Thursday, March 8, 2012

Yankee Invasion: Quad/Graphics' Jonesboro Closing Marks End of an Era

Quad/Graphics cemented its status today as the General Sherman of the printing industry with the announced closing of its last big Mid-South plant, in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

Quad's rapid downsizing following its purchase of Worldcolor less than two years ago has done for the South's printing industry what the Union general did for Georgia agriculture.

"At one time, the former Quebecor’s Mid-South facilities employed more than 3,000 workers at plants in Memphis, Olive Branch, Miss., Corinth, Miss., Jonesboro, Covington, Tenn., and Dyersburg, Tenn.," Memphis Business Journal noted today. Employees say the Wisconsin company recently shut down the bindery at another former Quebecor/Worldcolor plant, in Franklin, Kentucky.

"So, ALL the Tennessee plants will be closed, ALL the Mississippi plants will be closed, They are starting on ALL the Kentucky plants now........ Looks like a pattern to me," one Tennessean commented on a forum.

"Looks like the Second War of Northern aggression if you ask me, to arms," responded a Kentuckian.

Only a few decades ago, U.S. printing companies were shifting work from the Midwest to new plants in lower-wage, less union-friendly locations across the Ohio River. But Quad has actually reversed the pattern the past two years, shifting work and employees from the South to Yankee territory, especially the Midwest. Quad still has Southern plants -- in Georgia, Texas, and Virginia.

With its emphasis on employee ownership, generous benefits, and rah-rah culture, Quad has been able to avoid unionization even in union-friendly states. The Worldcolor purchase brought many unionized plants into the company, but Quad's aggressive post-acqusition downsizing has fallen especially hard on those plants and in fact on ex-Worldcolor plants in general.

Only two of the dozen plants Quad has closed since the acquisition had not been Worldcolor operations, and both of those had only been part of Quad for a few years.

The company's long-standing practice of investing heavily in new equipment and technology has helped make the legacy-Quad plants nearly immune from the cutbacks. Quad sometimes replaced presses that were far from obsolete with new ones that were faster and more efficient. Worldcolor/Quebecor, however, was known for trying to stretch out the useful life of its equipment to minimize equipment purchases.

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Grant said...

'"Looks like the Second War of Northern aggression if you ask me, to arms," responded a Kentuckian.'

What do you call someone who didn't choose sides in the Civil War?

A Kentuckian.

Anonymous said...

The way our dryers smoke (makes your eyes irritated) at The Rock Georgia I wish they would leave those plants open and keep the jobs there. Quad culture is not what it is all suppose to be down here that must be up North.

Skip said...

I believe one of the first battles was in Northern Kentucky up by Centre College which the confederate armies made up of Tennessee reg's mostly Nashville soldiers and Kentucky free men reg's fought and won that battle which forced the Northern armies back to Louisville and Southern Indiana and Ohio..Then the Confederate Generals told the Tennessee and Kentucky forces to retreat which then gave up Kentucky to the North then the Union forces marched into western Tennesse and that major battle went to the Union. The confederate armies were ready to engage the union forces near Bowling Green but once again given the orders to retreat back into Tennessee. Get your history right..boy..

Anonymous said...

Kentucky was neutral at the start of the war. General Polk of the Confederate Army tried to take Kentucky for the the Confederacy but failed. The Kentucky legislature then asked the Union for assistance was was pretty much under Union control from then on in the Civil War.