Montrose Publishing ends run

The Montrose Publishing Company, on South Main St., will close this week after 196 years in business. STAFF PHOTO/STACI WILSON

BY STACI WILSON

After 196 years in business, one of the oldest printers in the nation will close its doors on Friday.

Montrose Publishing Company developed as a separate business formed in 1958 from the local newspaper (now known as the Susquehanna County Independent), established in 1816 by Justin Clark as the Susquehanna  County Centinel.

But technological advances in printing have hurt the industry as a whole.

David Spence, President of Montrose Publishing Co., said, “I don’t know if there will be a printer in the nation five years down the road.”

Montrose Publishing Co. Chairman Earle Wootton said printing is specialized by product.

“Our product was short-run publications,” Wootton said. Typical products printed include instruction books and technical manuals.

According to Spence, the publication printing accounted for about 85 percent of the company’s work; now more companies offer the manuals in a digital format.

“We stayed with the market longer than others,” Wootton said. “We recognized it was time to get out.”

“We’re going out as a profitable, viable business,” he said. “But because of the changes in technology, there’s no future.”

He said the industry changes are always gradual.

Wootton likens this industry change to digital to that of the transition to the offset printing process. Both changes he has experienced first-hand in his career.

Wootton joined the company in 1969, working for his father, Earle Edwards Wootton, who had started out sweeping the floor and acting as a delivery boy at age 16. He eventually worked his way up and bought the business in 1958.

Upon his father’s death in 1974, Wootton ran the business until 2004.

Spence joined the company right out of college in 1984. He began transitioning into leadership role in the organization and was named general manager in 1994 and president in 1999.

In the mid-80s, he said, the publishing company had about 62 employees.

In more recent years, about 25 people were employed on average by Montrose Publishing at itsSouth Main St.location.

About a dozen people were working there at the time of the closing. “Most employees were able to have a job the very next day,” Wootton said.

In 1997, the Susquehanna County Independent was sold by the Montrose Publishing Company to Times-Shamrock Corporation.

“The (newspaper) business still continues,” Wootton said, “owned by Times-Shamrock”