Friday September 14, 2018

BREAKING: Southern Graphic Systems in Phoenix to Close

Print equipment manufacturer to shutter facility after 30 years of doing business
By Lou Sorendo

    Southern Graphic Systems, Inc., a company that has been doing business in Phoenix for 30 years, is closing.


    The print equipment manufacturer is located in the Oswego County Industrial Park off county Route 59 in Phoenix. The plant is expected to be completely closed by Dec. 28


    “We opened as a Greenfield operation in 1990 and made our first cylinder in December of that year,” said Mike Fitzgerald, operations manager. “We’ve been pretty solid ever since. We’ve probably delivered some of the best production numbers back to the company, but the bottom line is we were the smallest plant out there.”


    Fitzgerald said SGS has added new automation at the Phoenix site, but “it just hasn’t worked out as a whole.”


    Gone will be 28 jobs, with many of the workers having long histories at the Phoenix plant. According to, the average salary at Southern Graphic Systems is $62,000.


    Packing graphics and gravure image carriers represent its core business activities. Digital printed packaging and prototyping have been provided since 2004.


    Fitzgerald said there was discussion in the past regarding a possible closure, and two small plants — one in Atlanta, Ga. and the other in Toronto, Ontario, Canada — have shut down over the past year.


    “The only small plant left was us,” he said.


    Fitzgerald said it is more of a company issue than an industry-wide trend.


    “There are printers out there actually putting in new gravure presses, which is what we service and supply print tools for,” he said. “The company is just trying to do it in a smaller footprint.”


    “The bottom line is we are closing this place because of automation,” he said. “Automation is replacing our guys.”


    SGS has ramped up automation over the past 18 months in order to get ready for the closure of the Phoenix plant, he added.


    “I’ve been here since day one,” said Fitzgerald, who noted he “definitely had a hard time expressing the closure to the people here at this plant.”


    Fitzgerald noted there are opportunities for people to relocate, but “better than half don’t want to relocate. I relocated four times for this company. The first time was a little scary, but the rest of them were exciting. They haven’t had the scary one yet and are not willing to do it.”