What's in a Name?

Memphis Chemical & Janitorial Supply rebrands to 1Source.

photograph by Jackie G. Ellison

Branding has been known to make or break companies. In life, first impressions are everything, and the business world is no different. Customers want to know what to expect and how services will be handled upfront. That said, it’s no simple task to rebrand once a company has a strong customer base, especially in a tough economic climate. But 1Source Office and Facility Supply, formerly Memphis Chemical & Janitorial Supply Company, is making the transition seemingly without a hitch.

Laurita Jackson, president of 1Source, describes it as “a huge undertaking, but I would recommend it. Now that I look at other companies’ names and what they do, I definitely recommend taking the plunge. I told someone the other day it’s like renaming your baby. It’s not an instantaneous transition; it’s a process because so many people have known us and loved us as Memphis Chemical.”

The Memphis-based company founded in 1968 by Edward Porter was purchased in 2000 by Judge George H. Brown Jr. to make it a family-run business venture. Since the new ownership, the business has had 2,000 percent growth, gaining new clients within the Mid-South and expanding to new markets with the help of George’s children, Hank Brown, Vice President of Operations, and Laurita Jackson. With such substantial growth in such a short time, the name “Memphis Chemical” didn’t quite seem to accurately represent the company anymore.

On March 28th of this year, Memphis Chemical became 1Source, a name that suggests that it truly is a one-stop shop. “One of the driving factors for the name change was the new items offered,” Hank Brown says.

“With the new offerings, it made natural sense to cast a bigger net and play the game with the bigger companies.” These new products expand 1Source’s offerings from simply chemicals and janitorial supplies to including office products, office furniture, safety and industrial supplies including maintenance, repair, and operations products, and environmentally friendly products for organizations.

“We’ve invested heavily in technology by updating our systems to the point where we have an e-commerce platform for customers who prefer to order online,” says Jackson. “Technology levels the playing field for companies like us.” The website featuring a web-store was announced at the same time as the rebrand and has garnered positive feedback. “In the area of office products like copy paper, pens, and pencils, we’ve been able to dramatically increase the number of products-customers, and also introduce office products to our current customers,” says Jackson.

Just one example of the need for a rebrand is that 1Source has offered office products and furniture since 2011, but the name Memphis Chemical was somewhat of a drawback for potential customers. The web-store and name switch have played substantial roles in the acquisition of new customers. Jackson says, “They’re traditionally different buyers — janitorial buyers like to call in their orders but office-products buyers are used to the online ordering format.”

Another factor in the name change was evolving with the needs of the customers. Known for its exceptional customer care, 1Source has always looked for ways to make working with its customers more efficient within the respective organizations, and offering new product lines helps consolidate transactions.

“The name change is reflective of the greater opportunity to provide a better service to our customers,” says Jackson. “They’re looking for consolidated vendors, efficiency in their purchasing process, and people to help manage inventory and costs. This expansion helps us meet all of those needs while still focusing on service and solutions.”

Service to customers is a top priority to the company even after the purchase of supplies. 1Source provides customers with complimentary on-site training to “ensure safe ways to use the equipment and chemicals,” says Hank Brown. Additionally, the company provides certified technicians to regularly service equipment for preventative maintenance and quick repairs in the event of a malfunction.

Among 1Source’s clients have been Resorts Casino Tunica, Ronald McDonald House of Memphis, the National Civil Rights Museum, and Second Presbyterian Church.

With the goal of expanding business both within and outside of the Memphis market, Jackson says, “Even in the market of the state government in Nashville, sometimes the name ‘Memphis’ can be limiting, so it gives us more credibility if we don’t have a name tied to a city or region. It helps for the home office to not have to explain a recommendation to someone outside of the area.”

“There’s a real excitement, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive,” says Jackson. “The team, partners, and customers are excited to move toward a name that really opens doors for opportunities in the future. We will still focus on unparalleled customer care; that remains the foundation of who we are. But we can provide unparalleled customer care in many other markets and with many other products.”


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