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By Lonnie Huhman,

lhuhman@thesuntimesnews.com


The CJK Group, Inc. announced May 10 that it had closed on an agreement to acquire the assets of the Dexter–based book printer, Thomson-Shore, Inc.


In a news release, CJK gave the background what led to this acquisition, which will see the Dexter facility turned into a warehouse and a portion of the Thomson-Shore employees who were not laid off move over to Sheridan Books in Chelsea, which is also owned by CJK.

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CJK said Thomson-Shore filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on March 25, 2019, “with the intent to sell its assets quickly under the guidance of the bankruptcy court as opposed to restructuring or liquidating the company.”


The news release said CJK Group CEO, Chris Kurtzman, “stepped forward and offered debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing that allowed the company to continue operating throughout the bankruptcy process and ultimately positioned CJK Group as the preferred bidder for Thomson-Shore’s assets.”


On April 29, CJK said with no other bidders coming forward, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the Eastern District of Michigan awarded the assets of Thomson-Shore Inc. to CJK Group, Inc.


According to the news release, with the acquisition of Thomson-Shore complete, this is its third Michigan-based printer acquired by CJK Group, which is based in Brainerd, Minnesota.


Early in 2017, Sheridan Books, Inc. of Chelsea was acquired as a part of the overall purchase of The Sheridan Group and more recently, in October 2018, the assets of Grand Rapids printer Dickinson Press were secured from Blackford Capital.


“This latest asset acquisition further expands CJK Group’s book printing capabilities and capacity,” the news release said.


In a telephone interview with The Sun Times News on May 10, Susan Wiercinski, vice president of marketing for CJK, said with three manufacturing sites with very similar capabilities located so close together in Michigan, it was necessary, “to consolidate operations to achieve efficiencies that ensure the viability of the overall CJK Group organization.”


Going forward, Wiercinski said the Thomson-Shore assets, employees and facility will be aligned under the Sheridan brand. She said most of the Dexter operations and equipment will be transferred to Sheridan’s Chelsea facility, where a 25,000–square foot expansion begun last fall will help the consolidation efforts.


“Originally slated for warehouse and storage, the expansion in Chelsea is being converted to accommodate production operations, and ultimately the Dexter site will operate as a satellite warehouse for the Chelsea facility,” she said.


The balance of equipment not relocating to Chelsea will move to Sheridan’s Grand Rapids location or to CJK Group’s Bang Printing facility in Brainerd.


Wiercinski said around 100 Thomson-Shore employees were offered the opportunity to move over to Chelsea, but as of May 10 she did not know how many had accepted that offer. She estimated that a majority of them had.


Founded in 1972, Thomson-Shore always prided itself on being a 100 percent employee-owned full service book manufacturing, printing, publishing, production and distribution company. At its end, it employed 177. 


Wiercinski said CJK understands the emotions some in the Dexter community might have with this decision to transition from Dexter to Chelsea and said it was a difficult decision. She said it was determined, in order for CJK to continue to grow and have the ability to employ the former Thomson-Shore employees the consolidation made the most sense. 


She said this decision could not be made in the beginning because CJK did not yet have a complete analysis of Thomson-Shore. However, once certain steps were made in the process CJK was able to do a deeper analysis of Thomson-Shore.


“This is a challenging time for our industry,” Kurtzman said. “The addition of the Thomson-Shore equipment and the experienced employees to run it will help create capacity within our organization, and ultimately put the companies of CJK Group in a better position to help book publishers produce quality materials in a timely manner.”

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