Holiday Luncheon

Season’s Greetings from Gilson Graphics’ Holiday Luncheon

Gilson Graphics’ Holiday Luncheon celebrated the season in style with food, fun, and festivities here in the snowy heart of Grand Rapids, Michigan. This year we went with a Flannel dress theme that let employees channel their inner lumberjack and share in the lively activities we had planned. Reminding everyone that we like to work hard and play hard here at Gilson–especially during the holidays!

Holiday Luncheon


Holiday Luncheon and Reindeer Games

After a tasty spread of chicken, ravioli, and sliced beef with all the trimmings, we had holly jolly activities for everyone to jump into. First on the list was an unwrapping challenge for each table. Contestants had to try to open gifts with multiple layers of wrapping paper while wearing oven mitts. The catch was that other people at the table would roll dice, and each time they got doubles the oven mitts passed to the next person. There was fierce competition to grab the prize inside–a voucher to grab a gift from Santa’s gift bag! But some of the boxes were filled with coal.

Holiday Luncheon

We also had a photo backdrop for employees to take festive pictures with funny holiday-themed signs. Nothing really captures the spirit better than holding up a funny sign next to a coworker in a snowy setting.

Holiday Luncheon

But we didn’t stop there! We also had an ornament station so that employees could create their very own ornaments to take home and decorate with. Bringing out the holiday magic, busy hands created some stunning home decorations to celebrate the spirit of the season.

Holiday Luncheon


Season’s Greetings from Santa

Dave Gilson addressed the partygoers and thanked them for all the hard work they’d put in over the year. Not to mention the party planners who were able to make the Holiday Luncheon possible.

Holiday Luncheon

And just when we thought it was over, Santa Claus made a surprise visit to the event! After Mr. Gilson took his leave from the party, Santa arrived to personally greet the guests. Funny how we never saw Mr. Gilson and Santa in the same room…

Holiday Luncheon

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

Christmas might be a busy time for everyone, but it’s always important to take a step back, take a deep breath, and let out a holly jolly belly laugh to spread cheer and warm wishes. After a festive and fun holiday luncheon, everyone at Gilson Graphics wants to wish you a Happy Holiday and a Happy New Year!

Digital Imaging, Gilson Graphics

Lunch & Learn 2017: The Future of Digital Imaging

The Future of Digital Imaging and Changing Marketing Ideals were the hot topics at our Lunch & Learn this year. We invited guests from all across the country to take part in the activity and celebrate the future that digital imaging holds. Guest speaker Frank Mallozzi from EFI talked about the leaps and bounds the industry has taken in a fun and informative presentation that was a smash hit!

This year’s theme was digital imaging, so we went retro and made a fun Polaroid-themed invitation that we used as the overall theme for the event. We also offered fun tie-dye stations, samples and info from our sponsors Veritiv and Mactac, as well as tasty food and great conversation about new innovations in the industry.


Digital Imaging

Gilson Graphics Lunch & Learn 2017 Invite.


The Future of Digital Imaging with Frank Mallozzi

Frank Mallozzi is Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Marketing at EFI, a world leader in customer-focused digital printing innovation. He now leads the successful global sales and marketing operations for the print industry’s most robust, comprehensive product portfolio.


Digital Imaging

Frank Mallozzi (Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales and Marketing at EFI).


At our Lunch & Learn he discussed the future of print and digital imaging, talking about the importance of direct mail, innovations in large format, and how customization and personalization is the future of the industry. Not only were his talking points informative, but Frank made the presentation fun and exciting as he shared what the future holds for print and digital imaging.


Our Guests and Activities

Our guests were given more than just a fantastic presentation—we had lots of activities to keep them busy! We had tie-dye stations where they could dye clothing, which was more popular than we could’ve guessed! We also had white stuffed dogs for K9 for Kidz, where we’ll be donating the decorated pups for local firefighters to hand out to children in need. Our guests did a fantastic job decorating the pooches and we can’t wait to deliver them.


Digital Imaging

Tie-dye station.


