Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Goss May Not Be Broke, but Some Think Its ColorFlow Is Broken: New CEO Talks to Production Executives about Bankruptcy;they Talk about Troublesome Keyless Inker

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Goss May Not Be Broke, but Some Think Its ColorFlow Is Broken: New CEO Talks to Production Executives about Bankruptcy;they Talk about Troublesome Keyless Inker

Article excerpt

With a financial restructuring plan ready for review within days by a bankruptcy judge, Goss Graphic Systems has been busy repairing relationships with vendors and customers in efforts to pay for and obtain parts for projects, some of whose schedules have slipped.

While one major new-press project is pending, several upgrades and expansions are under way (E&P, Sept. 18, p. 45) and The Boston Globe signed Goss to convert the Metroliner-MetroColor presses in its two plants to run 50-inch-wide webs.

Goss also has been contending with yet another difficulty: Several of its Newsliner installations have been plagued by problems with their presses' keyless inking systems. Two sites already are replacing the inkers with digital page packs.

Reviewing his company's restructuring with shareholders, bondholders, and banks - including financial infusions and swapping half the value of 12% bonds for equity - Goss CEO and Chairman Jim Sheehan told the International Newspaper Group (ING) at its recent annual meeting in Baltimore that after suffering "self-inflicted wounds" last year, Goss did well in the first quarter, only to "encounter some of the problems that come from a liquidity crunch" in the spring.

Stretching out payments, said Sheehan, "put a big burden on our vendors, and we're sorry we had to do that." The resulting difficulty in obtaining parts, he continued, had Goss "trying very, very desperately to meet our commitments to our customers."

The need for working capital forced the issue and led, after several months, to the July 30 prepackaged bankruptcy filing (E&P, Aug. 21, p. 12).

All concerned parties were voting on the proposed restructuring late last month, and a judge in U.S. District Court in Delaware is set to rule on the arrangement Oct. 19. "We expect that we will come out of that very successfully," said Sheehan, adding that Goss should be making its way out of bankruptcy status by month's end.

Sheehan said that, under the plan, new subordinated debt is at the holding company (GGS Holdings Inc.) level, which is junior to what Goss Graphic Systems owes suppliers or customers. The company should have more cash on hand thanks to deferred interest payments that will free up $27 million a year.

Operationally, Sheehan said, Goss has had to restart the flow of parts, then reschedule installations and restart manufacturing according to the parts supply before seeking new orders. He estimated it will take 30 to 60 days from the date of court approval of its restructuring to get "factories rebalanced" for manufacturing.

Scheduling has been a two-year headache for The Miami Herald, where, after selecting keyless offset over the flexo it had been testing in live production for several years, its plant modernization bogged down in asbestos and lead-paint remediation. Squeezing Goss Newsliners into the Herald's building caused further delay. Now, delivery of controls for those presses has been postponed from August to November. Goss was, however, "able to make their commitment [date] for the press conversion," said production vice president Joseph J. Bowman.

Struggling With Keyless

Four of the Herald's five Newsliner press lines are installed; the last arrives in November. The first three lines were installed with keyless inkers, but when all presses are in production next year, they will print with Goss digital inkers.

Bowman said keyless was expected to allow "set-it-and-forget-it" operation that would require "very little operator intervention," as well as lower skill levels, less labor and maintenance, and day-to-day print-quality consistency.

As it turned out, the presses need more maintenance and more labor. And the maintenance is "absolutely critical," said Bowman, because with little on-press adjustment possible, keyless affords a smaller window for getting the printing right.

Echoing Bowman's remarks, Jim Catron, The Orlando (Fla. …

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