Recent In-plant Closings Don’t Add Up

The ACUP conference wrapped up not long ago. I had planned to devote this blog to describing the conference—the informative educational sessions; the opportunity to network with peers and colleagues from many parts of the world; and, of course, our gracious host, Bucknell University. But, ACUP, as great as it was, was overshadowed by the number of in-plant closings announced in the past few weeks.

First, the University of North Carolina (UNC) Chapel Hill announced that it was shutting down its in-plant and laying off all remaining employees sometime this summer. The plan, according to sources quoted in the Daily Tar Heel and the University Gazette, is to outsource the department.

Administrators broke the news to the staff in late March, saying that they hope to find a new company by August. Another source stated, “The university will close Printing Services at the end of July, but intends to recruit a company to manage those services for the Carolina community without disruption.”

That’s right. The university announced that it is closing its in-plant and eliminating 12 positions, and it has set a tentative date for closure, but it hasn’t written the RFP to bring in a facilities manager, let alone evaluated the proposals.

Folks, these things take time.

Things are moving along in the State of Washington as well. The legislature has merged the Department of Printing with four other agencies to form the Department of Enterprise Services (DES), which may not be a totally bad idea. However, its award-winning print director, Jean-Luc Devis, has been placed on temporary assignment working with process improvement, and the state is planning to outsource much of its printing business.

I guess successfully operating one of the largest printing organizations in the United States, in-plant or commercial, earning national recognition, and saving the state a boatload of money isn’t enough to ensure employment. What more could they want?

Ray Chambers, CGCM, MBA, has invested over 30 years managing and directing printing plants, copy centers, mail centers and award-winning document management facilities in higher education and government.

Most recently, Chambers served as vice president and chief information officer at Juniata College. Chambers is currently a doctoral candidate studying Higher Education Administration at the Pennsylvania State University (PSU). His research interests include outsourcing in higher education and its impact on support services in higher education and managing support services. He also consults (Chambers Management Group) with leaders in both the public and private sectors to help them understand and improve in-plant printing and document services operations.

Related Content