The story begins 48 years ago as those three ingredients become
the recipe for success in the creation of what we know today as Guernsey Inc.
The founder and CEO, David Guernsey, had no idea what he was
getting himself into as he was offered a startup of a business machine
dealership. However, there was a catch. (There’s always a catch.) To get his
foot in the door, he needed $1,300 for machinery and demos. Where would anyone
go to get a large chunk of money? The bank. He stepped in and made
his way to the banker to make his case. He requested a loan of around $1,200, but
didn’t know to bring financial projections that would prove the worthiness of
his ideas. His reasoning at this point, was just that he’d make things work. It
wasn’t enough. The banker questioned him, “Why should we do that?”
Dave thought and answered, “Well, this $234 is everything I own, and the $1,150 is not close to anything you own.” Needless to say, he got his loan.
And that’s how it all began, with a little faith and a lot of hustle, Dave laid everything on the line for what he believed in and soon after, his business took off. Along with the move into a small office location, the company started to evolve in the coming years. No more business machines, the company switched its gears to office supplies. Moving forward, Guernsey got their feet wet in new categories – janitorial and facilities, office furniture and breakroom. Also, as the company offerings expanded, new workplaces started joining the picture. Today, we supply and service customers from the Mid-Atlantic and beyond!
“So what did you win? Tell us what you won!”
Okay, okay. Drum roll please…
We are proud to announce that we have be awarded the2019 Family-Owned Business Awardby the Washington Business Journal. This is an award given to companies in the Greater Washington area that have been, and are significantly impacting the local community and workforce. The criteria are:
The amount of family involvement in business
Being accustomed to change and adversities
The endurance and lifetime of the company
Philanthropy work done in the community
Guernsey has accomplished all of the above.
Over the years, Guernsey has grown from 1 employee to 247 employees. In competing against the large public companies like, the name of the largest river in South America or those things a stapler needs to function, we thrive by
“nimbleness, adjusting to the playing field and always putting the customer first,” as Dave explained.
Guernsey is a family business and a business of families – from the Guernsey family of employees to the family members of early employees who joined as the company expanded. The goal is to develop a relationship between the company, its employees and customers, and to make sure everyone learns and grows together for years to come.
As this interview wound down, I asked about motivation. The age-old question, “What keeps you going?” Dave responded,
“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
As in the only constant in business is change, and that change is rather quick. For Dave, it’s about knowing when to make a decision at any given situation, although it may not be perfect at first. He then added,
“I have all the confidence in the team I’m working with,”
and confidence, not perfection, is what you need to move forward quickly and successfully into tomorrow.
Mark your calendars! We will be featured in the March 1st issue of the Washington Business Journal, and we hope that you’re just as excited as we are. At Guernsey, we’re there for you every step of the way, it’s in our family-nature to build a long-lasting relationship to prosper. Let’s chat!
Ethan is an avid follower of sports and music, appreciates the small things in life, and believes pizza is always the answer. With his background in advertising, his passion for marketing and design stay true to him everyday. Pass him a shovel, because he can dig it.