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Reorganization at Review and Herald to include layoffs

September 27, 2010|By JULIE E. GREENE
  • The Review and Herald Publishing Association book and magazine publishing operation south of Hagerstown
www.reviewandherald.com,

As part of a major reorganization to cut costs, the Review and Herald Publishing Association south of Hagerstown informed several employees Monday they would be laid off, reassigned or have their salaries cut, an association spokesman said.

"We've been facing massive financial losses for the past several years," spokesman Kim Peckham said Monday.

Projected financial losses for this year are $2.4 million, according to an association news release. Peckham said the association was not in danger of defaulting to creditors.

"If we're going to be viable and still be in service to the church, we need to get a handle on it. That's why these dramatic things are happening today," Peckham said.

When Monday began, the publishing arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church employed 206 people, Peckham said. After the changes have taken effect, Peckham expects that number to be around 170, he said.

Some people are choosing to retire, so the number of people being laid off and the number of people being reassigned was in flux Monday, he said.

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The layoffs, reassignments and salary cuts were to affect 20 percent of the association's personnel, the news release said.

Many of the affected jobs involve a duplication in staffing as the association had separate advertising, marketing and editorial staffs for its book and periodical divisions, according to Peckham and a news release.

Mark Thomas, who took over as president of the nonprofit publishing association in June, plans to streamline the organization under an editorial division and a marketing/sales division, according to the news release.

The association has been dealing with years of flatlining sales and growing financial losses, the release said.

The association's board asked association management to cut expenses by a certain amount, Peckham said. Cuts were made, including in power usage, but eventually it came down to salaries, he said.

Personnel moves are not the only changes.

The association's board directed management to sell underutilized assets to wipe out corporate debts and to raise money for new initiatives, the release said.

The Review and Herald will move toward "digital workflows" and develop more digital products, the release said. The association already makes some titles available for the Amazon Kindle.

Peckham said new vice presidents to the association will need to determine which products to eliminate. There's been some discussion along those lines, but no final decision, he said.

Peckham said he expects the association to continue to publish the free monthly Adventist World magazine and the subscription publication Adventist Review, which prints three times a month. Those are the group's flagship publications, he said.

The association is 161 years old, moving its book and magazine publishing operation to Hagerstown in 1983. The Review and Herald's operation is on West Oak Ridge Drive near Hagerstown Premium Outlets and Washington County Technical High School.

The Review and Herald had about 375 employees in the mid-1980s, Peckham said. Technology played a large part in reducing the number of employees since then as more of the labor-intensive production work was done by computer, he said.

In April, the association announced that President Robert S. Smith would retire July 1, which he did, and that Thomas, the graphics vice president, had been named interim president, according to the association's website. Thomas became president in June.

An April news release noted the rapid technological advances in how people communicate and access print information, especially the younger generation, and a need to re-evaluate how the publishing house would function in the future.

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