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Palm Coast Data Lays Off 18 More, This Time in Magazine Customer Service

| August 22, 2011

They surrender: The illustration above appeared as the front cover of a six-page Palm Coast Data report called 'The Future of Fulfillment,' and authored by John Meneough, who resigned as company CEO earlier this month.

They surrender: The illustration above appeared as the front cover of a six-page Palm Coast Data report called 'The Future of Fulfillment,' and authored by John Meneough, who resigned as company CEO earlier this month.

Palm Coast Data is losing more employees and cancelling training classes scheduled to train potential replacement, adding to anxieties within the building about the company’s future.

There were the warehouse lay-offs. There were the IT lay-offs (information technology). There were the membership department lay-offs. There were also resignations at the top, including long-time CEO John Meneough earlier this month. On Friday, lay-offs hit the ranks of customer service employees in Palm Coast Data’s magazine fulfillment department. Company employees say 18 people were laid off from that department.

“They just started tapping people on the shoulder and said, ‘Can I talk to you in the office a little bit,'” one employee said, describing the routine on Friday. The employee, who’s still employed, requested anonymity for fear of reprisals. “And the next thing you saw is the supervisor coming out with the box.”

After being told that they had lost their job behind closed doors, ex-employees were forbidden from returning to their work station to take their belongings, or to say goodbye to former colleagues. Those belongings were gathered by a supervisor. The employee themselves were asked to immediately surrender their badge and shown the door directly. They were generally given severance packages equivalent to a few weeks’ pay, according to one employee.

The company did not respond to a request for comment by phone and email.

At its height, some 250 people worked in the company’s customer service department, responding to subscription inquiries from magazine readers. Palm Coast Data has been hit very hard by the migration of readers from print to online sources. As magazines have closed or switched to online-only editions, Palm Coast Data has lost dozens of its accounts.

The company also provides membership services to four large companies with membership bases: the National Rifle Association, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Audubon Society and B.A.S.S., the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society. By far the largest of the four was the NRA, which in June ended its customer-service portion of the contract with Palm Coast Data, and dealing the company a serious blow to its bottom line. The NRA still has its mail handled by the membership department, but the live-voice, customer-service portion of the contract represented the lion share of the revenue the contract generated. The membership department was hit with layoffs in June. Activity in that department has fallen considerably.

Late last month, Amrep, the PCD’s parent company, posted its fourth fiscal year revenue decline in a row, and its third earnings loss in a row. Revenue at Palm Coast Data itself declined 16.7 percent in the past year, to $73.6 million. The company’s revenue peaked in 2008 at $123 million.

That year, Meneough authored a six-page report called “The Future of Fulfillment” that featured what looks like five white-haired individuals in gray suits, their arms raised in praise (or surrender), in front of what looks like a crystal ball, or a snow cone. The paper now appears prophetic, as it described the situation closing in on Palm Coast Data.

Competition from electronic media, annual postage hikes, difficult-to-forecast paper increases and declining newsstand sales — combined with shrinking circulations and sputtering ad page revenue — has turned life in publishing into a high-stakes version of ‘the survival of the fittest,'” Meneough wrote. “This reduced profit picture has pushed even profitable titles closer to the abyss. Many magazines have been shuttered and weaker publishers have been gobbled up by stronger ones. Likewise, the same can be said for fulfillment bureaus, which have followed the same consolidation / contraction path. Industry leaders FCA and Neodata were absorbed into Kable Fulfillment Services. Palm Coast Data and Kable Fulfillment Services merged and are now one company; and unprofitable bureaus have shut down.”

He continued: “Even as the world around both industries has changed dramatically, the technology that produces the standard fulfillment services to which publishers cling — and fulfillment bureaus provide — has basically remained unchanged. The emphasis continues to be placed on keeping the cost-per-transaction at the absolute minimum by using traditional fulfillment systems. This system, however dated, does work quite well with straightforward magazine fulfillment. However, the introduction of events, products and additional revenue sources controlled by a single publisher makes this status-quo method of fulfillment extremely ill-suited for multi-faceted publishers.”

Meneough called for two solutions: revamping technological investments and implementing “a fundamental change in mindset, for both publishers and fulfillment vendors” such as Palm Coast Data. The company has invested in some technology improvements, though much of its hardware, according to existing and former employees, remains dated. Whether it has changed mindsets is not as clear as the decline of its payroll, Meneough’s resignation, and Friday’s additional 18 employees, being the latest examples.

