School supply firm in Columbia acquired by competitor in Wis.

June 30, 1994|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,Sun Staff Writer

Chaselle Inc, an educational and crafts supply company based in Columbia, has been purchased by competitor Valley School Supply for an undisclosed sum.

The purchase will make Valley School Supply, which had sales revenues of $57 million last year, one of the largest educational supply companies in the country, said Dan Spalding, president of Valley School Supply, based in Appleton, Wis.

Chaselle, which is headquartered on Gerwig Lane in Columbia and owns New England School Supply in Massachusetts, is the fourth school supply company the Wisconsin company has purchased in the past three years.

Valley School wanted to buy Chaselle because it offered customers in a new geographic area and because Chaselle had branched into the crafts and "early learning" supplies business -- growing industries which Valley wanted to venture into, Mr. Spalding said.

The acquisitions also are part of an industrywide consolidation under way and of Valley's strategy to face new competition in the industry from office superstores, discount catalog operations and other choices that school administrators now have for supplies, said Mr. Spalding.

With the purchase of Chaselle, Valley School Supply, founded in 1959, will have a network of five regional educational supply companies nationwide, he said.

Chaselle, which had sales of $55 million last year, serves the East Coast. Chaselle's retail store at its plant on Gerwig Lane in Columbia will remain open.

Valley has made some top management changes at Chaselle, but Mr. Spalding said Chaselle employees and customers will see few if any major changes as a result of the sale.

Chaselle has about 225 employees working at the Columbia headquarters and distribution site and about 100 employed at its New England School Supply in Agawam, Mass.

The purchase should result in some reduction in operating profits as the two companies consolidate, said Mr. Spalding. The company broke even last year, but Valley School expects Chaselle to make a profit this year, he said.

Chaselle was founded in 1944 by Charles Ellerin, who later sold the company. In 1980 he purchased the company back.

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