Digital Imaging

Blank K9 ready for decorating!


We also had a contest with a printable promotion that fit with our retro imaging theme. During the event, we had guests take pictures and post them on social media with the hashtag #gilsongraphics. Then we pulled the images and printed them for people to take on photo paper in a template that looked like old-school Polaroid photos. Why Polaroids? Because everyone who took a picture was entered into a contest to win awesome new Polaroid products! We gave away one new Polaroid camera and two bluetooth printers.


Digital Imaging

Printed photos from guests at Lunch & Learn 2017.


 Our Sponsors

Our other sponsors and partners at the event were Veritiv and Mactac, who showed off some of their varied products and services that can be brought to new innovations in the print industry. Veritiv specializes in packaging, print, logistics and facility solutions and Mactac’s products are used in a wide range of industries including label printing, graphic design, packaging, digital imaging, and more. Guests were thrilled to see new adhesive technologies and fun applications that can be used for any creative project.


Digital Imaging

Ross Burnham from Mactac.

Post Lunch & Learn

This year’s Lunch & Learn was a huge success, but not just because of the presentation, the activities, prizes, or partners—it was a success because we got to spend an afternoon with clients and share what’s new and exciting in our industry. We’re thrilled that so many people wanted to tour our offices and share our love of the future of digital imaging, and we’re looking forward to making it an even better event next year.


Digital Imaging


Are you interested in joining our Lunch & Learn next year? Visit our website and contact us to be added to the contact list for next year’s event.

Company Picnic

How to Work Hard and Play Hard with a Company Picnic

A company picnic is no joke. We all love to work hard, but it’s just as important to play hard. This year we celebrated our first company picnic in almost ten years for Gilson Graphics! We celebrated at Riverside Park in beautiful Grand Rapids where we played games, ate great food, and celebrated our employees and accomplishments.

We wished that all of the Gilson Graphics team could be there, but the turnout was still incredible and we couldn’t have been happier with the results.

What happened at the company picnic?

We’re glad you asked! Here’s a quick recap of some of the big events that happened at the event.


The Gilson Company Picnic

Here’s a detailed breakdown of everything fun that happened at our company picnic. We like to work hard and play hard, so we made sure there was plenty for everyone to do at the event.  


Celebrating Gilson’s History

The biggest surprise of the day was for Dave Gilson, who received a special memento book that we created. The book contained photos of all of the Gilson staff, signatures, special messages, and history about Gilson Graphics.

Company Picnic


The Games

We had a wide variety of games for our employees at the event. The main attractions were cornhole, a golf chip, frisbee, and a ring toss game. The cornhole tournament was the most competitive game at the picnic. We watched as our team members buddied up and went head-to-head for victory.

Company Picnic


The Dunk Tank

One of the biggest draws for the company picnic was the dunk tank, which we charged money for and donated the money to Special Olympics Michigan: Area 11. People were all too excited to dunk Dave Gilson into the tank of chilly water!

 Company Picnic

How you can inspire people with a company picnic

So how can you make sure that you and your co-workers work hard and play hard? Here are some of the basic guidelines to follow and why they’re so important. Because if you’re going to put in the hours, effort, and creativity, it’s important to celebrate your accomplishments together.

1) Make it about the employees and the company as a team

We all know that a company is nothing without its employees, but you want to make sure to remind your coworkers and team members that you’re a team first and foremost. A little speech, some party favors, or personal conversation can go a long way to help inspire them to work harder and smarter on projects they can be proud of.

2) Schedule the picnic on a workday

This might seem like a strange aspect of a company picnic, but scheduling the picnic on a workday shows that you value the time of your employees. Not only are you setting aside time to celebrate them, you’re showing them that being part of a team is just as important as a regular workday in your company or industry. It’s a little gesture that goes a long way the more you think about it.

3) Participate in team games and sports

Nothing builds working relationships and team spirit more than actually being on a team! Adding games and activities to your picnic will encourage talking and cooperation between your coworkers and will inspire them to work better as a team back in the office by testing their skills out on the field. So many people at our company picnic got closer and became better team members and friends after our events and it’s really showing in new projects and endeavors.

