Zebra Technologies Mourns Passing of Co-Founder Gerhard (Gary) Cless

Visionary in Label Printing Enhanced the Way Organizations Manage Their Operations

LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. – Jan. 25, 2016 – Zebra Technologies Corporation (NASDAQ: ZBRA) is deeply saddened to announce that director, executive vice president and co-founder Gary Cless passed away on Friday following a long illness.

Cless was 29 when he co-founded Zebra in 1969 with Ed Kaplan, and he devoted his career to growing the company. Initially, Zebra was known as Data Specialties Corporation and manufactured high-speed electromechanical products that punched holes in long paper tape to track inventory. Under Gary’s technical and engineering leadership, the company later began development of the first barcode printers in the early 1980s and changed its name to Zebra Technologies in 1986.


  • Since its founding, Cless has directed the development of numerous label printers and maintained worldwide technology and vendor relationships.
  • Cless served as a member of the Board of Directors of Zebra since its formation in 1969 as well as corporate secretary from 1969-2005. Cless has served as executive vice president of Zebra since 1998.  He previously served as executive vice president for engineering and technology for Zebra from 1995 to 1998, after having served as senior vice president of engineering since 1969. He also served as treasurer of Zebra until 1991.  
  • Prior to founding Zebra, Cless was a research and development engineer at Teletype Corporation's printer division. Cless received an MSME degree from Esslingen, Germany, and did graduate work at the Illinois Institute of Technology.  
  • Funeral arrangements are pending; details will be available at http://www.donnellanfuneral.com/
  • In lieu of flowers, Zebra asks any donations be made in Gary’s name to either the Kellogg Cancer Centre, 2650 Ridge Ave., 4th Floor, Evanston, IL 60201 or JourneyCare Midwest Hospice, 2050 Claire Court, Glenview, IL 60025.


Anders Gustafsson, Chief Executive Officer, Zebra Technologies

“Gary was a benevolent and caring leader who had a special gift in taking the complex and making it simple. His passion and leadership inspired many innovations and he was truly one of the pioneers in revolutionizing barcode printing. He was known for relating to people on a human level and we will honor his legacy in the best ways we know how - through collaboration and innovation. We will miss him dearly.”

Mike Smith, Chairman of the Board, Zebra Technologies

“Gary’s contributions to creating and building Zebra and to innovation in the specialty printing industry are extraordinary by all measures. He was an especially positive optimist who saw the best in people, was embraced as mentor and confidant, and believed deeply in the Company’s great promise for the future.  At the same time, he relished his family roles as husband, father and grandfather and always lived a healthy life balance that inspired us all.  Gary’s legacy will live through the Company’s special culture and its unwavering commitment to building new technologies.”

Zebra Technologies, Zebra and the Zebra logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Zebra Technologies Corporation and are used under license. Third-party trademarks mentioned are the property of their respective owners. ©2016 Zebra Technologies Corporation. All rights reserved.