Quality Connections Positioned as Northern Arizona’s Office Supplier; Nonprofit Inks National Distribution Deal, Vastly Expands Its Office Supplies Market

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Quality Connections, a nonprofit organization, just completed an agreement and began selling its full line of office supplies nationally as part of a national cooperative. This new arrangement moves Quality Connections a major step closer to becoming the primary shipping and door-to-door delivery office products supplier in northern Arizona and throughout Coconino County.

Christopher Keeler is part of a team at the northern Arizona nonprofit office supply source, QC Office

QC Office, a division of Quality Connections, serves as a revenue-generating branch of the organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of disadvantaged and disabled persons in Flagstaff, Coconino County and from northern Arizona.

Quality Connections, a nonprofit organization, just completed an agreement and began selling its full line of office supplies nationally as part of a national cooperative. This new arrangement moves Quality Connections a major step closer to becoming the primary shipping and door-to-door delivery office products supplier in northern Arizona and throughout Coconino County.

Quality Connections, for its affiliate QC Office, signed an agreement with the Inter-Local Purchasing System (TIPS) a national cooperative enabling state, county, tribal and municipal government entities as well as nonprofit organizations to purchase office supplies from QC Office at the best, most competitive prices in the U.S.

“This allows us to offer pricing on our products to meet or beat everybody,” said Armando Bernasconi, CEO of Quality Connections. “We can now leverage our purchasing power to bring our customers greater savings.”

Now that Quality Connections is part of this new program, it facilitates several key goals simultaneously. “It keeps dollars local, it expands our delivery capabilities throughout the region and then nationwide while supporting our mission,” said Bernasconi. Quality Connections provides quality support and employment services to individuals with disabilities and disadvantages increasing both their independence and their participation in the community.

Customers of this northern Arizona-based nonprofit benefit because they pay no sales tax when purchasing from QC Office. In addition, Quality Connections’ pricing on thousands of office products is by definition lower via new leverage through the national cooperative TIPS. “This brand new agreement allows us access to national price groups through our distributor,” said Bernasconi. "And we do not have to charge sales tax because the State of Arizona provides this benefit to help foster and enhance programs like ours. It allows us to be competitive.”

Quality Connections was able to attract the interest of this national cooperative based on strengths it has built for the past several years: an expanded office supply distribution network and handling capacity, a distributor partnership with industry leader United Stationers, major investment in development of a sophisticated call and distribution center in Flagstaff, and by being a single-source solution for customers’ needs with both e-commerce and call center capacity to efficiently process customer orders and then deliver or ship over 100,000 products.

Quality Connections first focus is on passing the cost savings and convenience to state, county, municipal, tribal entities and nonprofits throughout Coconino County and northern Arizona. “All of these entities – state, county, municipal government entities – are eligible to purchase through a state contract,” Bernasconi said. However, these groups pay a fee to be part of that State of Arizona contract. “The TIPs cooperative is free to these qualifying organizations,” said Bernasconi.

In addition, Bernasconi and Quality Connections have been actively pursuing a state set-aside contract. This non-competitive bid process on the state level is designed to assist nonprofit service organizations like Quality Connections.

“We have been positioning ourselves to qualify for the state set-aside contract for the past five years,” said Bernasconi. He added that, meanwhile, the opportunity through TIPs recently “fell into our lap three weeks ago.” Bernasconi approached the Quality Connections distributor partner United Stationers and they liked the idea. United Stationers has access to 72 nationwide distribution centers and had over $5 billion in sales in 2011.

The office supplies division of Quality Connections serves as a revenue-generating branch of the organization that is dedicated to enhancing the lives of disadvantaged and disabled persons in Flagstaff, Coconino County and from northern Arizona. Quality Connections offers a range of employment services and job training to its clients. It has a residential program that helps empower its clients to live more independently.

“Office supplies are our vehicle to be able to achieve our mission,” said Bernasconi. “It’s our connection to Flagstaff, to the community.” Now with the inception of the new TIPs program Quality Connections is widening that circle. It is broadening those connections to serve first regional institutional and nonprofit organizations with cost saving and efficient customer service. Quality Connections will also concentrate on national order fulfillment and distribution to help it continue with its key mission of enhancing the quality of life for the individuals the organization serves.

About Quality Connections
Quality Connections Inc. is an Arizona not for profit 501(c)(3) corporation with a philosophy to create and maintain a socially and environmentally responsible agency that invests in the professional development of its employees in order to provide the highest degree of quality service to our customers. Quality Connections’ mission is to provide quality support and employment services to individuals with disabilities and disadvantages in order to increase both their independence and their participation in our community.

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Armando Bernasconi

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