Etheridge Consolidates Printing Ops


    GRAND RAPIDSAs part of a $2.2 million capital investment, the Etheridge Co., a Grand Rapids-based printing company, will combine traditional print and bindery manufacturing with Superior Colour of Kalamazoo.

    “The problem we have here in West Michigan and the entire country is an excess capacity in our traditional print and bindery,” said Etheridge President Barry Heydenberk. “And every time you buy a new printing press, it takes the place of two.”

    Etheridge and Superior are both Consolidated Graphics companies, within the Printing Inc. group. They together represent roughly $20 million in revenue for the $850-million parent company.

    Consolidated Graphics is upgrading 11 facilities this year with new presses capable of making ready five times faster and running twice as fast, Heydenberk said.

    With excess capacity at both the Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo companies, the $2.2 million upgrade at either facility would create enough capacity at either location to absorb the utilization of the other.

    While not specifying how many of Etheridge’s more than 70 employees will be affected by the consolidation, Heydenberk said that the restructure will not eliminate jobs. All production employees have been offered positions at either Superior or Midland-based McKay Press, Consolidated Graphics’ third Michigan company. A series of layoffs two years ago eliminated Etheridge’s excess labor capacity.

    The transition will begin immediately, and will be completed by the end of summer.

    Heydenberk believes the consolidation will not be noticeable to most customers, as sales, customer service, estimating and prepress services all will remain in Grand Rapids

    Etheridge will soon undergo its own expansion as well, he added, as it transitions into a digital output center and expands its fulfillment and distribution capabilities into a Midwest distribution center for Consolidated Graphics.

    “Our competitors would like to tell you we’re going out of business,” Heydenberk said. “But that isn’t what’s happening. The Etheridge Co. has been around for 100 years, and we’ll still be in town.”

    The Etheridge Co. celebrated its centennial last year. Fourth-generation owner Ted Etheridge sold the company in 1988 and Consolidated Graphics acquired it in 1997.

    In the late ’90s, Etheridge and partner Bill Ockerlund assumed ownership of competitor, Holland-based Steketee Van Huis.

    While the local printing industry has been plagued by consolidation and layoffs in recent years, Etheridge marks at least the second restructuring to accommodate future growth and capital investment this year.

    In December, Integra Printing broke ground on a new printing and fulfillment facility across the street from its previous home at

    2201 Oak Industrial Drive

    . Founded in 1936, Integra had previously split operations between its current facility at

    Oak Industrial Drive

    and a second location in Walker

    The new, 166,000-square-foot facility consolidated operations with additional space for future expansion. It was part of an $8.5 million investment in the building and technology.    

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