Printing prodigiously
Quad/Graphics funnels jobs into southeastern Wisconsin 

By Joe VanDeLaarschot - Conley News Service

March 12, 2016

Quad/Graphics Chairman, President and CEO Joel Quadracci speaks during a Waukesha County Business Alliance Event on Sept. 11, 2015.
Freeman File photo

SUSSEX - In the final months of 2015 global printing giant Quad/Graphics announced a series of moves, including layoffs, to meet falling revenue projections. The company announced by the end of 2015 it would close plants in Augusta, Georgia, and East Greenville, Pennsylvania.

The situation is different for facilities in Hartford, Lomira and elsewhere in southeast Wisconsin, including in Sussex where Quad/Graphics’ headquarters are located.

“Production work is being funneled to the more efficient plants in southeast Wisconsin,” said Claire Ho, Quad’s director of communications. “In fact they are hiring more workers to keep up with the additional work that’s being sent to Wisconsin. Our Wisconsin platform is among the most efficient platforms in the entire printing industry.”

The actions taken in the fourth quarter have improved the company’s financial position and brightened the future for workers in Wisconsin.

“We are pleased to report that our fourth quarter 2015 results were better than we expected following our focused efforts to aggressively manage costs and improve manufacturing productivity,” said Quad/Graphics Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Joel Quadracci. “I am proud of our team, which took swift action to offset increased pricing and volume pressures that had accelerated in the second half of 2015.

“We were able to incrementally reduce our cost structure by $100 million on a run rate basis for 2016 — ahead of schedule — while driving increased productivity.”

Quad/Graphics, like much of the printing industry, is feeling the impact of the rise in the Internet and digital technology.

“The global economic climate remains in flux. Therefore, we will build on our cost control momentum with aggressive, innovative cost management and improved labor productivity,” Quadracci said.

Hartford Area Development Director Tom Hostad met several weeks ago with the director of the Hartford Quad/Graphics facility, Mike Prock. He said Prock indicated the future looks bright for the Hartford plant and others in southeastern Wisconsin.

“He said our plants have the newest equipment — much of it near state-of-the art,” Hostad said. “They’ve made significant investments in the area and because of that more work will be coming here. That could mean more jobs, too.”

Company officials face difficulties in finding skilled labor for the Wisconsin production facilities and have signs outside area facilities announcing their search for qualified workers.

Quad/Graphics provides a range of print and related products and services from locations throughout North America, South America and Europe, and strategic partnerships in Asia and other parts of the world.

The Augusta plant employed 250 workers who specialized in printing retail advertising inserts and catalogs. The Pennsylvania plant employed about 400 workers specializing in printing magazines and catalogs.

Since 2010 Quad/Graphics has acquired several competitive printing rivals and closed at least 23 plants and diverted work to more efficient company locations. Before last fall’s actions, Quad/Graphics operated 57 printing plants in the U.S., another eight outside the country and employed about 24,000 people worldwide.