Did you know that it’s quite challenging to have a Wikipedia article for your business?
Now that Wikipedia has such a large and organized body of external writers, editors, and general monitors of their service, it’s hard to provide customers with reliable information about our business (that isn’t taken as a direct attempt at marketing or misleading the public).
We hope you don’t view information on the background of our company as marketing. Appreciate it as the history of a business that’s existed since the early 1960’s.
Because this isn’t a formal Wikipedia page, we’re able to take some stances that aren’t wholly unbiased. Hopefully, you won’t hold it against us. 🙂
We, GraduationSource, are a graduation product and service company based out of Westchester, NY. We have been a leader in the graduation industry for nearly six decades. While we primarily operate within North America, we do serve clients as far away as Japan, Australia, and Liberia.
GraduationSource has been around a long time – before computers were in every home. It was back when all orders were typed, by typewriter, or written by hand.
GraduationSource’s formal beginnings date back as far as 1960 with its founder Carl. J. Gordon. Back then we weren’t GraduationSource, and wouldn’t be for nearly half a century. At our inception, we were named Carl J. Gordon International Inc. and did business under that name until the late 90’s. Throughout those years, we engaged in the sale and customization of promotional products to schools and companies.
With the advent of the internet, we were one of the first to take a more modern approach to doing business. For that to happen, the then owner of our company decided he could use some fresh perspective to aid in his new endeavors. In 1996, the business went from being a sole proprietorship to a family partnership.
The change in ownership prompted a change in name. From Carl J. Gordon International Inc., the business transformed to G+G Gordon International Inc (G+G stood for Gordon & Gordon). Carl J. Gordon’s son, Matthew Gordon, was added to our management team, and he led the charge that took our operations into the digital age. Together they founded one of the first eCommerce platforms for ordering graduation products. As a result, the company started to grow from its humble beginnings as a “one-man show,” to the business it is today.
Carl J. Gordon passed away in the late 90’s and his son Matthew took the reins full time. With a new business plan, he quickly found there were more customers to reach and more work to finish than one person could do on his or her own. Matthew started hiring, and he was successful even though the office at that time was in his house.
Soon after, what started in a home office in Larchmont, NY turned into something much larger. After a few months, with a handful of eager staff members (working out of a basement), it was clear that we needed more room. It was also clear that we needed to focus on what was most important to our customers. Many of our clients were school stores who required pens, pencils, notebooks, and other products displaying their school’s branding.
We found that out of all the people we worked with, our favorite clients were educators and their students. They always knew what they wanted, and knew when they wanted it. Because of that realization, we decided that they were the customers we wanted to have moving forward.
In 2000, we moved out of the house and into a full-fledged office located on 200 William Street in Port Chester, NY. It was once the site of an old Empire Brush Factory and has existed in this location for over 100 years. The building is part of Port Chester history. Moving forward, it would be where we would make history.
From 2000 to 2005, we hired high school students, college students, and recent graduates to help grow the business and to provide them with the work experience they needed to succeed. We also hired those with a great deal of experience to help lead our teams.
In 2006, with as strong foundation, we quickly became a force in the graduation world. After ironing out the kinks and working with some of the most patient and loyal clients anyone could hope for, we finally got our operations streamlined. With our refined processes, it was high time to re-brand and seek investors to help us grow.
In 2007, we received private, outside investment, changed ownership, made increases to permanent staff, and discontinued all product lines not associated with the celebration of educational achievements. We were reborn as Graduation Solutions, LP, DBA GraduationSource. With a new image and a new website, we were ready to take the graduation world by storm.
By 2012, we had more than quadrupled in size and added over two dozen permanent members of staff and dozens of seasonal employees.
In 2013, we moved our inventory and distribution operations from Port Chester, NY to Louisiana, MO so that we could reduce shipping time and cost to customers.
Since 2015, we happily serve over 50,000 schools, individuals, and small businesses day after day. We made one final change to our brand and internal structure and are now operating as Graduation Solutions LLC with the continued DBA (Doing Business As) of GraduationSource.
We haven’t always been named GraduationSource, but we always have the same values. After years of work and research, we’ve refined our brand. Today, and for the foreseeable future, we are GraduationSource, a Graduation Solutions L.L.C. company.
