GBC was founded in 1947 by William N. Lane and two business partners when they purchased a small trade bindery in Chicago, Illinois. First year sales totaled $250,000. GBC expanded operations in 1952, opening another domestic manufacturing plant and founding General Binding Corporation Canada, Ltd. In the 1950s GBC laid the groundwork for its international divisions, creating sales and distribution networks in Europe, Mexico, Canada, Venezuela, and Brazil. Sales were slow at first in the European market, where GBC’s binding machines were readily available but supplies were not. In response to this situation, GBC established a manufacturing subsidiary in Switzerland in 1954 to produce a full range of plastic binding supplies as well as a limited number of binding machines. Wholly owned subsidiaries were then set up to market GBC machines and supplies throughout England, Germany, Holland, Italy, and France.