Meet Ana Parmet, owner of Parmetech, Inc., an office equipment technology solutions provider based in Havertown, PA. Parmetech, a certified WBE, focuses on management services – in other words, managing a fleet of multifunction devices and the tech and software behind them to streamline office workflow.
Parmetech launched in January of 1991, originally selling remanufactured toner cartridges for laser printers. Ana’s entrepreneurial spirit was stoked when she and her husband Mike were both laid off around the same time and found themselves navigating new lifestyle changes with a growing family. They decided to invest in themselves and committed to making family and business work.
Her advice for other businesses interested in doing business with institutions like Penn is to “identify the key people that you need to meet and pursue a relationship and being patient and persevering."
While she was encouraged by the interest, she encountered selling remanufactured toner cartridges, Ana realized Parmetech couldn’t sustain and grow business without expanding its product line. Her first move was to approach Hewlett-Packard (HP) to become a reseller of brand name toner, as many clients initially didn’t trust recycled toner products. It was hectic in the early days, with Ana and Mike handling all aspects of the business, even taking their children on delivery runs (which proved to be a delightful icebreaker with clients who appreciated being supported by a family business). Soon, they began servicing HP printers, which led to Parmetech’s first hires in the early 90s – a service technician and a delivery person. Next, they hired someone to help with invoicing, and then hired a salesperson.
Ana first contracted with Penn in 1993. It started with cold calls in 1992 that led to a contract for remanufactured toner cartridges. Her contact at Penn was pleased with Parmetech’s products and services and asked what else they could supply. Parmetech benefitted from Penn’s decentralized structure, which allowed Ana to solicit business from various departments across the institution. Over time, she forged long-lasting relationships with contacts in Procurement Services and has counted Penn among her clients ever since. As a small business owner, she’s very proud of being able to successfully compete with large companies also bidding for Penn’s business. “We're selling big devices that you can get by going straight to HP, Xerox, or Canon. We outshine a lot of our large enterprise competition, and that's how we've been able to differentiate ourselves.”
Ana also credits her success to affiliations with organizations that support small business. Parmetech is WBE-certified through the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), and MBE-certified, as Ana is a first-generation Cuban. She participates in the annual Minority Enterprise Development Week sponsored by the City of Philadelphia, and routinely pursues business through supplier diversity expos and procurement programs in the region. She also maintains contact with Penn’s Association of Business Administrators (ABA).
Her advice for other businesses interested in doing business with institutions like Penn is to “identify the key people that you need to meet and pursue a relationship and being patient and persevering. Try to not think of doing business with the whole university – focus on a certain department where you feel like you are a good fit. Build the relationship there, and then start to branch out.”