LSC Communications filed a WARNING Notice with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development on September 1, announcing plans to begin shutting down its Kendallville book manufacturing facility located on Marion Drive effective October 1, which will impact of the 307 employees who work there. The operation of the Chicago-based printing plant on Lester Drive in the same city of about 10,000 people in northeast Indiana will remain open.
“For now, the company expects all employees to be permanently terminated from the company by December 23, 2020,” wrote Rebecca Robertson, vice president of human resources, in the WARN notice. “As part of the plant closure, no employee will have bumping rights to displace other employees working for the company,” she added. “We appreciate any support or assistance you or your office can provide to help employees affected by the plant closure find new positions.”
Ironically, a article from August 27 in The New York Times lamented how major book publishers have struggled to find print suppliers with sufficient open capacity to meet the rising demand for printed books due to temporary shutdowns of major book printers caused by COVID- 19, a backlog of blockbuster title launches, and increased consumer demand for books and educational materials as part of pandemic-induced home education efforts. As it seeks to divest itself of its book printing business, Quad has also sold the assets of its 1 million square foot site. Versailles, Ky., Softcover and hardcover book manufacturing plant at CJK Group last July.
The closure of the former Kendallville Courier educational books and educational books and bibles factory – which once employed more than 700 workers at its peak – marks another sad step in the decline of LSC Communications. The one-stop printing and distribution center for publications, catalogs and books filed for Chapter 11 protection on April 13, 2020, after missing nearly $ 1 billion in covenants. Along with the bankruptcy filing, LSC said it received commitments of $ 100 million in debtor-in-owner financing from some of its revolving lenders to stay operational and attempt to restructure.
“Since the end of our [$1.4 billion, all-stock] merger with Quad / Graphics last year, and in light of fundamental changes in the industry, LSC’s board of directors and management team have taken proactive and aggressive steps to improve our overall cost structure and streamline our manufacturing platform, while continuing to seek new business opportunities, âThomas J. Quinlan III, President and CEO of LSC Communications, said in a Release when the LSC Chapter 11 filing was announced in April.
âDuring this time, we have closed or are in the process of closing eight facilities, winning new contracts and fulfilling our commitments to our customers and suppliers,â added Quinlan. “At the same time, we continued to assess the best path to creating a more sustainable capital structure for LSC with the support of our major lenders through the Waiver and Forbearance Agreement.”
In January 2020, LSC announced its intention to close its magazine and catalog manufacturing plants in Strasbourg, Virginia; Glasgow, Ky .; and Mattoon, Ill. The closure of these three printing houses was to be completed in July. Then, in April, it “temporarily” closed its Baraboo, Wisconsin plant, affecting 393 workers. And, about two months ago, LSC quietly shut down its 16-page single-reel offset publication printing operations in Senatobia, Mississippi.
The ultimate fate of LSC Communications is still unclear, but it looks like it could come to a head with a possible auction in the next 30 days or so. Given the failure of Quad’s previous attempt to acquire LSC due to an antitrust lawsuit filed by the US Department of Commerce to block the transaction, an acquisition by another major printing company seems unlikely. More likely, current debtors or private equity will somehow take over the struggling business. But how much of LSC Communications as a whole will remain intact – compared to additional one-off plant closings and / or the sale of larger parts of the business – is a conundrum at this point.