Fast-Track Firms — On the Move

The executive team of the GLS Cos. is pictured here with Gary Garner, founder and CEO, third from the left.

Branch Smith’s leadership includes (from the left) Mike Branch, Daniel Hanson and David Branch, president.

Pictured here is Mercury Print Productions’ executive team; John Place, president, is seated.

AS AN economically unstable 2008 gives way to a poten- tially more tumultuous 2009, printers from the Sunshine State to Washington State are tightening their belts, digging in and preparing for the worst. Even the firms that forged through the mess and found success, including those named as 2008 Fast-Track Firms, are hoping for a better new year. According to current Printing Impressions 400 revenues data (which mostly reflects companies’ 2007 campaigns), the sales statistics speak volumes about the current state of the printing industry. Here’s a sobering fact: More than 100 printing companies reported decreased revenues in 2007 vs. 2006, with their change rates registering as high as -34 percent. That’s fully one-quarter of the Top 400 incurring sales losses.

But, printers have been here before. Uncertain financial times are part of the landscape for any manufacturer. Printing is an age-old profession that has survived longer than many market segments have been around. The demand for printed material may be leaner during turbulent economic times, but there will always be a need for print.

While most of the printers ranked on the Printing Impressions 400 were struggling to stay profitable during the 2007 beginnings of the current economic rumble, some companies thrived and prospered.

Here is a quick look at three very different triumphs of this year’s Fast-Track Firms.

GLS Cos.
Brooklyn Park, MN
Most Recent Fiscal Year Sales: $65.4 million
Previous Fiscal Year Sales: $44 million
Change: 49 percent

Gary Garner, founder and CEO of GLS Cos., is amazed every day at the success of his company. And, it’s no wonder. He started the business 24 years ago with a couple of his buddies and a small SBA loan. Back then, success was something he could only dream about.

Today, the prosperity of his printing operation is something that brings him great pride and joy. Garner and his executive team have grown GLS’ sales from less than a million in its first year (1984) to generating a million a month (1996) to the $65.4 million mark in 2007. Current clients include a mix of Fortune 500 companies, ad agencies and small- to mid-size businesses.

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