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Palm Coast Data Revenue Down Another 20% in Latest Quarter as Parent Company Posts Loss

| August 10, 2012

A Palm Coast Data parking lot on a weekday afternoon. (© FlaglerLive)

Just last May, Palm Coast Data touted the signing of a contract with a rare new account—SagaCity Media Inc., which publishes Seattle Met and Portland Monthly. The magazines don’t have much of a circulation: 51,000 for one, 53,000 for the other, a small blip on Palm Coast Data’s subscription-fulfillment operations (the company manages subscriptions for publishers, among other services). But a streak of almost uninterrupted revenue declines since 2009 has had the company looking for more reassuring news any way it could get it.

There haven’t announcements of new signings since, and the company doesn’t announce the loss of accounts, which are not a matter of whether, but of how many, judging from Palm Coast Data’s and its parent company’s latest financial filings. Palm Coast Data just closed its books on the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2012 (it happens to end closer to the middle of the year going by the conventional calendar), and the full fiscal year for 2012.

The numbers are not encouraging. The subscription fulfillment services operations of parent company Amrep Corp.—which are, essentially, Palm Coast Data—ended the quarter with yet another big revenue drop: 20 percent when compared to year-ago figures. Revenue for the fourth quarter in 2012 was 13.45 million, compared to $16.84 million in the fourth quarter last year. For the year, Palm Coast Data saw its revenue decrease from $73.6 million in 2011 to $62.2 million in 2012, a decline of 15 percent.

To put that figure in perspective: the company’s entire revenue for 2012 was less than half its revenue for just two quarters barely four years ago—at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009.

It was at that time that Palm Coast Data signed its much-vaunted deal with Palm Coast government, which would provide it financial incentives of around $450,000 in exchange for the creation of 700 additional jobs. (Palm Coast didn’t shell out the money up front, ensuring that it would only be paid if jobs were actually created.) The company also got $3 million in up-front incentives from the state of Florida. At the time, Palm Coast Data was consolidating its operations from other states into its operation along Commerce Boulevard in Palm Coast, and projecting nothing but growth, including more construction. None of it happened.

“Magazine publishers, which are the principal customers of these operations, have continued to be negatively impacted by increased competition from new media distribution sources and also by the effects of the recent recession and the continued weak U.S. economy,” Palm Coast Data’s parent company, Amrep, said in a statement announcing its latest financial numbers. “The result has been a trend of reduced subscription and newsstand magazine sales, which has caused publishers to close some magazine titles and seek more favorable terms from Palm Coast and Kable and their competitors when contracts are up for bid or renewal.”

These days, Palm Coast Data’s largest parking lot along Commerce Boulevard is largely empty even in the middle of the workday. Company employees are kept in the dark about operations overall, but they anecdotally speak of their own segments of the company, reporting cut-backs in personnel or in hours. The company has refused multiple requests for the actual number of people it employs in Palm Coast, or provided an account of the incentive dollars from its twin deals with Palm Coast and the state in 2008.

The state is not necessarily about to ask for an account, either.

“If you’re a company, and you’ve won a grant from Florida’s fastest-growing jobs incentive fund, you can collect millions of dollars in public money up front, often before you make the first hire,” Michael Sassop, an investigative reporter with the Tampa Tribune, wrote last month. “You also can claim later that your firm is having problems creating the jobs and buy time to fulfill your end of the bargain by renegotiating your contract. And in the end, odds are almost even that you won’t deliver on your promises anyway.”

One of the company the three-month investigation studied was Palm Coast Data. State documents, Sasso found, suggest Palm Coast Data only has created 150 jobs.

Amrep includes Palm Coast Data, a land company in New Mexico, newsstand distribution services and product services. Combined, Amrep had revenues of $85 million in the year just ended, compared to $96.8 million in the previous year. The company posted a net loss of $1.6 million this year. Palm Coast Data now accounts for the majority of its operations.

Friday, Amrep stock was trading at $6 a share. It had traded at close to $150 a share at the height of the housing boom, and at over $50 a share when Palm Coast and Florida signed deals with Palm Coast Data.

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24 Responses for “Palm Coast Data Revenue Down Another 20% in Latest Quarter as Parent Company Posts Loss”

  1. Geezer says:

    I worked there up until 2001, and can’t say what’s there now. But if they still have
    the customer service reps – I believe that those jobs will be outsourced soon.

    The place has been a sinking ship for many years. PCD was in bankruptcy (coming out of)
    back in 01. I am surprised that they continue to function.

