WILKES-BARRE — Tucked into the strip mall in the soon-to-be renovated Market Street train station complex is a company that offers a host of services to businesses and retail consumers.
In the same complex with a nail salon and a Domino’s Pizza sits The Market Street Business Center.
The center itself holds three separate business — Business Office Systems Inc., Gold Star Digital Document Services and JTB Billy Boxes.
Developer George Albert has big plans from the complex that hosts the businesses, and owner Jeff Thomas is excited about that.
”We really feel like when the station gets developed and all that gets done, we can be in a good position to continue our business-to-business relationships with customers and expand by getting more of that business,” Thomas said. “In my mind, I kind of wanted to be a part of this.
“I’ve known George Albert for many years, and I think he is on the right track with this particular section.”
Thomas is already impressed with the changes to the complex in the last year, which includes new sidewalks and lighting.
“We can see a big difference, especially with the night lighting,” he said. “This facility is much more welcoming and a friendly, safe place at night.”
Thomas first got into the business in 1989 with Four Star Business Systems, which he called “kind of the parent company of everything.”
“We sold and serviced Xerox equipment for many years,” Thomas said. “We got into a Xerox agency program. We covered 17 counties in Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania and 12 counties in New York.”
Eventually, Xerox canceled the program.
Thomas opened Gold Star Wide Format in 2001 and acquired Business Office Systems in 2006 and later added JT Billyboxes.
“This Market Street Business Center is basically a conglomeration of three businesses,” he said. “Our thought was that we have been in this building for eight years, and it was our understanding that the building is going to become more retail friendly once all the work is done here. And we believe that to be true.
“So what wanted to do is take our business model and make it not just a business-to-business business model and to give it a retail twang to it.”
Thomas believes both retail and business customers will notice what sets his businesses apart from others.
“Two things — the scope of our product offering and the depth of our skill set,” Thomas said when asked what people should know about the business center.
“We have really smart people working here,” he continued. “Anyone can install a machine and some print drivers, but when you talk about putting together a software package to actually optimize somebody’s workflow … to make their day more productive, to make them a better more efficient, whatever they are …
“We are the people that can help them for that.”
Thomas said that if a customer wants to buy a copier, he is more than glad to sell it to them. But that’s not his primary objective.
“I don’t want to sell any copiers in Wallenpaupack,” he said. “We want to be in postiion where we can provide our exisiting customers who we have more complicated relationships with more products and services.”
Gold Star’s core business is engineers, architects, contractors and attorneys.
“We do a lot of construction drawings for major construction companies,” he said.
Thomas was also proud of the work his team does for lawyers. He said in addition to copying and enlargement services, Gold Star can help lawyers present cases, aiding attorneys in developing those cases and running the technology in the courtroom.
He added that the company had recently completed its first case in federal court.
“The lady that runs the court said it’s the best she has ever seen a trial tech team perform in 10 years, so we were excited about that,” he said of the case.
The company’s scanning services come in handy for government agencies and school district.
With the recent increased concern about school safety, Thomas said it is important for building plans to be available to first responders.
“Every state and local agency and municipality should have all their blueprints existing digitally in the event that the first responders get there and they need to know what room to get into, where the is panel to shut off the power …,” he said. “All these things need to exist digitally outside the frame work of the offices, so the people can access that.
“That’s one of the services we offer.”
Thomas is happy to have his business in downtown Wilkes-Barre.
“I think our business model works better in a place like this than it would anywhere else,” he said. “I think we have relationships with our customers that run beyond just the price tag. And I’m not saying people should do business with me just because I’m local because I don’t believe that. Because if we are not offering them a value add, then they may as well just get it off the internet.”
He added that he gets plenty of business owners come through his doors that are running large organizations out of the basements of their homes.
“People with millions of dollars show up here wanting to get a copy done in a pair of sweat pants and a T-shirt,” Thomas said. “We have a lot of people coming in here saying, ‘This is my venture. I need flyers. I need brochures. What do you think of this idea?’
“These people our out there. We see no shortage of start-ups.”
Still with three business under one roof, Thomas offers plenty of services for the average retail customer too.
Reach Joe Soprano at 570-991-6393 or on Twitter @TLnews.