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GLS Companies -- Getting Into the Fold

August 2005
by chris bauer

Managing Editor

The new rule of thumb for commercial printers is to cast a net well beyond what is thought of as traditional printing. This is where the growth areas—and profit potentials—linger.

Minneapolis-based GLS Companies has taken this rule to heart. In fact, it has expanded into so many markets that it changed its name. A year ago, the company morphed from General Litho Services to GLS Companies to avoid pigeon-holing itself as solely an ink-on-paper provider. The company has expanded into value-added areas such as creative services, digital printing, mailing, distribution and, most recently, package printing and converting—all big changes since getting its start in 1984.

Mike Farr, vice president of manufacturing (left), and Gary Garner, president and CEO of GLS Companies, are ready to tackle the packaging market with the help of their new Bobst Fuego 110 A-2 CS folder/gluer.
"We try to be all things to all people—our tagline is 'Integrated Communication Solutions,'" notes Gary Garner, president and CEO.

"In addition to conventional printing capabilities, we offer both black-and-white and color digital and laser printing with database management for variable data personalization. Now we've moved into packaging. The variety of services that GLS can produce under one roof is a major selling point to our diverse customer base," Garner adds.

He contends that many print buyers are looking for more services from a smaller group of suppliers—which GLS can provide."Historically we've seen others try to specialize and focus on a certain niche, try to be the best at it, and grab that market," Garner recounts. "We're more of a generalist, trying to do everything we can for our customers."

By the Numbers

GLS boasts 215 full-time employees with a variable number of seasonal, temporary workers, mostly in the lettershop and fulfillment parts of the operation. The company currently fills 118,000 square feet of space, although a new expansion, currently under way, calls for an additional 43,000 square feet in the manufacturing area, for a total facility size of 161,000 square feet.

Mailing is an important part of the GLS success story. And, as with most things at GLS, the move into mailing and distribution came as a result of trying to better serve its clientele.

"The Twin Cities is an interesting market, and I believe the fourth or fifth largest market for printing in the United States," Garner says. "Printing and its allied industries is the second largest employer in Minnesota, and 70 percent of what we print ships out of state—so printing is truly big business here."
 

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