Mon Sep 25, 2017
Mishawaka, Ind. – In 1967, two men started a small silkscreen business called Valley Screen and hired a handful of employees. Today, that small shop is a multimillion dollar business and a major force in the large format graphics business, providing state of the art digital graphics and design work for the RV and marine industries, fleet vehicles and interior architectural community.
The company, started by Jerry Bauer and Galen Heckber, is now owned and operated by a second generation of Bauers who have successfully maneuvered the company through changing technology and some very challenging economic times. Bauer passed away in 2007, but the environment he established lives on.
“A lot has changed over the past five decades,” says Karen Barnett, Bauer’s daughter and the company’s CEO. “But one thing that’s the same is the family atmosphere my father established. He considered employees part of his extended family.”
Bauer was known for visiting with his “extended family” each day. He would carry a bowl of candy and offer sweets while he checked in with them. He was also known for telling a “joke of the day”, usually including fictional character, “Olee”, who was always in some kind of trouble. Those jokes became such a big part of the company’s culture that Barnett named the new architectural division of the business, Olee Creative.
Barnett believes the caring culture her father established helped Valley Screen survive when the recession hit in 2007.
“I think the key to our success has always been the team that we have. Everybody really gives it their all, we work hard, and we have a real sense of family here,” Barnett says. “When we were going through tough times during the recession, the whole team sacrificed by taking pay cuts or going on rotating layoffs. Everybody was willing to sacrifice for the greater good.”
Valley Screen not only survived the recession but is now thriving in a 45,000-square foot facility full of the latest technology for its design and print processes. It’s a business that has grown and changed significantly because of the new technology and industry demands, but at heart remains by design, a family owned and family oriented business.
The Valley Screen family will officially celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary at its Mishawaka, Indiana location (58740 Executive Drive) on Oct. 25 from 4-6 p.m.