The ALCO STANDARD CORP., a leading firm in the manufacturing, distribution, and resource fields, was organized in 1965 by a group of entrepreneurs, which included Clevelander Tinkham Veale II as its principle founder and first president. He conceived the company's philosophy of "corporate partnership"—acquiring numerous, small, privately owned companies and allowing them to continue under their own management while providing them with financial support and advice.
Veale and John T. Vaughn first practiced this philosophy with the Cleveland-based Jackson Products Co., which they acquired in 1952 to manufacture and market technical products. They continued to acquire small, privately owned companies, organizing V&V Companies, Inc., in 1961 to pursue their goals. By 1964 V&V controlled 15 businesses. After Veale and V&V purchased major interests in Philadelphia's Alco Chemical Corp., Veale directed the V&V-Alco merger in 1965, which resulted in the Alco Standard Corp. The diversified company, headquartered in Pennsylvania, continued to broaden its holdings beyond the chemical, electrical, and metallurgical fields. By 1971 it had acquired 80 companies, including several from the Cleveland area: Pyronics, Inc. (founded 1953), industrial combustion equipment; Advanced Dynamics, Inc. (1957), thermocouples; the Cleveland Range Co. (1933), steam cooking equipment; and the Otto Konigslow Mfg. Co. (1846), metal stampings. Two of Alco's divisions, Specialty Products and the Metal Source groups, were also centered in Cleveland. Alco's diversity and acquisition policy brought phenomenal growth into the early 1980s. At that time, Alco Standard in Cleveland was the city's 7th largest corporation, with approx. 20 facilities in the area employing 2,000 people.
In January 1997 Alco Standard changed its name to IKON Office Solutions, Inc. The following year, the company's aggressive acquisition program was eliminated when James J. Forese replaced John Stewart as CEO. From 1998 to 2002, Forese led IKON through significant operational and cultural change as the company transformed from a largely decentralized holding company into an integrated operating company focused on document-management products and services. Jim Forese retired in September 2002 and Matthew J. Espe was named IKON's new president and chief executive officer. In February 2003, Espe replaced Forese as IKON's chairman. For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2002, IKON's revenues were $4.8 billion, with 600 locations worldwide.
Alco Standard Corp. The First Decade (1976).