In March of 1936, J.L. McGrath left his position as a typewriter service technician with the Underwood Typewriter Company to begin his own business. In the early days, his inventory consisted of one typewriter at a time until he sold enough to stock multiple typewriters. With the help of his wife Irene, his business gradually grew to the point of handling most of the typewriter business in Will and Grundy counties.
In 1960, J.L. and Irene's daughter Priscilla married Robert Borgstrom. When Robert finished his service in the U.S. Navy in 1964, he and Priscilla returned to Joliet to take over the family business. In 1965, Robert opened a branch of McGrath Office Equipment in downtown Morris. Jim Provancal was hired to manage the Morris store, while Robert continued to handle the Will county business from the Joliet store.