While many American printers are closing or merging, Stevens Point, Wis.–based Worzalla is in the middle of a $12.5 million capital improvement campaign that will bring additional capacity online by spring of 2020.
Worzalla has enjoyed steady growth over the last few years due to several factors, president and CEO Jim Fetherston told PW. A key growth driver, he said, is Worzalla’s quick turnaround time, which allows publishers to keep first printings to a minimum with the knowledge that Worzalla can quickly reprint any title that catches fire. “We’re very flexible and we always meet our commitments,” Fetherston said. He also noted that even before the current $12.5 million investment, Worzalla has continually invested in its operations, making the company very cost efficient.
Worzalla specializes in producing quality children’s books, movie tie-in titles, and coffee table books, and as domestic printing capacity has steadily shrunk, Worzalla’s customers, which include all of the major trade houses, asked Worzalla if they could add capacity, Fetherston said. “Business has been really good,” he added, noting that while there had long been too much domestic printing capacity, with printers closing or reducing their book production, currently supply and demand are about equal. Fetherston said the turnaround began before there was even talk of tariffs being placed on books imported from China. “We were at full capacity without the implementation of tariffs,” he said.
The company currently has 270 employees and expects to add another 40 when the newest phase of its expansion is completed. With the printing industry experiencing a shortage of skilled labor, Worzalla has used a number of recruiting initiatives. “We couldn’t do the expansion without the right staff,” he said. Worzalla’s modernization plan also includes building a 50,000 sq.ft. addition to its manufacturing headquarters, a new 8-unit Heidelberg press, and a new Kolbus perfect binder.
Worzalla is an employee-owned company and, Fetherston noted, “the goal of our modernization plan is to strengthen the long-term health of Worzalla for all current and future associates.”