By Heather Pilkington, Register Staff Writer
Gainesville Daily Register
Dustin Office Machines remains one of the oldest, continuing operations in Gainesville to date.
“In 1932, Frank Dustin established his business Frank Dustin Office Supply and School Supply as one of the three downtown businesses established that year: Ben Levine’s Department Store, which closed 30 years ago; Brown Motor Co., which sold to Luttrell-McNatt and Frank Dustin Office Supply Inc.,” owner of Dustin Office Machines Johnny Leftwich said.
Over time, the downtown Gainesville business has seen a number of changes, but Dustin’s is the only of the three businesses still operating under the same name.
Leftwich remembered Frank Dustin telling him he grossed $90 during his first month of business and had to sell his automobile to survive and keep the doors open.
During the mid-to-late 1940s, the thousands of soldiers stationed at Camp Howze Army Camp helped to fuel Cooke County’s economy, Leftwich said.
In 1954, Frank Dustin Office and School Supply was moved to 110 N. Dixon St. and had begun to expand its inventory to include office furniture and business machines.
Fifty-nine years ago, Dustin hired Leftwich — an Era High School student — as a part-time employee. Leftwich navigated his way through the business to a full-time employee who worked in delivery, maintenance, sales, and as a typewriter repairman.
Even during the hard times, Dustins remained open and operational.
“At one point, businesses continued to grow during the 1950s until the mid-1980s when the oil crash came,” Leftwich said. “Oil sold as high as $33 a barrel in the late 1960s and the early 1970s, It began to drop to a low of $5 a barrel and the economy in Cooke County took a dive.
In the mid-to-late 1980s, National Supply closed. They employed around 1,000 employees at a good labor rate. Southland Paint employed 200-300 employees. They sold and moved to Garland. Several other oils business also closed their doors. Baker Tool, Otis, and Dowell to name a few. Frank Dustin Office Supply, Inc. was fortunate enough to survive with the help of the good Lord and good relationships with local banks to survive the difficult time.”
Leftwich said at one time, “only one business was open in the 100 block of West California St.
“After Dustin died in 1962, his wife offered me a partnership in the business, where I worked closely with her until her retirement in 1985.”
Today, Leftwich owns and operates Dustin Office Machines along side his wife, Mary Lou Leftwich.
The business sells and services Kyocera/Copystar multi-function machines, also known as, print, scan and copy machines and is the headquarters for the JCPenney Catalog Store in Gainesville.
On staff, Dustin’s has senior technical representative Eddy Creswell, who is a factory-trained service technician on all Copystar equipment sold at Dustins; and Office Manager Karen Scott, who has been with Dustins 26 years, to help answer any questions.
Dustins has an office copier for a small business or a big corporation. Dustin Office Machines services Cooke County, as well as, parts of Wise, Montague and Denton counties.