Company that bought Allen Press is closing Lawrence plant

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Post updated at 5:23 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 29:

Eight months after purchasing longtime Lawrence printing company Allen Press, its new owner announced Tuesday that it is closing the facility at the end of October.

Minnesota-based CJK Group, whose Sheridan printing division bought Allen Press for an undisclosed amount in January, said it had been unable to make the Lawrence plant profitable in the time it owned it. 

“Though not CJK Group’s intent upon the acquisition of Allen Press in early 2023, it is now clear that the current print industry conditions and the overall levels of demand will not allow Sheridan to maintain that facility,” the company said in a press release.

In a letter sent Tuesday to the facility’s customers, Sheridan President Paul Bozuwa wrote, “We have reached the difficult decision to cease print production and distribution at the facility.”

The closing is effective Oct. 28. “The print work currently produced in Kansas is being transferred to other Sheridan locations that offer a better fit for the work in terms of service and schedules,” the company said.

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It was not immediately clear how many employees would be affected by the move. Over the years, Allen Press had upwards of 300 employees, but that number has fallen in recent years and it no longer appears on the list of Lawrence employers with more than 100 workers.

Sheridan officials did not return a request for comment, but the company’s press release said, “Sheridan Kansas employees have been encouraged to pursue open positions at other Sheridan locations. The exemplary caliber of these people will make them a welcome addition to any future employer.”

When it purchased Allen in January, Sheridan said the Lawrence location “affords Sheridan a strategic production option for both Midwest and West Coast publishing communities with more efficient mailing and distribution.” 

But Tuesday’s announcement said the hoped-for economies of scale — and access to the academic publishing market that had long been one of Allen’s primary businesses — did not pan out.

“The print market has seen significant declines due to digital substitution, particularly in the scholarly journal market where Allen Press was deeply rooted,” Bozuwa wrote. “These market shifts have the force of tides, and we have to react to the realities of the day despite our strong desire to maintain continuity of employment and service.”

Sheridan, based in Brainerd, Minnesota, said it would shift Lawrence operations to its other 10 plants around the country. The Lawrence plant no longer is listed on the company’s website.

“While this was a hard decision to make, CJK Group and Sheridan feel it was the right one, in order to continue providing the highest level of service to our customers,” the company said.

The company said that customers who use Sheridan’s content services, via KnowledgeWorks Global Ltd. (KGL) would not be affected by the closing.

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Lawrence Lowdown is a feature on developments around town. Have a tip? Let us know.

Mark Potts (he/him) is a former reporter and editor for the Associated Press, San Francisco Examiner, Chicago Tribune and The Washington Post.

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