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Posted on Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 2:59 p.m.

Ann Arbor-based ProQuest announces layoffs as part of restructuring

By Lizzy Alfs

Ann Arbor-based information IT company ProQuest laid off about 40 employees on Tuesday, a spokeswoman confirmed.

At the same time, the company has 75 available positions in various departments, said spokeswoman Beth Dempsey.

“The bottom line is this: we are not decreasing our workforce,” Dempsey said.

“We’re in the information industry. It is an exceptionally competitive and dynamic industry. Really, you have to just constantly be shifting and making sure you’re giving your customers the best experience possible,” she continued.

ProQuest — which is headquartered on Eisenhower Parkway in Ann Arbor and has a facility on James L. Hart Parkway in Ypsilanti Township — employs 625 people in Washtenaw County.


A ProQuest employee, pictured in 2010, scans in literature for the millions of documents in ProQuest's archives. file photo

The company scans and archives millions of documents, including newspapers, dissertations and literature collections. In 2010, the company moved into a 40,000-square-foot space in Ypsilanti Township where employees scan, index and iron print products to film them.

Dempsey said the job eliminations are positions across the U.S. and could not specify how many people were laid off in Washtenaw County.

“We’re adding resources to areas that support growth initiatives and improve customers’ experience with ProQuest,” Dempsey said. “Where we’re reducing resources is, for example, we completed a huge technology project so we’re reducing some resources there.”

“The question is, where does ProQuest need to shift its energy to make sure we’re doing the best job we can for our customers?” she continued.

The eliminated jobs and the available jobs are both full-time positions within different branches of the company. The ProQuest website shows 15 available jobs in Ann Arbor, including a communications manager, marketing website manager, customer support representative, technical support, software test analyst and a market development manager.

Dempsey said the laid-off employees are welcome to apply for the available positions if they have the necessary qualifications.

“This isn’t an easy decision, but it’s one you have to make if you want your company to continue to thrive and evolve with your customers,” she said.

“I know all of the impacted employees are being supported and getting assistance so they can transition to a new role outside of ProQuest.”

During the past few years, ProQuest has undergone several changes, including expanding its Hong Kong office, acquiring indexing database firm IBSS and naming new CEO Kurt Sanford in July 2011. In May 2012, WorkplaceDynamics Inc. named ProQuest one of the best places to work in the country after compiling feedback from employees at 4,000 organizations.

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at



Fri, Jul 12, 2013 : 3:57 a.m.

Just ran acrossed this article in my archives and It is sad that the 40 + people had to loose their job And have the 75 people been hired? They have very few jobs listed on their employment site. ProQuest has the reputation of wacking people periodically all in the name of "restructure". They are good at it!! I will be curious if they win the 2013 Workplace award this year. I am betting "NO".


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 3:56 p.m.

Bottom line, they just want to increase profits.

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

The suggestion that "posting job openings" is the same as hiring 75 people is absurd and insulting. Those are just postings on a website. It is just talk until it happens. It would be like saying "we haven't actually lost money because we plan on making a lot more in the future!"


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 1:28 p.m.

Mike "ProQuest company executives were not too long ago under investigation for financial improprieties. Lately, every two years they restructure and lay off more people. It's circling the drain. Stay far away from any job opportunities at this company." Unfortunately this is so true of so many US Companies and Corporations. What I see in most people who run companies today is: ME! ME! ME! They want to make as much money today as they can and to HELL with tomorrow. US companies/corporations can fire people for no reason but to make more money. The rich get richer and the poor stay poorer.

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 2:38 p.m.

No, Judy, it isn't. There was criminal fraud at the executive level at Proquest. It was an exceptional example of greed. Unfortnuately, not many were held accountable. It arguably caused the company to be broken apart into pieces, so each piece could claim "that was not us!" The phrase "run into the ground" comes to mind.


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 2:08 a.m.

ProQuest company executives were not too long ago under investigation for financial improprieties. Lately, every two years they restructure and lay off more people. It's circling the drain. Stay far away from any job opportunities at this company.

sun runner

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 4:11 p.m.

That was seven years ago when ProQuest was a completely different entity. All of those people are LONG gone.

Debra Adams

Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 11:25 p.m.

