"RR Donnelley regretfully has reached the decision to permanently close our facility located at 520 Second Avenue East," The company has reported in a letter to Spencer Mayor Reynold Peterson. "After an extensive analysis of all of the options and circumstances, we determined that to remain a leader in the highly competitive commercial printing industry, this was our only option."
Kathy Evert, the president and CEO of the Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation characterized the news as a "very big shock."
"We are deeply sorry for those employees that are being affected by this," Evert said. "We had no indication at all from the company that anything like this was going to happen with this facility."
She said she was not able to reach Donnelley officials Tuesday afternoon.
"We have just gotten a copy of some correspondence that has evidently come out," Evert said.
Management at Spencer's RR Donnelley facility directed interview requests to the company's corporate headquarters in the Chicago area. A receptionist there patched through a late-afternoon voice-mail. Doug Fitzgerald, senior vice president of marketing with RR Donnelley, has not yet returned that call.
The company plans to have the plant closed by March 13 and says the closure will be permanent.
"The decision in no way indicates any dissatisfaction with either the business community or the quality of our workforce here," Bigelow's letter to the city said. "Rather, the outcome is based on the overall economic downturn, which has created excess capacity that cannot be supported."
The company gave the city a breakdown of positions that will be lost because of the plant closure. The backgrounds range from material handlers to the vice president of operations. Press operators, payroll clerks and administrative specialists also will be looking for work.
"We appreciate any support or assistance you or your office can provide to help employees affected by the plant closing in finding new positions," The company's letter said.
The move comes just over two years after R.R. Donnelley purchased the Spencer operations from Perry Judd's Holdings Incorporated, a privately-owned printer of magazines and catalogs. At the time, the 127,000 square-foot printing plant in the 500 block of Second Avenue East was one of Wisconsin-centered Perry Judd's more isolated facilities.
"Perry Judd's is an exceptional fit with RR Donnelley," said Mark A. Angelson, RR Donnelley chief executive officer in a December 2006 press release announcing the acquisition. "Increasing our flexibility with the addition of Perry Judd's respected capabilities will allow us to better serve both organizations' customers and will create immediate cross selling synergies as we leverage our leading pre-media, logistics, direct mail and other production and service resources."
Evert expected an Iowa Workforce Development rapid response team to arrive at RR Donnelley Wednesday for a meeting with employees. Peterson, who was attending a progress and development meeting a few steps away from his office Tuesday night, stepped out of the meeting to express hope that the company's decision can be reversed.
"We are optimistic that the Corridor will go to bat for the area with the Iowa Department of Economic Development, come up with an extended package and see if, somehow, we can convince them not to close the doors in the middle of March like they announced today," the mayor said. "Certainly it's a shock to the community. The community will be affected by that, but we'll assist these people in every way we can and hopefully we can turn the tide."