J-C Press

J-C Press, which traces its business history in Owatonna back 160 years, will be closing its doors on Friday after the company was acquired by the Minnetonka-based Wallace Carlson commercial printing company. (Annie Granlund/People’s Press)

OWATONNA — An Owatonna business that was celebrating its 160th anniversary this year will be closing its doors on Friday, the company has said.

J-C Press, which traces its start to 1859, just five years after the town of Owatonna was found, has been acquired by the Minnetonka-based Wallace Carlson commercial printing company, the companies announced in a press release Thursday morning.

“The acquisition expands the company’s services to an even more diverse range of commercial printing capabilities and customer base,” the release said about Wallace Carlson’s acquisition. “Wallace Carlson will continue to serve the J-C Press client base and maintain sales offices in Owatonna.”

Patrick McDermott, the owner of J-C Press, said in response to an email Thursday morning, said that all of the sales staff — six people, including McDermott himself, who will stay on in a “sales and business development role” — will transition over to Wallace Carlson.

However, McDermott confirmed that the “last official day of operations at J-C Press” is expected to be Friday. And though “a small group will stay on for another week or so to wind down final operations,” not all will. Indeed, according to Facebook posts, many of the workers were told Wednesday that they would be out of work on Friday.

McDermott said in his email, however, that officials from Wallace Carlson have been in the plant Wednesday and Thursday interviewing employees.

“All employees will be considered for job opportunities in Minnetonka,” he said.

McDermott did not say how many employees would be impacted by the closure.

In the press release, both McDermott and Brian Turbeville, the president of Wallace Carlson, spoke favorably of the acquisition and what it will mean for the companies and their clients.

“We are very excited about the future of Wallace Carlson with the expanded capabilities and the hiring of key employees,” said Turbeville. “J-C Press has a great reputation and we are very fortunate for this opportunity.”

McDermott concurred.

“I am confident this acquisition will be great for our clients. J-C Press has always taken an active role in the Owatonna community and this acquisition allows us to improve quality and efficiency while maintaining our local relationships that we have enjoyed for so long,” he said.

McDermott purchased J-C Press in December 2014 from then owner, president and CEO Sabra Otteson. Otteson, who had owned the company for 30 years, was a member of the Whiting family — a family whose members had owned the business for 120 of its then 155-year history.

At the time of the sale of J-C Press to McDermott, who was born and reared in Owatonna, Otteson said, “It was important that J-C Press remain locally owned.” It was because of the close connection between the business and the community.

Otteson’s grandfather, E.K. Whiting, purchased The Chronicle, an Owatonna newspaper, in 1896. The paper itself had been published in the city since 1859, five years after Owatonna became a city, making J-C Press the oldest still-operating company in Steele County.

In 1906, Whiting purchased another Owatonna newspaper, The Journal, combining the two and incorporating the company as the Journal-Chronicle, from whence came the name J-C Press.

The Whiting family sold the Journal-Chronicle newspaper to what was then called the Daily People’s Press in the 1930s. Though the Journal-Chronicle ceased to operate as a newspaper, the Whiting family continued with both commercial printing and office supplies, now under the leadership of Otteson’s father, William Whiting.

The younger Whiting continued to own and operate the company until he passed the company on to his daughter, Sabra Otteson.

In October 2017, just shy of three years removed from when McDermott purchase the business from Otteson, J-C Press filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11, a section of the federal bankruptcy law that allows a debtor to remain in operation and under court oversight while it reorganizes.

At that time, McDermott said the move was necessary to help the company rebuild after losing a major contract with the California-based Audio Digest Foundation.

Reach Managing Editor Jeffrey Jackson at 444-2371 or follow him on Twitter @OPPJeffrey.

Jeffrey Jackson is the managing editor of the Owatonna People's Press. He can be reached at 507-444-2371 or via email at jjackson@owatonna.com

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