Highsmith Closing Ft. Atkinson Headquarters


The headquarters of the Highsmith Inc., a leading distributor of supplies, furniture and equipment to public, academic and school libraries is closing down on November 1. The property was purchased by Lab Safety Supply of Janesville, who is also laying off 86 Highsmith workers.

According to The Capital Times, the company "was founded in 1956 by Hugh Highsmith and sold overruns of children's books to schools. Highsmith has grown from its small beginning to marketing 25,000 products through its various catalogs, including a 754-page Library and School Products catalog. The company does some $50 million annually in sales, and employs a total of 200 employees."


The article at the newspaper's site had a comment asking to whom one thought the owners made political contributions.

Highsmith is owned by Lab Safety Supply which in turn is a subsidary of W W Grainger.

The Chairman of Graniger Richard Keyser (sourced from SEC Edgar db) donated $11K to political candidates and parties including a donation to Bush in 2004, and to McCain/ Palin this year. That is public record and available at the Federal Election Commission (fec.gov) website search of donors.

I did not serach for other Grainger corporate officers.

N.B. In the intrest of disclosure I am also listed there, although my most recent contributions have not yet posted.

Highsmith - add it to the roster of companies victimized by Republican - specifically Bushonian - economic policies. You can't stock up supplies for school and public libraries when there is a trillion dollar War to Fight I'm not quite sure for what purpose. But damn, it - the war and other wars - have to be paid for. Perhaps the reason we are now fighting two wars is we Americans simply love war, as George Patton said, I think. That love ought to be flowing like a torrent when we get into a third war with Iran.

That is exactly it, they could have used Highsmith as a supplier to Iraqi libraries but they had Halliburton hire Blackwater to make all of the tables for libraries.

It has absolutely nothing to do with the decrease in collections of ad valorem taxes on real estate which fund local projects like libraries. No it had nothing to do with the artificial inflation of home prices based on the easy access to mortgages which borrowers could not pay back.

We know that Congress didn't relax the rules that financial institutions must follow when lending money, they certainly didn't do that during the Clinton administration in the late 1990s, oh wait they did .

But of course all those people who were made eligible for mortgages, you know when Rangel at al decided to make home ownership 'more accessible' to all, they borrowed wisely, paid reasonable prices for their homes, bought only homes they could afford, and didn't buy more home than they could pay for and then steal the fixtures when they were forclosed upon. That judicious borrowing certainly didn't cause the price of existing homes, and the boom in construction in new homes to outpace the borrowers ability to pay it back. Of course all those borrowers looked at the whole picture - how much the house actually cost, how much it was worth. They never just added marble countertops and gold plated toilets because it was only four bucks extra per month.

So of course the reduced tax collection to provide libraries with money to buy furnishings from Highsmith didn't start when the lending rules were relaxed to provide home ownership opportunuities to those who are not traditaionally homeowners. The failure of these borrowers to honor their obligations and pay their mortgages did not certainly cause a glut in the housing market, a downturn in new construction and a concurrent downturn in home prices and of course taxable values. This was all the fault of President Bush because he forced all those people who could not afford expensive houses to borrow using those intrest only loans. Impeach him for not having a mortgage brokers license!

It is indeed all Bush's fault that Highsmith is closing. I bet he called the CEO and told him to close the place because some of the employees were Democrats.

Your grasp of economic theory is amazing. Are you channeling Baron Keynes.

Give me a break! No where in the entire long-winded article by your your neocon-Heritage-Foundation-economist does he ever mention the repeal of the Glass-Stegall Act in 1999. As The Consumerist points out, this repeal was a huge gift to the lending industtry, "On November 12, 1999, the champagne must have been shooting from the walls at Citigroup, which had worked behind the scenes for over 30 years to get the act overturned. After recovering from their hangover, they and their banking buddies went on a sub-prime lending orgy." http://consumerist.com/381032/blame-the-subprime-meltdown-on-the-repeal-of-glass+steagall

This act kept banks from getting into other lines of financial business and speculating with bank money like a Las Vegas professional gambler. As Consumerist continues, "Now, on the one side they could sell mortgages to homeowners, and then invent fancy investment structures which they sold on Wall Street. Because they were "covered" on both ends, banks felt free to sell increasingly dicey mortgages, just so long as another sucker was picking up the garbage. This sucker was picking it up because he had a plan to repackage it and sell it to another sucker, and so on. Eventually we end up with no-doc stated income interest-only option-ARM no money down mortgages being repackaged as "sound investments" being sold as "stable assets" for city pension plans to park their money in."

