DEMCO President Mike Grasee announced December 20 that his firm had acquired the assets of Highsmith from W. W. Grainger for an undisclosed amount. While Highsmith will become a division of DEMCO, Grasee told American Libraries that the two iconic library vendors would maintain their present toll-free phone numbers and websites. The businesses will operate from DEMCO’s operations in Madison and Deforest, Wisconsin; it is anticipated that DEMCO will add up to 75 employees to its current workforce of 245, most of whom are now Highsmith staff members.
“It’s just going to be a great combination to help us grow our products and services and really become an indispensable resource for libraries and schools across the country,” Grasee said, praising Highsmith’s “great service ethic and loyal customer following,” which he characterized as similar to that of DEMCO. Grasee went on to say, “We see the combination of Highsmith and DEMCO as really having two key benefits”: a broader product selection and the expansion of DEMCO’s reach “to other parts of the classroom beyond the library.” In particular, he cited the strategic advantage of being able to offer Highsmith’s Upstart and Edupress collaborative-summer-reading and K–8 materials alongside DEMCO’s recent addition to its product line of classroom furniture, security systems, and automated handling equipment.
“As we get the two teams together, we’ll be excited to continue to work with our library customers to understand what needs they have and help them meet those needs,” Grasee added. “The main thing is that libraries are just so busy looking for help, looking for ways to do more with less, and part of what DEMCO and Highsmith will bring together is really just this broader range of products and services to help them do that.”
Asked whether DEMCO will continue to support the increasingly popular Book Cart Drill Team competition at ALA Annual Conference, Grasee laughed and said, “It’s some fun we can have together with our beloved librarians that we’d absolutely want to continue,” and described the event as a “cultural icon.”