Gerald Henseler An Acquiring Mind
At that time, the entity was still called the George Banta Co. and only had two locations, compared to its 35 plants today. Even so, Banta was a good size printing company for that era, yet not so big as to prevent Henseler from making a connection with the craft.
“It’s a manufacturing process, but the intricacies involved in producing a product are fascinating,” he says. “In those days, you could watch the hot and cold metal typesetting being done and then follow the job through the production process—something I still find fascinating.”
Given his financial background, Henseler also admires the industry from an economic standpoint. “Printing makes a significant contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and creates value for corporate America. It also provides high levels of employment and is a well paying, stable industry,” he says.
Henseler was very involved in Banta’s M&A activity from the beginning and quickly became the point person for the program. The company made its first acquisition in 1969—a flexible packaging operation that Banta owned for 20 years before selling it to concentrate on its core printing business units.
One of those units is its Publications Group, which really got a jump-start early in 1970 when Banta acquired Hart Press in Long Prairie, MN. “That was the second deal I was involved in, and today it is the flagship of our publication division,” the CFO says.
The spring of 1974 was a turning point for both Banta and Henseler’s career, as then owner George Banta Jr. directed the official formation of Banta Corp. as an entity separate from the original production group (now known as the Banta Book Group). The goal was to keep the organization headquartered in the Fox River Valley and to preserve the name, while positioning it to grow and prosper by going public, Henseler reveals. As treasurer, he ended up being part of the small corporate staff of about five people.