2010 Hall of Fame: Gary Garner - More Work, Less Talk
"When I signed (the purchase order) for two presses in September of '83, I did not sleep well that night because I knew then that there was no turning back," he recalls. "We didn't even know at that point where we were going to install the presses, but the orders came in and we had to find a location."
Growth and Challenges
GLS generated $748,000 in sales for 1984 and began to embark on a campaign of steady growth, fueled both organically and through acquisitions. The first color press landed at GLS in 1986; four years later, the company added mailing services to its arsenal. Data processing followed in 1993 and, two years after that, fulfillment and distribution. As the new capabilities flourished, operating space became an issue, so three plants were consolidated into one in 1996, and that facility has been expanded three times. Another company, Litho Inc., was acquired in 2006, giving GLS plants in both Brooklyn Park and St. Paul.
Garner has endured his share of economic slowdowns, but none can compare to the screeching halt experienced by many printers in the fall of 2008. GLS was forced to reconcile the lost work with its employee ranks, and about 25 percent was eliminated in three rounds of head count reductions. As much as it pained Garner to implement the cutbacks, he knew it was necessary to keep the company financially viable. "We were proactive in adjusting our business model, but it hurts that we had to let a lot of great people go," he notes.
GLS' sales, which had ballooned to $65 million in 2007, dwindled to $50 million in 2009, but Garner says the firm is on track to post about $55 million in revenues for 2010. "We must continue to engage our customers. We also know that there is a balanced approach to marketing, and it's not just one item or another, but a combination of things. We're seeing a definite uptick in our business."
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