Hagadone Hawaii, which calls itself Hawaii’s largest commercial printer, will close its commercial printing operations in January after more than 26 years.
The company cited rising costs, “significantly increased import tariffs” and a changing business climate that has seen a shift to mainland printing and digital publications.
The company filed a plant closure notice with the state Department of Labor and Industrial relations and 93 employees will lose their jobs, Clint Schroeder, the company’s president and chief operating officer, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
The employees work as machine operators, managers, sales people and in the business office.
“It really ranges all over the board,” Schroeder said.
The company plans to keep its Hagadone Media Group, which publishes This Week and visitor and retail publications; and Hagadone Digital, which provides graphic design, social media and other web-based services.
The two remaining operations have about 30 employees combined, Schroeder said.
Schroeder said the company will honor all commitments for printing through Jan. 11 and will work with customers to find other printers, likely at competitors Edwards Enterprises, Inc. and HonBlue.
Hagadone Hawaii is owned by The Hagadone Corp., based in Idaho.
It began publishing The Garden Island newspaper in the late 1960s, along with Waikiki Beach Press and This Week magazines, the company said. In 1995, Hagadone Hawaii bought Oahu Bindery, Inc. and Tongg Printing Co. Inc., followed by Harbor Graphics & Fine Printing Inc. in 1998.
In 2015, the company restructured into three divisions: Hagadone Printing Co., Hagadone Digital, and Hagadone Media Group.
“The Hagadone family explored every possible alternative and found the only viable one is to narrow our focus to publishing and digital/online services,” Schroeder said in a statement.
Brad Hagadone, president of Hagadone Corp., said in a statement: “When industry factors beyond our control began to create losses several years ago, we decided to invest more in the company in order to right the ship. Most companies would likely have closed operations, or at least made major cutbacks. Instead, we invested in a new Sheet-Fed Press and new Digital Presses to offer more products. Unfortunately, economic headwinds only got stronger, leaving us with the one tough option to close down the commercial printing operations that first brought us to Hawaii so many years ago. My heart aches for these great people who have been with us for so long, because it truly is like losing family members.”
Schroeder said that a tariff levied by China increased the cost of “coated stock” paper by 25 percent. The tariff came as the company faced increased costs for other raw materials and rising electricity and other costs.
Hagadone gets half of its coated stock from China and half from Canada, which did not impose a tariff. But of the five grades of coated stock that Hagadone uses, three are only available through China, Schroeder said.
“We didn’t have too much of a choice,” he said. “We had to suck up the 25 percent. It was definitely part of the final decision.”
“Many” publications Hagadone once printed no longer exist, Schroeder said, while others are now printed on the mainland or have gone digital.
The closure means that Hagadone Media Group and Hagadone Digital will look to lease smaller office space closer to downtown, Schroeder said.
The company will look for “something a little more smaller, a little more appropriate to the size of the operation,” Schroeder said.
The future of its two-story, approximately 100,000-square foot warehouse/mezzanine on Puuhale Road near Oahu Community Correctional Center is uncertain.
The company may lease the building or put it up for sale, Schroeder said.
Asked about his own future, Schroeder said, “I will be on site through the closure. Really my priority is the people first and foremost that we need to take care of.”