Owatonna-based J-C Press sold

For the first time in nearly 120 years, Owatonna-based J-C Press will no longer be owned by a member of the Whiting family, though it will remain a locally-owned company.

“It was important that J-C Press remain locally owned,” said Sabra Otteson, the president, CEO and owner of the company for 30 years.

That ownership changed hands Tuesday morning when Otteson signed the papers transferring the ownership to Patrick McDermott, who, up until his purchase of the company, was the chief operating officer of the company.

“It was time for me to retire,” Otteson said Tuesday afternoon, adding that she had been working on an exit strategy for more than five years.

During that time, she hired McDermott to be the sales manager of J-C Press.

McDermott, 41, was born and reared in Owatonna and had been working at Viracon for 12 years. In the three years that he had worked at J-C Press, he went from being sales manager to COO and now to president, CEO and owner.

Though McDermott had no experience in the printing business when he went from Viracon to J-C Press, he was a quick study, Otteson said — such a quick study that Otteson began to eye him as a potential successor two years ago and began working on the succession plans 18 months ago.

McDermott’s acquisition of the company made it easier to sell the company that had been in her family’s hands since the mid-1890s.

“It’s been in the family so long,” Otteson said. “It’s easier to give it up knowing who has it now, knowing Pat and observing him.”

Otteson’s grandfather, E.K. Whiting, purchased The Chronicle, an Owatonna newspaper, in 1896. The paper itself had been published in the city since 1859, five years after Owatonna became a city, making J-C Press the oldest still-operating company in Steele County.

In 1906, Whiting purchased another Owatonna newspaper, The Journal, combining the two and incorporating the company as the Journal-Chronicle, from whence came the name J-C Press.

The Whiting family sold the Journal-Chroniclenewspaper to what was then called the Daily People’s Press in the 1930s. Though the Journal-Chronicleceased to operate as a newspaper, the Whiting family continued with both commercial printing and office supplies, now under the leadership of Otteson’s father, William Whiting.

The younger Whiting continued to own and operate the company until he passed the company on to his daughter, Sabra Otteson.

Though she owned and ran the company for 30 years, she’s worked in some capacity in the company her entire life, she said. She especially remembers working in the office supply store that the company owned and operated in what is now the east section of the Wells Fargo Bank in downtown Owatonna. In that shop, she did a little bit of everything, she said, from selling merchandise to dusting.

“To this day, I hate dusting,” she said.

Still, she did it without complaining — at least without much — because it was a family business and she was part of the family. That sense of family is still important to Otteson as it is to McDermott — so much, in fact, that when the two speak of employees in the company, they speak of them by their first names and talk about how long they’ve been part of the company.

“They’re family,” Otteson said. “That’s always important … This company is family-owned and everyone is a part of the family.”

And, in fact, they discovered a familial relationship between McDermott and the company. His great-grandmother’s sister’s husband, Joe Haberman, was the general manager of the company back in the 1940s.

“He ran the company when Dad was off in World War II,” Otteson said.

When Otteson took over the company in 1984, her sole ownership of J-C Press made the business one of the first certified woman-owned enterprises in the state of Minnesota. During her tenure, the company grew from an annual revenue of less than $500,000 to more than $9 million a year.

It is that tradition that McDermott said he hopes and intends to maintain in the future. That will mean investing in the business and changing with the times, something, McDermott said, that Otteson brought to the company.

“We’re still dealing with the recession and still trying to dig ourselves out of it and the downward pricing pressure,” McDermott said. “There are a lot of printing companies out there, and we have to distinguish ourselves from the others. We’ve done that through technology.”

And as the company expands over time, McDermott said, there will be opportunities to increase the number of employees from its current number of 50.

But it’s not just the innovation and distinction that McDermott admires about the company. It’s also the type of community-based leadership provided by Otteson — a member or past member of several Owatonna boards and organizations, including the Owatonna Hospital Board, the KODA Living Community board, the Owatonna Foundation Board of Trustees, the United Way of Steele County Board and Owatonna Rotary Club.

“I’ve worked a lot of places,” McDermott said, “and I have tremendous respect for what Sabra has accomplished. She shows good business sense and a strong commitment to the community.”

As for Otteson, she will continue to maintain an office at J-C Press and will continue on the board, at least during the transition.

And her father, William Whiting, who is now 95, will continue to come to the office every day to get his mail, just like he’s been doing for years.

“His biggest concern was would he have to go somewhere else to get his mail?” McDermott said. “The answer is no, he won’t.”

 

Digiprint Closes Operation in Neenah, WI, Due to Mounting Tax Warrants

Digiprint closed its doors here after the company received increasing tax warrants, the Appleton Post-Crescent reported.Twenty-one employees were laid off and the company’s two buildings in Neenah and Menasha, WI, will go on the market in a few days. President and Majority Owner of Digiprint’s parent company, Digicorporation Inc., Jeffry Maroszek said he will also sell all remaining printing equipment in an attempt to break even.”We were offered a payment plan, but as I looked forward long term, I believed there would be a capital influx needed to update equipment and other infrastructure. That commitment was too much. I made the decision to close last Sunday,” Maroszek told reporters.The Menasha building also houses one location of Aspen Coffee & Tea, a cafe owned by Maroszek. “The cafe is going to be affected, though I can’t give a specific time frame,” he said.The downtown Neenah Aspen Coffee was previously shut down, and the branch in downtown Appleton, WI, is currently for sale.

