Penton Media ended 2007 with a significant reorganization, CEO John French announced last week, which resulted in the realignment of several product groupings and the executive management org chart.
In late 2006, Wasserstein & Co. announced it was acquiring Penton Media for $194 million and merging it with Prism, creating a trade publishing giant with revenues close to $500 million. Since deal closed in early 2007, the company worked through an interim operating structure as it ironed out integration issues between the two organizations.
The idea was to merge the two companies and then spend the better part of a year to see how they best fit together. "We’ve all seen it at other companies, merge and then force a game plan through," French tells Folio:. "There’s some effectiveness to that, but for me it was more important that I didn’t assume that when we closed on February 6 I’d know how to structure the company. It’s a little more bumpy this way, but it’s fairer to the company and the management team than to make assumptions right off the bat."
Broadly, the changes involve the promotions of several group publishers into SVP titles, expanding the responsibilities of others, and consolidating products under distinct market verticals. The new structure includes a new position called chief revenue officer, into which Darrell Denny, formerly SVP, lifestyle media group, was promoted; a new Agricultural & Food Group and a new Technology Media Group; a consolidated events division; an expanded Financial Services, Marketing Media and Custom Group and an expanded Transportation, Aviation and Information Data Products Group; the consolidation of the management of Cleveland-based properties under SVP Bob MacArthur; and a reorganization of the New Media Group under VP Prescott Shibles.
Margaret Pederson, New Hope Media’s president of exhibitions, will be leaving the company following a transitional period. Bob Feinberg, general counsel, has also decided to leave to join a private practice.
The chief revenue officer position was created to keep the ball rolling on top-line growth, a priority for 2008 and something French says had become difficult to manage with his expanded role as the CEO of a newly merged company. "My job changed a lot and the CEO position had been driving revenue and now it’s more complicated and diverse. I needed to get back to one person to drive top-line growth. Darrell knows all phases of the media business and he’s very popular with the rest of the management team. I just can’t get to all these revenue initiatives as I used to," says French.
In the launch pipeline are two more events, some smaller products and possibly another magazine.
French says the merger of two companies the size of Penton and Prism was simply too complicated to determine a formal operational structure and then march forward. "When we first sat down and looked at the merger, I had all these dreams of putting these groups together, I couldn’t do it then, it was too premature. Now it makes sense."