Campus Bookstore Operator Growing Headquarters, Adding Jobs

Campus Bookstore Operator Growing Headquarters, Adding Jobs

Tree of Life Bookstores, a campus bookstore operator and course material provider, announced plans to expand its headquarters and create new Grant County jobs with up to 34 new employees by 2022.

“Companies like Tree of Life have taken root in Indiana because of the state’s excellent small business climate and our strong pipeline of skilled workers,” said Elaine Bedel, president of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC). “As I travel across the state, one thing is clear from speaking with job creators: Indiana has the tools and resources needed to start and grow your business. We’re excited to witness Tree of Life’s continued success and its creation of new jobs in northeast Indiana.”

The company, which offers multiple textbook fulfillment models for campus bookstores, will invest $310,000 to grow its 55,000-square-foot corporate office at 1500 S. Western Ave. in Marion. At its headquarters, Tree of Life will improve its current technology capabilities as well as its Preserve software suite, which is a company-developed, fully-customized software program to streamline operations of industry-leading campus stores. The Preserve software is specifically designed for Tree of Life’s centralized distribution model, which reduces course material costs and helps increase market share at partner institutions.

Tree of Life operates 20 campus stores across the United States, including four campus stores, one retail store and 76 full-time employees in Indiana. To support increased demand and planned store growth, the company has already added eight team members toward its goal of 34 and is currently hiring for positions in merchandising, title research, system development and logistics. New positions are expected to offer average salaries above the state and county average wage.

“We have amazingly talented people working at Tree of Life and are thrilled to announce our growth plans at our corporate campus here in Grant County,” said Darren Campbell, founder and CEO of Tree of Life. “I was fortunate to attend college in Indiana, and I’m ecstatic that we have been able to grow and expand our business here. We’re grateful for state leadership that has made this state so business friendly for companies like ours. The Tree of Life corporate campus would not exist without the partnership we have formed with the state, city of Marion and the Grant County Economic Growth Council. Tree of Life started here in Marion 20 years ago, and we’re excited to grow nationally while continuing to make an impact locally.”

Founded in 1997 by Darren and Nancy Campbell, the company was launched as a local retail bookstore and coffee shop. A year later, Tree of Life began its first partnership with a local university, and has since expanded to 25 partners around the nation. In Indiana, Tree of Life operates campus stores at Anderson University, Grace College, Indiana Wesleyan University and Taylor University. Along with building relationships with its partner institutions, the company is committed to supporting charitable organizations in the community through in-store promotions like “Hoodies for the Homeless”. During this annual promotion, customers who bring in an old sweatshirt, which is donated to a local ministry serving the homeless, receive 20 percent off a new sweatshirt.

State Support

The IEDC offered Tree of Life up to $235,000 in conditional tax credits and up to $50,000 in training grants based on the company’s job creation plans. These tax credits are performance-based, meaning until Hoosiers are hired, the company is not eligible to claim incentives. This project was supported by the Grant County Economic Growth Council, and received additional funding for on-the-job training by Northeast Indiana Works.

“It has been an honor to collaborate with this local company. We are proud to have Tree of Life in Marion, Indiana and we are thrilled to see them expand and wish continued success to Darren Campbell and his team in the years to come,” said Marion Mayor Jess Alumbaugh.

Small Business is Big in Indiana

Indiana is home to nearly 500,000 small businesses that employ 1.2 million Hoosiers. The state has an A+ rating for small business friendliness (Thumbtack 2017) and ranks top 10 in the nation on the small business policy index (SBE Council 2017). Hosted by the IEDC, the Indiana Small Business Development Center provides entrepreneurs with expert guidance and resources on how to start and grow a business, including: strategy development, business planning and valuation, export assistance and market research.