[The Free Lance-Star]
September 17, 2010
By Bill Freehling
The Free Lance-Star Publishing Cos. officially unveiled its $45 million investment in Fredericksburg yesterday evening.
The Rowe family, which owns the company, welcomed guests to a grand opening ceremony at Print Innovators, a division of the FLS at 1381 Belman Road.
The 92,000-square-foot plant allows the company to diversify into commercial printing. Print Innovators is targeting customers within a 600-mile radius."This operation will bring business to the area that is currently going elsewhere," said Free Lance-Star Publisher Josiah P. Rowe III, who has been running the company for more than 60 years.
"It's with a great deal of pride that I welcome you," Rowe told the roughly 100 guests. He spoke of the plant's environmentally friendly features.Fredericksburg Mayor Tom Tomzak praised the Rowe family for locating a facility that "we're all proud of" in the city.
"They could have moved it elsewhere," Tomzak said. "They've always been one of the first families of Fredericksburg, and this is a symbol of their dedication."State Sen. Edd Houck, D-Spotsylvania County, also praised the Rowe family and its newspaper before reading a General Assembly resolution congratulating Editor Ed Jones on his induction into the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame earlier this year.
After the ceremonial ribbon-cutting, guests sipped refreshments and took self-guided tours through what Associate Publisher Florence Barnick called "one of the most state-of-the-art printing plants in the country."
The Goss International Flexible Printing System press is the only one of its kind in the Americas. The highly automated press can print magazines, newspapers and other products. Each of the four printing units can produce 24 pages, making full capacity 96 pages, with color on every page. At maximum speed, it can print 45,000 four-section newspapers an hour.
The Free Lance-Star has been printed at the plant since March, but the company waited until the bugs were worked out before officially unveiling the facility. The company wants to run a round-the-clock printing operation there. The first two customers were The Washington Examiner and Meadows Farms.
While production of the newspaper has now moved to the Belman Road plant, most of the company's departments remain at its Amelia Street location. #
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