper products.
1982 Smead Week celebrated in Hastings, MN. Tenth Street is renamed “Smead Boulevard”
1977 Star Wars movie released
1989 Invention of the World Wide Web
When Sharon Avent took the reins of Smead on July 1, 1998, it was during the expansion of computers, the internet, and digitalization. People were still coming to grips with the fact that electronic documents are just as important as paper documents. With a new era of technology, the world of office supplies and records management was about to embark on a new path. Ebba Hoffman left Smead in a prosperous condition, and it was all up to Sharon to manifest the untapped potential to generate an even greater Smead. Sharon propelled Smead into global operations via various domestic and international partnerships. Her first significant purchase was with Atlanta-Hoogezand B.V., located in Holland, Netherlands. With the acquisition of Atlanta- Hoogezand, Smead’s revenue increased to more than $400 million, doubling the revenue from when her mother handed over the presidency. The Atlanta acquisition in 1998 opened new global markets for Smead and retained business with existing customers who had moved into the international market. Sharon invested in making Smead a company primed for a new millennium and began broadening negotiations within the U.S. With the purchase of S&W Manufacturing, Inc., a company specializing in custom filing products for the legal and medical markets, Sharon helped strengthen and diversify the domestic business of Smead. In 1999, Smead acquired Document Control
Solutions (DSC), a developer of software products for electronic records management based out of Fullerton, California. This new acquisition helped bolster Smead’s goal of handling the new digital century in response to customers needing more sophisticated solutions to manage their electronic records. Smead became accessible through a computer at home or in the office. Humanitarianism has always run deep within Smead’s culture, and Sharon remains committed to helping others and is active in numerous roles that assist a variety of causes. Sharon has been honored with many awards for her public service. Her donations and fundraising leadership for The City of Hope, a lifesaving scientific research organization, earned her their prestigious Spirit of Life Award in 2003. Under Sharon’s leadership, Smead’s revenue today exceeds $500 million. Smead now markets over 5,000 products designed to suit a wide variety of organizational needs for corporate and individual customers. Sharon Avent has not only heightened Smead’s International presence within the world of records management and filing solutions; she has cultivated a world- renowned organization to honor its history and support the local community.
1993: START OF IRAQ WAR
1991 Soviet Union breaks
1994 Amazon.com created
1995 DVDs (Digital Video Discs) are invented
1996 Google created
apart, end of Cold War
“Her (Sharon Avent) constant enthusiasm and willingness to help women business owners is evident in everything she does.”
ALTA BAKER, PRESIDENT AND CEO, SAFE HAVEN ENTERPRISES
1997 Smead introduces Viewables ® Labeling System
1998 Smead acquires
2001 Smead unveils new
Atlanta-Hoogezand B.V. in the Netherlands
corporate brand logo; website established
DAWN OF THE MILLENNIUM
SPIRIT OF LIFE AWARD
A CELEBRATION OF STYLE AND GRACE IN MANAGEMENT
2005 The mother-daughter legacy celebrates a 50-year milestone, earning Smead a unique place in history.
Taking advantage of the internet boom, Smead went online with Smead.com.
The office products industry honored Sharon Avent as the first woman to receive the Spirit of Life award from City of Hope.
2003 Viewables ® Color Labeling
2004 Smead Organizing
2005 Hurricane Katrina hits
System receives the Organizer’s Choice award from NAPO
University launched online
SMEAD REACHES 100 YEAR ANNIVERSARY
SMEAD VIEWABLES ® LABELING SYSTEM
SMEAD ANNOUNCES PROMOTION OF CASEY AVENT TO PRESIDENT
2006 Smead celebrates 100 years and continues to remain flexible in an ever-changing market.
2016 Casey Avent succeeds his mother, Sharon Avent, who served as both president and CEO of Smead since July 1, 1998.
Top down 3-D viewing system allowing the eye to quickly scan files.
2016 Smead announces
2008 Facebook created
2010 Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)
promotion of Dan Wagner to VP of Sales
U BRANDS ACQUISITION
MINNESOTA BUSINESS HALL OF FAME
The perfect strategic partnership to expand into the commercial market and scale new channels.
