By Rebecca Billman
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Larry Koesters, founder of Scot Business Machine Co., died Monday from complications of an abdominal aneurysm at Jewish Hospital. The Hyde Park resident was 84.
With money borrowed from friends and family, he started selling calculators out of his garage in 1963. He built the business into one that included five stores in Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus, doing more than $30 million in sales and employing 250 people at its peak in 1996.
"He was well known and respected in the business community," said his son, Bill Koesters of Montgomery. "He touched so many lives. His employees loved him and he made friends with everyone he met."
Mr. Koesters had a background in office machine sales. He started out with the Nichols Salesbook Co. in Walnut Hills and moved on to a position with the Victor Adding Machine Co., working his way up to branch manager.
Calculators were a new product when he decided to strike out on his own and he did well enough to open a store in Hamilton, which he called the Tri-County Business Machine Co.
It was a struggle, according to his son, but he kept at it and later was able to obtain the Smith Corona typewriter franchise in Cincinnati and open a second store in Pleasant Ridge. He changed the name of the stores to Scot - the acronym for Smith Corona Office Typewriters.
Mr. Koesters recognized trends and seized opportunities as technology improved the world of office machines. For example when Canon and Minolta began making inroads into territory dominated by Xerox, he was able to increase his own copier sales and service business.
By the late 1970s, Mr. Koesters' three sons, Gary, Bill and Ken, were working with him and the stores saw rapid growth.
The family sold the business to Ikon Office Solutions, an international company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, in 1996.
Mr. Koesters was born in Lima, Ohio and grew up in Philothea in Mercer County. He joined the Army in February 1941 and was shipped to Guadalcanal where he served as a radio operator and fought in some of the heaviest campaigns in the South Pacific.
Mr. Koesters was active with the local chapter of the National Office Machine Dealers Association and made generous contributions to charities and civic groups in Greater Cincinnati.
In addition to his son, Bill, survivors include: his wife, Mary Jane; a daughter, Kathy of Anderson Township; two other sons, Gary of West Chester Township and Ken of Mason; and nine grandchildren.
The funeral is 9:30 a.m. today at St. Rose Church, 2501 Eastern Ave., East End.
Memorials: American Heart Association, 2936 Vernon Place, Cincinnati 45219-2462; or the American Cancer Society, 11117 Kenwood Road, Cincinnati 45242-1817.
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