Although Mike DePree of Moorhead, Minnesota, officially began his sales career with American in 1996, the roots of his involvement go back to 1982 when American Business Forms (now American Solutions for Business) was only a year old.
Mike’s dad, Dusty DePree, worked in the printing industry and eventually formed his own business that he called Mikim Business Forms, named after his children, Mike and Kim. As time went on, Dusty grew to have great respect for a certain industry competitor – Larry Zavadil. In 1982, Dusty joined Larry’s company, American Business Forms, and maintained a profitable sales territory and was eventually named Vice President. He functioned as a conference planner, vendor relations coordinator, was an outspoken supporter of the American Dream and a major contributor to what American is today. He died after a courageous fight against cancer. Dusty was inducted as the first member of American’s Hall of Fame after his death in 1999.
Mike remembers first hearing about American one afternoon when his dad picked him up from school and announced that he had taken a job with a new company. Also in the car that day was Gary Skordahl from Willmar, Minnesota, another new recruit on Larry’s team.
During the early days with American, Mike helped his dad with some basic tasks, the first being data entry for the first four salesmen of the company – Larry Zavadil, Gary Skordahl, Dan McAnally and his dad, Dusty. “We had the very first company computer sitting on our dining room table in Moorhead – not Glenwood,” said Mike. “I would input forms management data from physical inventory provided.” New duties were added to Mike’s ‘job description’ and he began delivering stock tab computer forms for his dad out of their garage and from the first American warehouse in Glenwood.
At the age of 16, Mike became a pilot and two years later began flying his dad and Larry all over the country. As the company grew, Mike came to know all 20 of American’s sales associates and became familiar with a number of vendors after flying associates to the first conference and vendor show. Mike had his first taste of being a sales associate while he was in college but after joining the Air National Guard, his focus changed. In the mid-nineties, when he finished his pilot training, he began calling on clients. At the same time, Mike was considering a career as a commercial airline pilot but his dad encouraged him to join the family business as an American Associate.
Mike currently serves clients from his home office. He and his wife, Jodi, who joined in 2012, share all accounts and collaborate on all business. The healthcare industry had been a focus for Mike and Jodi but with the evolution to electronic medical records, they’ve seen a decline in that area. Mike and Jodi’s book of business is now quite diverse and they are always looking to acquire new accounts and existing business from associates who are transitioning to retirement. The couple has three young daughters who keep them on their toes as well.
Because Dusty was an innovator and always stepped up to help find new and unique solutions for clients, he probably wouldn’t be surprised to see how American Solutions for Business has evolved in the past 18 years. Mike learned a lot from his dad, but perhaps the most important characteristic Dusty instilled in Mike was a strong work ethic. Along with that, Mike acknowledges that he was fortunate to have learned his organization skills from his mom, Becky, who was also involved in sales at American. Mike’s sister, Kim Mahli, is another in the line of DePree sales associates who are part of our rich history. Kim operates her business out of her home in Fargo, North Dakota, having joined ASB in 2009.
The hard work and dedication of DePree family helped build the foundation of this great company. Their involvement ensured that future associates will be able to find a place where living their American Dream can become a reality.
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