The printing press was not included in the sale of Tracy Press Inc. and its three newspapers — the Tracy Press, the Patterson Irrigator and the Press-Banner in Santa Cruz County — in U.S. Bankruptcy Court Eastern District of California in Sacramento.
On Oct. 10, Chief Judge Christopher M. Klein approved a purchase bid of $425,000 by Will Fleet and Ralph Alldredge.
John Wilson, pressroom foreman, said Tuesday, Nov. 20, that the final printing day was “sad and somber” for him and his three employees.
After the final printing run, the press was dismantled Friday, Nov. 16, and taken by truck from the Tracy Press, 145 W. 10th St., on Monday, Nov. 19.
“Friday, when the guys came to get their checks, I think that’s when reality set in for everyone,” said Wilson as he stood in the empty press warehouse. “I tried to keep it humorous to keep from getting too awfully depressed, but then you walk into this and it’s very depressing.”
Starting this week, printing operations are being outsourced to the Galt Herald, just south of Sacramento.
Fleet said the Tracy Press will still be delivered on Fridays, and the size and format of the paper will remain the same.
He resigned as publisher of the Fresno Bee effective Oct. 31 and will serve with Alldredge as co-publisher of the three newspapers under the new company name Tank Town Media.
Alldredge is also publisher of the San Andreas-based Calaveras Enterprise.
The Galt Herald, owned by the Herburger family, also prints the Enterprise.
“We are pleased to partner with our friends at the Galt Herald,” Fleet said. “Both Ralph and I have known the Herburger family for many years.”
The sale of Tracy Press Inc. by members of the Matthews family — which acquired the Press in 1943 — was finalized on Nov. 12.
According to Wilson, the printing press was sold during a separate auction to a bidder in Newport Beach, who specializes in reselling used printing presses.
He said it’s increasingly difficult to maintain the economic viability of operating a printing press. He cited several reasons, including increased costs related to environmental and government oversight of the printing process.
“I have five or six agencies I have to answer to, because in California things are so heavily regulated,” he said. “Many years ago, the Bay Area had 12 to 15 printing presses, and now there are maybe two. Downsizing and consolidation are not new things in the printing industry.”
According to an article in the Press on Oct. 26, 1912, the first printing press — a Model Five Mergenthaler Linotype — was delivered to the Press that week. The following week, once the equipment was installed, the Press was printed Nov. 2 in the city of Tracy for the first time.
The first issue of the Tracy Press was published April 2, 1898.
In 1961, Wilson said the Tracy Press was one of the first companies in California to install an offset printing press, a three-unit Goss Suburban. It was able to print a 20-page publication — eight pages in color and 12 all-black pages.
Ten years later, a five-unit Goss Community press was installed. More units were added to the press, which raised its capacity to the current-day 48-page publication — a possible 16 color and 32 black pages. The Goss Community press installed in 1971 was the 29th press of its kind sold in the world by Goss.
On the press in use until Nov. 16, Wilson said that it took just under two hours to print the Press’ circulation of about 20,000 papers.
With more than 50 years at the Press, Wilson said he remembered the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2011, as resulting in one of the busiest printing days.
“Everyone came out with a special edition that day, including the Tracy Press,” he said. “Things were really busy that day, and everything seemed to move so fast. It was an interesting time to be working (on the press).”
The press also printed about 30 publications — mostly ethnic publications — for various groups in the Central Valley.
Wilson, who plans to retire Dec. 1, said he is trying to use his connections in the printing industry to find two of his workers a job at a press in the Bay Area, while the third worker has already moved on to a press in Manteca.
The workers will be cleaning the press warehouse until their last official day Dec. 1.
“These are good guys who work hard and have been good to me, so I want to see them get something good,” he said.
• Contact Joel Danoy at 830-4229 or email@example.com.