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38 Responses for “Palm Coast Data Lays Off 18 More, This Time in Magazine Customer Service”

  1. JOHN RICCI says:

    The Crown Jewel of Enterprise Flagler lays off more employees.Has Palm Coast Data met its employment goal with the City? If not, does this mean that the City will be returning to its former location? Enterprise Flagler should not be reborn under any other name. The duties of Guy Rawls can be done by City or County staff, such as the new Business Assistance Center. Thank You for giving us news that the Journal or The Observer does not report. Just musing.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Two additional layoffs took place yesterday in the Direct Mail List Rental department.

  3. Gator says:

    Rumor has it that the calls will be going to India & that Palm Coast Data will become a Distribution Center only. Time will tell. What a mess

  4. says:

    another intelligent plan gone down the tubes. our great leaders said many jobs were going to come from palm coast data.the city give up the old city hall and moves into a retail shopping center and with a newley formed animal control dept.. i noticed on one of the city doors a sign stating animals inside. what is that all about

  5. blondie says:

    I have many friends that work there and they are MORE than nervous!

  6. Nick D says:

    I have said it several times before…Why is it that Palm Coast Data is listed in the City of Palm Coasts “Prosperity 2021 Plan” as a great place to work?

    I mean…how many employees do they have left?

  7. Delcie Myatt says:

    Three weeks Severance Pay………….. most of those people live Week to Week. What a fine mess for Palm Coast. Sadly this same scene is happening all over the USA. These people did nothing bad to now be unemployed. We the People have Allowed this to happen, as in Send Our Jobs to India. Time to STOP the insanity. Contact those mag. editors and tell them how your neighbor lost their job and now faces worse times. Simply wrong .

  8. PatheticFlorida says:

    What a shame Palm Coast putting all of their eggs in on broken basket. Print magazines are dying a slow and painful death. Most people are starting to get digital versions of their magazines so yes there will be more layoffs coming at PCD hopefully the city will start courting some other business and corporations to come in to the area. Oh wait they did but they are only minimum wage/part-time jobs.

  9. HammockBear says:

    what is the total number of lay offs at PCD in the past year? anyone know?


    It’s amazing that the KING/JONES team continues to stay in place…I guess there must be a game plan for them to help ruin the company faster….They have been clue-less for years and nothing has changed…they will be the ones that put out the lights as the last ones out when the end comes.


    How come there haven’t been any lay-off in HR?
    2 .5 hr lunches…2 recruiters with no one to recruit….2 file clerks…2 managers….sounds a little top heavy

  12. PCD Bye Bye says:

    JMILLER you’re absolutely correct. I wish the city would clamp down on the deal that was broken by PCD and shut the place down. Take back their city hall. There is no doubt that a plan has been put in place to bankrupt this company. Another round of lay offs is coming and again it will be all the little people $$ that make PCD happen walking out the door..Very Sad :(

  13. SaltyLife says:

    I think the most pathetic voices are those with negative connotations. The fact that lay-offs were deemed necessary in the first place is sad. My heart goes out to those who were/ are released. Given the state of the economy don’t blame the businesses that have struggled to remain afloat DESPITE the decline. I’ve been on the receiving end of a lay off before and to this day I do not harbor bad feelings towards that company. It happens… so you can choose to move forward or wallow away in self-pity. We all have these grand opinions on how things should have been done or managed differently but the fact remains that there is no easy decision when it comes to who needs to be let go. It’s pathetic and cruel to point fingers at individuals who “should” be laid off. Why resort to such petty disregard? Until you walk a mile in those shoes, you have no logic in your comment. Your perception is tainted by your inability to see past your own anger or disappointment. Lighten up and think about others for a change and wish the company well so that more jobs can be saved.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Everyone who works at PCD knows that their HR department is top heavy and that most of them do nothing. If they are going to continue to cut positions they should look to cut there. They could also stand to cut some upper managment staff to save themselves some $$ and would still have enough management left to do what they do best, which is nothing. This company continues to drain their employees, the county and the tax payers and everyone just lets them do it. They need to clean house from the top down, not the bottom up. If they had decent management they could survive just fine. Just look at the competitors that have gotten all of the accounts they have lost. SFG was a relatively small fish but were technically above and beyond what PCD/Kable is. Now they have gotten some of the more profitable accounts over the years and continue to grow. The industry may be taking a nosedive but some companies are still profitting. What’s PCD’s excuse?? They only have their lame management team to blame.

  15. SaltyLife2 says:

    It is obvious that the arrogance has gone to a different level. It’s very easy to point fingers when obviously you do not have a clue or maybe a dying desire to know exactly what each of the HR team does. Is it top heavy? well obviously you have no knowledge of business functions. The most prevalent HR-to-staff ratio is 1 per 100 employees. Get you facts straight before you continue to point fingers.


