Marengo Plant Closing, One Year After Vertis/Quad Graphics Deal

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By George Ford and Chris Earl

MARENGO, Iowa - Quad Graphics, the latest owner of a longtime Marengo printing plant, will be closing the facility in early March, ending employment for 138 people.

Quad Graphics of Sussex, Wis., acquired the plant at 810 E. South St. when it purchased Vertis Communications in January 2013. The plant closing is the latest chapter of Quad Graphics integrating the Vertis operations.

"It was a surprise to me," said Mike Curry, Marengo city council member and owner of P.H.A.T. Daddy's, a noted restaurant in town. "There were some signs that they were thinking they had a year of work or so and it's going to happen in March."

Quad Graphics employees learned on Friday that the Marengo plant will slowly draw down production. Claire Ho, a spokeswoman for Quad Graphics, said employees who do not pursue employment opportunities at other plants will be offered a separation package.

This also comes nearly a year after a similar action at the company's Dubuque facility. In January 2013, about 200 workers lost their positions when the company closed that plant.

Vertis Communications acquired the Marengo plant in December 2008 when American Color Graphics of Brentwood, Tenn., merged with Vertis. Sullivan Graphics of Brentwood, Tenn., changed its name to American Color Graphics in 1997.

Sullivan Graphics printed and distributed weekly retail advertising inserts, Sunday comic sections, comic books and large format publications.

For a city like Marengo, with a smaller population of 2,500, absorbing 138 layoffs is never easy.

"That's a lot," said Curry. "Especially with the economy the way it is. It really affects small towns."

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