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Union Leader, Foster's, SMG in joint print operation

April 24. 2013 10:13PM

The New Hampshire Union Leader announced Wednesday that it has entered into an agreement to have all its newspaper products printed by Seacoast Media Group at upgraded facilities being leased from Foster's Daily Democrat in Dover. The plant will also produce Foster's daily and Sunday newspaper. A June startup for the Union Leader and Sunday News printing switchover is planned.

The Union Leader reached agreement on outsourcing printing earlier this spring with unions representing pressmen, platemakers and mailers, who handle advertising inserts and packaging for the state's largest paper. Thirty-four fulltime personnel, as well as some parttime mailroom workers, will be laid off. The state's NH Works - Rapid Response Program has been working with those affected.

Seacoast Media, part of a Dow Jones subsidiary, publishes the Portsmouth Herald and prints the Nashua Telegraph and Laconia Daily Sun at its SMG facility at Pease Tradeport.

"This was a deal that made sense for everyone," said John Tabor, publisher of Seacoast Media Group. "It's a win-win-win. Two venerable New Hampshire dailies share a production center, lower cost, and shed production burdens to focus on their readers. Seacoast expands with a second production center using our parent company's resources to deliver quality printing, on time for these and other companies in the future."

The new "SMG II" printing center will retain current Foster's production employees and will expand to a total staff of 44. It will occupy most of the production areas of Foster's building at 150 Venture Drive in Dover.

Union Leader Publisher Joseph W. McQuaid said there is another winner in this "win-win-win'' endeavor.

"All of our readers and advertising customers, of each of our companies, will be the beneficiaries of the cost-savings and efficiencies this initiative promises. As we all contend with today's unprecedented news media challenges, that is of immense importance."

McQuaid said it was a difficult decision given the top quality service and craftsmanship demonstrated by generations of press and production personnel. "But the costs to upgrade and commercialize our press were just out of reach.''

He said some news deadlines will be affected, at least initially, but the speed of the upgraded press at Foster's will help address that.

"I think we have created a unique collaboration that strengthens all of the parties involved," said Patrice D. Foster, publisher of Foster's Daily Democrat. "Resources have been concentrated to enhance the production quality of all the newspapers, allowing us to focus on content.''

"It is very exciting to have this commercial print expansion possible at our new SMG II-Dover print facility," said Brent Connolly, a key architect of the project.

"It's equally exciting to be working with the great folks at Foster's and the Union Leader, our two new anchor clients. Our future plans include all sorts of printing and processing capabilities for both our current and future clients."

The New Hampshire Union Leader is in its 150th year as a daily newspaper. The Manchester Union was founded as a weekly but became a daily in 1863. The Evening Leader was founded in 1912 and shortly thereafter purchased the Union. In 1946, the New Hampshire Sunday News was founded independently and printed in Haverhill, Mass., until 1948 when Union Leader Publisher William Loeb purchased it to create the current newspaper company. It is New Hampshire's only statewide newspaper and the largest, with circulation of 45,104 daily and 63,420 Sunday in 2012 audited figures.

Foster's Daily Democrat was founded in June 1873 by Joshua L. Foster and has been family owned and managed for 140 years. Publisher Robert H. Foster moved the production facility from the downtown to its current location. The 47,000 square foot building was completed in 1997. "My father's design for the building incorporated a vision for industry changes and for the flexibility to expand printing services and production quality," said Patrice D. Foster, the current publisher. "He foresaw the need for regional consolidation someday in the future." Patrice Foster took over from her father in 2009 - the fifth generation of Fosters to operate the business.

The company is owned by Patrice and her sister Catherine F. Hayward.

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