Vehicles in the roundabout aren’t the only things that go round and round in Princeton.
About 8,000 tons of newsprint go round and round the rollers of 61
press units each year at the ECM Publishers, Inc. printing facility, located in the Princeton Industrial Park at 1201 14th Avenue South.
Here’s a little-known fact: “We are one of the largest printing sites based in the Midwest,” said Jim Henry, plant operations manager at ECM Publishers’ Princeton
Henry is in his 17th year at the plant and has guided the ECM facility through five major expansions since 1994. During his tenure, the plant has grown from one 10-unit press to three press lines with more than 60 units. As a matter of fact, the facility now houses its fourth generation of presses since the days Elmer L. Andersen founded ECM Publishers, Inc. in Princeton in 1976.
The Princeton printing facility prints far more publications than the Princeton Union-Eagle, Town & Country, My Generation and their 50 sister publications within the ECM-Sun newspaper group, Henry said. One of those publications is one of the largest publications in the nation.
“Most people don’t realize that the New York Times is printed here,” Henry said.
ECM prints one of 28 daily national editions of the New York Times. The company prints 10,000 copies of the Times on weekdays and 20,000 copies on Sunday. The papers are then distributed to not only Minnesota, but Wisconsin, Iowa and North and South Dakota.
“We print five sections – three early sections and two late sections,” Henry said.
Two of ECM’s three press lines are completely dedicated to the New York Times during production time each and every day.
“We are completely dedicated to the New York Times,” Henry said.
But that dedication takes time, Henry said.
Newspaper page files come to Princeton via computer from New York. Those files are output to metal plates. The plates are put on the press and printed. The five sections of the paper are then inserted into each other and prepared for distribution. That process is followed for nearly every publication rolling off the line at the ECM facility.
ECM has earned awards from the New York Times for its performance. ECM is one of the Times’ “Top Tier” performers.
“We are the only plant in the New York Times network to ever go one year without missing a delivery time and, as a matter of fact, we did it two years in a row,” Henry said. “No one else has done that.”
Your weekly Union-Eagle, Town & Country and the monthly My Generation publications produced out of the Princeton Union-Eagle office benefit from the same “top tier” service the Princeton printing plant extends to the New York Times.
ECM prints many other publications, too.
The University of Minnesota’s Minnesota Daily is printed in Princeton. So are the publications of Catholic dioceses across the state. ECM prints the Downtown Journal and its sister paper, the Southwest Journal; the Meyer Publications papers in Big Lake and Clearwater; The Benton County News, The Sauk Rapids Herald, and the suburban St. Paul papers of Villager Communications, Henry said.
ECM prints catalogs for many school district community education programs, the Anoka-Hennepin Parks District, and the Three Rivers Parks District, as well, he said.
“We’re here 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” Henry said. “We’re pretty busy.”
Back when ECM was pursuing the New York Times contract, the company faced the challenge of proving to one of the nation’s largest publishers that it would not see a loss of service by contracting with a small printer. As a matter of fact, ECM is the smallest press company the New York Times does business with.
“It was a matter of convincing them that nothing would be lost,” Henry recalls. “They were going to be a significant part of our business and we were going to have to perform to keep their business.”
“History has shown that we could – and have – done the job,” he said.
Today printing jobs continue to roll off the Princeton production line in record numbers.
In early 2012, ECM Publishers, Inc. completed the acquisition of Minnesota Sun Newspapers and its 32 weekly newspapers and two shoppers. In late 2012, ECM moved the printing of those Sun papers to Princeton from a printing facility in Hudson, Wis.
The printing of all these publications consumes about 8,000 tons of newsprint per year, Henry said. As a result, about eight semis, each containing 40 to 50 1,000-pound rolls of newsprint, roll into the plant each week, he said.