Celebrate Your Achievements

Celebrating your company’s achievements and employees is a must. A company picnic is just what you need to inspire your coworkers and team members to work hard and play hard when it comes to their company. We’re hoping to make this a yearly tradition to not only look back on what we’ve accomplished but to look forward to new milestones and memories.

Fall is here, but next spring and summer will be here before you know it. How are you planning on taking your next company picnic to a whole new level?

Packaging Gilson

Packaging Magic: It’s All in the Box

Packaging magic isn’t all that mystical. It can actually be a snap! In the packaging and shipping world, “oversized” items can be a problem. In fact, it can add more than $65 to each package that measures over “standard” size. If you’re shipping a birthday package to your mom, that’s an annoying fee; but if you’re shipping literally hundreds of packages to your customers and dealer network every week, the cost adds up.

Packaging Magic

As shipping costs steadily rise and the dimensions of “oversized” packages (as defined by shipping companies like FedEx and UPS) shrink, Gilson customers are continuously looking for ways to reduce package sizes and modify shipping methods to save money.

Our expertise in packaging and shipping saves our customers millions of dollars—without sacrificing turnaround time, efficiency or the safe arrival of the products shipped.

Packaging Magic: The Real Secret

If the dimensions of a box determine shipping costs, customers obviously benefit from using the smallest effective box. Instead of the traditional one-size-fits-all approach, the ideal box is custom-sized for the specific items shipped. Sound expensive? With Gilson’s high-tech packaging equipment, custom boxes are not only more affordable, they’re safer, more efficient and better for the environment.

Packaging Magic

Last year, Gilson installed an on-demand packaging machine that produces boxes of varying sizes, shapes, and functions in a matter of minutes. The process begins with an operator entering dimensions and other specifications into the machine’s software. Using large stacks of accordion-folded corrugated material that feed directly into the system, the machine makes each box to precise specifications and produces only the exact quantity of boxes needed.

A Complete Benefits Package

Customers benefit from our on-demand packaging approach in so many ways:

  • Managed Material Costs – Because the number of boxes made is specified by the operator and reflects the exact number of boxes needed, every order is precise.   Customers are charged per box and for only the materials needed for each job.
  • Safer Shipping for Contents – A package designed specifically for the product being transported minimizes empty space in the box and reduces the likelihood of damage during shipping.
  • No Inventory or Warehousing Fees – Producing only the number of boxes needed eliminates over-runs, inventory and the need for warehouse space, resulting in big cost-savings for customers.
  • Alternatives to Traditional Packaging – Our system facilitates production of specialized boxes with design features to protect items and hold them securely in place.
  • Reduced Use of Fillers – Less space in a shipping package reduces or eliminates the need for fillers (packing peanuts, air pillows, etc.), resulting in lower costs for customers, less environmental impact and easier processing for package recipients.

Thinking Outside the Tube

Gilson’s packaging equipment also solves the challenges of odd-shaped and unusually fragile contents. Our large format department designs and produces hundreds of innovative stands, signs, posters and other large printed items that cannot be folded or could be easily damaged in standard rectangular boxes.

Packaging Magic

For example, although sending posters and other large format items in tubes protects them from damage, the pre-made tubes often add a significant cost in shipping and handling fees. To reduce these charges, Gilson designed a specialized box that grips the edge of a poster, holds it securely in place and rolls it to fit into a rectangular box made onsite with our on-demand packaging equipment. Solutions like this regularly save Gilson customers thousands of dollars—and our packaging experts are always on the lookout for new ways to make projects even more cost-effective for our customers.

Similarly, odd-shaped and fragile items are sent in boxes specifically designed to protect the package contents, holding them securely in place and preventing damage during shipping.

