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Fastest Growing Printers:All in the Family at St. Joseph.

Jun 1, 1998 12:00 AM

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Since starting as a one-man shop out of his basement in 1956, Gaetano Gagliano has put seven of his 10 children on the payroll at St. Joseph, now a 1,240-employee corporation in Concord, Ontario. As for those not clocking in at the commercial printing plant, son Frank Gagliano says they've been charged with future planning for the family business.

"I've got a sister who has seven children and another who has six, so they're doing their own part raising future employees of the company," says Frank, president of development at the privately owned company.

Family presence is at the heart of a winning corporate culture at St. Joseph, which placed 17 in American Printer's Top 50 Fastest Growing Printers list and had earnings last year of $190 million, up from $110 million the year before. In fact, Gaetano, a farmer in Sicily before moving to Toronto in 1954 and finding work as a printer's apprentice, still comes into the office every day at 81 years of age.

"He comes in early enough to make sure everyone else gets in on time, so he's still in charge," laughs the younger Gagliano. Lest anyone--especially a family member--forget how far the company and the printing industry as a whole have come since Gaetano first opened shop, there is a small museum at the center of the mezzanine level, displaying such antiquated equipment as St. Joseph's original Linotype, a hand-operated platen letterpress and a traditional California Job Case for storage of moveable type.

"When you're in there you can see how dramatically technology has changed just in a period of 30 to 40 years," says Gagliano. "Today, we know how quickly technology moves, and we know that equipment that's only two years old is unfortunately already outdated, so it's kind of a little reminder to our employees to continue investing in upgrading their skills."

Toward that end, the sheet-fed and web printer offers courses at St. Joseph University, an in-house training center. The center even has midnight classes for those on the night shift. Employees have the opportunity to learn the latest in digital technology with such state-of-the-art equipment as its Creo 3244 Platesetter.

In honor of St. Joseph's long-term investment in its community, Gaetano was recently bestowed with an Order of Canada, the highest recognition awarded to a civilian. Given by the Governor General, the Queen's representative of Canada, the award distinguishes the company for its contribution to Canada, including its commendable environmental stewardship.

Nine years ago, St. Joseph initiated a reforestation program with the local Boy Scouts aimed at replacing trees used for paper products ordered by customers. The Boy Scouts are paid to plant seedlings, provided by St. Joseph, along local river banks and community parks.

"They're not planted for reharvesting, but for enhancing the environment and allowing customers who print with us to make a positive environmental statement," explains Gagliano. "Our target is to produce two million trees by the year 2000."

As for the company's continued achievement, the president says it will depend on family--not just those with the Gagliano name, but everyone employed at St. Joseph.

"Company values are family values with our business," he assures. "How we relate to customers, how we deal with vendors, how we foster relationships with employees--those are all things that are quite important to us. Most of our family has been brought up in the business and that will continue to be the case. This indicates to employees and customers that we are a company with a heritage."