Wolf River Media to discontinue printing operations

Change not expected to impact Leader delivery

Leader Staff

Printing operations at Wolf River Media will end and shift to a regional printing facility in Madison owned by Capital Times Publishing, company officials announced Thursday.

The cessation of printing operations in Shawano will take place Feb. 2 and does not affect the publishing operations of the company’s portfolio of products including The Shawano Leader, Super Shopper, Oconto County Times Herald, Wittenberg Enterprise & Birnamwood News, Your Community Shopper, niche products, magazines and websites.

A formal announcement regarding the decision to discontinue printing operations was made to all staff members Monday evening.

“As of Feb. 2, our printing, inserting, bindery and mailing operations will be transferred to Wingra Printing in Madison,” said Paul Seveska, president and chief executive officer of Wolf River Media. “We have been working for the better part of 2017 exploring alternative strategic solutions for our printing operations. We thank our dedicated, loyal and talented production staff for all of their hard work and service to our commercial printing customers.”

The publishing and digital operations of Wolf River Media will remain intact, and The Shawano Leader will maintain its offices at the current location at 1464 E. Green Bay St. in Shawano. Editorial, advertising, circulation, finance and customer service functions will all remain in Shawano. The Oconto County Times Herald will maintain its offices at 420 N. Chestnut St. in Oconto Falls, and the Wittenberg Enterprise & Birnamwood News will maintain its offices at 600 S. Webb St. in Wittenberg.

This new organization of Wolf River Media’s printing operation is not expected to significantly change delivery times of products. Customers will continue to receive the timely news and advertising information from Wolf River Media’s portfolio of products on all platforms — digitally or in print.

“This decision was made to take advantage of greater efficiencies and cost savings. The printing industry has always been extremely competitive and with diminishing demand in the marketplace for cold web printing, there is excess capacity and consolidation continues to occur among printers,” Seveska said. “Additionally, significant newsprint pricing increases and federally imposed tariffs on Canadian-supplied newsprint continue to adversely affect the commercial print marketplace.

“Since December 2016, at least five other cold web printers located less than 75 miles from Shawano have discontinued their operations. Just last week, Gannett announced the closure of its Appleton production facility in favor of relocating operations to its Milwaukee printing facility. There isn’t any one thing causing this market contraction. It’s a combination of factors.”

As a result of the closure of Wolf River’s printing operations, 10 full-time and part-time employees will be permanently furloughed.

“We have struggled mightily with this decision. There is a huge cost to our loyal employees who will be permanently furloughed,” Seveska said. “These are never, ever easy decisions to make. We have been left with no other alternative than to bring this era of printing to a final close.

“We extend a thank you to our loyal, hardworking and dedicated employees for their many contributions in helping to build Wolf River Media into the successful media company it is. By completing this operational change, we will be able to focus on delivering outstanding local news and advertising to our customers.”