Blumenthal Lansing Company to close its doors later this year after more than a century

Closing its doors later this year ...
Officials with Blumenthal Lansing Company, more locally known as the “Button Factory,” announced Wednesday, April 20 that the Lansing facility will be closing its doors by mid-July of this year. More than 60 employees will be affected by the closing.

by Susan Cantine-Maxson

Wednesday, April 20, 2016  is a day that many will recall as the beginning of the end - the end of a nearly century and a half tradition blending buttons with Lansing. Last Wednesday, management from CSS Industries out of Pennsylvania, the parent company of Blumenthal Lansing since the sale of the Lansing facility earlier this year, informed its employees that the Blumenthal Lansing plant would be closing by mid-July. Approximately 65 employees will be affected by the plant closing.

Blumenthal is the leading provider of buttons to the sewing and craft markets in the United States, selling to mass market retailers and wholesale distributors that service independent retail stores. According to the CSS website, CSS Industries “… is a consumer products company primarily engaged in the design, manufacture, procurement, distribution and sale of all occasion and seasonal social expression products, principally to mass market retailers. These all occasion and seasonal products include decorative ribbons and bows, journals, boxed greeting cards, classroom exchange Valentines, gift tags, gift bags, gift card holders, gift wrap, decorations, floral accessories, craft and educational products, Easter egg dyes and novelties, memory books, scrapbooks, stickers, infant and wedding photo albums, stationery, and other gift items that commemorate life’s celebrations.” The corporate office of CSS stated that the work done at the Blumenthal Lansing site will be integrated into already existing company facilities.

CSS Vice President for Human Resources Denise Andahazy stated that the company will work with the state of Iowa’s Rapid Response team to assist the dislocated workers. The company is required to give 60-days notice before a plant closure but wanted to give employees ample time to seek other employment. Andahazy said that CSS Industries does own the building and would be looking for opportunities to sell or donate the building for other uses. Interested parties should contact Bill Kiesling, Vice President and General Counsel at the CSS Home Office in Plymouth Meeting, PA. Contact addresses are available on the CSS Industries website.

Lansing Mayor Mike Brennan stated, “The announcement by Blumenthal Lansing Company to close the Lansing factory is a devastating blow to the employees and their families, the City of Lansing and the surrounding community. The ‘Button Factory’ has been a staple in the Lansing community for over a century. It’s truly a sad, sad day for the families impacted by this and for the City of Lansing.”

He continued, “We will work hard to recruit any potential companies and utilize the available resources. Hopefully, Blumenthal Lansing Company is willing to work with us to make the facility an attraction that we can market to potential companies.”

Main Street Lansing Executive Director Craig White responded, “Main Street Lansing wants all of our friends and neighbors who work at Blumenthal Lansing to know that we have your backs! Please know that we will work with city, state and federal programs to help you through the process of getting on with life after facing this setback.” Pertinent information will be shared on Main Street Lansing’s Facebook page and webpage.

Others who will work closely with assisting the employees will include Wendy Mihm-Herold from Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) and the Iowa Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Rapid Response team, headed up by Fern Rissman. Rissman said the Rapid Response Team would work closely with the company to assist the employees. Mihm-Herold, Vice President of Business and Community Solutions at NICC, emphasized that NICC will do whatever it can to assist with retraining and will coordinate efforts with the Rapid Response Team. No specific meeting dates have been set at this time.

“The news of the Blumenthal Lansing closure weighs heavy on the hearts of many,” remarked Allamakee County Economic Development Executive Director Val Reinke. “The economic impact is far reaching. It is imperative that we stabilize the situation and find opportunities to keep people working, living and enjoying life in the Lansing area. Allamakee County Economic Development (ACED) is working diligently with the City of Lansing, Lansing Main Street, Iowa Workforce Development, NICC and more to assist the Blumenthal Lansing employees.”