Money-Saving Ideas are Part of the Package

Our packaging experts are always on the lookout for cost-saving solutions for our customers. In one case recent situation, the shipping department noticed that the box required to ship a printed shelf stand was just one inch over the threshold of standard size, moving it into the expensive “oversized” category for shipping. Gilson contacted the customer, suggested a slight modification to the printed piece that would also reduce the size of the shipping box and saved the customer hundreds of dollars.

In another instance, a Gilson sales representative suggested that a customer add a simple score to a large printed piece, enabling it to be folded and packaged in a smaller box, again avoiding costly “oversized” shipping charges.

Stay Out of the Penalty Box

We’d like to put our expertise to work for you. Contact us for a closer look at how we can save you time and money on your next packaging and shipping project.

Large Format Printer: Faster Than a Speeding Bullet

Need a large format printer that’s red and black and sails through print jobs up to 8x faster than its predecessor? It’s the amazing new VUTEk LX3  large format printer—Gilson’s latest secret weapon in our quest to serve customers with the most efficient and technologically advanced equipment on the planet!

Large Format Printer VUTEK_lx3

Large Format Printer–A Hero’s Welcome

Versatile, lightning-fast, and packed with innovation, the VUTEk LX3 large format printing device is brand new in the industry and a notable addition to Gilson’s already impressive roster of state-of-the-art equipment. In addition to its legendary speed, resulting in nearly supersonic turnaround times, the new press prints with unrivaled image quality and consistency. And, as if those capabilities aren’t enough, the VUTEk’s performance in printing opaque white ink is hands-down the best in the industry.

Large Format Printer efi_vutek_3

Typically used in the production of short-run signs, retail displays, and trade show materials, large format printers are able to print on substrates up to 2” thick. While most large format printers will print on traditional substrates such as paper and cardboard, as well as glass, acrylic, wood, or fabric, the VUTEk printer outpaces its rivals by accepting flexible roll material also. The result is a superpower combination with the speed and efficiency of a flatbed printer and the size and scale of a roll-fed machine.

A Swift Response to Distress Calls

If your project is in dire need of a quick rescue, send out a distress signal to your Gilson rep. We’ll save the day with the VUTEk, defeating your arch-nemesis (looming deadlines? unusual sizes? precise color requirements?) by easily handling your most complex print projects.

Large Format Printer efi_vutek_4
And since we’re in the business of making the world a better place, we’re pleased to report that the VUTEk also helps meet our mission of protecting the environment. In addition to reducing waste, the new press minimizes environmental impact through the use of LED technology to lower energy costs and reduce the consumables used during production.

If the Cape Fits…

We know the VUTEk will be a perfect fit for your business and we’d like to show you just how easy it accommodates your need for banners, floor graphics, trade show displays, at-retail marketing solutions and pretty much anything else you can dream up.

Large Format Printer Booth

Our team is suited up and ready to print you a sample, give you a demonstration of the VUTEk large format printer in action, or take you on a tour of our large format area. Simply give us a call today (we’d suggest you use the phone since it’s pretty hard to see the bat-signal in the daylight) and we’ll do the rest.

After all, isn’t that the kind of service you’d expect from a superhero like Gilson?

SEO: The Do’s and Don’ts of Your Strategy

One of the best ways to help your business thrive is to pay attention to your search engine optimization (SEO) activities. SEO activities include everything you do to increase the visibility of your website among potential customers. A strong SEO effort is usually reflected in a strong rating on search engine results pages (SERPs).

But why is it important to have high rankings on SERPs? According to data from Search Engine Watch illustrated in the chart below, about 67.6% of internet users’ searches occur within the top five search result listings. Being in that top five is critical if you want to generate a significant amount of website traffic.

                                                                                                 SEO SERPs                                                                                                                                     

SEO Strategies

If you’re uncertain about how to approach search engine optimization, try a few of these strategies listed below.

1. Produce high-quality, relevant content: By providing relevant, useful content to users, your links will be shared with greater frequency and will increase in popularity.

 2. Make sure you update information frequently: Content that is current will be more relevant and helpful to users. By continuously updating your website, you help maintain your place in the top search results of your category.

