Hallmark To Close Enfield Warehouse, Eliminate 570 Jobs

After 63 years in Enfield, Hallmark will close its distribution center and eliminate 570 local jobs

ENFIELD — Hallmark will close its 1-million-square-foot Enfield distribution center and eliminate 570 jobs over the next year, ending 63 years of operation in the town.

The privately owned greeting card company, based in Kansas City, said the shutdown, part of a nationwide streamlining of operations, would bring "substantial ongoing savings."

The announcement came as a shock in a town where Hallmark is so deeply rooted that its crown logo is part of the town seal.

"It takes your breath away because you have one of your anchor employers doing this," Deputy Mayor Bill Lee said. But, he added, "I certainly understand the climate they operate in and need to remain as lean and competitive as possible."

Hallmark will consolidate its distribution in Liberty, Mo., adding 400 employees to that facility, which now has about 750.

"The 570 employees at the Enfield Distribution Center may apply for open positions at Hallmark in Kansas City and Liberty, with some relocation assistance provided. Those unable to make the move will be offered severance benefits," Hallmark said in a written statement.

Hallmark's North America president, Dave Hall, acknowledged the Enfield workforce in the company statement. "This decision in no way reflects on the hardworking Hallmarkers at Enfield or the tremendously supportive community," he said.

This warehouse was built in 1980. Lee said he assumed Hallmark would sell the property, and if another warehouse operation located there, it should not affect property taxes greatly.

But, he said, "Because jobs are leaving, that's going to be a big punch in the gut to the community."

Mayor Scott Kaupin said Hallmark was not only a leading employer in town, but a leading corporate citizen.

"Hallmark was one of the initial corporate sponsors in the town's 4th of July town celebration and contributed to a number of efforts in town," Kaupin said. "They encouraged their upper members of the company to get involved."

Kaupin said a number of former local politicians, including former Mayor Francis A. "Roxy" Burke Jr., worked for Hallmark. "It was a company that really embraced Enfield," he said. "It's a loss of an institution."

Lee noted the closing is part of job reductions at Hallmark. The Kansas City Star reported in March that Hallmark, which has 3,200 employees in its hometown and 6,100 nationwide, would reduce its headquarters count by 200 through buyouts and layoffs.

Hallmark also closed a printing plant in Georgia and consolidated some manufacturing operations.

The Enfield warehouse fills and ships orders for stores along the East Coast from Maine to Florida and west to mid-Ohio and mid-Michigan. About 40 percent of Hallmark products ship out of Enfield, the company said.

Hallmark's warehouse is nestled behind woods on Bacon Road, west of Crescent Lake, in the Shaker Pines area of town, barely visible from the road. The closing will add to the number of vacancies of large commercial and industrial properties in the state — a list that has been shrinking over the past few years.

In 2014, Hallmark ranked No. 5 on Enfield's grand list, with an assessment of $26.3 million, behind MassMutual, NIP Owner LLC, Centro Enfield LLC (Enfield Square Mall) and Eversource Energy.

Hallmark, which does not release earnings figures, had $3.8 billion in sales in 2014, spokeswoman Julie Elliott said. The company owns Crayola crayons, a cable TV channel, hotels and family entertainment in Missouri and other businesses. It has seen a "slight decline" in greeting card sales, Elliott said.

Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano issued a statement that said: "This is another sad, but not surprising, piece of news for Connecticut residents…Connecticut's business environment cannot compete with other states. So when a company is deciding between two locations, it's sadly not surprising that Connecticut would lose that battle."

But comparative costs were not the reason for the closing, Elliott said. Rather, she said, with a consolidation, it made more sense to have the distribution center in the middle of the country. Also, the Liberty warehouse, which handles 60 percent of the shipments, is 1.7 million square feet.

"This isn't really an issue of the cost to operate one location over another," she said.

Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, responded with dismay to the news. "The loss of 570 local jobs is heartbreaking," he said in a written statement.

"My heart goes out to the families who will be impacted and the hundreds who will be unemployed as a result," Kissel added. "Hallmark has been an integral part of our community for over 60 years. This is a huge loss for Enfield."

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