As for Digiprint, Maroszek says he is trying to transition his current clients over to local competitors.

 

No More Parade Magazine For Maui News Readers

For Maui News readers who can’t wait for Sundays so they can read Parade Magazine, which has been included as an insert in the paper (and hundreds of others around the county) for many years, this weekend will hold great disappointment. That’s because Athlon Media Group(AMG), which purchased Parade a few months ago, has decided to stop circulating the mag with smaller, regional papers like The Maui News.

“Sunday magazine Parade has informed The Maui News that it will no longer be available to the newspaper,” the paper reported today. “An appeal of the decision was denied by AMG.”

Until these cutbacks, Parade was included in 700 newspapers. According to Wikipedia, which cited circulation figures from January 2014, Parade is the “most widely read magazine in the U.S.” Their circulation at that time was an astounding 32 million.

Still, this consolidation isn’t a surprise. On Dec. 11, The New York Times reported that Athlon was going to reduce “the rate base — the circulation of Parade guaranteed to advertisers — to 22 million from 32 million through measures like concentrating distribution in larger, urban markets.”

“Ad rates for Parade, costly for print media, are also being reduced; for instance, a common type of ad known as a one-time, four-color page will fall to $667,165 from $924,209,” The New York Times reported. “And the editorial content of Parade and parade.com will be concentrated on subjects like celebrities, entertainment, food and health.”

Other regional papers that have reported losing Parade include The Rocky Mount Telegramand the Owatonna People’s Press.

The final Parade issue for Maui News readers came out on Dec. 28. Given that the issue’s cover story (such as it was) was just a gathering of brainless fluff about Ryan Seacrest, it would seem that Athlon’s decision to pull out is actually a win for Maui News readers.

“I’m a huge believer in content, bringing content to relevant audiences,” Athlon President and CEO Chuck Allen told The New York Times. It’s just that audiences in places like Maui County aren’t relevant to him anymore.

 

Clearwater Paper Sells Specialty Products Business and Mills to Dunn Paper

Clearwater Paper has announced the sale of its specialty products business and mills to Dunn Paper. Clearwater Paper intends to reinvest the net proceeds of the sale into capital projects within its Consumer Products Division.The transaction, which closed yesterday, includes the sale of five Clearwater Paper subsidiaries with facilities located at East Hartford, CT, Menominee, MI, Gouverneur (Natural Dam), NY, St. Catharines, ON, and Wiggins, MS.

“The sale of the specialty products business sharpens our Consumer Products Division’s focus on the core retail business,” said Linda Massman, president and CEO. “It’s about improving our approach and efficiencies in all parts of our business while meeting or surpassing our customers’ expectations, and our Company financial goals. We believe that the capital projects in which we will invest the proceeds of this sale can yield a 300 to 400 basis point improvement in the Consumer Product Division’s EBITDA margins over the next three years.”

“On behalf of Clearwater Paper, we sincerely thank the specialty products team for their hard work and commitment to providing our customers with high-quality products and services,” said Massman.

Effective today, 470 specialty products employees are now employees of Dunn Paper.

“We are very pleased to welcome the exceptional people who lead and work at these specialty mills to the Dunn Paper team,” said Brent Earnshaw, CEO of Dunn Paper. “Combining the unique assets, capabilities and products of these mills with Dunn Paper’s Port Huron mill will lead to a specialty paper company with unmatched product offerings for our diverse customer base.”

FBR Capital Markets & Co., led by Matthew Spain, advised Clearwater Paper on the sale of the specialty products business. Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP acted as legal advisor to Clearwater Paper.

 

Clearwater Paper Sells Specialty Products Business and Mills to Dunn Paper

Clearwater Paper has announced the sale of its specialty products business and mills to Dunn Paper. Clearwater Paper intends to reinvest the net proceeds of the sale into capital projects within its Consumer Products Division.

The transaction, which closed yesterday, includes the sale of five Clearwater Paper subsidiaries with facilities located at East Hartford, CT, Menominee, MI, Gouverneur (Natural Dam), NY, St. Catharines, ON, and Wiggins, MS.

“The sale of the specialty products business sharpens our Consumer Products Division’s focus on the core retail business,” said Linda Massman, president and CEO. “It’s about improving our approach and efficiencies in all parts of our business while meeting or surpassing our customers’ expectations, and our Company financial goals. We believe that the capital projects in which we will invest the proceeds of this sale can yield a 300 to 400 basis point improvement in the Consumer Product Division’s EBITDA margins over the next three years.”

“On behalf of Clearwater Paper, we sincerely thank the specialty products team for their hard work and commitment to providing our customers with high-quality products and services,” said Massman.

Effective today, 470 specialty products employees are now employees of Dunn Paper.

“We are very pleased to welcome the exceptional people who lead and work at these specialty mills to the Dunn Paper team,” said Brent Earnshaw, CEO of Dunn Paper. “Combining the unique assets, capabilities and products of these mills with Dunn Paper’s Port Huron mill will lead to a specialty paper company with unmatched product offerings for our diverse customer base.”

FBR Capital Markets & Co., led by Matthew Spain, advised Clearwater Paper on the sale of the specialty products business. Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP acted as legal advisor to Clearwater Paper.