By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
The printing service of the Cherokee Boys Club, open since the early 1980s, has been hit by the global downturn of the print industry. It will close operations on Friday, June 29.
“At the Boys Club, we hate that we’ve had to come to this decision, but it’s not the first at the Boys Club,” said Skooter McCoy, Cherokee Boys Club general manager. “There have been other departments, over the years, that we’ve had to step away from, but we’re very fortunate and God has always taken care of us. We close one door, close one department, something tends to open up.”
He said over the years, the Boys Club used to have a laundry service, a food service department for Cherokee Central Schools, and run sanitation vehicles for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. “We’ve done a lot of different things over the years, and when it comes time for those things to come to an end, we’ve had to step away and look for a new direction. We’ve been very blessed and very fortunate that we’ve found those opportunities, and we’ll do the same with this. We’ll find something else that we think will be the next phase for the Boys Club. Whatever the future brings, we’ll go at it wholeheartedly. We believe in our motto, ‘By Prayer and By Work’.”
McCoy added, “We apologize to the community for the inconvenience, and we wish we could keep the doors open. We have been working very hard on this for the last four years. We have taken many different steps and have basically exhausted every avenue we could to make this work.”
When it started, the department was originally known as Cherokee Communications and was a training ground for young Cherokee students.
“The true intent of the service was to provide printing services, and some other services, to the community that the Boys Club felt were not being met such as printing stationery, business cards, banners, signage, some graphic arts,” said McCoy. “One of the main focuses early on is that it was a learning opportunity for students at Cherokee High School.”
Students were brought by bus to the company to learn the printing business. When the high school ended that program on their end, the emphasis shifted to a revenue-based business. “It was no longer a training opportunity. It was no longer an educational opportunity. So, then we just had to start focusing on just the bottom line.”
A downturn in the printing business worldwide was the catalyst for the closing. “In this day and age, printing anything hard copy is uphill…from that aspect, it’s very hard to continue to produce the hard copy version of things people are needing…as time went on, there were just less and less opportunities out there.”
Of one large client, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, McCoy noted, “One of the things that we did very well for them actually just disappeared, no fault of ours, no fault of Harrah’s, but, instead of us printing the coupon book that we’d printed for the last 20 years, now, it is going to the smartphone of that player at the casino. So, they are just able to scan the screen of their phone instead of us printing the coupon ticket. It’s just a shift of industry and things going digital started taking away a lot of things that were kind of our meat and potatoes of what we did.”
McCoy said the Boys Club made business decisions over the past several years to try to keep the department running. “Throughout the past couple of years, we did a few reduction-in-force type moves to try to cut off some of the overhead costs of the program. By doing so, we became very small, very limited in staff, and at that point, we were asking the team that we did have to put in a lot of hours and a lot of effort – which they did and they did without complaint.”
Several years ago, CBC Printing changed its name to Qualla Office Solutions and branched out to selling office supplies as well as providing printing services. “We were hoping that the supplemental revenue coming in from selling paper and office supplies to tribal programs and entities and the business sector in western North Carolina would help make ends meet. But, we quickly learned that in the world of office supply, that if you’re not moving unbelievable amounts of volume, the return on investment is very, very small.”
McCoy said the small staff of three currently there, with one manager, has performed valiantly in recent years. “We feel the efforts of the department are as good as ever. We’ve had great supervision of the team. The team’s work ethic was beyond anything that we could have ever asked for. We fault no one inside the organization whatsoever.”
The employees and their well-being have been at the forefront of thought by Boys Club officials. “At the end of the day, we want to make sure that the employees who are in that department have a place to land…the small team that we have left running the show has shown just unbelievable efforts, and we’re very proud of them. We’re doing our very best to find a place inside the walls of the CBC for them to land.”
McCoy said that Qualla Office Solution is no longer taking new orders, but he assured that all existing orders will be filled prior to closing.