 3. Consider site speed and device compatibility: Search engines like Google take into account the speed and compatibility of your website with the devices used to access your site. Creating a clean and uncluttered website that is mobile- and tablet-friendly can help boost your rankings on the SERPs.

 4. Connect through social media links: Posting useful content on social media is a sure-fire way to create greater visibility for your website. By connecting with customers through channels like Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, your content will have a greater reach and will generate more unique, organic page visits.

5. Encourage internal linking and use specific keywords: 

Search Demand CurveThe number and quality of websites your content has been shared on often determines your ranking on SERPs. Encouraging organic sharing of your content and sharing content from other trustworthy sites and clients helps boost your rankings. Keyword searches are another viable way to direct the search results of potential customers to your website. Creating search results for more specific phrases (ex. “Brooks Ghost 8” instead of simply “running shoe”) can lead customers searching for a specific product to your website and increase purchases.                                                 

Your SEO activities also will be more effective if you avoid certain practices including the following:

1. Keyword stuffing: According to recent research on SEO, Google has refined its search criteria to eliminate word frequency as a factor in search results. Avoid overuse of keywords (ex. repeating “Brooks Ghost 8” several times on a page) and simply provide quality, relevant content about your product, service or company.

2. Excessive, irrelevant linking: Link farming is a technique some web operators use which involves paying to have your website linked to low-quality sites simply to boost your internal linking rating. Google recognizes these phony links and will penalize the link-farmer severely by lowering or even removing their website from the search results pages. Link your site only with other related websites to ensure that Google deems your page ‘trustworthy.’

3. Obnoxious advertisements: Excessive, annoying pop-up advertisements that prevent users from easily accessing the pages on your website actually lower your search results and you will inevitably have a high bounce rate from people who do visit your site.

The Gilson team includes technology experts who can help you with SEO and help improve your rankings on SERPs. For more information about SEO and boosting your ratings, contact a Gilson representative today!

Social Media Gilson

Social Media: 10 Steps to Make it Simple

Social media can be pretty hard to navigate! So many options and material are continuously being updated. Participating in social media is often beneficial to companies, but introducing and operating social media pages may generate a lot of questions in your business.

Social Media Gilson

Luckily, we’ve got some easy tips to help create a great campaign and push your outreach to another level.

Social Media: 10-Step Strategy

Gilson has developed a 10-step strategy to help guide you through the process of beginning and running social media channels effectively.

  1. Identify your PURPOSE. (What are you trying to accomplish with an online presence? Will your business benefit from this push?)
  2. Choose the channels that will benefit you the most. (Where do your customers spend their time? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr?)
  3. When you’ve selected the channels that are most valuable to your business, unify them through a social media management platform. (Hootsuite, Sprout Social, AgoraPulse, Buffer, etc.)
  4. Assign an employee to be the manager of the accounts.
  5. Identify your brand image and the “voice” you will use to communicate with your followers. Keep this consistent throughout your posts.
  6. Establish reasonable, benchmark goals that you want to accomplish through your usage.
  7. Develop a structure to your posts (e.g., a monthly calendar). Create three or four different categories for posts and plan them out for each workweek. Leave room for spontaneity!
  8. Make sure that every post has a purpose! Who are you targeting with a particular post? How will the post make your company more interesting or valuable to customers or potential customers?
  9. Emphasize your presence to your current and future customers by including quick and easy links on your website and in e-mails that you send out.
  10. Continuously measure your results against your benchmark goals and make adjustments as needed to reach your goals!

To get started with your campaign, contact a Gilson representative today!

Targeted Mailings: Increasing Student Response Rates

According to data provided by the National Student Clearinghouse, college student enrollment for Fall 2015 was down almost two percent from the previous year. To combat this downward trend, educational institutions are aggressively pursuing new strategies like targeted mailings to attract students.

Targeted Mailings student

Since lower unemployment rates have resulted in a declining population of adults going back to school, colleges are concentrating their efforts on high school students and working to establish a connection between the students’ individual interests and the college’s programs. A “one size fits all” approach to college promotions with the same generic mailers for all students is especially ineffective in a competitive market. Students want a personal connection to the colleges they’re considering. They want to feel like it’s an experience just for them, and there’s a great way to do that.

