The three buildings with 21 employees and about 12,000 square feet of operating space on Montana Avenue in San Marco are barely noticeable from the street at the G2 I.D. Source headquarters.
The business front looks quaint from the outside, as if it’s yet another boutique business that San Marco is noted for and distinguishes itself from the rest of Jacksonville. But the production facility of the identification and marketing label manufacturing operation, with the sound of humming, long lines of adhesive machines and label presses that churn out thousands of labels by the hour, is the hallmark of a churning industrial complex that didn’t even exist a decade ago.
What started from nothing generated $3.2 million in revenues in 2015 and is projected to bring in about $4 million in revenue by the end of this year, with plans in the works to expand the facilities and hire more workers.
G2 I.D. Source co-founders Terry Cochran and Dave Frederick said the operations of the business today, with over 600 clients nationwide, are a long way from the beginning of the shop that was opened in 2008 just before the Great Recession took hold. It was just the two of them running the show.
“We sometimes don’t stop and look at what we’ve done,” Cochran said. “We keep grinding away.”
“It’s surreal,” Frederick said, noting he used his own savings to get the business up and running while bypassing business loans.
Both men had deep backgrounds in the label and printing industry before opening G2 I.D. Source. But they got tired of working for other people.
In a sense, G2 I.D. was a startup business long before the term turned into a catchphrase for millennials. And it was started at just about the worst time, as the recession was about to engulf the U.S. economy.
Frederick acknowledged he was anxious about his new business and the chances of success during a bleak economic slump. But he said the first three clients were companies that needed labels for food products, toilet paper and pharmaceuticals — all three pretty much recession proof.
“For the first year, Terry made very limited income. My wife worked for the city [of Jacksonville] and I drew no income. We just basically refused to fail. We’ve been very lucky and very blessed,” Frederick said.
“The good thing is the vision we had for what people need was correct,” Frederick said. “It’s not that we were necessarily brilliant.”
Intuition, knowledge of the industry and knowing how to set up presses in the production area were likely the biggest contributors to moving the business beyond the incubation phase, Cochran said.
“We weren’t smarter than everybody else. But we felt that we were better,” Cochran said.
At the inception of G2 I.D., the business was essentially a small print and press shop and Frederick and Cochran were the marketing, design, sales and manufacturing staff. But through quick evolution and hiring almost an entire workforce from the First Coast talent pool, the manufacturing facilities expanded to include complex machinery on production lines and sophisticated printers that can produce everything from simple labels for canned goods to artistic prints for office space.
The labels rolling out of G2 I.D. can range from a small sales note the size of a button to a vinyl printout of a business moniker that can wrap around a truck. The company also specializes in supersized printouts of photographs that stand as tall as a person, and their staff of graphic artists help customize labels to their client’s wishes.
Ultimately, G2 I.D. is a manufacturing facility. But Cochran said they still look at themselves more as artists than industrialists.
“We’ve done enough of this stuff that we know what packaging is,” Cochran said. “We now do a lot of conceptual work. … That’s what people want. They just want a solution. I like what I’m doing.”
Frederick agreed G2 I.D. is a fulfilling part of his life. But it’s still work and not leisure. So when he’s not checking on the presses or gauging the air conditioning system in the warehouse to keep printing paper and ink products cool, he finds himself managing the business rather than taking care of daily operations like he used to.
“My job’s probably 80 percent staff meetings. We reverse-engineer everything we do looking for post-mortem and where we could have done better and saved time, money and been more profitable. We also want to reduce our costs for our clients. That’s what keeps it together,” Frederick said.
Drew Dixon: (904) 359-4098