Small business, big achievement: Feds honor GJ’s Action Publishing

Approximately a million students in North America use Action Publishing’s day planners to organize their lives.

Not bad for a local company that rose from the ashes of one that was left for dead eight years ago. And for his part in the formation and ensuing success of Action Publishing Inc., founder and Chief Executive Officer Grady Busse has been named the Colorado Small Business Person of the Year for 2009 by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Busse will be honored May 17 in Washington, D.C., as a part of Small Business Week.

That Action Publishing is thriving now is a testament to the determination of Busse and his management team from Envision, who were left unemployed in 2001 when School Specialty Inc., the largest distributor of school supplies in the nation, bought out and shut down Grand Junction-based Envision.

Busse and fellow Envision workers went to the Business Incubator Center with a plan of their own and opened Action Publishing Inc. later that year.

“It was kind of a survival mechanism,” Busse said, explaining he and other former Envision employees knew the industry and believed they could make it.

Business took off from the start. Within 10 months the company earned $1 million in total revenue, hitting the mark quicker than any client in the history of the Business Incubator Center.

“We certainly got off to a good start and just worked hard to build our customer base,” Busse said.

Working hard is probably an understatement, as Incubator Marketing Manager Annalisa Pearson said, “After they moved in, they just went fast and furious.”

In November 2005, Action Publishing moved into a state-of-the-art warehouse at 2415 Blue Heron Road, overlooking Blue Heron Lake along the Colorado River. It’s the site for the next Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours, April 28 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Guests will receive small gifts from Action Publishing, food and beverages, and Action Publishing employee Bridgett Gutierrez will deejay.

Last year, the company produced 1 million student planners for school districts in all 50 states and Canada, leaving it behind only School Specialty Inc. in what Busse calls the “second tier” of companies producing student planners.

The staff goes from approximately 15 year-round workers to 85 during the summer months for the production of the planners. Busse has hired Mesa State College students on summer break to fill a number of the positions in the past.

“It’s a pretty good group of jobs here in Grand Junction that are purely a derivative of a small business,” Busse said.

He is comfortable with the company’s market share in the school planner market, but he aims to expand elsewhere. The company also does work for large companies such as lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret, office-furniture manufacturer Steelcase, construction-material supplier LaFarge, Grand Junction-based ski-lift maker Leitner-Poma and Beanie Babies maker Ty Inc.

“The thrust of our growth is in the non-academic line. We’re also looking to do more local,” Busse said.

He added the products they can produce are not limited to planners.

“We can do all sorts of fabulous binding and embossing,” Busse said.

Examples include miniature note pads that can be used like business cards, pads of paper shaped to be mouse pads and bound list books perfect to place next to the phone to jot down notes.


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