"A redistribution of its production of workload" will put about 400 employees nationwide and 40 locally out of work.
About 40 local employees of Curtis 1000 Inc. will be out of a job when the plant closes this spring.
Owners of the printing company are closing the local plant, 345 N. Iowa, to consolidate national operations. Nine Curtis 1000 plants are scheduled to close this year.
About 70 people are employed at the Lawrence plant and 40 will be affected by the closure, said Nancy Duncan, a company representative. The others are sales representatives who will remain working from their homes.
Curtis 1000 has more than 1,400 employees nationwide. The shutdowns will affect 400 employees, Duncan said. Administrative assistants, production workers, press operators and prepress staff positions will be cut.
The plant will be closed by May and the building put up for sale.
The parent company, American Business Products Inc., Atlanta, calls the plant closures "a redistribution of its production of workload."
"It is an interesting concept to grasp. By reducing our 17 plants down to six, we'll actually be able to serve our customers better," said Robert G. Baker, president of Curtis 1000.
"This is not really an employee reduction strategy, it's a shift in facilities."
The parent company expects to save $9 million annually.
The company will operate its printing business from five Curtis 1000 centers, including a new plant to be built in Atlanta, and expanded facilities in Hartford, Conn., Houston, Los Angeles and Minneapolis.
Curtis 1000 produces business envelopes, letterheads and business forms, along with a new product line featuring plastic packaging, loose-leaf binders and index tabs.
Baker said all employees at the closing facilities have been encouraged to apply for jobs at the five expanded operation centers. The remaining employees will receive a severance package, including salary and benefits based on years at the company.
Baker didn't know how many employees would be hired for the plant expansions.
Curtis 1000 opened its Lawrence plant in 1967. It was one of the first businesses to use industrial revenue bonds issued by the city. In its first year, the plant employed 15 workers and had $1 million in sales.
Local employees learned about the plant closure Thursday, when Curtis 1000 corporate representatives explained the workers' options and presented a videotape of remarks from the president. Corporate officials have asked employees to not speak to the Journal-World.
American Business Products Inc. has closed 16 plants in the last three years.
The parent company owns seven smaller companies: Vanier Graphics Corporation, BookCrafters USA, Jen-Coat Inc., Discount Labels Inc., Curtis 1000 Europe and Curtis 1000, which is American Business Products' largest company.
American Business Products posted record annual revenues last year of $634 million and record annual earnings of $25.5 million. Sales and income statistics are not released for Curtis 1000. American Business Products, Inc. stock listed with the New York Stock Exchange increased 95 percent in 1995, Baker said.
"This is not an retrenchment because of poor sales from Curtis 1000," Baker said. "Business is doing very well, and this strategy will help us continue to do well."