The repeal of this law was signed by Clinton (whom I'm no fan of at all, although at least there was budget surplus under him, something Heritage Foundation nudniks always fail to give him credit for), it was pushed by a Republican-dominant congress.

Then there is SEC's deregulation of the finance industry during Bush Jr's years, which impacted on the totally unregulated hedge fund sector, which Bush did nothing to regulate, and one can go on and on and on.

If anybody's grasp of economics is "amazing" for what it ignores and neglects and who it cites behind a cloud of mostly noisy verbiage, it is yours.

In the end, it is all but a gigantic Ponzi game, devised, instigated and *rabidly* pushed mostly by Bush Republicans, the real enemy of the people who are not connected to them, which is most people.

The closing of Highsmith was a business decision made by the owners.

As a public librarian I never purchased anything from Highsmith, although I was aware of their various lines. I used alternative sources including the Florida Prison Industries (PRIDE) as well as other states' prison industries. The prices were better, purchasing from the prison industries provided needed rehabalitative education for those in the prison system, and demonstrated our library's stewardship of the tax dollars given to us by our patrons.

I shall not address the bulk of your post as it is too far off topic to be germane to LISNews except to say that your idea that President Bush caused the closure of Highsmith is laughable. I should not have replied to your earlies post as it was off topic and frankly absurd.

Under Alaska law, all power to decide what to buy or not buy, to place in collections or not does not lie with the governor, but at the local leval and Alaska Statute places that power in the local hands of the local library director.

Conservatives should know that from their own philosophy, big government should be limited in power and local governments should be making this decision.

Even the Supreme Court has repeatedly placed the power of deciding what is considered obscene or questionable in the hands of the LOCAL community and not in the hands of officials at the higher levels and even then subjects the possibilty of censorship to various conditions.
Such as "artistic value"

Palin went ouside of the authority of her office in this case because the ONLY role the state has in controlling libraries is in the awarding of grants to the local governments.

Alaska state laws place no limitations on the type of materials that a library can purchase at all, and gives the governor no power to censor or suggest censorship as a criteria for employment.

Palin is your typical neo-con neo-facist and it has shown in much of her behavior.

This thread is about the closing of a library supplies company.

No one suggested in this thread, or in any other on LISNews that Governor Palin attempted to have any books removed from any library when she was governor.

You seem a quite off base with this post. Frankly, you seem a bit nutty to me.

I've worked @ Higshmith since 1990, stood 20' away from Duncan Highsmith when he announced the sale to us employees. I saw tears running down his face. He said telling his father he sold the company is the hardest thing he has ever done. Highsmith has always been a family owned company, employees were truly family. Hugh's wife used to hand out paychecks every week. Gov't cutting budgets of schools & libraries, our core customers, made Highsmith & similar companies make less $ every year. The Capital Times newspaper article is inaccurate; Highsmith is not CLOSING, we now have a new owner. We are still selling the same products to the same customers @ the same prices. We're moving to the next town, not CLOSING. I've taken frantic calls from customers every day this week, panicking because of the Capital Times newspaper article. Librarian websites & blogs are copying & posting the article, people read the headline & think Highsmith has CLOSED. Our competitors are emailing this article to their customers telling them Highsmith is out of business, I spend hours every day clearing up the misinformation. I have better things to do in my job than counter rumors & misinformation. Many employees decided not to take the jobs that were offered to them. Some are going back to school, some are starting small businesses, etc. I'm not upper mgmt, not middle mgmt. I have always & continue to respect Duncan & Hugh Highsmith highly. Please do not think poorly of Duncan, Lab Safety, or Grainger. They did not shut our doors, they are helping keep us open.

Please note that the company is relocating as are about 2/3rds of the employees to the company. The brand and what is offered to the company is still intact and will be expanded.



Correction: Highsmith is relocating, not closing

The Capital Times — 9/16/2008 6:18 am

Highsmith, a distributor of school and library supplies headquartered in Fort Atkinson, is closing its facility and will move operations to the Lab Safety Supply facility in Janesville after Lab Safety Supply bought the 52-year-old firm in July.

A Sept. 5 Capital Times story reported the Highsmith company in Fort Atkinson was closing, putting 86 employees out of work. Company officials said Highsmith is not closing Nov. 1 but is relocating, and a majority of the 200 employees at the Fort Atkinson facility are being offered positions in the Janesville facility.

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development was informed by Lab Safety Supply that 86 workers would be permanently laid off Nov. 1. A company spokesman said that as positions become available at Lab Safety Supply, the postings will be made at Highsmith first.

The spokesman said Highsmith customers can continue to use the company's contact numbers and Web site.

The Capital Times — 9/16/2008 6:18 am

So it is not the Repbulicans?