Brown & Saenger bought by Minnesota firm

Jan. 10, 2018

Longtime Sioux Falls office supply business Brown & Saenger has a new owner.

The business founded in 1889 was acquired by Minnesota-based Innovative Office Solutions.

The location at 711 W. Russell St. and the company’s 85 employees will remain.

Lyle Dabbert joined Brown & Saenger in 1973 as a 14-year-old making deliveries on his bicycle. He became the fifth president of the company in 1988 and will be a regional president for Innovative Office Solutions.

“It’s kind of a bittersweet thing, but you don’t find those opportunities very often, and it worked out very well,” he said. “We’ve been in the same buying group and run in the same circles and her business is just going gangbusters.”

Founded in 2001 by CEO Jennifer Smith, Innovative Office Solutions markets itself as a progressive, independent provider of office productivity solutions.

The products and services offered by Innovative include office supplies, furniture and design, cleaning supplies, break room products, promotional products, technology solutions, and print and graphic design.

Clients include several sports organizations, including the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Wild. It has offices in Burnsville, St. Paul and Bemidji.

“This acquisition will combine two of the strongest independent dealers in the upper Midwest and will enable us to provide even more services and solutions to our customers, and new opportunities for our employees and supplier partners,” Smith said.

Innovative bid successfully for office supply contracts from the states of South Dakota and North Dakota, which prompted Smith to reach out to Dabbert. In addition to Sioux Falls, Brown & Saenger has locations in Mitchell, Huron and four North Dakota cities.

“At some point I felt I was going to have to be acquired, so the timing felt right for everything,” he said. “She made an offer I thought was very reasonable. With the size company we are, there’s not a lot of people out there who could offer what I thought we needed and keep the company intact, and those were important things.”

Many independent dealers are acquired by large national office supply companies, and Dabbert wasn’t interested in selling to them.

“So when she approached me, it just felt right. We could stay independent, and now we’re over $130 million in sales, which puts us in the top five of all independent dealers in the U.S. So we feel we have strong buying power, and our loyal customers will find they’re much more pleased with the service and technology that goes along with Innovative.”

He’s committed to staying on at least five years.

“The bittersweet is it’s a 128-year-old company changing the name to Innovative. That’s somewhat sad, but the same people, same buildings and everything goes on as it is, just a different name.”

Brown & Saenger bought by Minnesota firm

Longtime Sioux Falls office supply business Brown & Saenger has a new owner.

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