White rescued and re-launched 13 construction magazines that were shuttered by Reed Business Information.
In April 2009, Reed Business Information shuttered all but one of the magazines published under its Associated Construction Publications Group, which consisted of 14 regional construction titles. That created an opportunity for John White, the original co-owner of the ACP titles (which were started by his ex-father-in-law), who continued to publish a newspaper for commercial construction in Indiana.
“I called Reed and spoke with one of the VPs who was willing to see if there was interest in selling,” says White. “I didn’t need much for due diligence. It was basically, ‘You can have what’s here, you get what you get, do it quickly because we want it out of here.’”
In late July, ACP re-launched Construction Digest and New England Construction. By the end of 2009, it had all 13 titles back up and running.
While he wouldn’t reveal specifics, White says his group sold the titles for $21 million about 15 years ago (the magazines went through several owners before landing at Reed). “We didn’t pay nearly that much this time,” he added. “This was good for Reed because it helped them cover a lot of their shutdown costs.”
White is facing a new reality with the magazines. At the time he sold them, collective revenue for the ACP titles was around $19 million. With the 13 he has now, he’s expecting about $5 million in 2010. However, White says his smaller operation could see greater profits than it did under Reed. “When you’re part of a larger corporation, there are many layers of overhead put on the magazines. We don’t operate that way.”
One priority for White is getting ACP back to its roots in local coverage. “Reed was focused more on national manufacturer sales because those were bigger dollars,” he said. “They tried selling locally over the phone and eliminated the local sales presence. That had been the heart and soul of the ACP magazines. We’ve tripled the sales team at the local level and we’re getting very good response from our old customers but we’ve had people tell us that if we weren’t going to make those commitments to local coverage we’d be better off leaving the magazines to die.”
VITAL STATS: White expects $5 million in revenue from ACP in 2010.