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Pa. printer to lay off about 150

October 05, 2006|by DON AINES

WAYNESBORO, PA. - Regency Thermographers, which has been in operation in Waynesboro for more than 40 years, announced Wednesday it will lay off approximately 150 workers as part of a realignment that will move its social stationery manufacturing to a plant in Minnesota.

The company, in business in Waynesboro since 1965, will continue to manufacture commercial stationery, business cards, folders, envelopes and other business products at the Waynesboro facility, Plant Manager Joel Fridgen said. The company employs more than 300 people at its Clayton Avenue plant and the layoffs will occur in phases in December, he said.

"We know this is painful for our community and the dedicated employees who are impacted," General Manager Jim Motz said in a statement released by the company.

The social stationery group, which makes wedding invitations, holiday cards and other printed materials, will be moving to Carlson Craft in North Mankato, Minn., Fridgen said. Regency and Carlson Craft are owned by Taylor Corp., also in North Mankato, he said.

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Franklin County has maintained the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania for 16 months and has not ranked lower than second among its 67 counties in nearly three years, according to the state Department of Labor and Industry. Franklin County Area Development Corp. President L. Michael Ross said this is the first significant layoff he can recall in the past five or six years.

That was at Grove Worldwide in Shady Grove, Pa., now Manitowoc Crane, which has since experienced substantial growth in business and employment. In July, Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell announced $599,450 in state support for a $20 million expansion at Manitowoc that will help the company retain 1,599 jobs and add up to 241 jobs over the next three years.

"They are the biggest unknown employer in the county," Ross said of Regency.

The company has been working with the development corporation and the state Department of Labor and Industry in advance of Wednesday's announcement to have job search and job training services in place to help the laid-off workers, he said.

"I'm optimistic that those folks who are dislocated will have the opportunity to be absorbed into the local economy," Ross said.

Regency is also working with MANTEC Inc., a nonprofit consulting firm, to identify lean manufacturing processes and funding for customized job training to help the printer stay competitive, Ross said. MANTEC is funded primarily through the state Department of Community and Economic Development and the federal Manufacturing Partnership Extension, he said.

The marketplace for special occasion printing is changing, with people able to order products over the Internet or make them on home computers, Fridgen said. The company decided to consolidate at one location, rather than have regional operations, he said.

Regency will concentrate on marketing its business line of products through two channels - wholesale to dealers and through independent sales representatives, Fridgen said.

"Obviously, we want to be here for a long time into the future," he said.

"It's important to the people staying here that they see there's a future," Fridgen said. "The whole focus of this realignment is really to provide stability and prepare us to meet the needs of our customers in the future."

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