    Now that the telephone call center has laid-off 1/3 of it’s people since the beginning of the year isn’t it time give the call center management a hair cut ?


    Palm Coast Data needs to put an end to their: “travel club”..paying all the those in top management and managers who live in another state and commute by air to Palm Coast. They fly home on weekends at PCD expense…all taking place will they continue to fire the ranks!

  18. Former employee says:

    Fire the management especially Jim Borth

  19. Anonymous says:

    Maybe the city will get the building back and have a City Hall again.

  20. THE VOICE says:

    In response to Saltylife 2. Do you work at PCD? Its obvious you do NOT.Oh wait!! you must be one of the top heavy hitters. Whatever happened to you in the past is your business. There are alot of FACTS being voiced here,these are hard working folks that work in fear and its not healthy. We are watching our BREAD AND BUTTER going out the door on a daily basis to other companys benefiting from these managers stupidity and EGO trips. PCD is EXTREMELY top heavy. AMREP dont wait much longer to take a good hard look at these managers. You’ll be lucky if you have a paved parking lot left before the end of the year.

  21. happygolucky says:

    The whole situation is sad. And for the people basing HR. you have to remember that recruiters did alot more than just promote jobs for people, there where other duties, and with a company with still at about 1,000 if not more, they are needed. Top heavy is when there are managers in charge of departments of nobody, or they are living in another state, lets see, The New President of the company lives in Pennsylvania, the postal director also does not live here, as well as many consultants, that palm coast data pays a salary to. 2 recruiters, dont really make a difference, when others are paid 100,000 dollar salaries to stay home and work and control departments, and then get paid vacation to florida for 2 weeks to walk around. Customer Service, yes, it is taking a hit, and soon will no longer be, but tht does not mean the company will go down, it will become just a mailing house and marketing company. So customer service, prepare your resumes and start looking. Same with Client services, downsizing is coming, the consolidation of the clients is here, some of you will be going home. And its sad. But like others have said, its happening everywhere, not just here. A company is a company , looking out for itself, and hoping they have a few good employees to keep it operational. Best of luck everyone, change is on its way!

  22. Anonymous says:

    So recruiters do more than just recruit…yes they do in most companies, but not this one. They just take long lunches and send emails out to former employees to see if they know of anyone who would be willing to work there. What a joke. I’m an employee and you can’t even get in to talk to HR since they all sit behind locked doors like upper management does. Even when you call them to try to set up an appointment they are unwilling to talk to you. HR is supposed to be there for the employees NOT upper management. I have never worked for any company where their HR department was not accessible to employees.

  23. forwardthinker says:

    Under the guise of being there for the employees, HR will always be there exclusively for the Company. They have been put in place to protect the company from lawsuits. Don’t ever think that they are on your side. That is why they get so upset when “hostile workplace” is mentioned. They are afraid that we will class action them.. so they nip it in the bud by acting as though they will make things better for us… What they are really doing is letting the abusers (the clowns in charge) know that they need to bring it down a notch or two on the bullying.

  24. sunshine says:

    I have always felt that HR is there to protect the big bosses/managers. If you go to them with a complaint against your supervisior, they always side with the supervisor not the employee. And if you make too much trouble they (HR) will make sure you are “gone”.

  25. blondie says:

    I’ve heard of several more layoffs last week. Can anyone verify??

  26. forwardthinker says:

    Yes blondie… 8 more on the chopping block last friday. I happen to know a couple of the ousted personally and in some ways they feel relieved to be out of that hell hole. Stay tuned for more lay off action to come. The new check 21 system will eliminate many more jobs. Applying for unemployment in this state has now become a convoluted crock of s….t. You are expected to apply for at least 5 jobs a week and submit the info to unemployment before you can receive your benefit. Most places are not even taking applications and what do you do after exhausting every known business in palm coast? Maybe start all over again from the beginning. What a joke. Let’s just make it harder for the needy ..while cow-towing to the scammers.

  27. blondie says:

    OK, this article states 18 were laid off from the Customer Service area. Today, I see an employment ad where they’re looking to fill 12 positions. What’s going on over there????????????

