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GDA Companies, Inc., records

Identifier: MSS 0856

Scope and Contents

GDA Companies, Inc., records comprises administrative and organizational files as well as numerous design samples created by the organization for largely Delaware-based businesses, including multiple, large pharmaceutical enterprises, between 1979 and 2000. The collection also includes pre-GDA Richard Florschutz design work, art, and ephemera, dating circa 1969-1979.

Series I., Administrative and organizational records contains materials relating to GDA’s policies and procedures, finances, jobs, marketing efforts, technical manuals, and vendor suppliers.

Series I.A., Policies and procedures, comprises materials arranged chronologically and related to the workflows and standard operating procedures of the company. The series contains employee training manuals for GDA and GDA Communications (GDAC), software and computer guidelines, specification and directions for open jobs, file management specifications, work orders, and scanning and printing instructions. Additionally, the series contains procedures relating to GDA graphical products including “Prescribing Information Bulletins” (PIBs), “Brief Summaries”, “Medi-Scripts”, and “Visual Aid Programs “(VAPs), which were all variants of customized sales and marketing literature. Also included are procedures for GDA’s Project Management department which was responsible for generating accurate estimates and timelines, tracking open jobs, scheduling workflows for the organization, copywriting, and editing.

Series I.B. Reports, is arranged chronologically and comprises financial documents of the organization as well as tracking lists for projects and jobs. Financial reports include purchase orders, largely relating to Zeneca Pharmaceuticals, and invoices from a variety of largely Delaware-based companies. The series contains general job reports that include closed jobs reports and logs, tracking sheets for faxed advertisements, and weekly traffic schedules. Additionally the series includes “archived jobs,” which are paper lists of .sit (“StuffIt” compressed file type) directories. The series also contains client contact reports and memoranda which detail agreements and future actions discussed at meetings between GDA staff and clients.

Series I.C., Marketing and promotion, is arranged chronologically and comprises various GDA promotional materials including corporate brochures, direct-to-consumer advertisements, presentations, web-samples, novelty items, and VHS. The series additionally includes a 1986 Insurance Marketing Services marketing plan manual.

Series I.D., Technical manuals and software is arranged chronologically and comprises two technical manuals “Microsoft Word 7.0 Binary File Format” (1994) and “Microsoft Open Database Connectivity (ODBC)” (circa 1995). Software includes Comdial Execumail Voice Processing System (circa 1995) diskettes and Partspec AutoCAD Library (1997) compact discs. Series I.E. Vendors is arranged chronologically and contains business cards, paper and printing samples, brochures, and printing quotations from suppliers to GDA of goods and services needed for printing and production. The business cards in this series list printers, paper suppliers, photographers, computer and audio/visual technicians, translators, typesetters, and other graphic design companies in the greater-Delaware region.

Series I.F. is arranged chronologically and contains slides, negatives, and photographs created for client use as well as GDA self-promotions and marketing. The images contain product shots, building interiors and exteriors, and Delaware landscapes as well as many images associated with “research and development” such as laboratory interiors and researchers at work.

Series II., Design samples is arranged into five subseries: pre-GDA Florschutz design samples; GDA samples by client/organization; GDA sample invitations; GDA “custom programs”; VAP-link samples; and GDA travel and display samples.

Series II.A. comprises pre-GDA Richard Florschutz design samples and proofs for a variety of client companies including Black & Decker Corporation, Delaware Art Museum, Delaware Lottery, NBC Television Network, Trans World Airlines, Wilmington Medical Center and numerous others, created prior to the formation of GDA. The NBC design samples represent the bulk of the materials in this subseries and offer insight into 1970s television marketing aesthetic from Florschutz’s time as senior designer at the television network. The subseries also contains various brochures, programs, decals, informational cards and other marketing media, many of which predate digital design processes. Lastly, the subseries contains a folder of photographic slides that contain additional pre-GDA Florschutz designs, many of which mirror the paper-based NBC content found in the subseries. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by client/organization.

Series II.B., GDA samples, represents the bulk of design samples in the collection and contains thousands of examples of GDA’s work with predominantly Delaware-based businesses from 1979 to 2000. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by client/organization, which ranged from single individuals to multinational conglomerates. The subseries is further arranged chronologically within client groupings.

Prominent and/or frequent clients of GDA included Alfred I. du Pont Institute; André Harvey Studios; Du Pont Pharmaceuticals; Eli Lilly and Company; various divisions of ICI including Agricultural Products, Americas, and Pharmaceuticals; J.C. Penney; Merz; Pfizer Animal Health; Stuart Disease Management Services, Inc. (SDMS); Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories; Zeneca Agricultural Products; and Zeneca Pharamaceuticals. GDA’s work with Zeneca Pharmaceuticals represents the bulk of the series, and the file group is further arranged alphabetically by the company’s service and/or pharmaceutical product.

