GEORGIA, VT - Penny Gallagher was hired in January to do prep work for BD Press in Georgia, Vt. She will lose her job on Friday, April 13, when the printing company's owner, the Gannett Vermont Publishing Co., shuts down the 35-year-old firm.
"Considering they just barely hired me, you'd think they would have let me know this was going to happen," Gallagher said a week after receiving her termination notice.
Gannett Vermont Publishing, which also owns The Burlington Free Press, is closing BD Press because "there is additional printing capacity" at the Freeps, according to a prepared statement by Publisher James Carey. "There is no need to continue to operate two presses," Carey added.
Only two of the nine BD employees are being offered jobs in the Free Press' printing plant, according to a worker who said he fears losing his severance package if his name appears in print.
Gannett deliberately ran down the BD operation because the nation's largest media chain did not want to make the sizable investment needed to modernize BD's printing equipment, this worker claimed. About 30 people worked at BD Press in 2000, when Gannett Vermont acquired it, the source indicated.
He also suggested that the Free Press may have been motivated by a desire to exert tighter control over the printing business in northern Vermont. Several small publishing firms, as well as companies in other fields, send their print jobs to BD Press.
"Maybe they don't want other people to have access to printing presses," the worker said, referring to the Free Press' overseers. "Maybe they're afraid of potential competition."
BD Press paid well, he added, "but we were always short-handed." This employee says, he made about $90,000 last year, partly because of ample overtime.
Veteran BD workers were not surprised by the closure announcement. "We knew it was coming," said the middle-aged employee, who added that he does not know where he might find a new job.
The BD shutdown comes in the wake of a decision to relocate the Georgia-based production and sales staffs of Buyers' Digest and Motor Digest to the Free Press' offices on College St. in Burlington. The two ad-only weeklies, which are also owned by Gannett Vermont, list their combined circulation at 69,000. Both will be printed at the Free Press starting next month, according to Carey, who is also listed as publisher of Buyers' Digest.Carey did not respond to requests for unscripted comments.