Year in Review: Not the Best of Times

FOR THE second year running, Montreal’s Quebecor World captivated our minds and latched onto our attention span for the better part of the first six months of 2009—a thankful distraction from the economic woes our nation continued to experience. And for all of the negative news that permeated the front pages this year, it probably represented less than a third of all the closures and layoffs that actually took place. Perhaps ignorance is bliss.

Though the Quebecor World saga garnered much attention, the volume of companies either shutting down or shedding workers was alarming, nonetheless. In January, Oregon businesses Leading
Media Print Group
and Koke Printing fell victim to the credit crunch and closed their doors, while check printer Harland Clarke chained facilities in Minnesota and North Carolina, leaving 225 people out of work. And effective January 1, Michael DuBose stepped down as CEO of Baltimore-based Vertis Communications.

The economy also illustrated that no company was immune from its clutches. Sussex, WI-based Quad/Graphics announced it was eliminating 550 positions from nine facilities in five states, or about 5.6 percent of Quad’s domestic workforce. RR Donnelley of Chicago closed down its Heartland Press plant in Spencer, IA, taking away 160 jobs. Two other printers—book specialist Courier Corp. of North Chelmsford, MA, and label printer Multi-Color Corp.—each closed plants, consolidating their work into existing facilities. Combined, more than 130 jobs were lost.

Century-old National Hirschfeld of Denver locked its doors for good at the end of January, putting 250 people in the unemployment line. The company had filed for Chapter 11 protection while it sought out a potential buyer.

Wayne Angstrom, a 2003 Printing Impressions/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Fame inductee, sparked a management-led buyout of the St Ives U.S. division from St Ives plc of London. St Ives employs 564 people in its Cleveland and Hollywood, FL, facilities.

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