Written by The Business Journal Staff
Teri McNally Brymer, President
California Business Machines
What we do: California Business Machines helps Central Valley business people manage change, streamline workflow and control document-related expenses by providing quality office automation technology, solutions and services.
Education: B.S., health science, Fresno State 1976
Family: Married 29 years to John Brymer. Youngest of 5 siblings — Mike, Maureen, Tim, & Marc — all of whom worked in the family business at one time or another. Brother Tim McNally is a shareholder and sales rep at CBM. Parents and founders are Ray and Lorraine McNally, both deceased.
How was California Business Machines started, Teri?
My father, Ray McNally, was a service manager for Remington Rand Typewriter Company when he found out that he was going to be transferred to New York away from his home and family in the Fresno area. He decided to quit his job and started CBM with his brother Paul using $2,000 borrowed from their parents. In 1953, they started CBM in a little store on Inyo Street downtown, and shortly after, moved to a larger store on Van Ness Avenue. They had to make it work, as my parents had four young children and me on the way. Six locations later, our main office is now located just north of Ashlan Avenue on Fresno Street.
What kinds of products does the business sell and how far is your reach, Teri?
CBM is a local Fresno Company with a branch in Visalia that services Central Valley businesses that are mostly in the counties of Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare. We sell office automation technology, which has seen many changes over the 60 years we’ve been in business. Our current products include copier/MFPs, printers, scanners, fax, document management, business applications, network solutions, ID printers, paper handling equipment — and even still a few typewriters and calculators.
How has the company been able to adapt in office solutions as new technology becomes available, Teri?
Office technology is constantly changing, and it can be a challenge to keep up with it — or ahead of it. My parents started the business selling and servicing manual typewriters and adding machines. At one time, desktop calculators sold for $2,000 and maybe multiplied and divided. Then electronic digital equipment and PCs were introduced, and our industry was forever changed. Now everything is digital and connects to the network communicating wirelessly and to the cloud. To maintain our role as an industry leader, we must continually invest in our people, education and technology to help our customers be more competitive and achieve their goals and business objectives. Since the beginning, our commitment to our customers has been to make sure their offices operate efficiently and cost-effectively by providing innovative programs, flexible systems and strong guarantees.
How would you describe business conditions during the recession? Does it look like things are turning around, Teri?
The recession has been a challenge for us and our customers. We saw many companies that we’ve worked with over the years close. Others were hurting and were slower to pay. There certainly were far fewer new business start-ups. Fortunately for us, businesses still need their office equipment serviced even if they held off a little longer in replacing it. Although still slow, we have seen an improvement in business activity this past year. After the first couple of hard years, we were able to make necessary changes to grow and profit in spite of the economy.
What are the perks and challenges to working in a family business, Teri?
I started working in the family business when I was a student at Fresno State and between jobs and had no intention of staying. I am glad I did because I love what I do and the perks have outweighed the challenges. The biggest challenge for families to overcome when working together is to separate your work life from your family life, such as not talking business at family event — or mom being mom at work. Early on, the best perk for me was being allowed to learn and grow quickly in all areas of the business. The ultimate reward is that our family business has been able to support our family, employees, customers and community for 60 years.
Before she passed last year, your mother was known as a pioneer for women active in the business community. What about her was most influential to you, Teri?
Her strength, strong work ethic, and the fact that she was always there for her family, employees and friends. She was a farm girl during The Depression, became a nurse during World War II, and quit being a nurse to help out in the family business to help support her five children. She was initially afraid to go out and sell office equipment in a time when most women did not do that — but she did it anyway at first to help the business and her family. Then she continued to do it because she found that she loved it.
What was your first job and what did you learn from it, Teri?
My first job was “slave labor” for the family business—stuffing envelopes, licking stamps and little things like that. I learned my work ethic from that and observing my parents struggle to run a small business.