Sharon Hoffman continues the legacy with an induction into the Hall of Fame and shares her mother's honor.
2019: COVID-19 PANDEMIC
2016 Dale Olson receives CFO of the Year
2017 Smead Announces Promotion of Gayle Taylor to VP of Marketing
2019 The world's workforce goes remote
U BRANDS NAMED A TOP PERFORMING BRAND
2020 Recognized in the office supplies industry by market research firm, The NPD Group.
2020 Smead acquires 100% of U Brands
2021 Smead and U Brands unify the
2022 Smead undergoes a full rebrand
businesses to form one synergized marketing department
TURNING THE PAGE
From manufacturing the first Bandless File System to mass-producing over 2 million wallets for the Armed Forces during WWII, Smead has shown its prowess to adapt and evolve as a company, all while maintaining the highest quality craftsmanship. In the early years, Smead had the foresight to acknowledge the demand for swift orders and rapid shipments, a tactic many successful businesses still use today. Smead’s homegrown culture and understanding of the market is what empowered the company to prosper exponentially for more than a century. As time has progressed, they remain a stronghold within the records management and filing solutions world. Although modern filing has advanced in various concepts, it still has the same backbone that Charles R. Smead envisioned when launching the Bandless File System. With time comes growth, and with growth, new beginnings. Smead has all the qualities and resources to master the next 100 years.
To be a global leader of home and office products that enhance everyday life.
An unrivaled commitment to success through innovative, crafted goods and solutions to enhance everyday life.
Throughout the last century, Smead has defined the importance of family legacy and woven their rich history into who they are today. Smead leads with innovation to create authentic products and solutions for the modern worker.
Craftsmanship & Quality
Products are made with intentionality and bound with purpose.
An altruistic purpose of having an endless commitment to its employees, customers, and community.
From the invention of the bandless envelope to premium filing solutions, Smead continues to evolve its products for the modern worker.
Family-owned and operated through four generations.
THE NEW SMEAD LOOK
For the next chapter of Smead, it was essential to usher in a new way of uniting iconic heritage with a modern look and feel. This rebrand enhances every vertical of business— Smead continues to present quality worthy of every workspace.
It was in late 1959 that Ebba Hoffman had a stroke of genius and decided that packaging was the first impression of a company's delivered product. For decades, the Smead plaid had been one of the industry's most recognized symbols of quality and all their premium products were packaged in high-quality kraft paper. Ebba introduced the plaid design pattern that established Smead's distinctive brand identity that would become their most beloved trademark. Smead adapted the logo and packaging over the years in response to customer preference, while their character and commitment to providing the best organizing solutions have remained the same.
Smead Plaid Lives On
The new Smead Plaid represents a rich heritage of innovation and quality. With the unveiling of the new logo, this plaid remains ubiquitous to continue to lead Smead’s authenticity and equity.
REASONS TO BELIEVE
Smead Support Smead’s principles are driven by the commitment to form an enduring institution. Harmonious with the investment toward the future, Smead recognizes the significance of its history, loyalty, and compassion.
Smead believes in pushing the threshold on product quality and being a leading symbol within the industry.
Smead Success Smead defines success through creating unprecedented products of the utmost quality and repurposing filing solutions for a boundless future of records management while retaining a rich culture of staff dynamics and customer appreciation.
MESSAGE FROM CASEY
I am happy and excited to be turning a new page with the entire organization sharing our rebrand and the first volume of — The Smead Brand Book. During our 100 years in business,
we have enjoyed much success. The Smead rebrand defines the
last century and determines our next century. Now is the time
to recommit ourselves to innovation. By continuing to create
authentic products and solutions with the modern worker in mind
we continue to define Smead’s future and support our vision to
be the global leader in home and office products. Our relentless
commitment to our employees, customers, and community will
continue to define Smead’s legacy.
Thank you for your endless support as we continue to learn,
grow, and become a stronger organization together.
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