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Gilson Textiles 1

Textiles and Innovation: A Room in a Box

Applied Textiles, a Gilson customer based in Byron Center, Michigan, recently introduced Alta, an award-winning textile technology for the commercial interiors market. To catch the attention of a leader in the hotel industry, you need a pretty unique product—and an innovative way to promote it. Alta is the first (and only) textile technology to deliver certified performance and fire code compliance to virtually every textile application, making it ideal for hospitality applications such as hotels and restaurants.

Gilson Textiles

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Gilson’s Salesperson of the Year 2015

Gilson Graphics is proud to announce Dylan Wagamon as our 2015 Salesperson of the Year. The award was presented to Dylan during our annual sales meeting on September 17 at Arnie’s Bakery & Restaurant.

Salesperson Gilson

Dylan Wagamon
2015 Gilson Salesperson of the Year

Salesperson joins the “Million Dollar Club”

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Dylan said. “Especially when it’s coupled with all of our company’s recent success. It’s great!”

This is the second time Dylan has earned this honor—he was named Gilson’s salesperson of the year in 2012 as well. This year, Dylan was also one of seven salespeople to earn a spot in the coveted “Million Dollar Club.”

“Pretty much everyone who has sold for us has been in the club at one time or another,” Dylan said. “I think of it as a benchmark for success. Anytime you’ve hit that benchmark, it’s a big accomplishment.”

Dylan earned his title, in part, by being the 2015 leader in both new customer sales and sales increase over the previous year. He also ranked second this year in overall sales volume.

“You have to figure out how to be kindly persistent,” said Dylan. “Sometimes it helps to ‘push donuts’ on people since everyone’s happy eating food.”

Dylan attributes much of his success to the products Gilson offers. “If I have an opportunity to show off the fine work we do here, it hooks customers immediately.”

 A Recipe for Successful Sales

When selecting the salesperson of the year, Gilson evaluates four categories of weighted criteria:

  • Overall sales volume (20%)
  • Sales increase from previous year (20%)
  • Sales from new customers (30%)
  • Sales from value-added services (30%)

Gilson places a strong emphasis on increasing “value-added” sales—defined as sales minus purchases—because they give us more control with less overhead and result in a higher profit.

Another important objective is acquiring new sales. Since Gilson established this goal as a priority in 2014, new customer sales have increased 96%.

“Each year, we consistently lose between 12 and 15 percent of our sales from the previous year through attrition,” said Gilson CFO Jim Vosburgh. “Some customers move their businesses, go out of business entirely, or bring their work in-house. It’s important to work continuously on bringing in new business to help make up for this attrition.”

A Team of Sales Champions 

Gilson’s overall sales success is truly the result of a team effort. In 2015, the salespeople who rose to the top (including two ties) are as follows:

1. Dylan Wagamon
2. Loretta Kremer-Pearson (tie)
2. Ryan Beld (tie)
4. John Littleton
5. John Edwards
6. Arnie Lorenz (tie)
6. John Hamilton (tie)

Looking Ahead to Success in 2016

During the sales meeting, management asked our salespeople to brainstorm as a team and develop their own goals for 2016 instead of having benchmarks imposed upon them. The team settled on a goal of increasing sales by 12% in 2016. (In 2015, Gilson’s sales were up 8.9% over the previous year.)

“Our sales department doesn’t get together very much,” Dylan said. “Since we come from different backgrounds and have different ideas, it was fun to brainstorm all together and get on the same page.”

This ambitious new sales goal is partially based on Gilson’s growth in several departments. “Our services are up in all areas—especially non-traditional services like composition, large format, and creative,” said Gilson Marketing Manager Kim Elmore. “These are high ‘value-added’ categories and our expertise in those categories is really starting to shine.” 

Sales from our composition department had the largest increase in 2015—up 86% over 2014 results; large format printing was a close second with an 85% increase.