Fifty years ago, owners of the Louisiana Press-Journal said good riddance to tons of lead type, massive type-setting equipment and bulky metal storage cabinets and ushered in the day of off-set printing.
Today, Press Journal Printing is adding a new chapter to the rich history of the local printing business with the official announcement of a new printing plant in the city’s industrial park.
And the reason is a good one — the current facility has simply been outgrown.
“Through a solid historic base, dedicated employees, and a demand in the market, we are fortunate to be able to continue a steady growth pattern, and better yet, we are able to do it right here in Louisiana,” said printing plant general manager Jeff Guay.
A ground-breaking ceremony was held on Wednesday, December 21 at 2 p.m. in the Louisiana Industrial Park.
Guay, who will be the project manager for the construction in addition to continuing his plant management duties, gave much of the credit to employees of the business.
“I must give out credit to our loyal employees. Without their dedication through the years, this expansion and new plant would not be possible,” noted Guay.
“Some employees have been with us since the days when the facility was at the old Third Street location.”
Along those lines, Press Journal Printing qualified for the Missouri Works Program which aided in receiving tax credits. It also means the facility will add 10 full-time employees over the next six years.
Guay also gave thanks to city officials who have assisted with the purchase of 10 acres in the industrial park at a reduced rate.
“The City of Louisiana made every effort to keep us here,” said Guay. “I definitely want to give recognition to the current administration, Mayor Niedner, city administrator Kelly Henderson, and others who helped make this happen.”
When the printing plant and the newspaper made the move from 212 Third Street to the freshly built Raintree Mall nearly 30 years ago, one employee noted “we’ll never use up all this space.”
That proved to be incorrect.
Soon after Guay became manager in 1996, the printing plant area expanded and the very next year took over a large area formerly used by Stark Fulfillment. And one year after that, another wall or two came down to expand into the old Dollar General area.
That gave the facility its present 20,000 square feet of space. And yet, it is now too small again.
“There is no more room for expansion here,” added Guay, who noted that the various changes did not make for the best work flow area.
R. Jack Fishman, President of Lakeway Publishers, Inc., said Monday morning (December 19) that “Press Journal Printing is presently one of the major suppliers to the printing industry in the Midwest and this expansion will allow us to continue in this area. We want to thank the City of Louisiana for their cooperation and the State of Missouri in enabling Lakeway to provide this opportunity for increased employment and services to Pike County. The planning has taken several years and we think when completed Louisiana will be able to provide a wide variety of printing to many new customers. The skill and dedication of our employees is also one of the principal reasons that have enabled us to make this announcement today.”
The new 38,000 square foot plant is designed not only for space, but also for efficiency. Every area, from loading docks to break rooms, has been carefully planned.
The current facility has seven mono press units and two four-high towers for color. The specified color units were added in 2000.
“Our color quality brought recognition and we continued to grow,” said Guay, “and that brought on the need for more expansion.”
In the new plant, at least two more color tower units will be added, and perhaps a second folder which would allow the press to be “split” so that two press runs can take place at the same time.
In addition, new heat set technology will allow the plant to begin using “glossy” paper stock.
Inserting, the placement of pre-printed circulars and other materials, into newspapers, has also been upgraded in recent years. Long done by hand, a five-into-one automated machine is still used for inserting, and a 10-into-1 machine was added about two years ago.
Storage for the 900-plus-pound paper rolls will grow also, not only in square footage, but in additional roof height.
About eight years ago, the plant began a humble beginning into digital sheet fed printing. Today, that has grown into huge volumes via two massive printers. New printers, with additional capabilities, will move to the new plant also.
Those printers allow for quick printing of brochures, fliers, direct mail pieces and more.
And, after the move, speciality product printing, such as T-shirts and coffee cups, will be added.
Press Journal Printing currently prints some 20 newspapers and many college and university publications, along with sporting catalogs, etc. One recent sporting goods catalog was over 1,000 pages.
Custom mailing is also a service offered. That alone contributed $1.5 million through the local post office during the past year. Printed pieces have gone to all of the 48 lower states.
Hankins Construction Company, of St. Louis, will build the facility, but an emphasis has been placed on that firm working with local contractors for portions of the work. Local lumber yards will also be used when possible. Perkins Electric of Bowling Green will be in charge of the electrical system.
“Printed products are not leaving,” said “Guay. “There is, and always will be, demand for print. People still want the printed product in their hands.”
Earthwork began on Thursday, December 22 with the new facility under roof by spring. A completion date has been set as July 11 of next year.
Lakeway Publishers of Missouri includes newspapers in Louisiana, Bowling Green, Elsberry, Hermann, Centralia, Vandalia, Troy, Monroe City, Lake St. Louis, and Pacific.