  28. forwardthinker says:

    Sept 9,2011 there was a lay off of approximately 8 people in the cash processing dept, mail receiving dept and also data entry. These depts are all part of the front end operations in building 2. This is where the new check 21 system is set up to process payments in more than half the time it used to take. Therefore, as this system gets more and more underway, there will be more and more people kicked to the curb. Not to mention the continuing loss of clients. I am not sure if a half million dollar system is necessary to process not even a quarter of the payments they used to get when they had large customer base clients. Whatever the clowns in charge have in mind for the future, it certainly won’t be to the advantage of people who need jobs.

  29. keen observer says:

    Those 12 positions are most certainly part time and probably temporary as well. I think they are slowly getting rid of most of the full time employees and replacing them with part time and temp help to suit their purposes. The bottom line is MONEY as we all know..and if a failing company being run by sociopaths and morons will ever hope to succeed, it needs to hire people with no benefits whatsoever and pay them minimum wage without hope of raises.

  30. Anonymous says:

    The worst thing PCD ever did was merge with Kable Fullfillment and lose over half their subscription base.

  31. Anonymous in Illinois says:

    No, the worse thing Kable Fulfillment ever did was merge with PCD! PCD is a losing company and has proved that time and time again.

  32. thewill says:

    We know PCD is eventually going under – and if not, their PR people are horrifically bad at sending a better message to the public/its employees. If you work there currently, it is obvious that the smart move is to start searching for a better job/education before you’re the next meat to get canned.

    Moreover, to those that find outsourcing labor to be wrong – please revisit Economics 101. Look up the terms “opportunity cost” and “rationality assumption”. If I pay you, an American laborer, $10/hr for Job A that can be done just well enough by someone in another country for $2/hr you better believe I’m making that move. That’s an 80% decrease in my labor cost, which translates to a relative increase in my profits. As a business owner that provides work to overseas offices in Asia I can tell you that I wouldn’t survive as a company if I had to pay $50k/yr to every resource I needed – but I pay security wages to my Asian employees on a mere fraction of the cost of US resources – and I’ve heard them gloat to their friends about how much they get paid. I am proud to say I’ve assisted 6 co-workers/employees in getting married and living comfortably because I chose to pay them with the goal of running a more cost-efficient business.

    Before your fury ruins your panties, understand this: we’re in a country that provides more opportunity than anywhere else in the world. Where lawlessness exists and self-preservation becomes imperative in a foreign nation, we have red tape that allows the dumb to sue over their own drool stains. If you don’t find it necessary to ensure the success/safety/prosperity of you/your family, you are in no position to complain about another man’s decision to ensure his own.

  33. palm coaster says:

    PCD did not comply with thier part of the deal with City of Palm Coast. So lets get our City Hall back and the moving back expenses paid by PCD.

  34. whyohwhy says:

    It is still sad to hear people bashing IL and wondering what happened. The last fulfillment employee has been gone from IL for months now and still the bashing continues. The issue here is that the clients felt duped by the management at Kable – IL and by the management at PCD> they are leaving or have left because they lost faith in the upper management – the time frame for conversion to a system that the clients did not understand or have proper training on only made the sour taste worse. And in the mean time the FL clients suffered as well. So in the end PCD is smaller than it was (customer and active name wise) that it was BEFORE merging with Kable. The people at the top of AmRep spent 94 million dollars to merge with PCD and might as well have thrown it in a hole for all of the good it did. The bottom line is that people are still losing their jobs – there are no jobs out there. Palm Coast is out tax money and a town hall and the business itself is questionable. These comments and letters should be written to the board of directors at AmRep and ask them how they feel after all of this? They still have pay checks and perks. Those that have lost their jobs just have a bad taste in their mouth.

  35. PALM COAST NEWS says:


  36. forwardthinker says:

    here here palm coast news…. but what “manager” are you speaking of? There are so many managerial dummies working at PCD. the brow-beating team is still at it… collecting salaries and digging the burial hole that PCD and all it’s unfortunate employees will fall into. Their plans to reinvent themselves will fail and now all the years they have greased palms to keep other industry out of Palm Coast, will be the downfall of the future of palm coast . Wake up people… get those two out of there before they create even more mayhem.

  37. audra says:

    although it is easy to say just look for another job, they are not hiring out there. not quite sure what businesses today are looking for but i have filled out hundreds of apps online and have only received a couple of call, but to no avail. they always say good things about how qual you are and will let you know for sure one way or the other and then they never call back.. guess we just have to be prepared to live in a poor world.

    • Anonymous says:

      pcd is still getting rid of employees. Now they are getting some of those in human resources, which they should have done a long time ago. Way too many seats taken there. I still thank God everyday that I got out when I did. I give them another six months and they will be closing those doors for good. At least those that are already laid off get something, the ones left will not get anything when they close.

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