Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about your company and the duties of your position.
Scott Machabee: My grandfather, Delbert Machabee and Frank Morrill started the company in 1940 as Morrill & Machabee, Inc. — an office supplies and stationery business in downtown Reno. The company sold business machines through the 1960s and office supplies during that time up until 1988 when stores such as Office Depot and Costco began selling office supplies and took many of the small independent companies out of business. We had a focus on the office furniture business through the 60s and 70s, and in the late 80s we opened up our Las Vegas operation, and sold our office supply division. When we opened our southern Nevada location, our focus on office furniture was absolute. I am currently the owner and president of Machabee Office Environments, and I divide my time between the company’s northern and southern Nevada locations. We nurture relationships with our customers and help them create an effective work environment that also allows them to attract and retain quality workers.
NNBW: How has your company changed over the last 75 years?
Machabee: Over the years, our company has had to change focus on what we sell. We made decisions based on market changes. For example, when office machines were replaced by technology, we began focusing on other opportunities. When mass marketers took over the office supply business, we also redirected our focus. We’ve expanded our business to the K-12 and higher education and library markets. We’ve focused more on healthcare environments. With better technology, furniture is becoming much more mobile.
We have space planning departments in both offices that allow us to draw and render office settings to help our customers visualize what their office space will look like. When we decided to open offices in southern Nevada, we did so because our northern Nevada customers needed our services in their southern Nevada locations. We’ve got several customers that have offices in several locations, including the State of Nevada, banks and gaming companies, just to name some industries.
NNBW: How did you get into this profession?
Machabee: I’ve been in the position basically my whole life. I started working at the company in 1979 at age 12 sweeping the floors and emptying trash. When the company moved from being an office supply store to selling and delivering office furniture, I worked as a furniture installer and worked in sales through college. At one time, I had thought of becoming a dentist, but couldn’t get decent grades in biology and decided on a business degree. I switched to marketing and received a degree from the University of Nevada in 1990. During my college education and working in the business, I made a decision that this business and industry was a great opportunity, and it’s what I wanted to do with my life.
NNBW: What aspects of your job present the most challenges?
Machabee: We have a great team of dedicated managers, sales people, designers and installers on staff. Of course finding, managing and retaining great people are the toughest tasks business owners have. We’re always looking for the best people to work for us. It is also a very competitive business. Our business is relationship-driven and we have to do what we say we’re going to do every single day. I tell my associates, “if we’re honest, smart, hardworking, and always do the right thing by our customers, we’re going to be successful.”
NNBW: What is the most rewarding experience of your career?
Machabee: It’s rewarding to become president of a third-generation company. I bought out my father’s share in the business in 2010, but he continues to be a sounding board for me and a mentor when I need him. Most businesses don’t make it to the third generation for a variety of reasons. I think Frank and Delbert would be very excited about what is happening here now. Frank and Delbert lived through the Great Depression, and those experiences shaped how they dealt with business and money management. Those experiences shaped how my father Gary and I have approached business and money management through the years. Many of these principles helped us sustain our business during the Great Recession that we all just experienced.
NNBW: Have any advice for someone who wants to get into your profession?
Machabee: For someone starting out in business, this is a great opportunity. I tell our new associates that if they have a long-term career view and a solid work ethic, there is no reason they can’t be successful. They have to learn how to develop relationships and have a complete knowledge of the business and that takes time. There’s no substitute for hard work and showing up every day with the right attitude.
NNBW: What did you dream of becoming when you were a kid?
Machabee: I grew up doing a lot of skiing. I went to Reno High School and raced on the high school ski team. I suppose somewhere along the way I thought of becoming a professional or at least an Olympic skier, but realized that I wasn’t quite at that level of ability. My family and I do enjoy skiing every year and that’s good enough for me.
NNBW: How do you spend your time away from work?
Machabee: I try to spend as much time as I can with my wife and two daughters. I also love to play golf. I also like to hike or go fly-fishing. I enjoy most outdoor activities.
NNBW: Favorite vacation spot:
Machabee: Buck’s Lake in northern California (about 20 miles northwest of Quincy). My parents have property up there and I spent some time growing up there. We try to spend at least one week up there every year. It’s a great vacation spot.
NNBW: Last concert or sporting event attended?
Machabee: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers concert about two months ago.
NNBW: If you had enough money to retire right now, would you? Why or why not?
Machabee: I don’t have a desire to retire right now. I really enjoy what I am doing in this business. I enjoy coming to work every day, and can’t see me doing anything else at this point in my life.
NNBW: Why did you choose a career in northern Nevada? What do you like about living/working here?
Machabee: Our company is based in Nevada and I’m proud to be a fourth-generation native Nevadan. I live in southern Nevada, but consider both ends of the state my home. I love Nevada’s business climate and I love Nevadans. We have a lot of great people that work for us and I enjoy an excellent working knowledge of both the Reno and Las Vegas markets.
To suggest a candidate for NNBW’s weekly Q&A column, contact reporter Duane Johnson at email@example.com.
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