Most local high schools have not received yearbooks; Jostens says pandemic has delayed delivery
TULARE COUNTY – Most Tulare County high schools have not received their yearbooks yet, but the company printing them says they will soon.
High schools in Exeter, Farmersville, Porterville, Visalia and Woodlake did not have yearbooks as of press time, but most told The Sun-Gazette they were expecting them this week or next. Dinuba, Lindsay and Tulare high schools did not return calls as of press time. Schools cited little concerns over yearbooks following the announcement that Jostens was closing its commercial print plant in Visalia last month. Two days before the plant was scheduled to shutter, Jostens reached out to customers to reassure them that the yearbooks would be delivered, although on a slightly delayed timeline.
In his May 15 message to its customers, Brian Crandall, Jostens’ general manager for commercial print, said the company was experiencing “near term capacity constraints” due to the closure of the Visalia plant. While Visalia represented less than 10% of its commercial production, Crandall said major equipment from the plant had to be relocated to other facilities and that its “long-term capacity has not changed.” The relocation of equipment and increased safety protocols due to the coronavirus at its remaining plants have postponed the delivery of yearbooks.
“Existing jobs will be run and commitments delivered to the best of our ability,” Crandall wrote in the letter. “In situations where we are challenged to deliver in a suitable time period, we have a network of partners we are relying on to get us there.”
Jostens announced it would be closing its Visalia plant, located at 231 S. Kelsey St. in Visalia, in April. The plant officially closed on May 17 with the company eliminating 110 jobs without the possibility for transfer to other facilities.
An April 18 letter to the City of Visalia confirmed that the closure was due to the pandemic: “As you know, most of Jostens’ business is focused on schools and the annual cycle of high school and college graduations. With the nation’s schools closed and graduation events in question as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, Jostens has experienced an unforeseen loss of business on a nationwide scale.”
The company’s primary products revolve around graduation ceremonies and sports, including yearbooks, publications, class rings for K-12 educational, and championship rings and trophies for college and professional sports. Yearbooks and other education publications are a huge part of the company’s revenue and were done at the Visalia plant, which served as Jostens’ printing and publishing arm. The company is headquartered in Minneapolis and still has two other operation centers in Clarksville, Tenn. and Sedalia, Mo.
“Bottom line is we remain committed to our people, our customers, and importantly, to delivering high-quality, unique, commercial print to the market long term,” Crandall stated in the letter.
-Jermaine Johnson II contributed to this report.