2010 Hall of Fame: Ed Garvey – All the Right Moves
Ed Garvey, president and CEO of Niles, IL-based The Garvey Group.
Ed Garvey stands with his daughters, from the left, Sarah, Meaghan and Caitlin.
When the weather turns warm, you’ll often find Ed Garvey at the golf course. And sometimes, he takes his game to the dinner table.
Path to Prosperity
Garvey’s path began in Westchester, IL, where he went to parochial school and enjoyed playing sports. Printing had always been woven into the fabric of Garvey’s existence, since his grandfather had started the family business back in 1919. But, even through Garvey’s childhood, the company remained very small, without many more than 20 employees. His dad was “chief cook and bottle washer,” tending to sales and operations, not to mention everything in between.
Garvey earned a degree in business management from the University of Notre Dame in 1978 where, as a freshman, he watched the infamous “Rudy” game in person, then came to work with his father at what was then called Ed. Garvey & Co. Within a year, his father passed away, thrusting Garvey into the driver’s seat, ready or not.
“From a business learning perspective, I possessed the skills to do his job,” Garvey recalls. “What I lacked were the personal skills and the background in the industry. But I already knew a lot of the people and felt somewhat comfortable with the environment.”
Garvey rose to the occasion and has etched his fingerprints on the business in a profound and meaningful way. Perhaps the most striking evolution of the former Ed. Garvey & Co. has been in the last 10 years, when the firm exited the business forms and direct mail markets, while acquiring a number of companies that provided new capabilities. Garvey felt that business forms represented a mature, receding market. Direct mail, which the company was adept at producing, just wasn’t a good fit and was too small a nut, in Garvey’s estimate. Using the proceeds of the sale of his direct mail operations in Niles, IL, he obtained a trio of large-format KBA sheetfed offset presses.