MAPSCO, a Dallas Institution, Is About to Be Based Out of ... Pennsylvania

MAPSCO, according to company lore, was conceived in Dallas in 1948 by a frustrated florist named Milton Boyd Keith who was tired of his delivery drivers getting lost. With the help of the city's Building Inspection Division and a store manager, Keith "researched, designed and indexed hand-drawn maps that anyone could use." At first, they were sold solely out of his Oak Lawn flower shop. But, says the company's official history, "after the City of Dallas purchased 300 guides for their fire and ambulance workers, it was official. Everyone wanted a MAPSCO Street Guide." The first ones were sold commercially in 1952, and the company has remained locally based ever since (though HQ is now in Addison).

But Unfair Park has learned the company, which is shuttering stores statewide, will be Dallas-based no longer: An employee at Universal Map -- out of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania -- confirms this morning that it is acquiring the mapmaker. The woman to whom I spoke said she did not know when the sale would be consummated (or announced), and said I should speak instead with President Scott Horner, who's based in Michigan. Messages were left several hours ago, though Universal Map says he is in Texas at this very moment. The same employee then said we should talk to Jim Guercio, Universal Map's purchasing director ... and proceeded to give us the number for MAPSCO's Addison HQ.

MAPSCO employees to whom I spoke this morning will not comment; several messages have been left for chief operating officer Tracy Eubanks.

This much is certain: In the age of GPS and Google Maps and so on and so forth, business ain't what it used to be. After posting record sales in 2006, revenue dropped precipitously, forcing widespread layoffs in recent months and, last week, the closure of the Austin store. The Frisco retail outlet closed last year. And: The Preston Forest location, which opened more than a decade ago, is closing today.

One person to whom I did speak noted the irony of the sale: A little more than two years ago, MAPSCO had intended to buy Universal Map, until Kappa Media swooped in at the last second.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky