BELLINGHAM - Lithtex, a Bellingham commercial printing and mailing company, has purchased Premier Graphics from School Specialty, Inc.
Premier has a printing facility at 2000 Kentucky St. The purchase will allow Lithtex to increase its capabilities to its local, regional and national customers, said Scott Wheeler, a partner in Lithtex. The sale also will mean an ongoing relationship between Lithtex and School Specialty, which produces a variety of school products, including notebook planners.
Lithtex added 12 Premier Graphics employees to its workforce, most of which are Premier's sales staff. Wheeler said they are still trying to determine how much of the Premier production staff will go over to Lithtex. Premier Graphics had a total of 48 employees at the Kentucky Street facility.
"This (sale) literally happened very quickly, so we are working together to finish this up," said Wheeler. He added a variety of factors are at play, including some longer-term Premier contracts that need to be worked out.
Lithtex currently employs about 60 people.
Lithtex also will decide in the coming weeks whether it will take over the space on Kentucky Street or move equipment and employees to its space at 3550 Meridian St., near the Bellingham Golf & Country Club. Wheeler said the current lease at Kentucky Street expires at the end of the year, so they have some time to decide.
Premier will continue to maintain a strong presence in Bellingham, with its office in the Cordata neighborhood, said Glenn Wiener, spokesperson for School Specialty, Inc. He said they will transition the remaining Premier employees to the Cordata office sometime in the next quarter. Currently the Cordata office has 130 full-time equivalent positions.
As a company, School Specialty is in the process of outsourcing its printing business. Earlier this year School Specialty, based in Greenville, Wis., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization while getting new financing. The company emerged from Chapter 11 in June.
"This transition to an outsourced model will enable us to leverage our core strengths and vast distribution network," Wiener said in an email. "And we'll be in a better position to align our production more efficiently and invest in other areas of our business."
Founded in 2002, Lithtex does a variety of offset printing and mailing projects. The company is operated by Wheeler and John Busch.
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