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Quad/Graphics to cut 35 jobs

January 12, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Quad/Graphics, one of Berkeley County's largest private employers, will eliminate 35 full-time jobs this week at its Martinsburg-area plant as part of a plan to reduce production capacity, a company spokesperson said Monday.

The layoffs are blamed on softened demand in the printing business.

The affected employees are among 550 to be laid off at company operations in five states. A total of 400 jobs are being eliminated at plants in Wisconsin, where the nation's third-largest privately held printer is headquartered in Sussex, spokesperson Claire Ho said Monday.

Employees who lose their jobs will receive a "transition package" of pay and extension of health benefits based on years of service. They also will be assisted in finding other jobs.

"We appreciate the contributions that they made to the company," Ho said of the administrative and production layoffs. "It's very difficult to say goodbye."

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With the reduction in force, the company's facility at 855 Caperton Boulevard off W.Va. 9 will still employ about 800 people full time, Ho said.

The job cuts come after the company did not replace employees who previously quit, Ho said. Company officials in the first quarter of 2008 reported the Martinsburg plant employed about 1,000 people, according to the Berkeley County Development Authority.

Ho could not clarify past employment numbers on Monday, but noted the company did have seasonal and part-time employees.

The layoffs amount to the equivalent of one plant's worth of production capacity and approximately 5.6 percent of the company's domestic work force of 9,800, according to a company news release.

"This is a strategic move, made from a position of financial and industry strength," said Quad/Graphics' President and Chief Executive Officer Joel Quadracci in a news release. "Quad/Graphics continues to have industry-leading profit margins, and because we have maintained our investment-grade credit quality, we have plenty of access to capital markets that will ensure our strong position within the industry for a long time.

"While I had hoped to see some better indicators as we entered the new year, it's clear that this economic downturn is going to be much longer and more severe than we expected, and so we are taking appropriate steps to reset our own capacity," Quadracci added.

Quad/Graphics' capacity reduction includes equipment shutdowns at nine printing plants nationwide, but Ho said the company currently has no plans to return the equipment being taken off-line.

With $2.2 billion in annual sales, Quad/Graphics provides services including front-end design, photography, digital imaging, printing, finishing, mailing/distribution, and data-driven marketing solutions such as data optimization and analytics.

Quad/Graphics' Martinsburg facility opened in 1997. It prints magazines for National Geographic, catalogs for L.L. Bean and publications for other nationally recognized clients.

In addition to being and "extremely well-working" facility, Ho said the Martinsburg plant also continues to be in an ideal location for distribution in the Mid-Atlantic region.

"I can't say enough nice things about this facility," Ho said.

Among major employers in Berkeley County, Quad/Graphics was the fifth-largest last year, according to a survey by the Berkeley County Development Authority.

With 2,014 employees, Berkeley County Schools was the largest employer, followed by West Virginia Air National Guard, 1,300; Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 1,200; and City Hospital, 1,017, according to the Development Authority.

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