After 50 years doing business all around the nation, Bill Prettyman, CEO of the Forsyth County-based Wise Business Forms, says that gratitude is chief among the emotions being felt throughout his company right now.
"That's what I think of when I think of the 50 years," Prettyman said during a celebration held at the company’s headquarters off McFarland Parkway in south Forsyth last week. "Just grateful for our people, our customers, our suppliers, for the opportunities we have ... gratitude, that's the biggest emotion I have.”
Wise Business Forms, which was founded in Butler, Pa. in 1969, manufactures a variety of different business documents and forms, industrial labels and digital printing products, from plants in Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana, Maine and Pennsylvania.
The Forsyth County Wise plant was opened in 1985, Prettyman said, and 13 years later in 1998 the company’s headquarters was relocated to the plant.
According to Prettyman, even though the print industry has its own unique challenges in the digital age, over the last decades they have met those challenges with new technology and business practices and come out strong.
"We've just got to keep evolving," he said. "The print industry in spite of its challenges is still a very, very large industry.”
Before the celebration on Thursday, H.T. Smith, general manager of the Georgia Wise Plant, stood at the entry of a large tent in the plant’s parking area to welcome employees as they headed down to the buffet line at the celebration.
Over his 12 years at the company, Smith said that he saw firsthand as Wise overcame the severe recession that hit the printing industry, which caused many of their competitors to go out of business.
“We were a survivor when a lot of our competition was struggling,” he said. “But we came out strong and now we've been in acquisition mode for the last couple of years."
Smith said that beyond the managing of costs and adaption to technology, the family atmosphere and community culture at Wise has also helped the company excel.
"We try to make sure that you have a quality of life at work, but we also respect the fact you have to have a quality of life outside of work, and that helps that culture and that family feel, because we care about everybody," he said.
That atmosphere leads to trust, he said, which in turn leads to productivity and employee happiness.
And employees at the company seem to agree with Smith. At the celebration, the plant’s 100 or so employees sat together at tables relaxing, passed a football and played corn hole before hearing from Prettyman and his brother, the company’s Executive Vice President, Jeff Prettyman.
Cynthia Turner, longtime Wise employee, said that the family atmosphere is something that Wise has always cultivated and is something they are all very proud of."I've been here for 32 years, I started right out of high school and it's been good,” Turner said. “It's always been family-oriented. If you've got family issues or whatever, you take care of your family first."