by Buddy Furgerson, chairman of the board, and CEO Joe Schmidt of GVH Family of Companies
This year, GVH Family of Companies celebrates 71 years in business. Our company started with Gage Van Horn answering an advertisement from Champion Gummed Tape Products to become a salesman for printed gummed paper tape and dispensers, which were used in meat markets and department stores at the time.
In 1948, Mr. Van Horn drove 80,000 miles traveling West Texas and Eastern New Mexico selling gummed tape to every meat market, grocery store and department store in the area. A typical order was 10 rolls of tape and a dispenser. Every third order of tape, Mr. Van Horn would trade out the old dispenser for a reconditioned one (he also reconditioned all the dispensers himself). As you can imagine, the number of customers for printed gummed tape was somewhat limited, and Gage began looking for other products that he could sell to these same customers. He saw an advertisement in a trade magazine by Kansas City Sales Book for printed sales books.
Since most meat markets used the little green sales books pads and department stores also used carbon sales books, he became a distributor for the company’s printed products. The sales of business forms soon surpassed the sales of printed gummed tape. In 1949, Gage Van Horn Business Forms Company was established, with business expanding all over West Texas and the Panhandle. In 1963, Gage hired his son-in-law, Buddy Furgerson, to take over the existing Lubbock, Texas, customers and to grow the business in Lubbock and Amarillo. Over the next few years, additional offices were opened and more employees were hired to assist in the growth of the company.
After Gage’s death in 1984, Buddy and his wife, Beth, purchased the company from Mrs. Van Horn and continued to manage it. Over the next 10 years, the business remained steady until Buddy decided it was time for new blood and ideas. The Furgerson’s youngest daughter, Cindy, and her husband, Joe Schmidt, were living in Portland, Oregon, where Joe was a produce broker. Buddy saw in Joe an energy and entrepreneurial spirit that was exactly what was needed to take Gage Van Horn & Associates Inc. to the next level, so he persuaded Joe to move his family to Lubbock and join the company as a sales representative.
Not satisfied with the past success of the company, Joe and Buddy recognized that they were in a mature industry and that diversification was a necessity. The proliferation of laser printers and electronic records was cutting into the company’s core business. In 2003, Joe realized this and decided to go after the label business at United Supermarkets, a now 95-store West Texas supermarket chain. His background in the grocery business told him that grocery stores were label intensive and that labels were not as affected by laser printers as were business forms. Securing United Supermarkets’ label business led directly to the pursuit of United’s store supplies business. Due to United Supermarkets’ trust, blind faith and partnership with Joe and Buddy, Gage Van Horn & Associates Inc. has grown into GVH Family of Companies. GVH continues to distribute all of the labels, packaging and supplies to United’s 95 stores. GVH Distribution, the first of its kind in the country with an online ordering system and cross-dock program, became a huge success.
AT GVH, our expertise is in state-of-the-art packaging supplies. All customers are provided with their own tailored program, customized to meet their specific needs. Our complete line covers all areas of the store to include deli, bakery, meat and seafood, on-premise dining, home meal replacement, beverage service front end and supply items for carry-out. Our packaging allows supermarket operators to market their products for impulse sales while maintaining the highest degree of freshness and appeal. We also stock a vast line of disposal products for foodservice establishments that demand specialized items.
Over the last several years, GVH has become one of the fastest growing independent distributors in the country by securing national, regional and local customers. Today, under the guidance of CEO Joe Schmidt and President Sean Wright (who, incidentally, was Joe’s first hire back in 1995), with a great supporting cast, with 12 warehouses and distribution centers and employees spread throughout the United States, GVH Family of Companies is poised for even greater growth in the future.
Without great employees, loyal customers and supportive vendor partners, it would not have been possible.