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Fourth gen succeeds father at office supplier Fellowes Inc

John Fellowes II

John Fellowes II has this month become the fourth generation to run his family’s eponymous office products company, following his father’s retirement.

Based in Illinois, US, Fellowes Inc, started in 1917 as a supplier of office storage boxes, three years after the US passed legislation requiring businesses to keep written records for tax purposes.

It was then named Bankers Boxes but changed its name in 1982, when the focus of the company shifted to other office products, starting with paper shredders, and then moving to laminators, binders, guillotines and trimmers.

Today the company’s revenues exceed $500 million (€372 million).

Fellowes took over from his father, James Fellowes, at the beginning of the month, having first joined the family business in 2001. At 36 years old, he is the same age his father was when he took the helm of the company.

Fellowes started out in sales and marketing, before moving on to the shredding division, where he eventually became general manager. He has been president of Fellowes since 2012.

“I am honored to be following in the footsteps of my father, grandfather, and great grandfather,” Fellowes said. “They have established a way of doing business which emphasises bringing value to those we serve.”

James Fellowes is the company’s biggest shareholder and will remain active in the company as the board’s non-executive chairman.

James joined the company in 1969, becoming chief executive and president in 1983.

Speaking to CampdenFB in 2008, he said his exposure to the family business as a child and young adult prepared him well when he joined the company fulltime, and that he observed the same thing in his son. "He started stacking shredders in the afternoons after high school and has gone on from there,” he said.

Speaking on his retirement, James said: “I have enjoyed 45 years of executive leadership, and I’m grateful for my 31 years as CEO. It feels very natural at this stage to redefine my role and responsibility. My father helped me greatly in my position and now I hope to support John in the same way.” 

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