The Rewards Of A Refresh
Twenty-five years ago, Greg Gill founded distributor Performance Press, Inc. in Apopka, Florida, just north of Orlando. Greg’s son, Brian, spent his high school years sweeping the warehouse floors and making deliveries. These early experiences inspired the younger Gill to study marketing at the University of Central Florida and return home to work in the family business.
Gill started out as a warehouse assistant in 2004, then moved to customer service. Seeing the marketing potential of the internet, Gill became the company’s first web developer. He played an integral role in the 2014 rebranding of the business, which is now named thumbprint. In 2016, Gill was promoted to vice president of sales, where he utilizes his grassroots knowledge and trademark enthusiasm to build relationships and drive full- scale marketing programs.
How did you become interested in the promotional products industry?
Our business has morphed with our clients’ needs. As soon as the internet took off, we got onto a software platform and started launching online sites for clients. The online sites really drove our business because clients wanted to add more products such as promotional items and let us handle fulfillment and distribution.
Up until then, we had focused on traditional printing, so it was exciting to get involved in the promo business. I was always excited to see what was new and fun and how we could better position our clients’ brands. We’ve been in the promo market now for more than 10 years.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities as vice president of sales?
I am very much in the mix. I oversee a sales team, I’m a sales rep and I’m also somewhat of a customer service rep. I’m involved in the day-to-day of building relationships with suppliers, getting samples for clients and brainstorming.
I am very passionate about my clients. I like to be hands- on, and most times my clients become good friends. I try to be preemptive and proactive and reach out to our clients to let them know when something new is coming out that would be a good fit for them. My job is to keep our clients ahead of the product curve, so they always know what’s trending.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I love that we become extensions of our clients’ teams. It’s so rewarding to contribute to the bigger picture—to free our clients up for what they do best and watch them succeed. At the end of the day, I spend more time with my clients than my family, so it’s important that I enjoy who I work with.
What led you to change the name of the company to thumbprint?
The word “press” really had us in a box. We’re so much more than printing. We wanted a name that would convey our uniqueness— that we are experts in promo, apparel, technology, warehousing and distribution. The two ideas that we kept coming back to are that snowflakes and thumbprints are unique. We loved that “thumbprint” has the word “print” in it, which is a nod to our origins.
The response has been incredible. We ended up creating a dialog before we even actually completed the rebrand. We landed an RFP for a health system of 50 hospitals and we were awarded the bid—with one caveat. They planned to announce thumbprint as their new partner at their marketing event which was 11 days away at the time. It forced us to take action and get our name change and rebranding done. It was a crazy 11 days, but it has paid huge dividends.
How would you describe the creative process at thumbprint?
We try hard not to work in silos, and we have open dialogue all day long. We work very collaboratively, giving each other input throughout the day.
I’m friends with all of my clients on social media, and I try to keep up with what they’re interested in. For example, when season two of Stranger Things was getting ready to come out, I kept seeing posts about it. So, we brainstormed about how to communicate to our clients through this pop-culture phenomenon.
We put together a campaign called “Thumber Things,” which promoted some of our best-selling items with prices and features that are so good, they’re inexplicable. The response was fantastic, and we even had clients request similar promotions using other popular shows such as Game of Thrones and Mad Men. Aside from selling products, the campaign really helped us show our clients what we can do when brought into the creative process early on.
What are your goals for yourself and the business?
As a rep, my personal goal is to get to $10 million in sales in the next two years. As a company leader, I want to continue adding talent to our team and grow our business. We recently acquired a promotional products company in south Florida, and we want to expand in that area.
We’re building custom technology for clients and we also run in-house embroidery, which allows us to offer large uniform programs. Right now, we are a $12 million company, but I would like to see us grow to over $30 million at some point.
How do you spend your spare time?
My wife, Jen, and I love to spend time with our two- year- old son, Rivers. We’re also big music junkies, so we travel for concerts or even just to listen to street artists in a city like New Orleans. And we are soccer fans, so we have season tickets to the Orlando City Soccer Club. We’re going through a very busy chapter in our lives, but my wife reminds me that I’ve been saying that for five years now.
Terry Ramsay is associate editor of PPB.