We are managed and directed through our headquarters in Rye Brook, NY (also known as Port Chester, NY). Our open loft concept makes it easier to hold meetings, make announcements, and roll over to one another when we need help from a coworker.
We ship all goods and warehouse inventory from our distribution center in Louisiana, MO. From 2006 to 2013, we handled all of our stock and order fulfillment from our central office in Rye Brook. It became clear that our customer base was predominantly from the U.S. and Canada, so we made changes. To reduce the average time it takes to ship and to improve shipping operations overall, we decided to make a move. Every decision we make has our customers in mind, and this was an essential change.
A few members of our larger external teams work from home and international offices. Other project-based staff, that work as required to help us provide better service to our customers, are located around the globe.
Traditionally, a company’s vision, mission, and values are what guides it in the pursuit of customer satisfaction and success. This concept is seen as a guiding star, something unreachable but always a primary goal. The mission is at the mountaintop of success as we attempt to scale its summit.
Core values are the rules that a company abides by, both internally and externally, to ensure everyone is working toward the same goal. We follow a similar set of ideologies with a few alterations.
Unlike a traditional company vision, we employ the business concept of adopting a “purpose” for why we exist.
Our purpose is “to transform the experience of traditions.”
In a world of ever-changing technology and culture, our business’s purpose is to ensure that traditions endure and that heritage isn’t forgotten. We believe that traditions can exist in the modern age.
We do not disclose our mission statement to the general public. Many companies out there love to share it. We view it to be a trade secret and a contributing factor to our success.
Just as we have replaced the traditional vision with a purpose, we replaced the usual mission statement with what’s known in modern business circles as a B.H.A.G. (Big Hairy Audacious Goal).
We abide by a set of 5 Core Values that govern our interactions with our customers and one another. We haven’t published our full list of values yet. However, we are more than happy to share our most important one.
Core Value #1: Insanely Customer Focused: Without them we are nothing
Every value we stress at GraduationSource has a list of additional attributes that support it throughout the business and our staff. The previously mentioned core values list of attributes are listed below:
We refer to ourselves as the leading online retailer of graduation products. And it’s less a biased claim, and more a functional reality. We were the first regional supplier of graduation products to get on the web. Our website was built back in the early 90s when everyone was still using Netscape as their primary internet search tool.
We had a website before browsers like Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Google Chrome even existed. We existed before search engines like Yahoo, Google, and Bing helped you find our site. Back then, you couldn’t discover our page without us first having given the web address to you. We’ve had an internet presence for a long time.
Since our first website, we’ve updated it time and time again. Our site has come a very long way from the old days. We launched our first page in April 1996. To see what it looked like then, click here. To compare to our most recent website launch in September 2014, click here.
The new site is easier to use, more attractive, and better in every way.
We stock a full line of stock graduation products. They span all levels of educational achievements ranging from preschool caps and gowns all the way to college. From learning your ABC’s up to the end of the road at your Ph.D.
We also offer a full line of custom graduation products that include custom graduation stoles, custom graduation diplomas, custom graduation diploma covers, embroidered gowns, customized year charms, and pretty much anything you want customized that relates to graduation.
We’ll make an effort to match or beat anyone’s prices.
We sell high-quality goods, and we do it in a considerably more affordable way than any of the big graduation companies in the US and Canada. Without naming names, but you know who they are, some companies are draining the funds out of our educational system and student pockets big time.
We’ve grown a lot. We’ve improved so much in sales and customer base that within the past nine years of growth, we were finally recognized by the outside business world. For two years in a row, we were celebrated by the Inc. Magazine on their list of fastest-growing businesses. In 2013 we were ranked 3383 out of 5000, and in 2014 we were ranked 4499 out of 5000 on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing small businesses in the United States. In both years we also made their list of the 100 fastest growing companies in the educational sphere.
We owe it all to you, our wonderful customers. Thank you so very much!
You can check out our customer GraduationSource reviews on our blog in the testimonial section. We assure you that all of the GraduationSource reviews on that page are unadulterated and we encourage you (if you’re a customer) to add your experiences with GraduationSource. Further testimonials about our company are available on the internet on a variety of sites. It’s unfortunate that some of them aren’t that great, but we do hope you’ll note the date on the ones that aren’t so hot. Most of those are very old. A growing business has kinks to work out. And we’ve spent the past few years ironing out all of them.
