GREELEY – Greeley entrepreneurs Tim and Sally Warde say their 26-year-old business, Northern Colorado Paper, is a work in progress.
“It’s a passion for me,´ said Tim Warde, who is known for rising early and working long hours. “You learn every day.”
The couple built the wholesale paper distribution company from scratch. They launched it at a time when they were too naive to realize how hard building a viable business might be, Sally Warde said.
That was back in October 1978. Tim had been working in a family business – a corrugated box company owned by his father called Container Systems. When that business sold to a larger corporate entity, Tim and Sally decided they wanted to stay in Greeley and have more control over their future than corporate life might allow. They figured they could build on Tim’s existing contacts.
“We naively said, ‘Let’s start a distribution business,’ ” Sally recalled. “We bought a carload of paper products, rented a little warehouse and Tim went out on the streets with rolls of toilet paper under his arms and knocked on doors. At night I would do the books and all the secretarial work.”
Today Northern Colorado Paper extends well behind the region it is named for. The company delivers a variety of industrial paper products, shipping supplies, janitorial supplies and equipment, hospital specialty products and restaurant supplies across the Front Range and into southern Wyoming and southwestern Colorado.
Clients range from small, independently owned businesses to government entities and corporations.
“We always say there’s not a single business that couldn’t use some of our products, whether it’s toilet paper, cleaning chemicals or whatever. It’s unlimited,” Sally said.
That simple statement embodies the interest and energy that Tim and Sally bring to their “work in progress.” They’re passionate about the business, its customers and employees.x09
Associates use words like dedication and fairness when describing Tim and Sally.
Darrell McAllister, CEO of Bank of Choice and a long-time friend of the Wardes said, “They’re extremely hardworking, very diligent and very caring about their employees and taking good care of their business.”
Tim is a member of the board of directors for Bank of Choice, a role he was selected for because of his business acumen and community involvement, McAllister said.
For the Wardes, building Northern Colorado Paper has meant building good customer relationships both inside and outside the business, Tim said. “It’s certainly not going to be a success unless you have good customers.”x09x09
Providing good service to the company’s external customers requires strong relationships among its internal customers – the employees. “Two things are integral in our opinion and that is the internal customers and the external customers,” Tim said.
Both Wardes say they enjoy the variety the business offers. “No day is the same, no week is the same, no year is the same,” Tim said. And that’s a good thing for a man who describes himself as “hyper to the point that I don’t like to sit in one place too long.”
Sally describes Tim as the driving force in the business, the one who works 14 hours a day connecting with customers and vendors. “I always tell Tim he’s like a superman. He can get on a forklift and work in the warehouse. … He drives trucks, loads trucks.”
Tim says Sally doesn’t give herself enough credit. “She does the HR and heads up the management team.”
Sally has long since stepped out of the accounting and helps with sales. “I’m like Tim, I don’t really like to sit still and be in the office.” She also likes to be active in the community and participates in a long list of organizations including the Economic Development Action Partnership, United Way and the chamber of commerce.
The business is based out of a 75,000-square-foot warehouse in Greeley. A branch operation with a smaller warehouse is located in Pueblo. Tim and Sally say they look toward more growth for their company. They may put a warehouse in Durango and are considering a branch in Denver. They may look at reaching into New Mexico and farther into Wyoming.
Tim and Sally believe growth and change in business is important. Tim said, “The minute you think you want to take anything for granted or you want to maintain a status quo you’re going to probably go downhill or backwards.”