McShane’s: Four Generations of Northwest Indiana History

McShane’s: Four Generations of Northwest Indiana History

McShane’s is a family business with nearly a century’s worth of history, and they’ve seen a lot of change over the years.

"The fun part about this business, as with most that survive over 96 years, is the constant changes, acquisitions and mergers that become necessary for not only survival, but also for growth and prosperity. Working with a group of employees, each with their exceptional talents, is most gratifying,” said Brian McShane, current President and CEO of McShane’s.

Originally started by James H. McShane II in 1921 with a group of men in the Roaring 20’s, the business quickly became well established in Hammond. James McShane eventually bought his partners out and became the sole owner, expanding the retail space to include Steelcase Furniture, long before they became the largest office furniture manufacturer in the world.

When the Great Depression came along, McShane was able to keep the business going with a loan from one of McShane’s largest vendors at the time; Wilson Jones. With that loan and his tenacious spirit, the company was able to continue through the 30’s while Downtown Hammond and Northern Indiana Stationary Co., Inc. grew.

After World War II, James’ son, Joseph H. McShane, joined the business, adding the first greeting card store in Northwest Indiana; Hallmark Cards. There would continue to be more expansions in the 50’s and 60’s with the growth of the steel mills and a growing need for office supplies and furniture along with it.

Ergonomic chairs, movable walls for cubicles, and typewriters were just some of the office supplies that became a necessity for offices all over Northwest Indiana and beyond.

When Joseph noticed that the customer base was largely moving from Hammond south along U.S. 41, he moved the business to a new and larger location in Munster in 1976. After 55 years in downtown Hammond, the Munster location concentrated on office supplies and equipment and discontinued selling the Hallmark Cards and religious goods.

Many children and relatives of Jim's and Joe's worked in the business over the years. Brian, the current CEO, joined the company in 1975 and received his BS degree in Organizational Leadership and an AAS degree in Computer Science. Brian was able to program their first computer to manage the invoicing, inventory, and accounting of the company in the new location. He then was able to convince his dad to add the Canon line of copiers in 1978. He also had the company name changed to McShane's Inc. in 1980 to put the name behind the service.

The business survived further adversity with the steel downturn and extremely high interest rates of the early 80’s with the expansions made in the copier and typewriter sales. The Munster location was expanded numerous times in the 80's, adding a large furniture and copier showroom.

Joe retired in 1992 and McShane's sold the Steelcase dealership to Lincoln Office. Brian later purchased Jacobsen's office supply division of Merrillville, Gary and Valparaiso in 1995. The longtime competitor’s acquisition gave McShane's a Porter County presence in Valparaiso.

This expansion would continue when they purchased the longest competitor of 79 years from East Chicago, Nassau & Thompson. This would place McShane’s as the largest independent supplier of office products in Northwest Indiana.

In 2001, further expansion was seen when Brian partnered with Steve Tepper, creating McShane's Business Technologies, Inc. selling and servicing computers, and soon afterwards, networks and software.

This move allowed McShane's reputation as a complete workplace solutions provider to be more relevant than ever. And only last year, McShanes merged with Kramer and Leonard, bringing an even more vast assortment of products and IT solutions for every type and size of organization.

Now, McShane's expanded service area stretches from Rockford, Carol Stream, Chicago and east to Elkhart Indiana.

"This is truly a great moment for Northwest Indiana with a personable, local, and a competitive company with Munster and Chesterton locations," said Brian McShane. "Greg Fox of Kramer & Leonard and I have a strong mutual respect for each other and how we have grown our companies and given back to support organizations in our service areas. This merger brings copier and IT services to Kramer and Leonard’s clients, and furniture and design to McShane’s clients; both will continue their history of selling office supplies. Our clients can now purchase everything they need for their workplace from one very experienced company."

With the passing of nearly one hundred years, McShane’s has stood the test of time and grown stronger for the passage of the years, a feat that not many family businesses have managed. Surely, with these new changes, McShane’s is poised for an even brighter and more prosperous future.