Born in Navarro County, Texas, J.W. Perry grew up picking cotton and working on the farm. He graduated high school and served in the U.S. Navy from 1950 – 1952 during the Korean War. He then moved to Dallas, Texas and attended business school and worked at the Atlantic Refining Company. It was there he met Ruth Fowler. They married in 1956.
After 14 years at the Atlantic Refining Company, J.W. saw no path upward in the company, so he and Ruth were looking into purchasing a company of their own. That’s when an ad in the Dallas newspaper for a small printing company, Miller Printing, caught their eye. In 1962, as the country was just starting to recover from a recession, the Perry’s purchased Miller Printing and relocated to Temple, Texas.
“I don’t know, I guess it was just blind faith,” Mrs. Perry later said in describing their decision to make the leap. “There were people who told us not to do it, but we thought we could do it.”
In reality, with J.W.’s experience in the printing business, and Ruth’s bookkeeping education and experience in her family’s store in her youth, they were both certainly equipped to make a good effort at their own printing business.
With just one employee, practically no customers, a few office supplies, and a healthy dose of that “blind faith”, the Perrys got busy reviving the business. Each day, J.W. would wear a shirt and tie to call on customers, and then return to the shop, don an apron, and start making deliveries.
Their hard work paid off, and they slowly added customers, and a few employees. They later closed Miller Printing, purchased American Printing in 1966. They continued to grow, opening stores in nearby Belton and Killeen in the 1970s and 80s. They decided to focus solely on the office supply side of the business and grew it immensely into the 1990s.
Harry and Debbie Macey offered to purchase the company and the sale was final in 1994. J.W. said, “We couldn’t have picked a better couple to have sold our business to.”
J.W. Perry went on to serve three terms as Mayor of the City of Temple and participated in many other community groups. In 2015, at the age of 83, J.W. Perry passed away with his wife and daughter at his side.
In January 2020, Ruth Perry joined the Perry Office Plus team, along with over 200 members of the community, for a 100th anniversary celebration in downtown Temple.
Without the “blind faith” of the Perrys, the business would not be what it is today. Their hard work and determination contributed to Perry Office Plus being the largest independent workplace products and furniture dealer in the Central Texas area!