    What an awful place to work that was… (for me, anyway) Nepotism, racism, and many people in management who didn’t know their hoohoo’s from their elbows.

    I feel bad for the people relying on a meager paycheck there. (Like I used to)

    This is also a side-effect of the digital revolution. Print media is slowly dying off. That’s a shame.

  2. LMFAO says:

    This is no surprise, If the top brass would wake up and really see how its run they would clean house. First all the machines are over 20 years old and falling apart so they can not compete with modern mail houses. Moral is very low everyone is in a bad mood. They are going to cut hours next week yet today 3 salary managers who make over 50k a year ran machines instead of the 9 dollar a hour employees just to balance there short budgets. They even called in a shift lead on overtime. The place is a joke. They have so many higher level people that really do nothing yet they lay off the people that actually do the work. I give the place a year at the most unless they start chopping at the top and get people in who know how to run a business instead of a group of know it all’s who keep Mc K’s and Houlegens in business where the get drunk and make company decisions.

  3. Magnolia says:

    Very sorry to hear this.

  4. Out of curiosity says:

    This doesn’t surprise me. Had to deal with them when a magazine I was subscribing to would either a)not show up b)show up late and c) when they actually did arrive they looked like an industrial sized rodent had been gnawing on them. The back issues I was supposed to get never came either. Needless to say I didn’t renew my subscription. It is a shame for those who desperately need jobs.

    • madmax says:

      PCD has nothing to do with the delivery of your magazines. PCD only handles subscriptions. And back copies come from Ohio.

      • mischelle says:

        lol the standard reply to a complaint i too used to work for them indirectly before they bought us and its sad to see it being run into the ground a whole city losy 1000’s of employs back then

  5. Ron says:

    Unfortunately for Palm Coast Data, this is nothing more than a sign of changing times. Many other industries throughout history have had similar experiences. Some survived, most didn’t.

    As more and more folks turn to the internet for this kind of information, paper based magazines (and their subscriptions) will continue to dwindle and dwindle until their publishing is no longer feasible.

    PCD needs a different game plan if they want to survive in our web-based world.

  6. slyfox says:

    Thank you for this insightful article on whats going on with Palm Coast Data, as stated MANY of the employees have no idea what is going on with the company, they keep their employees in the dark like mushrooms & feed them ****. There is talk that the buildings may be up for sale & many wonder if they are already transferring calls to another center. I wonder if their still occupying the building that they purchased from the County since they moved their HR dept. BACK to the old building across the street from the Call Center? Also, their was a job listing for a Network Administrator on , it showed Palm Coast Data Mount Morris, IL, so are they going to relocate to Mt. Morris IL and close up shop here? Then there’s the controversy about Newsweek going digital only since 1 of the big players has backed out of helping finance the magazine , if this does happen, that will be another nail in PCD coffin.
    They have laid off so many from the call center, the reps that are left our doing double time. I wonder if they even have given their hourly employees a cost of living increase in the past 2 years?. They offered reps to take off up to 2 months this summer (unpaid). Makes my stomach turn to know that they got “PUBLIC MONEY” from the good old state of FL & won’t be accountable. Wonder how they count that PCD created 150 jobs? By the people they laid off & then rehired?

  7. question says:

    This can not happen. Time for Palm Coast Data, City of Palm Coast, Flagler County, Northeast Florida and all our either individual or corporate/business/travel development brain trust to get together and turn this situation around. We have a great, professional workforce within five miles of this facility…in one of the most charming cities in the state. Need a leader to step up, organize and create a game plan. Ask us…the Palm Coasters…what we can do to help.

    We will ‘get’ er done!

    • matt says:

      for “question says;

      How can Palm Coast be called a “City” ?? A City is self sustaining, that doesn’t rely on a homeowners inflated tax base so survive. How can this be a City, when over 85% of the work force leaves the area to go to work, because our illustrious “City” leaders discourages/refuses industry to locate here, because they want this to be a Retirement area !!

  8. Dadgum says:

    I bet the City of Palm Coast wish they had those buildings back compared to where they are now? The City gave away the store on that deal. Maybe Bain Capitol (Mitt Romney’s) old venture could bring it back to life and sell it for a profit, hehe.

