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A New Path to Client Success

(August 2011) posted on Tue Aug 09, 2011

In New York, Graphic Systems Group is aggressively pursuing the “de-coupling” trend.

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By Paula L. Yoho

As a co-founder and now president of Graphic Systems Group LLC (GSG, in New York City, Ken Madsen has watched his company evolve from high-end photo re-toucher catering to the big advertising agencies to a full-service production house specializing in everything from Web design, product packaging, and outdoor displays, to graphics for retail spaces, and sets and props for national television shows. In the process, he’s watched innovation and technology not only change the way his company does business, but also redefine just who the company does business for.

And, Madsen is quick to add, he doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed as a print provider: “Sometimes when I talk to folks and I say, ‘We do print,’ they immediately think we have a 4-color and a 7-color press at our location here in New York and that we print magazines or brochures – but we don’t,” he explains. “We have the HP 10000 and the HP 9000, and we have a few Canons and Encads. We even have the facilities to do welding and building murals and mounting, and the people who do the support work before that phase. But that’s just where we go with print. Today we are a 360 production house.”

Perhaps it’s semantics, or maybe it is Madsen’s broader vision for the company that expands far beyond the scope of your typical print shop. But whatever you call his firm, GSG is a full-service provider – of print work and much, much more. He points to the company’s organic evolution to underscore his point.

“In 1994, we were a Paintbox and high-end retouching company catering to the advertising agencies here on Madison Avenue, servicing those folks,” Madsen says. “From there, we grew into large-format proofing and CMYK and display graphics, and from there, we dove into HTML, the dot-com world. Then we went into studio work, where we had mechanical artists who would take a lead design for an ad and modify it to fit different formats so we would have a complete workflow system that would help manage the assets.”

That gradual progression was marked by steady growth – from about 60 employees in Manhattan in 1994 to more than 150 today – plus an office in London.