Materials found in this subseries include brochures, posters, promotional cards, invitations, stationery, planners, flyers, product ads and labels. Series II.C., GDA sample invitations, is a small batch of stationery and invitations, grouped as such and arranged chronologically, that feature many of the clients found in the prior subseries and demonstrate the variety of design choices GDA offered to its customers.

Series II.D., comprises GDA “custom programs”, a term the company used for its comprehensive, professional marketing plans and proposals which were designed “to educate targeted audiences in support of ongoing marketing activities,” for specific products. Created for select clients, GDA custom programs provided strategic recommendations for marketing, and also a plan for training sales representatives about features of various products. Similar to project briefs, custom programs contained rationale, program profiles, timelines, and budgets. Clients for custom programs included Abbott Laboratories, Elizabeth Arden Cosmetics, ICI Pharmaceuticals, Merz, Pfizer Animal Health, Zeneca Pharmaceuticals, and others. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by client/organization.

Series II.E., comprises VAP-link samples and related tracking information. A similar product to GDA’s custom programs, Visual Aid Programs, or VAPs, were project briefs and tracking sheets for discrete sales-aid products specific to Zeneca Pharmaceuticals. VAP-link was the system by which the visual aid programs were created. Brochures, flyers, and other “visual aid” samples in this subseries were accompanied by forms which tracked the progress of the job until completion. Materials in this subseries are arranged chronologically.

Series II.F., comprises travel and display samples for GDA self-promotional use in interpersonal client meetings and/or larger, widely-attended events. The subseries, arranged by format, contains three travel cases with samples inserted throughout for on-the-road marketing, as well as matted samples for use at conferences/etc. Included with matted samples are printed screenshots of two GDA Digital Media products -websites and CD-ROM programs- that showcase the burgeoning digital versatility of the company in the 1990s.

Series III., Richard Florschutz art and ephemera, is arranged chronologically and contains a small amount of materials unrelated to GDA operations but reflective of Florschutz’s life and interests. These include newspapers, posters, and printed ephemera as well as furniture sketches by Florschutz and his homemade, bird-themed “Season’s Greeting” greeting cards. One item of note in this series is a 1975 letter from then-FBI director Clarence M. Kelley to Florschutz which is appreciative of the latter’s interest in the Crime Resistance Program. Through FBI and local police partnership, this program sought to mobilize greater citizen involvement in efforts to resist crime in Wilmington, Delaware; Birmingham, Alabama; Norfolk, Virginia; and Dekalb County Georgia. The letter is accompanied by an FBI press release about the program.


  • Creation: approximately 1969-2000


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Access Information

Thise collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Historical Note

GDA Companies was a corporate communications and design business formed by Richard and Karin Florschutz and based in Wilmington, Delaware. It grew out of Graphic Design Associates, Inc., which was founded by the couple in 1979. Richard Florschutz was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and grew up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Karin Marie Volger was born in Leck, Germany, moved to the United States at age 10 and also resided in Lancaster County. They married in 1966.

Mr. Florschutz attended college at the Minneapolis School of Art and studied under educator Rob Roy Kelly. He transferred to the Kansas City Art Institute so he could continue under the tutelage of Kelly when the latter accepted a directorship of the design department at KCAI. Florschutz received a BFA from KCAI and continued his education at Indiana University in Bloomington. There he received his MFA degree in graphic design with minors in photography, drawing, and printmaking. In an interim year, the Florschutzes took time off from graduate school, lived in Philadelphia, and had their first son. During this time, Mr. Florschutz worked for a design firm whose primary client was Merck Sharp & Dohme Pharmaceuticals.

Upon graduation, the Florschutzes moved to New York City with the intent of opening a small design business. Richard Florschutz was soon offered a senior design position at the NBC Television Network and worked in NBC headquarters at Rockefeller Center. In 1972, the couple relocated with their two sons to Wilmington, Delaware, where Mr. Florschutz was offered a job with a Delaware corporate design firm as Senior Art Director. After, several years he became a partner and vice president of another local advertising agency. During this time, the couple and their two sons resided in Arden, Delaware, where Karin Florschutz became site manager for the Arden Montessori School.

