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OfficeNet owner says goodbye after company's acquisition by Eakes Office Solutions

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After almost 70 years of operation in the Fremont community, OfficeNet announced in late December that it had been acquired by Eakes Office Solutions.

“I want to thank our customers across the state for their incredible support over the years,” owner Russ Hoetfelker said in a press release. “I’m confident in Eakes’ ability to take care of all of our loyal customers moving forward.”

Eakes also had OfficeNet locations in Columbus and Grand Island joining the team. With the acquisition also comes Hoetfelker’s retirement after almost 20 years of owning the company.

“Russ and his team at OfficeNet have provided a high level of customer service to many Nebraska communities for a long time,” Eakes President and CEO Mark Miller said in the release. “We take customer care seriously, and we look forward to continuing that tradition while expanding products and services in the area.”

Founded by Robert Scott in 1954 as Fremont Office Equipment at 628 N. Broad St., OfficeNet provided office products, copiers, furniture and cleaning supplies for area businesses, schools, government agencies and local residences.

The company opened a second location in Columbus in 1978 and in Grand Island in 2001.

In 1964, Hoetfelker’s father, Leigh, started work at the company before becoming president and CEO in 1995.

During middle school, Hoetfelker started working at OfficeNet, continuing even after his graduation from high school in 1982.

“The part-time positions when I was in school, it was just kind of warehouse delivery positions,” he told the Fremont Tribune. “And then when I graduated from college, I came in as the controller, working with dad.”

After Leigh Hoetfelker’s death in 2003, his son took over OfficeNet as president and CEO.

From the beginning, Hoetfelker said he was drawn to the company as a way to work with his father.

“We also have a lot of long, long, long-term employees that I’ve worked with that were good to work with,” he said. “So I just really enjoyed working with the staff.”

As to Eakes’ acquisition of OfficeNet, Hoetfelker said both parties were interested in the proposition, as he had turned 58 and was looking at retirement down the road.

“We met with Eakes among other people over some lunches and were just kind of kicking tires and saying, ‘You know, if you ever have an interest in doing something, let us know,’” he said. “And I guess that time came, and here we are.”

As the two are similar companies, Hoetfelker said more than 90% of OfficeNet’s employees transitioned into working for Eakes.

“It was a good deal for them, and they’re just going to take over our accounts and go from there,” he said. “We were both strong competitors against each other for a lot of years because we did the same thing, so it was just kind of a natural way to merge the businesses together.”

And even though he’s officially retired, Hoetfelker said he’s been helping Eakes with the transition since the acquisition.

“It’s been busy throughout the transition, but things are kind of starting to slow down here a little bit now,” he said.

Hoetfelker called his retirement “bittersweet” and said he was thankful for his time at OfficeNet.

“Thank you to the customers throughout the years that we’ve had,” he said, “and also to the employees that we’ve worked with.”

Gov. Pete Ricketts outlined numerous priorities for his last year in office, including tax relief, funding for a new state prison, and a spending plan for federal pandemic relief funds.

The House voted Tuesday to hold former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in contempt of Congress after he ceased to cooperate with the Jan. 6 Committee investigating the Capitol insurrection - making it the first time the House has voted to hold a former member in contempt since the 1830s. The near-party-line 222-208 vote is the second time the special committee has sought to punish a witness for defying a subpoena. The vote is the latest show of force by the Jan. 6 panel, which is leaving no angle unexplored - and no subpoena unanswered - as it investigates the worst attack on the Capitol in more than 200 years. Lawmakers on the panel are determined to get answers quickly, and in doing so reassert the congressional authority that eroded while former President Donald Trump was in office.

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