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HOLLING PRESS, SAVAGE PRINTING TO SHUT DOWN OPERATIONS

Holling Press Inc. in Buffalo plans to shut down next month, putting about 30 people out of work and extending a string of closings in the printing industry, a union official said.

The company notified workers that it will close on Feb. 25, said James Speyer, president of Graphic Communications International Union Local 261. The union has about 18 members at the company.

"The printing industry is bad at this point," he said. "Most of our people are not getting jobs -- they're just not available."

Another printer, Savage Printing Inc. in Buffalo, will shut down next week, eliminating 14 jobs. The company had as many as 40 workers as recently as 10 years ago, officials said.

The shutdowns come after the October closing of printer F.N. Burt in Cheektowaga, with about 100 workers.

"This area is very competitive for our type of printing now, and we don't have the industry we used to have," said Ed Crangle, owner of Savage Printing, 1291 Main St.

The offset printer produced marketing brochures and price catalogs for corporate accounts. The high cost of upgrading to new printing machinery weighed in the company's decision to close, Crangle said. The company's plans an auction next week.

"The cost of doing business in this area is tough too," he said.

Officials of Holling Press weren't available to comment on the planned shutdown. The company at 501 Washington St., whose products included corporate annual reports, brochures and cards, was founded in 1911.

Holling is located in one of two sites proposed for a new convention center, Speyer said. Some workers had expected the company to cease operations instead of relocating.

The printer is about two months behind on contributions to GCIU pension and benefit funds, Speyer said. Local 261 represents 18 workers at the company.

It will be difficult for Holling printers to find work with F.N. Burt workers already scrambling for new jobs, he said.

The printing industry is generally healthy, but mid-sized firms are in the midst of a consolidation wave that is decreasing their numbers, said Timothy Freeman, president of the Printing and Imaging Association of New York State Inc. in Amherst.

The printing industry employs more than 6,000 workers in Western New York, at about 270 companies, according to the association.

"When companies close, some have different issues," he said. "I don't think the industry is shrinking in terms of the number of workers, but the number of printers is shrinking."

But both jobs and shops are on the decline in Buffalo, according to company and union officials. Among the problems here is competition from nearby printers in Canada, who have a cost advantage by virtue of the low Canadian dollar. "You see a lot of competitive pressure in the printing industry," Freeman said. "It doesn't take more than a couple of mistakes to put a shop out of business."

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