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The Garvey Group — All Under Four Roofs

February 2008 By Erik Cagle
Senior Editor
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MANY SUCCESSFUL companies will point to a new piece of equipment or the introduction of a service offering as being the catalyst behind their success. Seldom do you hear about the benefits of dropping an offering, but there are certainly examples of companies receiving a shot in the arm after shedding one of their components.

The Garvey Group was hardly on life support when it decided to make a fundamental change in 2004. The Niles, IL-based printer boasts four facilities, annual sales of roughly $46 million, and one of the most diverse product and service portfolios in the game. But, even with a wide range of capabilities, company President and Owner Ed Garvey felt that direct mail just wasn’t a good fit. At the same time, Garvey saw an opportunity to start selling large-format printing, which he felt was experiencing a rebirth via improved technology.

The conditions were perfect for a major shift at the Windy City suburban facility. Willing to make any change that would benefit customers and allow The Garvey Group to sell them deeper, the wheels were set into motion.

“Direct mail was the bulk of what we produced in Niles, and I didn’t want to be in that business anymore,” Garvey says. “We weren’t a big enough player—weren’t anywhere near a leader in that market. We were good at it, but we were just too small. So I decided to sell the business and use the funds to develop a large-format facility.”

In early 2005, Garvey completed the sale of his direct mail business to SKM and used a chunk of the proceeds to purchase a trio of large-format KBA sheetfed presses for Niles: a six-color, 56˝ Rapida 142; a six-color, 64˝ Rapida 162A with UV capabilities; and a six-color, 81˝ Rapida 205. All three have touched down in Niles within the past three years and are among the signature acquisitions of a $28 million capital expenditure initiative during that time period.

Initially, Garvey’s sales force was skeptical about their ability to sell large-format output. The company hadn’t pre-booked any of the printing, opting for the “build it and they will come” mantra. But Ed Garvey—who had led the business since 1978, after his father passed away—had no doubt that existing customers would need it. He was right, because customers buy solutions, not products.

From Prediction to Fruition

“Our salespeople had good relationships, and eventually the clients needed to buy large-format,” he says. “Invariably, clientele that you build relationships with want more from you because of the quality work you perform on their jobs. It’s a question of confidence and credibility. If your customer has confidence in your ability to produce, and you can credibly get into a market that is beneficial to their needs, that’s what you should be doing.


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