LEWISTON — Geiger, the largest family-owned and -managed promotional products firm in the world, announced Monday it’s buying the largest family-owned and -managed promotional products firm in the United Kingdom.
Geiger, more commonly known as the publisher of the Farmers’ Almanac, distributes marketing products such as apparel, tote bags, photo frames, calendars and hundreds of other products. It employs 225 in Maine, which has been its home since 1955.
CEO Gene Geiger said the move expands its reach. In the last three years, Geiger has heard from more U.S.-based clients with operations all over the world.
“These companies are tending to want to have one firm that can deliver logo’d apparel and logo’d merchandise wherever they have a market. And so in order to do that properly, you can’t just ship stuff from Lewiston, Maine, to New Delhi or Sydney or to wherever — it’s too expensive and it’s cumbersome. And on top of that, the marketplaces are different, so merchandise that works here doesn’t necessarily work there,” he said.
Purchasing BTC Group expands that business footprint into Europe. The new company will be called Geiger BTC Group and have almost 400 employees, including the Maine employees, another 110 Geiger employees around the U.S. and BTC Group’s staff of 55.
Gene Geiger said the two companies have worked together as part of an international group of distributors providing support to one another, but “it’s not the same when you’re going to a customer to say, ‘We’ve got a friend that can help you do a few things in France’ … as saying, ‘We’ve got a company and an office in Paris or London or Sydney.’”
“The owners were reaching a stage where they wanted to sell the business and they let us know,” he said. “We decided they were a good fit for us, they’re a quality group, the culture is similar, and they became available. From a strategic point of view, it fills an important gap and we think it’s a first and necessary step to our being able to provide the kind of support that big customers expect of us.”
The sale, for an undisclosed amount, is expected to close next month. Both management teams are staying in place.
Geiger will be CEO of the parent company and Frank Murphy, BTC Group’s current managing director, will run that office as a U.K. subsidiary.
In the long term, the move has the potential to grow jobs here as business grows, Geiger said.
Lewiston-based Geiger, on its fifth generation in the same family, is currently finishing up a $12 million upgrade and investment announced almost two years ago.
“We want to contribute to this community, we want to be a good company to help the community grow and prosper,” Gene Geiger said.
Monday’s news “is very exciting,” he added. “This should be a really good thing for our company. We’re spending all this money, we’re doing all this work, now we’ve got to make sure the potential is realized.”