- The Washington Times - Friday, April 1, 2005

The return of major league baseball to the District has created a boom in business for some office-supply and technology companies.

The Washington Nationals play an exhibition game tomorrow, their season opener Monday in Philadelphia and their home opener on April 14. The team has contracted companies to provide services and equipment ranging from computer networking to bottled water for its office staff.

Four companies — locally based Meridian Imaging Solutions and Xpertechs, and national corporations Staples Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. — are supplying services.

Meridian reported facing no competition in obtaining a contract with the team. Xpertechs, however, said it was up against two or three other businesses.

The fact that the staff had been working in trailers outside Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium made efficiency a main factor in choosing the companies, said David Cope, vice president of sales and marketing for the team. The staff began moving out of the trailers Wednesday night.

Contract opportunities for cleaning services and other companies could arise after the staff settles into its new offices, said Chartese Berry, vice president of communications for the team.

Ms. Berry said she could not say how much money the Nationals have spent on office services because individual departments have their own budgets.

Although financial compensation is an incentive for some of the companies, others hope to build name recognition from their relationship with the new team.

“It’s a good strategic partnership for us,” said Christopher Lucci, senior account manager for Meridian, which is supplying the team’s copy machines, fax machines and printers.

The team’s contract with Meridian is based on a trade deal, in which the team will give advertising, sponsorship, tickets and hospitality to the company in exchange for its equipment, Mr. Cope said.

The Alexandria-based company signed a contract with the team in late December, Mr. Lucci said. The company is providing about 30 pieces of office equipment.

Xpertechs, a Columbia, Md., computer-networking company, installed the team’s computer network and Internet fire wall, and will provide ongoing service support for the team’s computer system.

“Obviously, we’re making money,” said President Michael Mellott, who declined to say how much the contract was worth. “We have a good relationship with [the Nationals]. The benefit is, they’re really good clients.”

Mr. Mellott said the team contracts a specific number of service hours with the company. Once those hours are used, the team can buy more.

The company has logged 200 hours for the team since signing a contract in late December.

The team is purchasing many of its office supplies from Staples Inc., which provides its clients with next-day delivery.

Since January, the Nationals staff has placed six orders, each costing about $1,000, said Don Hamilton, an account manager with Staples Contract, a national division of Staples. Items have included printer toner, trash cans, pens, pencils, file folders, organizers, paper clips, business cards and bottled water.

The company does not receive any sponsorship or advertising from the team, Mr. Hamilton said.

Staples gives its customers the option of working with its minority- and female-owned business partners for ordering supplies at an increased cost. The Nationals are placing their orders through Document Imaging Dimensions, one of more than 50 minority- and female-owned businesses with which Staples works, Mr. Hamilton said.

He could not specify how much extra the Nationals are paying to work with Document Imaging Dimensions, because the cost differs for every company, but he said it is a “nominal difference in cost.”

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