Despite a tumultuous start to 2020, Gilson posted the most significant 1st quarter sales in their 72-year history. Sales are up 8% over the same time period last year—a rarity in the printing and graphic arts industry. Some of the world’s largest commercial print operations have experienced significant declines in recent years, forcing long-time industry players to entertain sell-offs and mergers to offset the decline in the overall market.
Despite the year’s many challenges, Gilson has not only weathered the storm but thrived in the face of it. Gilson finished out the 2019 fiscal year in May down 5% in sales from the prior year, ending a five-year growth trend. With just three months left in the fiscal year, Gilson was on track to have their best sales year yet, until COVID-19 showed up.
But the downward trend did not last long.
“June, July, and August are historically challenging months for us as a business,” said Jim Vosburgh, CFO. “Between vacations and a general slow-down in our strongest market sectors, we typically see our lower sales volumes during those summer months. To see a sizable increase this early in the new fiscal year is encouraging.”
Gilson’s leadership team excels at making smart investments and calculated risks, putting the company in prime position for growth when the conditions are right. Many of their most lucrative business decisions have come about when faced with national economic hardship, thanks to the fiscally responsible leadership of second-generation owner Dave Gilson.
“Before joining the family business in 1974, I spent a couple of years in the banking industry,” said Gilson. He went on to speak about his father, Lars, who founded the company in 1948, “It was always my father’s goal to seek out a competitive advantage that could help our customers and grow the business, but also to do so in a way that made financial sense.
“I’ve tried to run the business with the same proactive approach to growth by consistently investing profits back into the business,” said Gilson. “That’s how we’ve been able to keep expanding and growing right alongside our customers for so many years.”
Dave Oswald, President of Gilson, shared his perspective on the current pandemic. “We spent the first few months really sinking our teeth into refining our processes and revamping what we knew to be successful and then adapting it to what we needed for this new selling environment. I’m incredibly proud of our entire team, from the sales staff staying connected with customers and prospects remotely, to the production team making the best out of their new working conditions,” said Oswald. “We are coming out of one of the most difficult business scenarios we’ve ever faced and come out stronger than ever before.”
Gilson has remained in operation during the pandemic as an essential supplier in support of its grocery, pharmaceutical, and military contracts. By requiring those who could do their jobs remotely to work from home, and by following the CDC and OSHA requirements for work-safe conditions such as daily temperature checks and social distancing, Gilson has been able to continue operations.
Gilson offers marketing solutions such as print, design, and fulfillment to Fortune 1000 customers across the country. They celebrated their 70th year in 2018 and remains a privately held, family-owned business.