2010 Hall of Fame: Gary Garner - More Work, Less TalkSeptember 2010 By Erik Cagle
While the printing industry may not boast a bevy of P.T. Barnum types, there are those chief executives who don't have any trouble talking about themselves and their accomplishments. Not to say these execs are braggarts; they're just comfortable with promoting their abilities.
Gary Garner is not altogether at ease on the subject of Gary Garner. It is not a criticism; perhaps it is really just a product of Midwestern modesty. But, Garner would have plenty of accomplishments to talk about—the man started his own company, GLS Companies (along with two partners) in 1984, and it has grown to a mid-$50 million performer with two Minnesota locations and more than 300 workers.
Garner, the president and CEO of GLS Companies, came from modest means and toiled his way to the top, making his success tale even more dramatic, and his selection into the 2010 Printing Impressions/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Fame a fait accompli.
Modesty isn't Garner's only admirable trait, but don't mistake it for shyness and timidity. Just ask David Radziej (rod-gee), president of the Printing Industry of Minnesota, who describes Garner as an individual that sets high standards for himself and demands the same of others.
"Gary is 100-percent loyal to those who give it their best...there's no second place for Gary," Radziej says. "He inspires those around him to become better and to grow professionally. I can also always count on Gary to help out, whether it's opening doors or sponsoring and promoting a new service or item that we're offering. He is passionate about our industry, and is concerned with the direction it's headed."
As for Garner himself, he often wonders where that direction will lead GLS Companies. One thing's for sure, however...GLS will definitely follow its customers' lead.
"I believe we will continue to provide products and services to help our customers grow their businesses," he says. "We just have to figure out what those products are. My philosophy is to take our business to wherever our customers want to go."
Garner grew up in northeast Minneapolis, the youngest of four children. For all intents, though, he was an only child, with a significant age gap between Garner and his siblings, who were out of the house and married during his formative years. One of his most liberating experiences was the day Garner received his driver's license, but "going places" was still a few years off.