How It Started…
To understand the birth of Midwest Resource Group, founded by Ed Glass in 1965, we have to retreat more than 100 years to 1856 and Bavarian immigrant Daniel Berolzheimer opening a pencil shop in New York City and subsequently, a factory in Yonkers, NY, calling it the Eagle Pencil Company.
For the generations that followed, the pencil was the cornerstone of written communication. It was also an important item of barter during the Great Depression in the 1930’s with unemployed men selling pencils on street corners, as everyone needed pencils. But by the 1960’s the omnipresent and widely-established #2 Eagle pencil was the scrivener of choice for students across the United States, and Ed Glass was one of their top salesmen.
But Ed was in a situation. During a routine meeting with the sales manager of the Eagle Pencil Company, Ed was informed that his services in sales for a multi-state territory would no longer be required, as the organization decided to outsource the company’s sales efforts with Independent Manufacturer’s Representatives.
Ed replied quickly and candidly to this news. ‘That’s interesting because I’m actually here to resign.’
It’s interesting to note that although the times were about to be a-changing late in the decade. In 1965 the US citizenship still led a relatively tame and cookie-cutter existence reminiscent of the 1950’s with the one-income family and not many career or job changes at all. So Ed’s declaration was news indeed, and a bold move besides.
The supervisor immediately realized what was happening and said, ‘You can’t quit. You’re one of my top pencil salesmen.’
Ed explained, ‘I am resigning because I have started my own Independent Manufacturers’ sales agency.’ And after a brief discussion, it was decided by the sales manager that Ed would represent Eagle Pencil with his own company. His gamble had paid off.
The next move was to inform his wife Penny. ‘I have some good news and some bad news. Bad news: I’ve been fired. Good news: we have a new company.’ Calling it Midwest Representatives, the brand was created and a company was born.
Since that fateful day in June of 1965, as the business environment has evolved, so has Midwest. The company grew to include Business Products, Contract Furniture, Education, MRO/Industrial, and Hospitality. Within these channels, Midwest works with a wide range of resellers including national retail chains, national and regional wholesalers, independent dealers, buying groups, national contract resellers, and direct marketing resellers (direct mail and e-commerce), providing a variety of resources to the industry.
In October 2012, Midwest Representatives rebranded to Midwest Resource Group to reflect the changes in the marketplace and the resources provided to the valued manufacturers and resellers.
Managing Partner Steve Glass adds, ‘Our services have expanded far beyond what most people would traditionally associate with manufacturers’ representatives. These services include multiple Sales Platforms to meet the objectives of the Manufacturing Partners, Content Development & Management, Digital Administrative Services, Consulting Services, Showroom Services and Incomar Services for the development of content.’
However, one important quality has remained constant through the expansion, and that is the keen passion for the task at hand, always knowing the customer, which has been passed on from Ed Glass to his sons and managing partners Dan, Stuart and Steve.
One of Ed Glass’ Eagle pencils, the article of writing that has been part of the fabric of communication for over 150 years, stands as a symbol on display at the Midwest Resource Group corporate headquarters in Buffalo Grove, IL. More than that actually, it’s a coat of arms that signifies persistence, entrepreneurism, and a plain willingness to work hard.