Workspace: Bob Shields, president, Copytronics Information Systems
Paul Shields started Copytronics in 1972 and four years later, son Bob Shields joined it after graduating with a business degree from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.
The younger Shields had worked at the business during the summers during college selling supplies and after graduation worked his way up from sales representative to sales manager to general sales manager and then president in 1998.
“It used to be a nice, easy, simple business, but now it’s so complicated,” said Shields, 57, at the company’s headquarters and warehouse in Southside off Rolac Road. The product showroom is nearby along Philips Highway, near Emerson Street.
Shields and his staff sell, lease and service office equipment, from basic to multifunctional copiers, throughout North Florida and south and west to Palm Beach County, Orlando, Gainesville and Ocala.
Copytronics Information Systems is promoted as the largest Konica Minolta dealer in North Florida.
The family was living in Chicago when his dad decided to establish the business in Jacksonville because of the buzz over the Offshore Power Systems plans to build floating nuclear power plants at Blount Island. OPS didn’t survive, but Copytronics has been operating for 40 years.
His location choice had been Phoenix or Jacksonville, and he chose the beach over the desert.
Bob Shields has guided the business through some recessions, including what’s known as the Great Recession of 2007-09. “If you made it this far, you are going to survive,” he said of the recession’s effects on his customers.
He said sales peaked at $24 million around 2007, fell to about $17 million during the recession, but have rebounded to $22 million.
The youngest of Shields’ five sons now works in sales at Copytronics. Shields said the industry continues to change, with the next company move into offering managed network services for customers.
Shields said the sales representatives are always looking for the new equipment models. “There’s always something new,” he said.
As for his hands-on use with the new equipment, the former sales rep downplays his experience.
“I know how to make copies,” he said. “I know how to print stuff.”