D.B. Hess to close in Woodstock; 130 will lose jobs

WOODSTOCK – About 130 people will be out of jobs late this week when D.B. Hess ceases operation.

The printer of commercial and educational materials has informed the city and the McHenry County Workforce Network of the layoffs, effective after the facility’s final day on Friday, Workforce Network Director Julie Courtney said.

BTPO Hess Holdings Inc., the Ohio-based parent company of the Woodstock printer, filed for bankruptcy in late May. The company announced at the same time it was planning a sale to Bang Printing in Brainerd, Minn.

It’s unclear whether those plans have moved forward.

“They were looking for a buyer,” Woodstock City Manager Roscoe Stelford said. “I don’t know if they ever got the buyer.”

A representative from Hess Holdings didn’t return calls Tuesday. A representative from Bang Printing said the company wasn’t commenting on the situation.

Hess Holdings didn’t touch on plans for the Woodstock branch, at 1530 McConnell Road, on May 22 when it announced plans for the sale via its website.

In its bankruptcy filing, the company – also known as Hess Print Solutions – listed assets of as much as $50,000 and debt as much as $100 million, according to an early-June report by Bloomberg.

Representatives from the McHenry County Workforce Network, Department of Employment Security and Department of Economic Opportunity began meeting Tuesday with the laid-off workforce.
Courtney said she was not aware of any employees who had been offered jobs at existing Bang Printing operations in Minnesota or California.

Started in 1899, Bang Printing offers printing, binding and fulfillment services. It acquired two printing operations in Valencia, Calif., and Commerce, Calif., in 2008 and 2010, respectively, according to the company’s website.

Courtney said the first step by her organization is to gauge the skills and desires of the laid-off workers. Managers and supervisors could find similar positions in other manufacturing environments, while other employees might need to upgrade skills to find work, she said.

“Some might want to get out of the industry and train for something completely different,” Courtney added.

She encouraged employees to continue using the resources of the workforce network after workshops are done.

Stelford said the city has reached out to D.B. Hess to see how it could assist with laid-off employees, but added the city has been kept mainly “in the dark” about proceedings.

“There weren’t negotiations in this case because this was a bankruptcy,” he said. “There wasn’t anything to negotiate.”

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