A tumultuous week as the manufacturing plant I have been associated with for the last 40 years announced it will be closing in about six weeks. My position was eliminated two years ago while off on medical leave (of course they didn’t tell me until I went back and of course it had nothing to do with me being off for five months). But I get it. I got it then.
This is a printing plant. We make magazines and catalogs there. Everyone knows the printing business is not what it used to be.
But that doesn’t make the (around) 400 people who will be out of a job feel any better. I’m not sure what will. I could repeat what they said when it happened to me “You’ll be fine!”, but that seems a little condescending. We each have to find our own way.
I worry more about the community. Having that big empty building there can’t be good for our tax base. It would be great if it got snatched up by the latest greatest. Hello Amazon…come on down!
The Press (as it came to be known) came to our little town in about 1975. Owned by Judd and Detweiler, from Washington DC, the main draw of moving to this rural area was the right to work laws of our commonwealth, which we were constantly reminded of.
We became known as SVP, Shenandoah Valley Press. We were young and we were proud. Our biggest client back then was Newsweek Magazine. We worked hard to win the coveted Newsweek printer of the Year award, and did, more than once.
In 1998 Perry Printing bought Judds and we became Perry Judds. Work was fairly steady for the next few years and then the housing market blew up and money was every where. Ads increased page counts; magazines were created for home remodeling, buying, architecture and all the trimmings. We were bursting at the seams. Mandatory over time, J-1 students from Poland , and other temporary employees had our plant running 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In 2006 RR Donnelley, one of the largest printers in the world bought us. Ten years later, after the bubble burst and the internet was in every home, Donnelley split their holdings into three companies. The printing portion would now be known as LSC Communications.
Through the years we printed billions of magazines. New York Magazine, Us Weekly, Business Week, The Economist, The Washington Post Magazine, and many more specialty magazines you may or may not have heard of were printed, bound, and shipped from our plant. I think I speak for the majority of us when I say we worked hard to put out a product we were proud of. There is something to be said for that.
This past summer a deal was on the table for Quad-Graphics to buy LSC but the Department of Justice blocked it citing monopoly concerns. I personally feel that was short sighted of the DOJ, given the state of the industry, but perhaps it would have only postponed the inevitable.
I have a lot of history in that building, a lot of memories, but although we have lost our jobs, the memories and the friendships remain.
Edited to change start date from 1977 to 1975