Putting a Face on a Printing Firm

Yesterday I had the good fortune of meeting Dave Gilson of Gilson Graphics (Grand Rapids, MI) at an event hosted by Fujifilm. While he was there to discuss his excitement about Fujifilm’s new J Press 720 inkjet press, Dave made an impression on me for different reasons.

He talked about the growth of his company, which was founded (I think) by his father. We learned that he—they—embraced and invested in new technologies in the printing and graphics industry, whether it was modem-dedicated PCs or Xyvision systems or computer-to-plate technology. And they continue to do so.

Gilson Graphics is set to be the first U.S. company to have the new J Press 720 installed (before year’s end). I’ll write more about the J Press later.

As I listened to Dave talk about the changes in his company over the years, it occurred to me what a great PR campaign he would make, doing just that—talking. Prospects would appreciate learning from him, a CEO, about how he got to where he is and what his corporate strategy is. It was plain speaking at its purest and very best. He was more interested in telling us how his father set a wonderful example than anything else.

Customers and prospects like hearing from company CEOs. Since most U.S. printing companies are privately owned, I have to believe a lot of you reading this are actively involved in managing your printing businesses on a daily basis.

  • How often do customers see your face?
  • How often do you reach out to them, and not just as a headshot or e-mail address on your website?
  • Do you have meetings with customers?
  • Do you have a small video or two on your site, starring you?

I’ll tell you another thing. If there are wrinkles you need to smooth over with a customer—such as problems with a job or a missed schedule—getting a phone call from the CEO with an apology and an explanation is an instant balm on the customer “inflammation.”

Long regarded as a print buyer expert and trade writer, Margie Dana launched her new business in 2013 as a marketing communications strategist with a specialty in printing and print buying. Now she’s on a mission to help clients build customer communities through carefully crafted content.

You may know Margie as the producer of the annual Print & Media Conference. Although she’s exited the event production business, she’s still publishing her Print Tips newsletter. She looks forward to helping companies create and style all of their content so their potential customers sit up and take notice. For details and to sign up for her Print Tips and new marketing blog, visit www.margiedana.com or e-mail Margie at margie@margiedana.com.
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  • Steve Korn

    Margie, you had the good fortune to meet one of the greatest people in our industry. Candid, open, honest and very friendly are the traits Dave Gilson has as did his father Lars, great DNA to say the least ! Gilson Graphics is an excellent company with top notch personnel who are loyal to their customers. They have a simple no-nonsense recipe for success which keeps their customers delighted and Gilson Graphics profitable and able to give back to the community.

  • Randy

    Great article, Margie! Looking forward to hearing your impressions of the J Press.