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General Formulations Celebrates 70th Anniversary

The family-owned company owes its start to an innovator in screen printing.




General Formulations (Sparta, MI) announced the company is celebrating 70 years in business, according to a press release.

“It’s incredible to see how far our family business has come,” Mike Clay, president, General Formulations, is quoted in the release. Clay is proud to say the company is family owned.

During the past 70 years, the General Formulations facility, sales and production capacity have grown significantly. General Formulation’s corporate headquarters has 400,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing and converting space to service the growing needs of their customers. The companies products and services include water-based coating lines as well as “one of the largest converting operations in the industry, specializing in slitting, sheeting, punching, and packaging,” also per the press release.

General Formulations was founded in Sparta, MI in 1953 by James Black. A pioneer in the screen printing industry, Black held more than 40 patents during his lifetime. He is best remembered for his inventions which revolutionized the printing business. Black started his empire out of his garage like many entrepreneurs. In 1948, he invented the General Press, a high-speed cylinder screen printing press, which automated the screen printing business. In 1976, he invented the first web screen printing press which incorporated the cylinder concept and the feeder and ink application mechanism patented by Black.

Black retired in 1984 and General Formulations traded ownership from one family to another. At the time, Jim Clay worked at General Formulations as general manager and purchased the company from the Black family. Clay worked in the printing industry most of his career, starting in the paper tag printing segment and moving to General Formulations in 1981. Today, General Formulations is still in the family and managed by Jim’s son Mike Clay.

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