With a strategic plan in place, Dix 1898 is charting new territory as it sells some of its media properties while at the same time looks to diversify its portfolio with the purchase of other businesses.
Dix 1898 President G. Charles Dix II said the company sold Defiance Publishing, Frankfort (Ky.) Publishing and its four radio stations in the Frostburg/Cumberland, Md., area.
“We love the communities we’re exiting and the people there,” Dix said. “But, we are very excited about the future and the potential we see with collaborating with our business units in Northeastern and Eastern Ohio.”
Forever Media purchased the four Maryland radio stations in late August, while Boone Newspapers Inc. purchased Frankfort Publishing in September.
Defiance Publishing was purchased by Adams Publishing Group in December 2015.
“It has been a privilege and a pleasure to serve the greater Defiance community and the people—both past and present—that make it a wonderful place to work and live,” Dix said. “We are excited about Adams as buyers as they are a family business, like we were, that we think will value content and products, will honor and invest in the community, and will retain and hire talented people.”
Nothing will really change for the other publishing companies. Dix 1898 is keeping its other print media properties and its three Florida radio stations in Gainesville and Ocala, which are in a growth market.
The strategic plan, more than six months in the making, concentrates the geographical reach — and focus — of Dix 1898, a fifth-generation, family-owned business. Three priorities emerged: To reinvest in its publishing operations, which includes print (newspaper, magazines, niche publications) and digital products; establish and grow its ad agency, Full Spectrum Marketing; and acquire small- to medium-sized businesses outside of the publishing industry.
The reason for the geographic concentration is because of Dix 1898′ Joint Production Facility (printing plant) in Wooster, a state-of-the-art printing facility.
“Since the recession, many things have been in transition, including the publishing industry,” Dix said. “We feel the best way to transition ourselves is to set up our business so we can create efficiencies that allow us to publish our products in a cost-effective way that leads to profitability and to competitive advertising pricing for our clients. Our Joint Production Facility allows efficiencies.”
It prints the company’s products from areas like Wooster, Holmes County, Ashland, Cambridge, Alliance and Kent-Ravenna.
The limiting of the geographic scope also permits better utilization of the company’s human capital, Dix said.
With its ad agency, Full Spectrum Marketing, the company can offer clients help with website design, search engine optimization, brand development, advertising campaigns, email blasts, digital ads and reputation management.
The transition is not without its challenges. But, the company’s strong financial position — it historically has not incurred much debt — gives Dix 1898′ leadership the ability to do innovative things.
The selling of its assets means money can be raised internally instead of going into debt, Dix said. This will help with investments in the printing operations and with acquisitions of new businesses.
What businesses will join the fold of the Dix 1898 family is uncertain now, but Chief Financial Officer Todd Whetstone indicates that the company is actively seeking business acquisition opportunities. “We’ll always consider strategic media acquisitions, but we also plan to diversify beyond traditional media operations, as long as it fits the core competencies we have.”
Those core competencies include marketing, information, promotion and production, and they are applicable to many businesses, Dix said.