April 9, 2014

​RHPA Board Votes Smaller, Leaner Profile for Publishing House

The Board of Directors of the Review and
Herald Publishing Association moved swiftly Sunday, April 6, to stabilize the
financial health of the 165-year old publishing house at a specially-called
Executive session after year-end reports showed a nearly $943,000 dollar loss
for 2013 and continued weakness in the first quarter of the current year. RHPA Board chair Delbert Baker said that the
directors were responding to recommendations from management, executive and finance
committees, calling for quick and efficient action to turn around the finances
of the Seventh-day Adventist Church's oldest institution.

In a series of coordinated steps, Board
members voted to affirm a “solvency plan,” authorizing RHPA leadership to take
immediate steps to control costs and lay the foundation for stronger sales
performance in the second half of 2014. The special session occurred less than three weeks ahead of the
regularly scheduled meeting of the 30-member Board on April 24. That meeting
will focus on broader strategic directions for the publishing house, including a
potential role for the North American Division in shaping literature ministry
in the U.S., Canada, and Bermuda.

Key items voted by the RHPA Board included
streamlining production processes to eliminate redundancies in several
departments of the publishing house; reducing the number of book titles planned
for release in 2015; and trimming the editorial and production staff of some
RHPA-produced journals. A
reduction-in-force (RIF) of 26 current employees was also authorized by the
Board of Directors, with nearly half of the total being achieved through
collaborative retirement agreements with eligible employees.The savings to the publishing house from the
workforce reductions are anticipated to reach $1 million in 2014, and more than
$1.5 million in 2015.

Review and Herald leadership also sought and
received permission from the Board of Directors to lease up to 60,000 square
feet of the large Hagerstown, Maryland facility in order to decrease the
operational footprint of the publishing house and achieve needed rental income.

Board members listened to several policy
change requests formulated by the administration and the executive and finance
committees, and referred those actions on to General Conference and NAD
committees. RHPA administrators are
hoping to build a vigorous online sales portal for products produced by the
publishing house. A request was also forwarded to reduce RHPA funding of the
church's retirement program to match the level required of the Church's
educational institutions.

"Right-sizing the RHPA has been a
difficult but necessary process," said RHPA president Mark Thomas
following the Sunday afternoon meeting. "No faith-based employer ever
wants to lose even one employee, but we have a greater mission to continue
serving the publishing and printing needs of the worldwide Seventh-day
Adventist Church. Keeping that mission
in focus required us to take these hard steps to secure this organization and
reposition it for renewed growth."