Industry Nostalgia High as Quebecor World Announces Plant Closings
Quebecor World, which today employs around 31,000, took over the one-million-square-foot facility about 16 years ago, when it acquired Arcata.
In an article in the Kingsport Times-News, the city’s mayor, Dennis Phillips, was quoted as saying, “During the past several months, we have been in contact with officials from Quebecor who advised us that the decision to close the Kingsport plant was made some two years ago. While we had hoped this decision could be reversed, today’s announcement would indicate that was not to be.”
Tony Ross, Quebecor’s director of communications, however, says, “The decision to close the Kingsport facility was made very recently, and once the decision was made it was communicated to our employees, customers and the appropriate authorities as quickly as possible.”
The Times-News article also quoted Sam McGee of Kingsport, a 59-year-old book binder with 37 years at the plant. “I can’t say anything bad about the company,” he said. “There’s been a lot of families raised from this plant.”
There also have been a lot of books manufactured at the facility. “I think the capacity was over 100 million books a year,” says Maloney. He notes that the plant was once the country’s largest manufacturer of Bibles, and leather covers were even hand-bound. “So there was a lot of craftsmanship in the history of Kingsport, as well,” he adds.
Less than two years ago, the company laid off about half of its Kingsport employees, around 450 people, and the year prior to that it laid off some 200 others.
Maloney suggests the plant’s closing is not an indication of declining business. “The work is not going away, it’s just going to different facilities,” he says.
Instead, he suspects that the facility’s age and constant evolution may have been a factor. “The plant was small, and it was constantly being expanded. So probably from a workflow standpoint, it wasn’t the most efficient facility. And obviously it was very old,” he says. “So I can see from a business point of view that this probably is for the good of everyone. Books need to be printed in the most efficient and well-laid-out facilities.”