Two years after being bought by a private-equity group, AFL Web Printing in Voorhees closed Wednesday, leaving scores of workers without jobs three weeks before Christmas.
The company printed newspapers, guide books, coupon books, and niche publications. Some of its clients have included the Catholic Star and Herald, the Metro, the South Jersey Times, and the Jewish Week, among many throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.
Calls to Jeffrey D. Patterson, AFL's chief financial officer, and to Westbury Partners in New York state were not returned.
Employees on their way into the office Wednesday morning said they couldn't talk about the closing, but some seemed on the verge of tears.
One woman, who did not want to give her name, said before rushing into the office: "It's very hard before Christmas."
Employees said from 100 to 200 people worked at the plant.
Voorhees Mayor Michael Mignona said the closing came as a surprise.
"Apparently, they lost a couple of major contracts, and we understood there were going to be some layoffs," he said. "We just found out they were closing the facility.
Michael Marchitto, the township's director of economic development, said that even though the business has shut its doors, the owner would still have to pay property taxes.
He said the township would work to find a new tenant interested in taking over the facility for printing or another business.
Westbury became a major shareholder of AFL in 2010. It also has a plant in Secaucus, Hudson County, that remains open.
According to a news release on the company website, Westbury's investment was meant to accelerate growth.
The Bergen Record reported this week that the company recently laid off 49 employees in Voorhees and 14 in Secaucus after losing contracts worth $10 million.
The laid-off employees included press operators and workers in finance and administration, sales and customer service, and shipping and handling.
Patrick LoPresti, president of Local 1-L of the Amalgamated Lithographers of America, which represents some of the workers, said AFL had lost the contract to print the Metro, the free newspaper handed to commuters in New York and Philadelphia.
The office of Metro publisher Yggers Mortensen did not return calls seeking comment.