Abbey Press Printing to Close After Nearly 150 Years; 71 Workers Are Impacted
ST. MEINRAD, Ind. — December 6, 2016 — Unfortunately, belief in some form of divine intervention won't save the jobs for 71 full- and part-time printing workers whose jobs will be eliminated here by the middle of next year. According to a Dec. 1 press release issued by Saint Meinrad Archabbey, after nearly 150 years of printing and marketing Christian books, cards and gifts, Abbey Press will close two main divisions — Abbey Press Printing and its Abbey Press Trade Marketing wholesale business — by mid-2017. The Publications division, which produces the CareNotes line of booklets, Elf-help and other books, and Deacon Digest Magazine will remain open, but that work will likely be outsourced.
The full-service, FSC-certified commercial printing business is owned and operated by Saint Meinrad Archabbey, a Roman Catholic Benedictine monastery located in southern Indiana that also operates a school of theology. Its roots date back to 1867 when the monks purchased a small, secondhand printing press for their in-house needs. Abbey Press was soon fulfilling printing orders from the outside community. Over time, the printing operation followed the evolution of the printing industry as it moved from letterpress typesetting and printing into the modern world of PDF file submission, digital proofing and direct-to-plate imaging and printing.
On its website, Abbey Press Printing lists newsletters, direct mail, short-run publications, catalogs, booklets, manuals, marketing brochures, annual reports and holiday greeting cards among its printed product offerings, as well as the ability to create various postpress embellishments like foil stamping, diecutting and embossing.
In keeping with its roots of ownership by the Bendectine monks at Saint Meinrad Archabbey, Abbey Press lay workers were referred to as co-workers, rather than employees. More than half reportedly had been employed there for over 25 years, including multiple generations of the same families. Displaced co-workers will all receive severance packages, and employment and counseling services, according to Saint Meinrad Archabbey.
Archabbot Kurt Stasiak made the announcement, explaining that the decision was not easy. "The Press has had a long, rich history of service and outreach to people of faith, and our co-workers are very proud of that. It's heart-breaking to see so many lose their jobs, when they have tirelessly devoted their lives to this place and its mission," he said.
Abbey Press has struggled to overcome the challenges of a competitive marketplace, according to the Bendectine monastery. Those challenges have included rising costs, changing technologies, competition from overseas suppliers, and a decline in print and religious gift store markets. In response, new marketing, products and suppliers, along with other cost-cutting efforts, were introduced to improve the bottom line. "However, even with added cuts and downsizing, sustainable profitability with all of its sales divisions could not be reached."
In its heyday, the Abbey Press grew into an international marketer and manufacturer of inspirational and religious cards, gifts, books and other publications — and once employed more than 300 co-workers.
Printing Impressions reached out to Norma Schipp, Abbey Press Printing manager, for more information, but she did not respond by our publication time.