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Greg Gartner chosen Entrepreneur of the Year by Twin Cities Business


Greg Gartner

It’s only fitting that a company whose products are often mailed is headquartered in the 100-year-old Post Office building in central Stillwater.

“It’s a beautiful building,” says Greg Gartner, president and CEO of Gartner Studios, which designs and distributes stationery, invitations, greeting cards, gift bags, and other “social expressions” products. “When you walk in the front door, whether you’re a team member, customer, or vendor, you feel the energy and the vibe, and you know this is a different kind of company.”

When Gartner started the company out of his home in 1998, he told people he wanted to be a $100 million company in 10 years. And after reaching $70 million in 2007, Gartner Studios is indeed poised to pass $100 million in sales in 2008. With two distribution centers in Wisconsin and sales offices in Dallas, Boston, Florida, and Bentonville, Arkansas (Wal-Mart’s headquarters city), Gartner believes he’s laid the foundation to become a $1 billion company in another10 years.

How did Gartner Studios grow so fast, particularly since it grew organically, without outside investors? The company’s founder credits its spirit of innovation—of looking at established product categories “not through the rear view mirror but through the windshield.” Its party goods division, for instance, has gone beyond plates, cups, and napkins to include “unique banners, table décor, and other fun add-on items—like eyeball ice cubes for Halloween—that would round out the party.” [more...]