From local Minnesota startup to North American business heavy hitter: The Vomela Companies – Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal – The Business Journals

At the St. Paul, Minnesota, headquarters of The Vomela Companies, you’ll find this written on the wall: “We empower our people to creatively solve our customers’ greatest challenges while transforming big ideas into memorable brand experiences.”
It’s a lofty goal for the 75-year-old printing and imaging company, but the individuals who’ve grown its services, markets and brand partners have always aimed high.
2022 marks the 75th anniversary of Vomela, a visual communications leader that began as a small manufacturing shop and became a national and international force. Vomela provides clients with a wide array of specialized graphic solutions, creative services, engineering, prototyping, installation and more.
Owned by the Auth family – Tom Auth and his children Mark Auth, Cara Galioto and Dana Fretheim – the company has grown organically as well as through strategic acquisitions.
In 1947, John “Jack” Vomela founded the Vomela Specialty Company, which quickly cornered the market making tags for Christmas presents. Carlo LaManna was hired three years later, and soon the two became business partners, developing Vomela into a pioneer in the field of vinyl graphics.
In 1980, LaManna became the company’s sole owner, investing in state-of-the-art technologies including computer-aided design systems and computer numerical control (CNC) cutting systems.
“Jack and Carlo made Vomela a family business,” Tom Auth recalled. “In fact, Carlo’s 11 children all worked here at one point or another.”
Enter the Auths
By 1990, Vomela was successful, but the scope of its services was limited to contract manufacturing, converting and die-cutting. Lamanna decided to sell the company.
Meanwhile, Auth, leader of the wireless security company ITI Technologies, was looking to buy a small business. He recalled, “I became aware of the opportunity to acquire Vomela and met with Carlo. He and I hit it off, and three days later I agreed to buy the business.”
Auth’s acquisition of Vomela would transition the company well beyond the services it was offering at that time. While he remained with ITI another 10 years, Auth paid close attention to Vomela, hiring Dave DeGree as its president. Auth describes DeGree, a friend to this day, as a creative thinker who solidified the company’s position as the leading vinyl graphics provider to the RV industry. DeGree retired in 2001, at which point Auth took on the role of president.
In 1990, Auth’s son, Mark Auth, had begun working on the production floor. Over the next 10 years, Mark Auth did or managed practically every operation and administrative job within the business. He became company president in 2007 and CEO in 2014.
Tom Auth stated, “Being able to work so closely with Mark building a successful business has been one of the most significant joys of my life.”
Starting in 1997, Mark and Tom Auth and the Vomela team embarked on new journey: business diversification. Since the Auths bought the company, Vomela has transformed from a small $3 million revenue contract manufacturer to a $340 million 21st-century visual communications powerhouse. They provide visual graphic solutions to retail, hospitality, healthcare, sports, events, transportation, education, financial and commercial real estate industries. These services include interior and exterior signage, point-of-purchase displays, exhibits, window graphics, building wraps, fleet branding, intelligent mail, business documents, promotional products and small format packaging.
Today, after 26 acquisitions, Vomela employs 1,300 people and operates out of 21 locations in the U.S. and Canada.
“We are continually investing in technology, facilities and equipment and have an extremely talented group of employees,” Mark Auth said. “From our leadership and management staff to our production teams, we all understand that we are in a visual business that requires our products to look great and that quality is paramount. We can execute and manage both small projects and extremely complex ones for the largest brands.”
Vomela’s growth and innovations always start at the client level. “When our customers ask us to solve problems, our team members begin the process, do the research and pull together the solutions – even when it involves something we don’t do in-house,” said Chief Operating Officer Tim Wieland. “It’s easy to determine demand and opportunity if more than one customer asks.”
The company boasts state-of-the-art equipment, but it also designs its own proprietary technology solutions. One such tool is FLEX, an online e-commerce, on-demand portal for clients. FLEX allows customers with multiple locations to manage inventory, store assets, business documents, promotional mailers and products with 24/7 access 365 days a year.
Sustainability and the future
A classic Minnesota attribute drives the Auths. “Success on its own is not enough,” said Mark Auth. “To make a difference, we believe we should set the standard in our industry for being a socially responsible business.” In recent years, that’s meant making an environmental, social and governance (ESG) approach integral to Vomela’s services and products.
As a supply-chain partner to many publicly held Fortune 500 companies, Vomela takes its ESG journey seriously. A solar array atop the corporate facility in St. Paul consists of roughly 3,400 panels and provides a third of the facility’s power. Vomela has a dedicated team that works toward five United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and the company has received certifications from Sustainable Green Printing, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Forestry Steward Council. Vomela has also built partnerships with the Green Sports Alliance and Sustainable Brands.
“Our story,” Tom Auth said, “is one of a successful business that started out small, weathered the ups and downs of the world for the last 75 years, and is now stronger than ever. We have operated the business in a financially responsible manner that has allowed us to be opportunistic, acquiring businesses and making investments when others cannot. We hire good people, treat employees well, provide the highest quality products and services, invest in our systems, equipment and facilities and operate in diversified markets with a diverse customer base. Seventy-five years in, we are still always looking forward at how and where we need to position the business for continued success.”
Learn more about The Vomela Companies.
From concept to design, we offer end-to-end expertise that delivers the highest quality graphics for any surface, at any scale. See why The Vomela Companies are the trusted commercial graphics and strategic printing partner of globally renowned and local brands.
© 2022 American City Business Journals. All rights reserved. Use of and/or registration on any portion of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement (updated January 1, 2021) and Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement (updated July 1, 2022). The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of American City Business Journals.


Leave a Comment