Cutbacks at Quad/Graphics brought on by changes in consumer habits, industry

Waseca’s biggest employer, Quad/Graphics, announced this week it’s eliminating 50 positions as part of a restructuring plan designed to better position the plant for the future.

Affected workers will be offered other opportunities within the company, said Claire Ho, director of corporate communications. More experienced employees, mostly press and finishing operators, will be eligible for a $10,000 relocation payment and a $10,000 commitment bonus provided they remain with the company for another two years. Others could qualify for the relocation payment only.

The company now employs 488, though it had about 750 workers when Quad/Graphics bought Brown Printing in April 2014. The position cuts and reduced hours of operation are a response to lower readership for print products which has challenged the industry.

The changes announced this week will allow the plant to focus on special interest publications, called SIP in the trade, said Ho. Those are shorter-run publications with quantities between 5,000 to 150,000, and typically highlight hobbies, science, technology and medicine. Currently, the Waseca Quad/Graphics plant prints a variety of publications, both shorter runs and longer ones of up to 3 million like Vogue, Woman’s Day and Food Network Magazine.

The issue, Plant Director Randy Gordon said, is scheduling. Longer runs take significant press time, making it difficult to fit in the shorter ones. What often happens, he said, is longer-run jobs are done in segments. That requires significant time to breakdown and set up presses for the shorter runs and again to complete the longer-run jobs.

The continual rework and associated costs are what Quad/Graphics is looking to cut, necessitating the shift at the Waseca location.

“It will give them the ability to focus on where they really perform well,” Ho said of the Waseca plant.

Gordon said the plant is unique in that its presses can do a number of operations — specialized folds and perforations — that make it ideal for printing special interest publications.

The plant’s also moving to three shifts a day, Monday to Friday. Currently, it operates 24/7 with employees working 12-hour shifts with three days on, then four off. After another four at work, they take another three off.
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