2010 Hall of Fame: Gary Garner – More Work, Less Talk

Gary Garner, the president and CEO of GLS Companies.

The Garner family enjoys its vacation at the Coliseum in Rome. Shown from the left are son Adam, son-in-law Jason Sanborn, daughter Amy, wife Marsha and Gary Garner.

Gary Garner puts the face to his company’s print advertisements.

Gary Garner puts the face to his company’s print advertisements.

“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.

His first encounter with printing came at the conclusion of his sophomore year at Columbia Heights High School, when it was time to register for the following school year’s classes. Two courses really caught his eye: auto mechanics and printing. The printing instructor, Paul Terry, went on to mold Garner’s destiny.

“I wandered a bit in high school…didn’t really know what I wanted to do,” he recalls. “But, when I took the printing class, I thoroughly enjoyed it. There are a number of us who went to Columbia Heights High School that have ended up with careers in the printing industry, thanks to Paul Terry.”

Terry helped kick-start Garner’s career, turning him on to a building supply company in need of a point person to produce its wholesale looseleaf lumber catalog. That began a career that led him to working for several other printers in Minnesota before deciding, at the age of 31, that he wanted to take a shot at running his own printing company.

The thought of becoming his own boss came to Garner much earlier, of course, but it wasn’t until he leveraged funds from property rentals, wrote out a business plan and secured an SBA start-up loan that General Litho Services became a reality in 1984. Garner handled sales, one partner was a stripper and the other a pressman.

Related story: Gary Garner, GLS Companies, 2010 HOF Speech

Related Content