By Anthony Castrovince
When Larry Merriman began Graphic Business Systems out of his home in 1971, the print industry looked a lot different than it does in today’s digitally savvy world. But despite dramatic changes, the company that came to be known as GBS Corp. has survived and thrived in a dynamic marketplace by keeping pace with technological changes, venturing far beyond the traditional print path and making life easier for its clients.
GBS continues to handle clients’ physical print needs, but over the last five decades, its reach has expanded into digital marketing, IT solutions, promotional items, content management, healthcare, credit union enterprise software, data protection, and information technology.
“We focus on managing information, so our clients can focus on growing their business,” says Eugene Calabria, president and CEO of GBS Corp. “The sophistication required for companies to manage their own platforms and networks is both inefficient and expensive, and customers often lack the expertise to do it.”
With more than 2,500 employees among wholly owned and joint ventures—with multiple offices in Northeast Ohio, as well as others in the eastern half of the U.S., and more than $350 million in combined revenue—North Canton-based GBS Corp. is well-equipped to handle whatever its clients need.
“Our mission has always been to help clients better create, manage, deliver and retrieve information, regardless of form or function,” Calabria says. “We’re committed to helping customers improve profitability and maximize productivity.”
Staying ahead of the curve
GBS has succeeded by recognizing the leading trends that impact the industries it serves and understanding the competitive landscape. Where printed products were once the primary driver of communication between a company and potential customers, multichannel communications that include digital content delivered via the internet is vital. Businesses rely on GBS Corp. to convey their messaging and build their consumer base using a forward-thinking strategy that utilizes bloggers, influencers and other social media strategies.
“We continue to support the printed information our customers need,” Calabria says. “But we’ve also invested a significant amount of time in creating digital content that helps our customers leverage the internet and social media to expand their reach and send a more relevant message to a more targeted audience, with a more applicable offering at a more relevant time. It’s about understanding who your customers are and conveying a compelling message uniquely suited for a specific need or want.”
The company’s customer base was previously centered around print management for small, medium, and large commercial customers. The client base has expanded to government, education, healthcare, finance, and credit union clients. The company has expanded its core competencies by providing IT services, workflow automation, content management, and network security services to help protect against malware, ransomware, and other data breaches that are network intrusive. Within the healthcare industry, GBS limits the need for hard copy paper by creating electronic documents to manage the flow of patients and help eliminate mistakes.
“It’s tough to adapt to the day-to-day changes in technology,” Calabria says. “There are companies that failed to understand the trends in the industry or respond fast enough such that they’re on the outside looking in and wondering, ‘What just happened to my industry?’ If you’re not engaged or finding faster and better ways to improve service levels in your industry, someone else will be. GBS is dedicated to helping our customers develop a digital market strategy that is highly effective so they can not only survive, but thrive.”
To help ensure GBS doesn’t become one of those companies, it motivates employees to take the best care possible of clients through an employee stock ownership plan.
“Every one of our ESOP employees owns a piece of the company and works harder to provide an extra level of service,” says Calabria. “They care whether the lights are turned on at night, they effectively manage expenses, and they know, at the end of the day, the value of their stock will be reflected in the success of the company. Our stock has performed extremely well, and we’re quite proud of that. We make sure we are constantly driving value to our customers and not leveraging the company to a point where it’s ever at risk.”
In 2015, GBS Corp. President and CEO Eugene Calabria was investigating banking options when Huntington CEO Stephen D. Steinour drove from Columbus to the company’s Youngstown office to pay Calabria a visit and personally explain Huntington’s vision.
“That launched our relationship,” Calabria says. “I was impressed with the time and effort Steve and the Huntington team dedicated to understanding our unique needs. We were impressed by Huntington’s approach to provide both a custom and turn-key solution to our banking needs.”
The two companies also participate in each other’s non-profit events, such as the annual GBS charity golf tournament, of which Huntington is a major corporate sponsor.
For more information, visit gbscorp.com