In 1979, the Florschutzes formed Graphic Design Associates, Inc. (GDA), which initially centered on marketing, graphics, and corporate communications for Stuart Pharmaceuticals. In GDA’s early years, its primary business came from Stuart’s marketing department with additional work available via Stuart and ICI Pharmaceuticals’ research, sales, legal and marketing research, and corporate communications departments. GDA centered on building long-term relationships based on durable design criteria that shaped a client/organization’s individual corporate identity. Consequently, the focus of GDA was customized design, high-quality corporate communications, and a strong emphasis on client service.

The 1980s were an important time in marketing communications as the advertising marketplace transitioned to electronic communication and digital design. Prior to this time, GDA’s design and production were implemented with magic-marker layouts, comprehensive layouts, paint, hand-lettering and press type, Photostats, lead type, galley proofs, bulky film-based photo equipment, mechanical production boards, and color-film separation for printing. In addition, frequent client meetings were also necessary for art and product approvals.

GDA was early to embrace electronic and digital communications and was one of the first to do so in Wilmington. During this time, GDA Digital Media, Inc., was formed, and the company’s transition to computer graphics was initiated. The change allowed GDA to control nearly all aspects of its design products in house. Communications with clients became easier and faster, and revisions to projects became more efficient. Instead of starting each project anew with every slight revision, electronic and digital layouts allowed changes to be made on-screen and then relayed to clients nearly instantly. Developments in digital file transfer additionally expedited the process between client approval and project completion. During this watershed, many GDA projects transitioned from print products to digital products which GDA Digital Media was positioned and prepared to implement.

The 1980s saw Stuart Pharmaceuticals grow from a fifty-million dollar business to a several-billion dollar enterprise. GDA also grew, but was still a project-based company with most work based on an hourly fee. Also at this time, pharmaceutical companies were merging, vetting and consolidating their suppliers. The result was fewer, but larger, pharmaceutical companies and the reduction of hundreds of vendors to a select and approved few. Meanwhile, the international advertising business was also consolidating by purchasing as many smaller boutique communications companies as possible.

GDA maintained their key partnership with Stuart Pharmaceuticals and ICI Pharmaceuticals, and when the two merged to become Zeneca Pharmaceuticals in the 1990s, GDA, after a long vetting process, became Zeneca’s preferred vendor. After the merger, Zeneca was headed toward becoming a twenty-billion dollar company, and to support the organization’s growth, GDA formed the full service advertising agency, GDA Communications (GDAC). GDAC became one of Zeneca’s two retainer-based pharmaceutical ad agencies as well as an agency of record for Zeneca, and its contract included all professional ad placement, marketing, product launch meeting, and sales promotion materials. Additionally, GDAC also became an agency of record for Stuart Disease Management Services, Inc. (SDMS). At this time, GDA’s Interactive Forums was created to provide insight into managed healthcare issues through seminars, meetings, and focus groups.

GDA Companies, Inc., the umbrella corporation of GDA Digital Media, GDA Communications, GDA Corporate Communications, and Interactive Forums, grew to seventy employees in two locations. The organization rented a floor in the Hercules building along the Brandywine River, and owned several buildings on Tatnall Street in downtown Wilmington. Over the years, its pharmaceutical clients included Zeneca, Stuart, ICI, Du Pont, and Wyeth-Ayerst Pharmaceuticals as well as Pfizer, SmithKline Animal Health, and Eli Lilly and Company. GDA also had numerous non-pharmaceutical clients, including ICI Agricultural Products, ICI Americas, Du Pont Company, Christiana Care, Maryland Bank, André Harvey Studios, Delaware Wild Lands, and Hugh Lofting Timber Framing, among many others.

Biographical and historical information supplied by donor and derived from collection.


20 linear foot

7 oversize box


Founded in 1979 by Richard and Karin Florschutz in Wilmington, Delaware, Graphic Design Associates, Inc. (later GDA Companies, Inc.) was a communications and design business that ceased operation in 2016. The collection comprises administrative and organizational files as well as numerous design samples created for largely Delaware-based corporate clients, including major pharmaceutical enterprises, between 1979 and 2000. The records reflect adoption of electronic communication and digital media in advertising campaigns and marketing during this period. The collection also includes early personal art and design created by Richard Florschutz, 1969-1979.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Richard Florschutz, August 2016

Shelving Summary

Boxes 1-20: Shelved in SPEC MSS record center cartons Box 21: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize boxes (18 inches) Box 22: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize boxes (20 inches) Box 23-24: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize boxes (24 inches) Box 25: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize boxes (17 inches) Box 26: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize boxes (20 inches) Box 27: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize boxes (24 inches) Removals: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize mapcases

Processing Information

Processed and encoded by Dustin Frohlich, March-September, 2018.

Finding aid for GDA Companies, Inc., records
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2018 June 6
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA