Business

Longtime Bellingham business laying off 40 employees but will keep office open

A longtime company known for its school planners is eliminating a division of its business, resulting in the layoff of about 40 workers.

School Specialty Inc., known locally as Premier Agendas, submitted job layoff paperwork to the state for its Bellingham office at 400 Sequoia Drive. According to the state Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, known as WARN, the process is expected to be completed at the end of the year.

The state notification stated the office would closed, but when reached for comment, the company said that they will keep the office open and close the Premier Agenda division. Between 30 and 40 employees will remain at the site as School Specialty employees, said Laura Ackmann, senior vice president of human resources for the company.

The remaining employees typically work in sales and support positions, she said.

Ackmann said they are working with the impacted employees and there are other opportunities within the company, possibly working out of the Bellingham office. She noted that the Bellingham office provides an important function, serving much of the West Coast.

Although adopting a smaller Bellingham presence in recent years, the company once had a large printing operation, making school planners and other school supplies at 2000 Kentucky St. That division, known as Premier Graphics, operated in Bellingham from 1994. It was acquired by Bellingham-based Lithtex Northwest in 2013.

School Specialty, based in Greenville, Wisconsin, bought Premier in 2001 from Franklin Covey. At the time of the 2013 sale of the Bellingham Premier Graphics, School Specialty was in the process of outsourcing its printing business.

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Dave Gallagher has covered the Whatcom County business community since 1998. Retail, real estate, jobs and port redevelopment are among the topics he covers.
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