LAKELAND (THE LEDGER)
Another year, another milestone for one of Lakeland's most enduring businesses.
On Sept. 24, Boring Business Systems will commemorate its 90th anniversary with an invitation-only celebration for clients and colleagues at the company's facility just east of downtown Lakeland.
The festivities will include a trivia contest dubbed "Boring History," and a cooking competition with five local chefs called "Boring Bites."
Clearly, company president and CEO Allan Dean Boring III has heard all the jokes by now.
"It wasn't much fun for me when I was in the third grade," said Boring, who simply goes by Dean Boring, of the teasing he got about his family's surname.
Boring, 66, said he temporarily left the company about 40 years ago after his father, Allan Dean Boring Jr., decided to attach the family name to the business.
"He and I had a disagreement, and I quit," Boring said. "I came back not long after that because I saw that he was right.
"It's a name that sticks with you."
Boring Business Systems has proven to have similar staying power in Lakeland despite vast changes in the services it has provided during its nine decades.
"The foundation of any community is its small businesses," said Kathleen Munson, president of the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce. "That's why it's great to be able to celebrate Boring's major anniversary as one of Lakeland's oldest and most successful companies."
The business currently has 41 employees and fills a variety of technological needs — including copying/printing services and network and IT support — for its clients in Polk, Hillsborough, Highland and Hardee counties.
"Dean and his team have led the industry in providing state-of-the-art technology tools that give businesses the edge in offering quality products and services to their customers," Munson said. Boring Business Systems has been a chamber member for more than 70 years, which covers several of the company's iterations.
The downtown Lakeland company was founded in 1924 by Frank W. Myers — Boring's grandfather — who named his business Lakeland Typewriter & Supply Inc. In 1963, Myers sold the company to his son-in-law, Allan Dean Boring Jr.
Boring maintains a collection of about 65 vintage typewriters and adding machines like the ones his grandfather and father used to sell at the company's offices. He notes that at one point in time each piece in the collection was considered a cutting-edge piece of office equipment.
"I think we've always been very willing to embrace technology," Boring said. "Going way back, we went from manual typewriters and adding machines to electric typewriters and adding machines pretty early in the process."
In 2012, the company expanded its reach in Polk County by acquiring Winter Haven-based Till Office Equipment. Later that year, Boring Business Systems acquired a Polk-based IT company and launched a Managed Network Services program for clients seeking antivirus protection, disaster recovery and more.
"It's the fastest-growing part of our company," Boring said of Managed Network Services.
Boring took over the business in 1980 from his father, who also served as a Lakeland city commissioner from 1978 to 1981. Boring would follow in his father's footsteps in more ways than one.
In addition to owning and operating the family business, Boring himself served as a city commissioner for 10 years, stepping down in January 2008.
The company's previous homes include a 9,000-square-foot building on George Jenkins Boulevard, which it first occupied in 1973. In 2002, Boring Business Systems moved to its current space at 950 E. Main St., where it occupies about 20,000 square feet at the former Tinney Cadillac showroom.
Boring and his wife, Harriet, will celebrate their 22nd anniversary this month. He has three children: Allan Dean Boring IV, 45; and Harriet's daughters from a previous marriage, Maggie Sikes, 26; and Kelley Sikes, 24.
Kelley Sikes does part-time marketing and social media work for the company.
"The thing that all the items we've sold over the years have in common is that they put ink on paper," Dean Boring said. "Since the early '70s, I'd say printers and copiers have been our flagship products."
Some of those flagship products likely will take a beating during the anniversary celebration.
In addition to "Boring History" and "Boring Bites," the upcoming bash will offer visitors the chance to punish uncooperative office equipment: Parker Street Ministries will organize a Printer/Copier Smash.
Participants will pay $5 to take five whacks at a piece of outdated Boring Business Systems office machinery. Anyone who pays double that fee will be allowed to choose their own weapon from an arsenal that includes a baseball bat, a golf club and more.
Proceeds will benefit Parker Street Ministries.
"We serve a neighborhood that's about 90 years old, so it lined up pretty nicely," said Kim Schell, development and communications director for Parker Street Ministries. "We've all wanted to smash a printer or copier at one time or another, so we thought it would be a fun event."
Schell, however, doesn't have any complaints about the ministry's equipment from Boring Business Systems.
"The printer we have from them is our workhorse," Schell said.
Besides Parker Street Ministries, the company has supported Florida Southern College, the Lakeland Regional Medical Center Foundation, and other community organizations throughout the years.
Boring doesn't see any reason why his company should slow down any time soon.
"Honestly, with the people we have right now working here, I think we're in as good a position as we've ever been," he said.