Carrie Rengers

A Wichita business is ceasing operations after almost 120 years

McCormick Armstrong is ceasing Wichita operations, according to chairman and CEO Jake Shaffer. He’s shown in this 2015 file photo with John Bobbitt, who became the company’s new president that year.
McCormick Armstrong is ceasing Wichita operations, according to chairman and CEO Jake Shaffer. He’s shown in this 2015 file photo with John Bobbitt, who became the company’s new president that year. File photo

McCormick Armstrong, one of Wichita’s oldest businesses, notified employees on Thursday afternoon that operations here will cease.

“Yes, that is true,” longtime chairman and CEO Jake Shaffer said when first contacted about the announcement.

He later said that on the advice of his attorney, he could not say anything more.

It sounds like the printer is not simply closing but has sold.

According to what employees were told, they can apply for new jobs with an out-of-state owner. It’s not clear where those jobs would be.

Also from what they were told, it sounds like the change is happening in the next few weeks.

In a 2015 story with The Eagle, Shaffer said the company had weathered the previous six years of an economic downturn. He said the difficult time was compounded by ongoing shifts in technology, but Shaffer said he still expected a bright future.

At the time, he also announced that he’d hired John Bobbitt to take over as president with day-to-day oversight of the company’s printing, direct mail, catalog, fulfillment, distribution and other operations.

A.G. McCormick Sr. started McCormick Press in downtown Wichita — in a one-room loft, according to the company’s website — in 1901.

“He had a ‘jobber,’ a few cases of type, and the determination to deliver high quality printing knowing each piece would be used as a sample of his work,” the website says.

C. H. Armstrong opened Armstrong Printing Co. a few years later, and then the competitors merged in 1912.

For a time in the 1950s and ’60s, the company was public, but it became private again in 1968.

Shaffer has been at the business for 54 years. He says he’ll share more information about what’s happening with the company next week.

Carrie Rengers has been a reporter for almost three decades, including 16 years at The Wichita Eagle. Her Have You Heard? column of business scoops runs five days a week in The Eagle. If you have a tip, please e-mail or tweet her or call 316-268-6340.

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