Bigger press will print The Daily Herald

EVERETT — An era spanning 121 years ended Sunday, April 3, with the last edition of The Daily Herald rolling off a press in Everett.

Starting as of Monday, April 4, it will no longer be printed in Snohomish County. Sound Publishing Inc., owners of The Herald, are moving from a printing facility at Paine Field in Everett to a new one in Lakewood in Pierce County.

There the paper will be produced on a newer and larger press acquired last summer from a firm in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Installation is underway. Until it is up and running in July, The Herald will be printed in Mount Vernon at the Skagit Valley Herald.

The company will rely on printers in Washington and British Columbia to handle press work for roughly three dozen publications and commercial contracts in the Pacific Northwest region.

Sound Publishing President Josh O’Connor said the company didn’t want to move but could not reach agreement on a new lease at the Paine Field facility. The current one expires at the end of the month.

A search for a suitable location in the area came up empty, he said.

“We had hoped to stay in Snohomish County but could not find a building with the clear height and electrical requirements that we need to operate,” O’Connor said. “We can guarantee that readers will continue to receive their Herald on time in the future. The only difference is that we need to factor in the drive time from Lakewood seven days a week.”

Sunday’s last run concluded a chapter that began on Jan. 5, 1901, when the first Daily Herald rolled off a press in Everett and employees worked out of a building on Rucker Avenue.

Former Herald publisher Larry Hanson didn’t find the latest move surprising given the evolution of printing technology and the evolving economics of the industry. It did make him nostalgic, though.

“I’d be happier if it were done in Everett. It’s mostly local pride and the history of it being printed here,” he said. “From a consumer standpoint, I don’t think it matters. It’s the stories that matter, not so much where it’s printed.”

Since 1901, there have been ownership changes, moves to new offices — in 1904, to Colby Avenue and Wall Street; in 1959 to California Street; and in 2013 to the Ziply Fiber building on 41st Street — and press upgrades.

And a fire. It happened in February 1956, a fire broke out in the press and composing room. Coverage at the time noted that with the big press “charred and silent,” the paper got produced in Seattle, but just for a week until the machinery was back in gear.

When The Herald relocated in 1959, that press came along, too. In the late 1960s, the company acquired another press, known by its initials HOE, which became the company workhorse for almost two decades. In February 1984, the company added a new and larger Goss press while continuing to use the HOE once a week.

In 1993, The Herald installed a Goss Metro Color press in the California Street building. Painted blue and standing two stories, folks often dropped by, peering through large glass windows to watch the machinery churn.

In 2013, Sound Publishing, a subsidiary of Black Press, purchased The Daily Herald from the Washington Post Co. Sound already had an extensive printing plant and distribution center near Paine Field for publications in Western Washington.

Upon completing the acquisition, the corporation switched off the presses at California Street and began printing The Herald at its Paine Field operation.

Last summer came the latest purchase, a massive Goss/Manroland cq JCUniversal 70 press from Color Web Printers, which used it to print The Gazette daily newspaper in Cedar Rapids. It’s previously owned but immaculately maintained, O’Connor said.

At the time, O’Connor told The Gazette that disassembling the 220-foot long, 442-ton press would take months and require a team of experts. And he said it would take more than 55 semitrucks to transport components to Washington.

Those parts are here and reassembly is underway with a goal of getting the press operational by July.

It will handle the company’s current portfolio of more than 30 daily newspapers and community weeklies, plus commercial clients.

In addition to The Daily Herald, the company prints The Daily World of Aberdeen, the Peninsula Daily News in Port Angeles, the Bellingham Herald and the Centralia Chronicle.

The Lakewood press’ 11 towers and five folders will give newspaper publishers and commercial customers greater printing options, O’Connor said. Sound Publishing will become one of the largest cold-set web printers in the five-state region of Washington, Alaska, Montana, Idaho and Oregon, he noted.

The shift is impacting workers. More than half of the 44 employees at the Everett plant won’t be working in Lakewood.

“All affected employees were offered an opportunity to come to the new facility,” O’Connor said.

“Unfortunately, only 30 percent to 40 percent of our workforce decided to join us.”