Tommy Gillis, senior partner and co-owner of Grand Prairie, Texas-based CFC Print Solutions, LLC, began his printing career as a plate maker at a computer services company in Georgia.
He recalled, "I spent most of my time eating Snickers bars, drinking Mello Yello and studying in the plate room for my night classes at Georgia Southern University. I had no idea what a printing press was much less what an aluminum plate did!"
However, Gillis became much more engrossed in his second job at Printegra, where he spent just more than 22 years traveling, opening plants and helping build a premiere short-run manufacturer. From there, he and four other industry veterans went on to build CFC Print Solutions and the rest is history.
Here, Gillis digs deeper into his background, business philosophy and the future of the industry.
Print Professional (PP): Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up and what school did you attend?
Tommy Gillis (TG): I was born in Athens, Ga. and moved to Peachtree City, Ga. when I was 12. Peachtree City was an up-and-coming planned community in suburban Atlanta–—my parents were determined to find a family community with great schools for my sister and [me]. I graduated high school in 1983 and attended Georgia Southern University and the University of Georgia the following two years before embarking on my printing career.
PP: What is the best advice you ever received?
TG: The best business advice/lessons I have received are from the three business men I most respect: Robert Lenox, past chairman, Printegra: "Surround yourself with good people and trust them to do their jobs." Casey Campbell, past CEO, Printegra: "Manage your customers with the highest degree of integrity." David Stith, CEO, Peregrine Corp.: "Start your business, operate it as only you know how and customers will support you."