Excel Office Supply, although the newest member of the Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, is no stranger to the neighborhood. Located at 806 N. Kansas Ave., just north of Independence Avenue and Chestnut Trafficway in the East Bottoms, they specialize in a wide range of office supplies, including toner and ink, office furniture, breakroom necessities and janitorial supplies.
The locally owned and operated company works with customers to create custom packages tailored to the specific needs of each business. Although the office supply industry is rapidly changing, the personal attention Excel Office Supply gives its customers is unmatched by bigger box stores.
“People order by phone, email or internet, and we deliver free the next day,” said owner Bob Showalter. “Believe it or not, we go as far as Lee’s Summit, out south, we go to Independence, North of the river to Liberty, probably as far west as the racetrack, most anything within the Greater Kansas City area.”
Excel also has a convenient online catalogue available to its customers. With over 60,000 items available, there’s something to meet everyone’s needs. Returning customers can rely on consistent pricing and bundle discounts.
“We try to work with people on an individual basis because out of those 60,000 items, they may only have 20 or 25 that they’re really interested in. That pricing matters,” Showalter said. “We configure a program for them that covers the items they want and they need on a regular basis.”
A Northeast High School Class of 1972 alumnus, Showalter started at the company right out of high school as a delivery driver, working his way through the United Electronics Institute. From the beginning, he enjoyed what he did, building relationships with customers and providing top notch service.
“I’ll be honest with you, I never really knew what I wanted to be or wanted to do. If I was a little taller, I’d probably been flying a fighter jet, but you can’t do that if you can’t see over the dash,” Showalter chuckled.
For someone with “no particular calling,” he found the job he enjoyed and stuck with it. He eventually transitioned to sales on the retail floor, then began hiring and managing the operation. He purchased the company in 2010 and never looked back.
While Bob plans to retire within the next few years, he’s leaving the business in good hands – with his son Chad Showalter and family friend Tom Behrens, who grew up with Chad and has been working at Excel for seven years.
Showalter looks forward to spending more time with his 13 grandkids. Like many family businesses, his office is decorated with photos of his three children and grandkids, who are all under 10 except for one.
“For me, I really don’t intend to fully withdraw from the business,” Showalter said. “I’ll still be around, I’ll still work for them and that sort of thing, but I’ll leave the majority of the decisions and the ownership up to them.”
Although COVID-19 has brought forth new challenges for the small team due to the shift to employees working from home, they have stepped up in other areas, like expanding their offerings of cleaning products.
“It’s not business as usual, but for the immediate future anyway, we’re looking to hang in there and fight it,” Showalter said.
Excel is part of the Small Business Administration (SBA) HUBZone program, which fuels small business growth in historically underutilized business zones. As part of the program, at least 36% of the company’s employees live in an underutilized area.
However, Showalter appreciates working near the Northeast for the nostalgia, as well. He grew up on Oakley by Budd Park, where he spent his entire childhood.
For Excel Office Supplies’ next-day delivery, the team says the best way to contact them and put in an order is by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (816) 421-3191. New and returning customers can access their online accounts and browse products at