Officemax: A Distant Third

With sales and profits way under par, investors are itchy

Just a year ago, OfficeMax Inc. was the scrappy up-and-comer in a tightly competitive discount office-supply market. Founded 10 years ago with $3 million in venture capital from local doctors and lawyers, the suburban Cleveland company had grown exponentially into a $3.7 billion business. By mid-1997, OfficeMax was gearing up to compete as No. 2 with the looming merger of its larger rivals, Staples Inc. and Office Depot Inc.

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