Editor’s Notebook: Pictorial' s Demise Is A Sad Commentary
Pictorial Offset has closed its doors in Carlstadt, NJ, after a 78-year-run. Operated by brothers and managing partners Don, Gary and Lester Samuels, the closure ended their printing industry family legacy and eliminated 113 job positions.
Blame Superstorm Sandy for the initial body blow on Oct. 29, 2012, causing 18˝ of water to flood their buildings, combined with significant wind and electrical damage. The second blow came when their insurer, Zurich American Insurance, disputed their claim about electrial damage to their presses prior to the actual flooding. And, the final knockout punch came when Bank of America sued Pictorial after the print shop defaulted on the line of credit it tapped to get up-and-running in the aftermath of the hurricane.
Pictorial had always remained on the forefront of quality assurance and environmental stewardship, garnering third-party ISO certifications well before other printers. In 2006, Pictorial was also the first printer worldwide to achieve SFI chain-of-custody certification. In 2013, we wrote about the 2,968 solar panels that Pictorial installed on its rooftop, marking the largest solar panel installation by a U.S. commercial printer. Both Donald and Gary Samuels were inducted into the Printing Impressions/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Fame, and their brother Lester would have been just as deserving.
Still dealing with the aftermath of the hurricane one year later, Donald Samuels advised fellow printers to examine their business insurance policies closely, and to make sure they understand the extent of coverage and any exclusions that might be buried deep inside. Also hire the best insurance adjuster you can find because your insurer will have an army of consultants trying to minimize the payout.
As rumors of a possible closure spread, Pictorial’s customers became jittery and its top salespeople headed for the exits. They tried to complete an asset sale to another printer, but unfunded union pension liabilities and last-minute reneging by a buyer reportedly caused the deal to collapse. Historic hurricanes, insurance companies, bankers and buyers of a distressed business, it appears, show no mercy.