Industry Nostalgia High as Quebecor World Announces Plant Closings
Manufacturing plant closings aren’t exactly unheard of in this industry, and never is the news of a plant closing received without some pangs of distress for the employees, their families, the local communities, and even the company’s corporate officers who are forced to make such difficult decisions and handle the ensuing layoffs. But some plant closing announcements seem to hit the industry a little harder than others. The recent announcement by Quebecor World that it will close its Kingsport, Tenn., book manufacturing facility is one example.
“Anyone in book publishing … probably knows the name Kingsport,” says Martin Maloney, chairman of the public relations firm Broadford & Maloney, who used to work for the Kingsport facility when it merged with a company called Arcata National Corp., in the late 1960s and 1970s. “It was known as the place to have your books printed.”
Quebecor announced the closing—and the closing of its Brookfield, Wis., magazine manufacturing facility—on April 11, as part of a reorganization of its U.S. book and magazine platforms involving the investment in new state-of-the-art equipment and the decommissioning or relocation of certain existing assets. The announcement came five days after Quebecor World had announced the appointment of its new president and CEO, Wes Lucas.
The closings, expected to be completed by the third quarter of this year, will affect an estimated 735 employee positions—425 in Kingsport and 310 in Brookfield.
The announcement to close the Kingsport plant is a historic event in the industry for some. “Generations of book production people and manufacturing reps were trained by The Kingsport Press ...” says Eugene Schwartz, editor-at-large of ForeWord Magazine for independent publishers, referring to the Kingsport facility’s roots as the Kingsport Press, founded in 1922. “And like all of the book manufacturers of their era half a century ago, what we now know as the book business was built on and rested on the hardware and resources of its manufacturing back room,” says Schwartz, a 50-plus-year veteran of the book publishing industry, who has held positions as a production and manufacturing manager at the likes of Monarch Press, Random House, CRM/Psychology Today and Goodyear/Prentice Hall.