NA Publishing shifts manufacturing to two Ann Arbor-area companies
Ann Arbor book manufacturer Edwards Brothers Inc.Â and a Maryland-based digital and microfilm firm are the beneficiaries of NA Publishing Inc.’s decision to outsource its non-core manufacturing functions as it looks for a new and smaller home.
The Scio Township-based academic publisherÂ in recent weeks has awarded production contracts to both Edwards Brothers and The Crowley Co.,Â a Frederick, Md.-based digital and analog film technology company that is moving to the area and investing $1 million in a new facility.
Joe Mills, Crowley’s vice president of operations and one of 40 former NA Publishing employees transferring to the new facility, said Crowley is committing more than $1 million to the new site, its first in Michigan. The company expects to commence production there in December.
“NA Publishing is a customer of ours now and we will be doing all of the microfilm and digital services activity for them,” Mills said. “All of their non-coursepack manufacturing is under contract with us.”
Edwards Brothers will take over the production of course packs for XanEdu Publishing Inc., one of two new subsidiaries of NA Publishing.Â The company is absorbing four former employees of its longtime customer and will transfer heavy Xerox equipment to its South State Street facility.
Mark Carroll, a managing partner of Superior Capital Partners LLC, a Detroit private equity firm that ownsÂ NA Publishing, could not be reached for comment. Financial terms were not disclosed for either multi-year production deal.
NA Publishing was formed this summer when Superior acquired the former National Archive Publishing Co. That company's headquarters on Zeeb Road just north of I-94 is listed for sale.
Earlier this summer, before its sale to Superior, NAPC sold another manufacturing division to Proquest in Ann Arbor. That deal preserved an estimated 120 jobs in the Ann Arbor area.
“They got a better cost structure and no headaches dealing with the manufacturing side,” said John Edwards, Edward Brothers’ president and CEO, “and we got a bigger customer out of it.”Â
As part of the deal, Edwards Brothers is taking on four former NA Publishing employees. The deals to outsource manufacturing resulted in no net job losses, said Mills, who was NA Publishing’s executive vice president of manufacturing and operations.
For Crowley, the new facility is an opportunity to grow business with libraries, universities, publishers and large commercial companies that require microfilm and digital conversion services. The new location will also handle orders for as many as 15 other existing customers in the area, Mills said.
“With our digitizing services in Maryland operating at full bore, this investment puts us in a position for immediate and future growth,” President Christopher Crowley said in a release. “It allows us to take advantage of a qualified work force that has suffered reductions in recent years and to expand services to our existing customers already in the area."
For Edwards Brothers, the deal is welcome news at a time when volumes are down for K-12 workbooks, trade publications and professional publications - three of four key segments after college textbooks. Edwards said the company has “had some reductions” in staff during the recession but declined to say how many.
“We’re trying to match the workforce to the volumes, and the volumes are down,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s going to get any worse,” he added. “We’re working on our 2010 budget right now, but we’re not betting on any major growth.”