Episode 7: Innovation Where You Would Least Expect with CEO Julian De Salay

How did Julian De Salay go from working with his father in the family business to reaching the INC 500 in the first few years of founding his own company? And what lessons has he learned along the way as the CEO and CFO of JB Office? 

In this episode, I’m interviewing Julian De Salay, CEO of JB Office. While an office supply company might sound a bit boring, you are sure to learn a lot from this conversation. Julian shares about his entrepreneurial journey, why and how he founded his company with his best friend, and what it’s like to lead as the CEO. 


What his company does [2:50]

  • Nationwide office supplier serving primarily business and governmental clients
  • Based in Los Angeles, CA
  • Sells through their website, sales reps, Amazon, Newegg, and Walmart
  • Runs a lean team with 12 people for entire company
  • Founded the company in 2012


Julian’s entrepreneurial journey [5:00]

  • Worked with his dad in the family business
  • Went to work for Fortune 500 companies 
  • Came back to the family business for 4 years as the VP of Sales and Customer Service
  • He found himself frustrated with the way his father’s business was run and he was not able to make decisions
  • Started JB Office with his best friend Brian in 2012


His goals for JB Office [10:00]

  • Goals have evolved a lot since they began
  • Wanted to be able to cash out at some point
  • He and Brian want to make sure they are having fun, making a good living, and implementing new things
  • Likes the freedom of being able to make the decisions


His competitors and what sets JB Office apart [12:00]

  • Competitors are W.B. Mason, Amazon, Staples
  • They are a smaller organization but JB Office has some things they do really well
  • They focus on strong relationships with their clients through personalized service
  • Julian still makes sales calls at times or even makes deliveries


Acquiring or selling the business [15:30]

  • If someone wanted to acquire the business, they would want to be in the office supply industry
  • They would need to know the players in the business
  • Important to focus on the relationships
  • JB Office does have SOPs in place, but they get updated and revamped frequently
  • Still learning from mistakes and making changes to the SOPs


Challenges they have faced running the business [19:20]

  • Managing employees from a liability standpoint
  • Dealing with local legalities


What he would do differently [22:00]

  • Business is like having a kid; you’re never fully ready
  • Hard to say what he would change because he learned a lot along the way
  • If he would start a business over again:
    • know local legalities
    • get the right staff in place
    • go after market share


Reaching the INC 500 and INC 5000 lists [24:40]

  • JB Office reached the INC 500 in their first year
  • The last 2 years they were on the INC 5000 list
  • These have been big accomplishments and it was one of their goals


The CEO Role [26:00]

  • Important to be a strong leader and lead by example
  • Understand each portion of the business
  • Not in the day to day anymore, but also doesn’t want to be so far removed that he doesn’t understand the impact of his decisions
  • Delegates a lot
  • Help his employees to understand why he makes the decisions he does so that they can run things if he is not there


Dealing with finances [28:00]

  • Julian has a background in finance so he does understand the financial aspects of running the business
  • He is the CFO and CEO
  • Has had to make decisions to cut clients based on finances
  • Rich margin vs. low margin


One big thing he wants to change [34:50]

  • Time management and organization
  • This may require him to give away some of his responsibilities


“You have to surround yourself with smart people and people that you trust and have the same vision as you.” – Julian De Salay

Connect with Julian De Salay & JB Office

JB Office Website

Julian on LinkedIn


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