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Concord Direct laying off dozens, closing web printing department

  • Concord Direct, formerly called Concord Litho, on Old Turnpike Road announced Tuesday, June 26, 2018, that it is laying off workers and shuttering its web printing department. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff



Monitor staff
Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A local marketing company with deep ties to Concord plans to lay off 40 employees and close down its web printing operations, the company announced Tuesday.

Concord Direct – previously known as Concord Litho – will shut down those operations by the end of September, it said in a statement.

The move comes after a major client decided to relocate its printing business to the Midwest after “a strategic review of the cost and logistical challenges of continuing to source in New Hampshire,” the statement says.

The company declined to name the departing company, but a May 16 email from CEO Peter Cook to employees provided to the Monitor identifies it as Publishers Clearing House, a major national direct-marketing company that organizes sweepstakes games to help sell magazines. That client had provided two-thirds of the Concord company’s printing business, the email said.

Following the departure, Concord Direct could not find a way to keep its printing business viable, Cook said in a statement Tuesday.

“We were disappointed to learn the outcome of this strategic review,” Cook said in a statement. “In the coming months, we’ll face a substantial decline in this sector of our business from the loss of this customer, and we had to make the difficult decision to discontinue our web printing operations.”

The pending layoffs represent about a third of the company’s 123-member workforce. As operations wind down, the company has offered retention bonuses for those who stay through September and is “actively working with our industry contacts to identify job opportunities with other companies,” Cook said.

The company will continue to offer its marketing and consulting services moving forward, according to Cook.

For Concord Direct, the decision comes as a major setback for a company with extensive roots. For at least 60 years, the company on Old Turnpike Road has churned out print products, rising to become one of the country’s pre-eminent greeting card printing destinations.

Its products included magazine inserts, posters, brochures, and one offering well-known to the first-in-the-nation primary state: campaign mailers. In recent years, the company has run four “heat-set webs” and took in $42 million in annual sales according to a 2009 article in Printing Impressions, a trade publication.

And the company was innovative, the publication reported. It pioneered the magazine “CoverSleeve,” a paper pocket on the front cover that attracted publications such as National Geographic – and it made strides into the scented advertisement craze.

But industry changes have put a strain on printing businesses in recent decades, as physical publications scale back, and local companies have not been immune. In 2009, Precision Technology, a Hooksett marketing company and print shop similar to Concord Direct, shut down abruptly after its main lender cut off a line of credit; 130 workers were immediately told they were out of a job and asked to leave. And Concord Direct has had to shed its share of printing workers in years past.

Still, Tuesday’s announcement, first conveyed to employees about a month ago, represents a significant shake-up. Starting in October, all four of Concord Direct’s heat-set webs will be shut down, according to the company. The company will still retain its newly added inkjet press to produce a smaller, “targeted” level of direct mail products.

And it will continue the rest of its services, which include consulting for fundraising campaigns, brand strategy, return-on-investment projections, web design and email campaigns. The company will also continue packaging mailing campaigns, including envelope printing and labeling, but will likely need to outsource any printing of the campaign mailers themselves, Cook said Tuesday.

Looking to the layoffs, Cook, whose family has owned and operated the business since at least 1960, struck a wistful tone.

“Web printing has been a unique capability of our business for many decades, and we will greatly miss the many contributions and talents of our people, who are truly some of the best in the business,” he said.

(Ethan DeWitt can be reached at edewitt@cmonitor.com, or on Twitter at @edewittNH.)