The Garvey Group — All Under Four Roofs
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.
“A salesman’s job is the hardest job in printing and nobody will convince me otherwise,” he adds. “It’s the rare rep that can move a program forward, that can make things happen, earn the confidence of the client, and build opportunities and business. I’m going to do anything I can to help that rep build those relationships. It’s more than just paying higher commissions or adding people. It’s how the sales rep is going to be valued by that client.”
Even though The Garvey Group consists of four facilities with largely differing products and services, oftentimes its customer base requires solutions that touch the capabilities of each branch. The following is a brief tour of each plant:
Niles, IL: In addition to point-of-purchase display printing, the main office also specializes in package printing. Joseph Kulis, COO and one of the company’s four general managers, sees great potential in the retail sector.
“Retail displays and signs are a big part of in-store marketing, so we will continue to look for ways to help our clients achieve their in-store goals,” Kulis says. “Our sales and production people work closely with customers to identify and develop the most cost-effective printing options that clearly communicate their message.”
Some of the goals for 2008, according to Kulis, are to identify product categories for large-format and develop the firm’s sales staffing beyond its current geographic base.
Milwaukee: This facility, which specializes in 40˝ general commercial, packaging and plastics printing, recently reaped a new six-color Rapida 105 Universal with UV coater, a Bobst diecutter and Kluge folder/gluer, as well as a Screen platesetter. Adding the UV press, notes General Manager Dennis Muraro, has given the facility a point of differentiation, especially with its ability to print on and then diecut thicker caliper plastics.
Muraro underscores the significance of The Garvey Group’s smooth interplant relationships. “I once worked for a big consolidator, and I’ve seen here that a lot of our projects touch multiple divisions,” he says. “As a group, we’ve got to constantly work on building relationships with the other facilities to coordinate work more efficiently. And we’ve done a great job at that. When I look at our best accounts and our most successful salespeople serving those accounts, they’ve all got work that transcends several facilities.”
Oak Creek, WI: Kitting, fulfillment and distribution augment the GFS (Global Fulfillment Services) facility’s digital printing capabilities of both variable data and static black-and-white work. Web-to-print ordering addresses client needs for short-run marketing materials. It’s the smallest of the four operations, but carries with it a lot of firepower, notes General Manager Don Ford.
“We do a lot of large digital runs where customers want variable images or data,” he says. “We may print the shells through our litho shop, then do the variable side here. For smaller runs, we have online templates set up and print the entire job in-house. It offers our clients a lot of flexibility. Litho is the most cost-effective process for their long runs, and their Web library will have the items that are not used as frequently.”
Web-to-print should provide greater traction in 2008, especially for verticals, such as insurance, that need to get marketing materials out to the end users or salespeople in the field. Garvey clients will turn to GFS as opposed to the more expensive option of maintaining those services in-house.
Sturtevant, WI: The long-run commercial member of The Garvey family saw a pair of new additions within the past two years: a 10-color, 40˝ Rapida 105 with roll-to-sheet and 5/5 perfecting capabilities, as well as a four-color Rapida 105 2/2 perfector.
According to Ed Halbur, Sturtevant general manager, 2007 was a learning year on the 10-color press, which produced quality that even exceeded The Garvey Group’s high expectations. An exciting bonus was its ability to perfect any job that came on-press.
“We run anything from 60-lb. enamel, a very thin sheet, up to 24-pt. The press will handle up to 47-pt.,” Halbur notes. “Makereadies are quick, allowing us to get running quickly. The press is also equipped with the DensiTronic S densitometry system, which has made for faster makereadies for color.”
The press additions have allowed The Garvey Group to break into the coupon market. Sturtevant’s bindery has enjoyed an uptick as a result, and Halbur feels few competitors can offer the capability of in-line folding and gluing for coupons. Calendar and brochure jobs have also been bountiful.
While founded in 1919 as an office supply company, The Garvey Group has undergone its most massive changes in the last 20 years. As recently as 1994, the company employed just 12 workers. But a run of deals bulked it up in the late 1990s, led by the 1999 acquisitions of TruLine and C Graphic that added greater commercial printing and fulfillment depth. Ed Garvey uses a 12-point checklist to measure the potential benefit of an acquisition.
The Garvey Group has high expectations for 2008, and the owner is hoping to add depth to each of the individual facilities. By adding more products, services and capabilities to its long list of offerings, the greater the assurance that the company can expand existing customer relationships, while also casting for new prospects. To Garvey, the mission is pretty clear.
“Transactional sales are a reality for any rep and any printer,” he says. “However, we are of most value to a buyer when we can solve their problems and improve efficiencies. At our core, we are really a sales organization. I believe the salesperson should be an advocate for the customer and for us.
“A knowledgeable sales rep can help a customer not only reduce costs, but actually avoid some costs altogether. Using that guideline as a premise, it is clear that our reps require the proper tools, so they can genuinely help their clients. Then, my job becomes very easy. . .to provide products and services that make a difference to the client, and which will enable our professional sales reps to provide more value to them.” PI