"During the past few years, ProQuest has undergone several changes, including expanding its Hong Kong office,..." there goes your 40 jobs. How can a company claim it is one of the best place to work in our country when they are sending our jobs overseas???


Thu, Jan 17, 2013 : 3:51 p.m.

But that's the Bain Capitol way?


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 10:35 p.m.

Were these people given an opportunity by Proquest to train for the jobs needed? If not, why not? Good companies realize good employees are an asset and it is to the benefit of both parties to keep them. If they were hired knowing that it was for a specific project and not given a full-time commitment beyond the project I hope they were told that and given an opportunity to train for other jobs the company might need longer term.


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 2:37 p.m.

Sometimes companies "lay off" employees, because it is easier to replace/hire new ones with better work ethics, habits...etc. Companies exist to make money, not simply provide jobs. The University does that quite nicely.


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 10:23 p.m.

I don't think that ProQuest will be voted "one of the best places to work in the country " for 2013.

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 9:09 p.m.

Based on their history of getting tax credits for hiring, Proquest should come clean on their Washtenaw County layoffs: "Ann Arbor's ProQuest has announced plans to expand its Ann Arbor facility, and to hire roughly 303 employees over the next five years. The expansion will center around a $6.5 million data center, says Elliot Forsyth, senior vice-president of human resources and operations. The tech nucleus of Ann Arbor coupled with a 10-year, $10 million state tax credit was enough to keep ProQuest local."


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 1:19 p.m.

I agree 100%! I am also do not like giving tax credits "for hiring" future employees. I would like to see tax breaks to companies as a rebate system, per employee each year not in advance of "if a company has an employee!"


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 8:38 p.m.

Ms. Dempsey, You say that you are "not decreasing your workforce." tell that to the 40 people you just fired! shame on you!!


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 9:11 p.m.

These are smart people who make ignorant comments because they do not understand how their words play when consumed by the public. A (decent) PR pro would have never approved such language.


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 8:21 p.m.

PR 101 You cannot make this statement ""The bottom line is this: we are not decreasing our workforce" when you just fired 40 people. they do not care that there are 75 vacancies - they care that they do not have a job and will be going to unemployment Wednesday tell these people you have not "decreased" your workforce with a straight face someone at this company, hire a PR person, when you fill the 75 vacancies


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 2:08 p.m.

@johnnya2 the reasons for the layoffs can be valid or not. I am not questioning the business decision of the layoffs (these things happen every day) nor if it is beneficial for the company or not. I am questioning the language used and how it plays to the public and especially those laid off -- and it was a poor choice of language from a spokesperson who claims to be a PR pro who should know better. Try that for comprehension 101 -- you cannot even comprehend a valid point beyond your own biases.

Chester Drawers

Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 1:13 p.m.

Johnnya2, You can also do all of these things while being employed; a much less stressful situation, especially for those who have serious financial responsibilities.


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.

johnnya2: I am sure ProQuest laied of these employees for reasons not stated. "Dempsey said the laid-off employees are welcome to apply for the available positions if they have the necessary qualifications." If ProQuest a really wants to "Help" these employees it would offer "Training" so they would have the "Qualifications." to keep their jobs. I agree with Goober being subjected to a lay off is never good.


Wed, Jan 16, 2013 : 12:07 a.m.

@Goober Oh really? 1. It could force you to train for a better job 2. It could force you to actually look for work that makes you happier 3. It could make you start your own business 4. It could lead you to move to a place where you might be happier. Those are 4 quick reasons a layoff can be good. Of course, the difference is between those that think long term, and those that think VERY short term. For the record, layoffs and companies changing has been done since the beginning of time.


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 10:42 p.m.

Being subjected to a lay off is never good.


Tue, Jan 15, 2013 : 10 p.m.

Comprehension 101, if you are hiring 75 people, but laying off 40, that means you are ADDING not decreasing to your workforce. EVERY company does this. Laying off these employees is actually GOOD for them. It allows them the benefits of unemployment. If the company wanted to be nasty, they could have found reasons to fire people WITH CAUSE and get out of paying benefits. I worked for a company that disbanded a business unit that employed about 100 people, at the same time another business unit was hiring over 300 people. The problem was that the skill set of the 100 that were let go did not meet the requirements that the 300 that were being hired did.