Illinois In-plant Rises from the Dead

Just in time for Halloween, an in-plant that was on its way to the graveyard has been brought back to life. The University of Illinois Printing Department, in Urbana-Champaign, was slated to close next June. Once one of the largest university in-plants, with nearly 100 employees and a six-color press at its peak, the shop’s “sizeable operating deficit” in recent years had prompted the university to pull the plug on it. Its largest equipment was auctioned off, positions were eliminated and operations began winding down.

But then a strange thing happened. The business manager for the Illini Student Union, part of Auxiliaries, started asking Director Barbara Childers questions about the in-plant. He then put together a proposal to take over what remained of the in-plant and incorporate it into his group’s business service centers.

Childers gave this proposal to the executive director of Facilities and Services (F&S), the in-plant’s administrative group. The realization that another group on campus saw value in the in-plant prompted the director of F&S to reexamine the in-plant’s services. In the end, F&S decided to retain the in-plant after all.

“Based on an extensive fiscal and functional review, F&S has concluded that some areas of the F&S Printing Department should remain in operation and others should not,” announced an F&S fact sheet. “A key to the continuation of the operation is the financial progress that has been made towards reducing the deficit following reorganization.”

Rechristened Document Services, the in-plant will now be a streamlined 19-employee operation offering digital printing, copying, letterhead, posters/banners, stitching/binding and mail preparation. F&S will rent out part of the in-plant’s 15,000-square-foot space to help pay off some of its debt.

Though Childers takes no credit for her in-plant’s resurrection, she admits she may have helped bring it about by “having a really good grasp on our numbers and knowing what the campus still needed.

  • http://JimLyons Jim Lyons

    Great story! Glad to hear that part of the in-plant will survive.