Sometimes, we all have to admit it: It’s OK to ask for help.
GPI is made up of a team of experts to provide custom manufacturing and product sourcing services to its clients worldwide. GPI brings to the table its depth of expertise for a wide range of services, from playtesting to freight and logistics. The Toy Book caught up with David Blanchard, vice president of business development at GPI, about the company’s history, how companies can prevent themselves from spreading too thin, and the services it provides to its clients.
Toy Book: GPI evolved from being a game component supplier more than 40 years ago to a full-service provider to the toy and game industry. Can you share some of that story and what services you provide?
David Blanchard: We’ve come a long way in the last four decades! What started out as a humble supplier of game components has evolved into a turnkey, full-service operation with a growing team built to help publishers in virtually any step of the process they might find themselves stuck in. Need someone to handle your overseas production? Not enough bandwidth to churn out new products for buyers? Need help navigating the tumultuous world of shipping? We can help with all of that. After all, time is money, so where are your company’s resources best spent?
TB: Can you explain what you meant by your customers’ available bandwidth and the idea that a company should identify where they should spend their time versus where they shouldn’t?
DB: Just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Our most successful clients are the ones who know their limitations and how to prioritize what should be done in-house versus what they can trust a partner like GPI to manage for them. Sure, you could spend your nights on the phone with your factory overseas troubleshooting every little issue that pops up, or we could do that for you. Or, on the product development side, we know that it’s fun coming up with game content and playtesting, for example, but are those hours better spent building an innovative new marketing plan or focusing on sales initiatives? If only there was a company you could turn to for help! (cough cough)
TB: Does that concept apply to both new and veteran companies? Or, does it look different pending how long you’ve been in the industry and/or the size of the company?
DB: The same truism applies to companies both large and small. If you’re a one-man operation, resources are most likely thin, and you’re programmed to be scrappy. But maybe it isn’t the best idea to have your nephew in high school do your packaging graphic design for you — who knows what kind of delays you might experience once it’s discovered they didn’t create print-ready files in the correct format and resolution, or what warnings are required on the packaging. And even for those larger, more established companies out there, how many other proactive opportunities could you pursue if your team wasn’t so bogged down by reactive work?
TB: You had mentioned a mentality that GPI brings to working with and for your clients. What exactly do you mean by that?
DB: We like to say that working with GPI is like hiring a team of employees without the overhead. For every job we take on, we put ourselves in our clients’ shoes and try to apply our extensive experience in the industry to help catch mistakes before they happen. We treat each project as our own and know first-hand how painful a missed delivery date, manufacturing defect, or design flaw can be. Our attention is dedicated to getting good games made accurately and delivered on time. After all, our business can only be successful if our client’s businesses are successful.
TB: Given that there has been no Toy Fair for two years — and moving to September in 2023 — how is GPI connecting with both current and potential customers?
DB: I spend most days in back-to-back Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams calls either with existing customers or talking with potential new clients to determine all the ways we might be able to help them. Our team has grown exponentially over the last couple of years to rise and meet the demand for our services. I take that as a great sign for the industry as a whole, and while I can’t wait to be back in New York shaking hands (or bumping fists) at Toy Fair, I feel like, thanks to technology, our team is more available and connected with our clients than ever before. Given all the challenges and uncertainty these past couple of years, it feels pretty good to be that rock and that constant for our customers and to build such strong relationships despite these circumstances.