An afternoon fire last Wednesday at Page 1 Printers in Slayton sent four employees to the Murray County Medical Center and resulted in significant damage to the plant’s warehouse.
The fire, which is assumed to have started with the bailer machine and its motor, was contained to the warehouse area, but there were significant losses attributed not just to the fire but water damage as well.
Jim Keul, who has owned the printing business with Chuck Draper since 1978, said the aftermath of the fire was filled with concern for employees, as well as for the business’s many clients.
“Logistically, there’s a lot of things to deal with,” said Keul, a former co-owner of the Tracy Area Headlight Herald. “It reminds me of days in the Army — it’s about crisis management.”
Keul said the outsourcing of sheet-fed and web jobs was one of the business’s main priorities last week and continued to be this week. He said Page 1 had up to three options for outsourcing its printing jobs.
The Tracy Area Headlight Herald, as well as numerous other newspapers, are printed at Page 1; Food Pride and Menards inserts are also distributed there and were lost in the fire. This week’s paper was printed in Sioux Falls. Keul said Page 1’s plan was to get every print job out on schedule.
“This is really pretty devastating for an industry that’s shaken anyway,” Keul said. “The first of the year, we had four price increases that we haven’t passed along yet. In January, we had to tell our suppliers — there are only a few now — exactly what we were gonna produce for next year. They put us on allocation, and sent us a letter that said they hope they can meet their allocations, but they may be late and that we can’t take on any new customers.”
Keul said he appreciates how Page 1 employees have responded since the fire.
“We see in times of crisis how valuable employees are,” Keul said. “Also, the flexibly and understanding of customers that we never want to take for granted. They, too, are affected dramatically, and they also want to be flexible.”
The Slayton Fire Department was first to respond to the scene, and the Lake Wilson Fire Department was also called to assist. The Murray County Ambulance was called to the scene to help with those injured.
Last week’s fire has resulted in the loss of the inserts Tracy Area Headlight Herald subscribers would normally find in their Shopper Plus this week. In addition, the Tracy Area Headlight Herald was not able to print the Shopper Plus as regularly scheduled. Therefore, the Shopper Plus and the Food Pride advertisement will be available digitally this week at headlightherald.com
The Tracy Area Headlight Herald is working closely with Page 1 Printers to continue to provide the paper and shopper to the readers despite the current circumstances.