Brown Printing facility in Woodstock slated to close

Workers prepare to move the first of two 74,000-pound dryer units into place as part of Brown Printing Company's new press in 2008. The company was sold to Quad Graphics of Sussex, Wisconsin.
Workers prepare to move the first of two 74,000-pound dryer units into place as part of Brown Printing Company's new press in 2008. The company was sold to Quad Graphics of Sussex, Wisconsin.

WOODSTOCK – Some 550 Woodstock employees will lose their current jobs before summer’s end as Quad/Graphics Wednesday confirmed plans to close the local Brown Printing facility.

The closure – expected to reach completion by the end of September – comes after the recent $100 million sale of Brown Printing Company to Quad/Graphics in May. What was known as Brown Printing Woodstock division, 11595 McConnell Road, is the only one of Brown’s three facilities to close at this time – although Quad/Graphics announced it will close another commercial printing facility in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

The closing comes after a round of layoffs late last year. In December, local workforce officials were informed that 80 Brown employees would be losing their jobs, said Jeffrey Poynter, director of the McHenry County Workforce Network Board. At the time, the company listed 648 employees, Poynter said.

The move to close is related to the integration process, according to Claire Ho, director of corporate communications for Quad/Graphics.

“We’re moving forward with integration plans following the recent acquisition of Brown Printing Company,” Ho said.

Cort Carlson, Woodstock director of community and economic development, said Quad/Graphics has a long-term plan to consolidate the industry. Carlson and other city officials learned of the company’s decision Wednesday morning.

“As of right now, there’s too much capacity in the print industry,” he said. “There are more plant presses and employees than business to be had.”

Employees in both Woodstock and St. Cloud were delivered the news Wednesday morning. Ho said the company is working to offer relocation to those who are willing.

“We began informing employees today (Wednesday) that the facility would close in the third quarter this year,” Ho said. “Production will likely wrap up by the end of the September.”
Woodstock Mayor Brian Sager said the news also came to him Wednesday.

“Certainly the city of Woodstock is saddened by the news that Quad/Graphics has developed plans to restructure certain operations at the Woodstock facility,” Sager said.

Considering the facility’s large employment base and significant contributions, he added, the community will feel the impact of the decision.

“Anytime a business of the stature of Brown Printing/Quad/Graphics makes a decision to restructure … with this number of employees, that is going to have a detrimental impact upon the economic situation within the larger community,” Sager said.

Efforts will be made, he added, to offer help to the workforce affected by the closure.

The Workforce Network is similarly reaching out to Brown’s employees, Poynter said. The network works off a federal grant to provide job search services and help people improve their marketability.

“We find that people who’ve been in a job for a long time, they really don’t know how to job search properly,” Poynter said. He encouraged Brown employees to get in touch with the network before their time with the company expires.

Those who take relocation jobs might not need to remarket themselves, however.

Hiring managers from some of the Quad/Graphic’s other facilities will be in Woodstock on Thursday and Friday to apprise employees of potential opportunities.

“One of the biggest things we were talking about with employees is that while their job will come to an end at Woodstock, there are positions at other plants,” Ho said.

Poynter was cautiously encouraged about the prospect but wondered how many people could realistically make the change.

“Will they be able to?” he said. “If it’s a two-income household, does one give up their job to move to another city?”

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