Kansas City-based Hallmark Cards is closing its Topeka manufacturing facility and will transfer all of its greeting card and envelope production to Lawrence’s Hallmark plant, the company announced Tuesday.
The reorganization also means that Hallmark will move its specialty operations of production of ribbons, bows and stickers, from Lawrence to Leavenworth.
“We have about 500 associates in the Topeka facility, and when we are done with this consolidation, some of those associates will move to the Lawrence plant and some of those associates at Lawrence will move to our Leavenworth facility,” said Pete Burney, senior vice president for supply chain and business enablement.
When the reorganization is completed, Hallmark will have reduced its 1,300 workers at plants in Lawrence, Topeka and Leavenworth to 1,000, and that workforce will be roughly split between Lawrence and Leavenworth, Burney said at a news conference in Topeka. So that means the number of people working at the Lawrence plant, 101 McDonald Drive, will remain about the same.
Burney said the consolidation was needed to better manage operating costs. He said greeting card sales have decreased from five billion cards sold annually to four billion over the last 10 years, but he said the industry is still sound.
Greg Williams, president and CEO of the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, said he felt for the impact the decision would have on Topeka, but he said Tuesday’s news puts Hallmark in a position to be a major employer in the area for many years.
“This decision solidifies the company’s presence in Lawrence and eastern Kansas,” Williams said. “Consolidations are tough, but they are made for good reasons. There are real signs that Hallmark is very committed to being in Lawrence for a very long time.”
When the consolidation is complete, the Lawrence plant will be Hallmark’s only U.S. facility making greeting cards and envelopes. The Lawrence plant already made about two-thirds of the company’s U.S. greeting cards, with the other third produced in Topeka.
Hallmark officials said excess capacity at the three northeastern Kansas plants led to the decision to close the Topeka facility. Burney also said costs were more manageable in Lawrence and Leavenworth. For example, he said, transportation and insurance costs were higher in Topeka. He noted the Hallmark building in Topeka was in a flood plain and that increased insurance costs.
“Hallmark has a long history in Topeka and any action that impacts employees, and in this case a community, is taken only after a thorough evaluation and careful consideration,” Donald Hall Jr., Hallmark’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “The work we are doing now in three facilities can be accomplished in two. This decision allows us to streamline our operations and improve our cost structure so we can remain competitive in today’s marketplace.”
The approximately 700,000-square-foot Topeka Hallmark plant, located at 240 S.E. Madison, opened in 1966. The company has had a plant in Topeka since 1943. It plans to sell the building.