News’ par­ent com­pany buys Wis­con­sin papers

Kent County News - - REAL & ESTATE BUSINESS -

MINNEAPOLIS — Adams Pub­lish­ing Group, par­ent com­pany of The Star Demo­crat and its af­fil­i­ated weekly news­pa­pers in­clud­ing the Kent County News, has pur­chased the as­sets of two fam­ily-owned news­pa­pers in Wis­con­sin.

Adams has pur­chased the Daily Jef­fer­son County Union and the af­fil­i­ated Home­town News Lim­ited Part­ner­ship from W.D. Hoard and Sons Co. The sale in­cludes a total of 13 com­mu­nity news­pa­pers and shop­pers, stretch­ing across parts of six coun­ties in south cen­tral Wis­con­sin.

Brian Knox, pres­i­dent of W.D. Hoard and Sons, will con­tinue to op­er­ate its other busi­nesses, in­clud­ing the Hoard’s Dairy­man, a mag­a­zine aimed at the dairy in­dus­try with world­wide distri­bu­tion, other agri­cul­tural pub­li­ca­tions, a dairy farm, re­cently launched cheese prod­ucts and other busi­nesses.

The Daily Jef­fer­son County Union was founded in 1870 by Wil­liam Demp­ster Hoard. The Knox fam­ily even­tu­ally ac­quired the com­pany from the Hoard fam­ily. Brian Knox, the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion of the Knox fam­ily and cur­rent pub­lisher, has been with the news­pa­per for the past 41 years.

Home­town News pub­lishes the Sun Prairie Star, a twice­weekly news­pa­per, plus eight weekly news­pa­pers: Mil­ton Courier, Cam­bridge News/ Deer­field In­de­pen­dent, Lake Mills Leader, Her­ald-In­de­pen­dent/McFar­land This­tle (cov­er­ing Monona, Cot­tage Grove and McFar­land), Wa­ter­loo/Mar­shall Courier, Wau­na­kee Tri­bune, DeFor­est Times-Tri­bune and the Lodi En­ter­prise/Poynette Press.

Knox said in a state­ment that his fam­ily’s in­ter­ests are re­fo­cus­ing on other sec­tors of the com­pany.

“One hun­dred and fortyeight-plus years ago this com­pany was founded on com­mu­nity jour­nal­ism. When I be­came pub­lisher, al­most all of the 37 daily papers in the state were in­de­pen­dently owned, ei­ther as sin­gle papers or in small groups. Now there are fewer dailies and just a hand­ful of in­de­pen­dents left. One of the rea­sons for this is that in the 41 years I have been pub­lisher, the in­dus­try has had to tech­no­log­i­cally re-in­vent the way we do busi­ness ev­ery three or four years to con­tinue on. We have done this suc­cess­fully and even our cir­cu­la­tion num­bers have fought the in­dus­try trend and grown the last few years. But the re­al­ity is that we’ve reached the point where we need to be much big­ger to spread those costs and to take ad­van­tage of rapidly chang­ing tech­nolo­gies,” he said.

Adams Pub­lish­ing Group also has pur­chased the as­sets of the Water­town Daily Times and Dodge County In­de­pen­dent News also in Wis­con­sin from James M. Clif­ford. The Water­town Daily Times is pub­lished Mon­day through Fri­day and the Dodge County In­de­pen­dent News weekly.

Members of the Clif­ford fam­ily have owned the Water­town Daily Times since 1919. James Clif­ford, chair­man of the com­pany, said that this was a dif­fi­cult day for the fam­ily but felt the Times would be in a stronger po­si­tion to compete in a chal­leng­ing and fast-chang­ing com­pet­i­tive en­vi­ron­ment if it were part of a larger group.

“My fam­ily and I have en­joyed be­ing stew­ards of this im­por­tant com­mu­nity in­sti­tu­tion the past 99 years,” he said. “We be­lieve we have se­lected a new owner that will carry on in the best in­ter­ests of Water­town, the read­ers of the Daily Times and our won­der­ful employees.”

Clif­ford’s son Kevin is the fourth gen­er­a­tion of the Clif­ford fam­ily to have worked at the com­pany and cur­rently serves as the ed­i­tor and pub­lisher. Both James and Kevin Clif­ford have served in lead­er­ship roles in a num­ber of state and na­tional news­pa­per or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Adams Pub­lish­ing Group prin­ci­pal Stephen Adams said, “We are ex­tremely ex­cited to have the Daily Jef­fer­son County Union and the Home­town News com­mu­nity papers and the Water­town Daily Times join our fast­grow­ing pub­lish­ing group. The com­mu­ni­ties they serve are ex­actly the types of com­mu­ni­ties that we look for as we build our com­pany.”

With 30 daily news­pa­pers, more than 100 non-daily news­pa­pers and other en­ter­prises op­er­at­ing in 20 states, in­clud­ing Wis­con­sin, Mary­land and the Dis­trict of Columbia, Adams Pub­lish­ing Group de­scribes it­self as “first and fore­most a fam­ily-owned com­mu­nity news­pa­per com­pany, which is driven to pro­vide high qual­ity prod­ucts and ser­vices that make a pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence in the lives of its con­stituents, which are, in pri­or­i­tized or­der: its read­ers, cus­tomers/ad­ver­tis­ers, com­mu­ni­ties, as­so­ciates (employees) and its share­hold­ers.”

Other Adams fam­ily en­ter­prises in­clude out­door ad­ver­tis­ing (bill­boards), ra­dio, wine, Camp­ing World/Good Sam (recre­ational ve­hi­cles) and sig­nif­i­cant phil­an­thropic en­deav­ors.

Dirks, Van Essen and Mur­ray, a me­dia merger and ac­qui­si­tion firm based in Santa Fe, N.M., rep­re­sented the Clif­ford fam­ily and the Knox fam­ily in the re­spec­tive sales. Terms of the trans­ac­tions were not dis­closed.

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