Archive for Thursday, January 4, 2001

Communicolor to shut down plant

Communicolor closing affects 135 employees

January 4, 2001

from April 6, 2000

One of Eudora's largest employers, Communicolor, will close its doors this summer.

Company officials told the first of 135 local employees Tuesday night the direct mail printing plant will close in August, with the first wave of employee layoffs coming in June.

"We made the announcement at shift meetings beginning at 10:30 last night," Stephen Thornton, the company's vice president and division director said. "It's been a very trying day for everyone."

Plant operations will be moved to the company's Newark, Ohio division, Thornton said. The 115,000-square-foot building, located in the Intech Business Park, will be put on the market.

RRD Direct, Communicolor's parent company, purchased the company in April 1999 from Standard Register. The plant originally opened in Eudora in 1989.

The Eudora plant is the company's smallest of four throughout the country. Its small size was a factor in the decision to close it down, Thornton said.

"The decision was made because of the small size of the Eudora facility and the fact that it's no longer economical to keep it open," Thornton said.

Communicolor prints about 100 million pieces of direct mail a year. The company employs a range of people from bookkeepers to printers to custodians, Thornton said.

He said company officials would try to relocate as many employees as possible.

"We'll try to relocate them company-wide with comparable positions," he said.

The company's closest printing facility is in Illinois, he explained.

Those who can't be relocated or don't want to move will get the help of a Kansas City placement service.

"We've contracted with Drake, Beam and Morin, which I believe is the country's largest out-placement company," he said. "They'll help the employees with everything from resume creation to head hunting. We're very aggressively pursuing other opportunities for our folks."

Thornton said the placement company would come to the plant next week. Placement counselors will meet with any interested employee, he said.

Those who lose their jobs will be given a separation package, Thornton said. He didn't know, however, what the package would include. The company will also extend medical benefits to eligible employees.

"It will be a standard package," he said.

Despite the closing, the company is not downsizing, Thornton said. The transfer of the Eudora plant will create one of the largest direct mail manufacturing operations in the industry, Stephen Carter, president of RRD Direct, said.

Thornton didn't know how many of the plant's 135 employees were Eudora residents, but said many employees live in Lawrence.

The mood of the plant was somber on Tuesday, Thornton said, as more employees learned of the closing.

"We're going through a wide range of emotions. It was a very trying day for everyone," he said. "Right now we're just trying to focus on doing what needs to be done."

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