Customer Demand for Unionized Printing Companies Still Remains Strong
The face of unionization in the United States, and within the printing industry itself, has changed drastically in the last 10 years. Consolidation has taken out many union shops, a trend that is unlikely to change. Membership ranks continue to dwindle, and organizational efforts seem to have become a thing of the past.
Curiously, however, an argument could be made that as the union population diminishes in the printing industry, the stronger the need for printing the union bug becomes—creating a niche of work that not many shops can lay claim. As the list of union printers condenses, the greater the opportunity that exists for the remaining establishments.
Earlier this year, a pair of longstanding union shops in the Los Angeles area joined forces, with The Harman Press purchasing Fox Printing. These were two venerable, family-owned shops: legend has it, The Harman Press (affiliated with Teamsters Local 572) was won in a poker game from founder Joe Goldner back in the 1940s. Harman serves the entertainment, health care and political realms and has some crossover with Fox, which also provided work to the entertainment trades, building trades, Teamsters and other unions.
While Fox Printing owner Gary Fox feels the combination makes for a good fit, selling the family business was nonetheless a bittersweet move to make. Fox had reached the conclusion that selling was necessary roughly 15-18 months before the deal with Harman was consummated. Despite having a legacy (sons Todd and Brett, and stepson David Wardlaw), Gary Fox felt the business was not sustainable on its own.
“What happened with the economy during the last six, seven years hurt everybody, and printing seemed to be fading away,” says Fox, who notes that about 95 percent of the company’s work was for union clientele. “We had a great book of printing that was loyal to Fox, some customers that go back to when my father was running the business.