It’s the next chapter in a phoenix-rising-from the-ashes story that involves PCA rescuing Garland from closure and revitalizing the nearly century-old company.
Garland Writing Instruments was closing in on its 100th year in business, but the sad reality was that it didn’t look like the longtime supplier was going to make it.
Sales challenges spawned by the COVID-19 pandemic had the Rhode Island-based firm on the brink of closure. But then, Pen Company of America (PCA, asi/76811) – a supplier with close to a century’s history of its own – came to the rescue, acquiring Garland Writing Instruments in 2021.
It was no idle investment.
PCA announced this week that it has set up Garland’s operations in a new facility described as “state of the art” in Linden, NJ. The operation thereby continues a tradition of domestic production at PCA and Garland, said Colleen Shea, vice president of sales at PCA, which says that its entire line of pens is made in the United States.
This high-gloss pen with gold accents from PCA’s Garland Recycled Collection is made with recycled aluminum.
“At a time when some of the biggest names in the world of writing instruments have moved their production out of the USA, and have discontinued their products entirely, it is important for us to continually expand our line to offer our distributors an alternative,” Shea said.
PCA had originally moved Garland to a location in Garwood, NJ, but then set up shop in the Linden space in preparation for what was described as a large build-out of the brand’s writing instrument product line.
That expansion has now come to fruition, incorporating new stylus pens, executive brass pens and recycled metal pens that executives believe will be favored by end-clients who desire a sustainability element.
“We need to be in touch with today’s buyers, and sustainability is definitely on their minds,” said Shea. “Our new recycled Garland metal pen is made from the same post-consumer scrap metal used in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. It offers a stylish, eco-friendly and USA-made option.”
Shea’s great-grandfather founded PCA as Radiant Pen in 1928; the company manufactured fountain pen tips. In the 1950s, Shea’s grandfather started Rotary Pen, injection-molding plastic components for ballpoint pens.
Since then, the company has continued to evolve, eventually entering the promo space to sell the pens and markers it was making. These days, it’s helmed by fourth-generation members of the Shea family, including Colleen. The supplier is, as described by Shea, the largest manufacturer of true USA-made ballpoint pens and markers.
Garland’s history extends back to 1927, when Louis Lanoie founded the firm originally known as Lew Manufacturing Co. At the time, the company manufactured small presses, which led to the design and development of the internal pen mechanism later used by many of the major pen and pencil manufacturers throughout the U.S. and Europe, according to a company history.
In the 1960s, Lew Manufacturing began making complete pens and pencils and changed its name to Garland Industries.