  9. slyfox says:

    I wish I hadn’t eaten dinner before I read Michael Sasso’s article. I can’t even imagine Palm Coast Data getting 3 MILLION DOLLARS, our dollars, our hard earned tax $, words can’t even describe how sickening this is & to think they may NEVER pay it back…..
    here’s the link:

  10. sunshine says:

    You think the picture of the empty parking lot shows how bad things are at Palm Coast Data ( PCD ), you should see how empty it is in all 3 of our buildings. So many empty cubies and work stations. Call center is down to a few dozen people. You could shoot a cannon off inside our buildings and never even hit anyone, thats how empty it is. I don’t know why the management keeps all 3 buildings. All of PCD could probably fit into just 2 buildings. The management has cut back our hours again to 36 hours a week. This is supposed to be our “busy time” of the year. The place is a sinking ship, how sad.

  11. Games over says:

    This game playing with PCD needs to stop, and shame on the City if they didn’t write in the contract repercussions if PCD didn’t fill the jobs they promised. Bottom line is, the city had their goals set on a new city hall…..regardless if the people want it or not. Watch and see….it’s coming. PCD needs to close up shop and move on and let someone come in that will put people back to work.

  12. Gia says:

    It’s just a matter of time for bankruptcy anyway. The City had made a very bad deal. Should never give incentives to any business, it’s only bad processes .

  13. Geezer says:

    PCD should play Taps as on-hold music.

  14. slyfox says:

    it’s happened, they have cut employee’s hours back drastically, now how are they suppose to pay their bills & buy groceries? How can they ever get out of this financial mess? Cutting back hours won’t put the cha-ching back in their pocket, they need a lot more $ to fulfill that dark hole

  15. forwardthinker says:

    No surprise that they continue to hang on by a wing and a prayer… PCD has been mishandled and gouged by incompetent, no nothing and cruel overlords. I worked there for almost 11 years and have seen gross mistreatment of the company and it’s employees. Some of the REALLY bad ones are now finally gone, but it is too little to late . Feeling for the folks that still continue to work there, because they have to… but know that once you are gone from there, you won’t believe how wonderful you will feel.

  16. palmcoaster30 says:

    I still cannot believe how many people bad mouth palm coast data as a company, when this is the largest employer in our county providing many of your family and friends with a paycheck. I have been at palm coast data for 6 years and still am employed, it is not the greatest job, however it pays my bills and i have insurance. Yes there are alot of behind the scenes bs, but as an hourly paid employee those things are out of my control. It is apparent that the city of palm coast does not want to lose this company or else they would have taken more action on the tax breaks and all of that. But there is no reason why people are hoping this company fails. Just remember how many people are employed, how much money do people spend at local businesses, how many homes are owned/rented in the area. If PCD closes down or relocates, what is going to happen to this town, all the small businesses and hmm more empty houses, which in turn will drive down everyones property values. So yes palm coast data may have its issues but i hope that it remains here, continues to grow in a new direction and new management staff that know what they are doing. Its a shame that people cannot be more positive about the company because after all, if we think the crime level is bad now, just imagine more unemployed people in this small county.

    • madmax says:

      Thank you for your positive post. I too work at PCD. I’ve been there long enough to see the good and the bad. I agree with Forwardthinker, most of the BAD ones are gone. We all know this industry is going to get ate up by the internet, as many other things have, unless other sources of income are developed. We finally have someone that is watching the pennies,and has stopped a lot of useless spending. I believe PCD is doing what is necessary to keep us afloat, until those new sources are in place. I believe that morale was at an all time low a few months ago. But, I also believe that moral is coming back. If you look hard enough, you can see that some positive ideas are once again coming down the pike. I agree, it would be very sad if Palm Coast lost PCD.

  17. Geezer says:

    Someone call Bain Capital to “save” PCD.

  18. sharon says:

    wow. shoulda stayed in Boulder COLORADO!!! we thrived for years. times are tough and yes its an employer. I left 20 yrs ago with 14 yrs 6 mo service. I do miss all the depts I learned and wish it were doing better! it was a major employer in boulder. I think internet has a lot to do with it. reports on subscription renewals have to be showing a downturn! curious to see that. Wish them luck. someone has to do these mailers until the post office closes. sad sad sad

  19. DILLIGAF says:

    How’s that multi-K $$$$ dollar IBM Machines workin out that CP just had to have ? BHAHAHAHAHAHA

  20. Anna says:

    LoL….Mt Morris IL…all those jobs taken away from the small town community who worked hard and honestly for the clients…for what purpose now? To see PCD stomp down on us screw up everything many of us spent years perfecting? Laughable at best…..sad when the big corps think they can over shadow the ones that knew how to make a company work, only to fall on their OWN butts.

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