Turning a page

 In 2015-02

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I started work here two days before Christmas 1985 — which happened to be my son’s 16th birthday — but my first Up Front column didn’t appear until the May 1987 issue, after I became editor. This will be my last. Ben — now 45 and the magazine’s publisher — and I are selling the business. He’ll run it for the new owners; I’m retiring.

It’s time. I turn 66 this spring, and nearly three decades in a job should be enough for anyone. Plus, this puts Business North Carolina in good hands — and not just because they’re the kind that can slide into deeper pockets than the narrow one binding my billfold to my butt. The buyer is Old North State Magazines LLC, formed by the five men who own The Pilot LLC, which publishes the newspaper in Southern Pines and local magazines there and in Greensboro and Wilmington. Three are members of the family that owned the Raleigh News & Observer for 101 years — and this magazine for 13 of those. Talk about meet the new boss, same as the old boss: This, in effect, makes the third time that Frank Daniels Jr., the group’s majority investor, has bought BNC.

He was president of The News and Observer Publishing Co. when it acquired the 4-year-old magazine just weeks before I arrived. And not only did he back me when I bought it in 1998, but the wherewithal came from shares in the parent company I got before it was sold to the McClatchy chain three years earlier. He stuck with us until 2006, when we bought out him and another minority partner — retired McClatchy Chairman and CEO Erwin Potts.

Every one of Frank Jr.’s partners also has ties to the magazine. His son, Frank III, was publisher from 1987 to ’89, when he returned to Raleigh and that title was added to mine. Nephew David Woronoff — now publisher of The Pilot — worked here from 1991 to ’96 in several roles, including special projects manager. Jack Andrews was the N&O’s vice president for subsidiaries when we were one. Lee Dirks brokered the sale of the company, including the magazine, to McClatchy.

These guys know their business and, more important, know Business North Carolina. I trust them. They will be good stewards of the magazine, which provides them an established, respected brand and a statewide footprint to build upon. As David, manager of the group’s limited-liability companies, notes, “Our core purpose has always been to serve our community, and we accomplish that by producing world-class publications. With the acquisition of Business North Carolina, we’re able to expand our community from Currituck to Cherokee and all 98 counties in between.”

In closing, let’s not forget those, the names too many to mention, who have invested something more precious than capital in this venture. Working for only a paycheck, they provided the labor, talent, creativity and skill that made the magazine the best of its kind anywhere — sweat equity that forever holds title to my respect, admiration and gratitude.

 

 

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