You can find GraduationSource Reviews on the BBB’s site as well. We consider it necessary to mention that we just started distributing links to our customers to provide their reviews on the BBB’s website. In the past, we only sent our own surveys. As such, the reviews on the BBB as of now are sparse but trust us, they will be abundant soon, and the majority will be just as great as the ones on our blog.
Currently, we have an A+ rating on the BBB’s site. You might wonder how we achieved that rating with so few reviews and a dozen complaints, and you’d be right to ask. It’s simple really: we resolve complaints. Claims are a customer’s right, and we encourage complaints as much as we encourage positive feedback and testimonials. We have no idea what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong until a customer tells us so.
When we receive a positive review, we know to keep doing the thing they loved. And when we receive a negative one, we know we’ve got something that requires immediate action, and more immediately, resolution. If we receive a complaint, we won’t ignore it. We answer it, sort it out, and handle it quickly. That’s why we have an A+ rating on the BBB.
It’s because we’re not happy until you’re happy. That’s how we stay Insanely Customer Centric. We listen to your complaints intently to constantly improve.
A small group has managed our team for a very long time. Some, much longer than others, but each having an equal place among those that have been here for decades. Our leadership team is made up of all types of people. When we say we’re an equal opportunity employer, we mean it. All races, genders, religions, and ages are represented in our leadership team and throughout the organization. Right now the team is comprised of five core members:
We regularly feature two additional members:
We aren’t a vertical, top-down, strict, old-fashioned business. We thought that was one tradition that could use a positive transformation. Just because we’ve been around since the 60s doesn’t mean we behave like we’re still in the 60s.
We have a very flat, horizontal, and open environment. We created it this way as a means of encouraging the sharing of ideas at every level of our business.
We pride ourselves on our diversity and on hiring those who have little to no experience at all.
The vast majority of our customers are educators. These are teachers who work toward a future where their students achieve, graduate, find gainful employment. The customers we have that aren’t educators are the students themselves (or the parents of those students).
In today’s shifting employment climate, businesses have almost stopped hiring young graduates to employ seasoned employees with twice the experience for half the pay (or at least that’s what we’ve been reading and seeing publicized).
We feel that not hiring young students and recent graduates would be doing all of our customers an injustice. They trust us to help them celebrate student achievements. We believe we should actively work towards providing opportunities for their students to continue achieving. So we make sure to offer both internships and jobs to students.
We train those students and give them the real world experience that they need. We hope that they stay on with us for years to come, but we’re just as happy to know we helped provide them with a stepping stone for the future they always imagined. A few of our most recent interns helped our parent company, the Gordon Group, start a new business named Collabritori, focused around promoting entrepreneurship within generation-Y.
That group will even be releasing a full course named Generation Entrepreneur with series of educational webinars to help students gain valuable and highly relevant business skills.
We don’t want you to think that means we only hire the young. When we talk about students, we’re referring to anyone engaged in continuous learning. And that’s everyone learning at every level of education. We make an active effort to not discriminate against those with nascent resumes, which includes graduates of all ages.
Everyone needs a teacher, a mentor, or a coach. We hope to be there for those who are the reason we even exist as a company.
Without the achievements of these students, we’d have nothing to help celebrate and no tradition of celebration to keep alive. We will continue to be a part of making sure a student’s achievements don’t start and end with their graduation.
GraduationSource is an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation). This status allows us to take on private investors and partial owners to help us fund our growth, which helps us provide quality service to educators and students alike.
Most private investors prefer to keep their investments in their portfolio and don’t announce everything to the world for personal reasons. Those agreements are binding.
Part of structuring ourselves as an LLC intended to make it easier for investors to decide to fund our growth. An LLC isn’t required to be disclosed to the general public. We hope that doesn’t sound too “shady” to anyone reading it. Don’t worry; the military industrial complex doesn’t secretly fund us or anything.
We hope that our clients who are out there trying to get grants, working to get scholarships, and applying for financial aid understand that a critical component to growth involves finding funding for that growth.
If those who fund our growth want to remain silent, who are we to refuse them?
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about us at GraduationSource. We will be providing regular updates about our company over time. Those updates will include Core Value features, Employee Bios, and more. So stay tuned, and you’ll learn all about all of us – down to the guy that sorts out our mail (his name is Rob by the way, and he’s really cool).