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Chief executive officer

Ideas: Chief executive officer

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Chief executive officer

Rogards has a new CEO.

Story: Bridget Broihahn

Photos: Bridget Broihahn

Rogards Office Plus has a new CEO.

Maybe “new” isn’t the right word. According to Tonya Horn, the now CEO of Rogards Office Plus, it’s a time to grow in the business that has been a staple in Champaign-Urbana for 110 years.
And it’s true that she is not “new” in the business, but she certainly is on a journey to grow the business Rogards Office Plus, while keeping it as one of the best, local businesses in the area.
The original Rogards was an off-shoot of Garrard Publishing Company, which operated in Champaign for many years. Robert Garrard sold pens, stationary and other publishing paraphernalia in a shop separate from the publishing company. Eventually, he decide to create a store that sold these items, and he used an amalgam of his name to create “Ro-gards.”

Rogard eventually sold the business to his son-in-law, Bernie Dunn, who later sold to Terry Poindexter. Poindexter took on a partner in Jim Beyer. The pair sold to Poindexter’s daughter, who happens to be Horn, and her former partner, Chad Hoffman. Horn and Hoffman were colleagues from Human Kinetics in their marketing department.

“It took me awhile to convince my dad to sell to me,” she said.

She pondered sending him her resume to get it through to him that she was serious about co-owning the business.

“As a kid, I did a really good job of making my dad think I didn’t care what he did every day. He wore a tie all the time, he worked long hours, and it seemed stuffy sometimes when I would come into the store,” she smiled as she remembered back.

Then Poindexter started talking about exiting the business. She started thinking about someone else owning the business that had been in her family all these years. People in the community would talk a lot about the great experiences they had with Rogards, and it made her feel sentimental.

“This started to hit me. When I see a Rogards’ van, how would I feel? I seriously had to convince him. I talked to him about it for a year,” she said.

He was concerned, because she was starting a family. Even though he was confident that his daughter, the outstanding athlete from Tuscola, the graduate of Illinois Wesleyan with a degree in business administration, who played college softball, could handle the business, but, it was a big undertaking. Finally, he was on board with the idea.

So, she and Hoffman bought the business. They were doing well. Really well. They were awarded the 2015 Small Business of the Year form the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce. They won Best of Towns from Central Illinois Business magazine also in 2015. They increased sales by ten percent each year since their acquisition in 2012.

“Then, Chad started talking about new opportunities. We had made it through our first five years. We hadn’t gone out of business, so now it was time to grow. I said, “You can’t want out of it now, Chad,”” she exclaimed.

She said she’s totally fine with Hoffman, however. They will always be friends and business associates.

Now, Horn has pulled up her proverbial sleeves and is ready for the next phase of Rogards Office Plus. She’s ready for stage 2 of her ownership journey. She’s ready to start growing and expanding the business. She’s adding three more staff positions to the already 16-person staff.

“I want to surround myself with good people, tools and systems and then trust them to do their jobs. I’m drafting my business philosophy. I want to study how I relate to others at Rogards. I’m always willing to listen. I want to employ people to have a viable job. Even my part-time people work part-time because that’s what they want to do,” Horn said.

She said that Rogards is a small business and she is always willing to jump in, but part of her growth as CEO is to take a step back and formulate business growth planning.

“I started ‘bullet journaling’ my business day and I saw it was all tasks. We’re a small business, so there will always be some of this for me, but I need to lead the business,” she said.

One great business development for Rogards is the cooperative business group, the “Independent Stationers Coop.” Horn is on the board of directors of the cooperative.

“It gives us buying power by pooling our efforts with other businesses,” she said.

Horn said she’s very excited and maybe a tiny bit nervous-in a good way- about the future of Rogards.

Can she see her six-year-old daughter, Tessa following in her mother’s footsteps someday?

“Right now she likes coming and getting candy,” she laughed.

Rogards Office Plus is located at 214 S. Walnut St., Champaign. To contact the staff, email them at info@rogards.com, or call at 217-359-1795. You may also visit them online at rogards.com.