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Celebrating 100 Years of Growth in DSM

LBS in DSM

September 16, 2021

Founded in 1921, Greater Des Moines (DSM) native company LBS is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Reaching this milestone marks a century of family- and employee-owned innovation and leadership.

LBS Logo

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Bookbinding, Publishing + More in DSM

LBS started as a family-owned bookbindery located on the east side of Des Moines and grew into the multimillion-dollar company we are today. In 1980, Mr. Fritz James purchased the business from his relatives and advanced the company by forming three distinct businesses: LBS, Corporate Image and Archival Products. All divisions of LBS conduct business on a local, national and international level.

  • LBS is the leading US supplier of bookbinding, publishing and luxury packaging materials. We offer all of the materials needed to manufacture a book: cloth and specialty papers, endsheets, cover boards, adhesives and reinforcing materials.
  • Corporate Image is a manufacturer of premium presentation materials and innovative packaging solutions. We produce custom three-ring binders, pocket folders, sample displays and luxury packaging. Corporate Image has been in business for 38 years.
  • Archival Products produces the best preservation products and materials for the library, collegiate, museum and conservation industries. Archival Products is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year.

Growing Strong on the East Side of Des Moines

After occupying our original building on East Grand Avenue for over 75 years, LBS needed a larger facility. In 1996, Fritz James bought 3.6 acres of land in a newly developed eastside industrial business park and built a new production facility with corporate offices. This site is within ½ mile of the interstate system and LBS’ other production facility on Delaware Avenue. It was important for us to remain on the east side of Des Moines where our company originated and where many of our employees reside.

As we helped develop the new industrial park, Mr. James made sure it became a green oasis. He planted over 150 trees on our campus and invested in landscaping and beautification of the area. LBS is now headquartered in this business park and operates out of three buildings on the East Side.

DSM has proven to be an asset to LBS since we are centrally located within the U.S. Our customers benefit from quick transit times to either coast and continuously compliment us on our “Midwestern nice” mentality.

From Family-Owned to Employee-Owned

After leading LBS for over 35 years, Mr. James began to develop his succession plan. He carefully reviewed many different possibilities and finally decided that the best solution with the most positive outcome for all was to sell the company to the employees in an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). An ESOP is an employee benefit plan that gives workers ownership interest in their company. Our ESOP, established on October 31, 2014, allowed LBS to remain in DSM, retain our jobs and continue growing while preserving our original company culture.

Having spent the majority of my career at LBS and participating in the transition from family-owned to employee-owned, I have witnessed the incredible impact this gift has had on our company. Not only does it motivate each and every one of us to do what’s best for LBS and our customers, it also creates true loyalty within our organization. For example, some of our employee-owners have celebrated over 40 years of service with LBS.

Investing in the Future: New Equipment

As a forward-thinking company, we are always looking for innovative ways to continuously grow and expand to provide excellent products and outstanding service to our customers.

In 2020, Corporate Image launched our award-winning CI RIGIDBOX™ line. It is the first luxury packaging equipment, in the US, that can produce a raw board box made from up to 99% post-consumer waste paperboard. Providing eco-friendly presentation solutions has been Corporate Image’s mission since 1983 and CI RIGIDBOX was the logical expansion to our product portfolio.

Investing in the Future: Acquisition

Earlier this year, LBS acquired Gane Brothers and Lane of Elk Grove Village, IL. “This strategic acquisition is the result of a compelling fit of Gane’s product offering and industry reputation with our strategic plan of becoming the market leader in supplying high-quality materials and solutions for the bookbinding and luxury packaging markets,” said Rob Mauritz, president & CEO, LBS. We merged operations in Des Moines and, since January 2021, we have added 23 new employee-owners to our diverse work family to facilitate the growth strategy of our company.

I am humbled by the family lineage of our company and honored to be an employee-owner. Seeing all the innovative products we have developed for our customers as well as the investments we continue to make to ensure our growth and success, such as the addition of new equipment and the recent acquisition, make me excited for the future!

LBS is headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, with approximately 80 employee-owners. Proud of its roots in the world of fine craftsmanship bookbinding, the company continues to seek avenues for growth, meet the needs of its customers, and work hand-in-hand with suppliers and partners to provide superior bookbinding and luxury packaging materials and products.

Greater Des Moines (DSM) has one of the best business climates in the country. The region is nationally recognized for having a talented and educated workforce, a cost of doing business 13% below the national average, a low cost of living and an exceptional quality of life.

Chris Paxson

Chris Paxson, LBS, senior vice president, corporate development & culture. Her responsibilities span three divisions of LBS, requiring an expertise in three completely different product lines, three complex production processes and three unique customer bases. She is the founding member of LBS's ESOP Communication Committee and a member of the IA/NE ESOP Chapter Executive Committee.