Chatting to Greg Stone at GJS
Several weeks ago whilst I was chatting to Lukas Picton of GJS about a new product of theirs, I mentioned that in spite of myself being aware of major structural and product changes at GJS I was unaware of the rebranding of GJS Machinery, he seemed surprised and recommended that I chat to Greg Stone the company’s CEO to get some insight into how the brand is evolving.
I had met Greg previously at some of the VI shows so I knew that he was the son of Graham Stone, the founder of the company and that Greg was a young whizz kid. I was however unaware of the considerable achievements of this
|Graham and Sharon|
|One of Graham's early dryers|
|The old premises at Warren Avenue|
young man until we started our chat a week or so later.
That is not to say that Greg started spouting off about his achievements, not at all, in fact he is very modest but one has to read between the lines, so to speak to understand the level of his achievement.
Our chat turned out to be an interview that encompassed not only the purpose of the call – to talk about the rebranding, but also to find out more about the company since Greg took over back in November 2012 when Graham officially retired and left the business in Greg’s hands. The company has undergone a transformation in that period including a name change to just GJS (dropping the Machinery).
Starting at the beginning, GJS Machinery was formed over 36 years ago by Graham Stone and his wife Sharon. The company was set up to serve the established screen printing industry and grew to the point where the company was not only supplying the industry with machinery, components and consumables but was also manufacturing machinery. Graham and Sharon are well known in the Australian and New Zealand screen printing industry, however during those 36+ years, they kept a pretty low profile with the occasional appearance at the VI shows.
What most people did not realise was that young Greg, from an early age was learning his trade behind the scenes by helping out in the Sydney office and factory with his parents as mentors and teachers.
On top of that Greg studied hard and mastered the art of creating web sites and the wider world of IT which was to stand him in good stead later when he created the existing GJS web site.
Today, Graham and Sharon are firmly settled in the beautiful seaside locale of Hyams Beach, and thoroughly enjoying their retirement.
Getting back to the nitty gritty of the interview, Greg stated that the rebranding has taken place over the two years or so that he has been in charge of the business. He states, “it happened organically and not deliberately. We are now far more than just a company selling screen printing machinery, today screen printing only represents about 15% of our business. That is not to say we have neglected that side of the business, in fact we have a team of people that focus solely on screen printing and screen services. However the digital side of the business has grown exponentially. We still manufacture some products for the old industry but nothing compared to what we used to do.”
Greg then went to say that he is grateful to the awesome team that he has put together, they have built the business that required a larger showroom into which they moved about a year ago,
“It’s a credit to Dad though, continued Greg. Dad allowed the changes to happen whilst he was still here. In the early days I would come up with ideas for the business and Dad would normally say, “If you think you can do it, go for it! He was that kind of operator, he gave me lots of support and allowed change to happen.”
“Dad’s legacy remains in that we are so customer focussed. Everything we do is orientated around what would the customer wants. There are so many box shifters out there and what separates us from the crowd is how we respond to customer’s problems”.
In terms of the growth of the business, we asked Greg how the company compares today to when Graham was running the show. The answer was that the business had more than doubled in size and now has a staff of fifteen.
|The new premises in Revesby|
|Greg in his showroom|
We asked Greg if his Dad started the company’s move into digital and he stated that they both got involved and and saw a market opportunity with desktop dye sublimation in Australia. “So yes, it all started from there”, said Greg. It started with desktop dye sub printers and then we moved into eco-solvent printing and today we are firmly entrenched into the world of wide format dye sublimation and direct to garment printing.”
Direct to garment to GJS today means the Brother machines and more latterly, the Epson SC-F2000 as well. Both brands, claim Greg are brilliantly built. We committed ourselves to Brother a couple of years ago after doing a lot of research into the product and we are happy to stand by the Brother machines. The Epson product is a more recent distribution deal we have done and again solely based on our research which proved the quality of that product.
Another accolade for GJS was the industry’s first e-commerce web site which Greg built from scratch and today he claims that the web site generates a quarter of the company’s revenue.
Opening branches in other states is one of the obvious next steps for the company and whilst Greg recognises that reality he stated that it is a little too early since it was only a year ago that they moved to bigger premises in Revesby. He didn’t want to put a time frame on the expansion to interstate but it was definitely on the cards.
In many people’s minds, that decision to sit tight for the time being is a very wise decision in that professionals move forward and consolidate before moving forward again. Interstate customers of GJS will surely not have to wait too long before they see a GJS company in their home state.
|The GJS team|
and saw a market opportunity with desktop dye sublimation in Australia