The Success Story of a Newspaper Man

I don’t know about you, but I love a good success story. This past year I took on a new architecture client and wow what a success story this new client is.

He is my Newspaper Man.

At one point in his career he owned 179 newspapers. He’s toned it down over the years, he only owns 79 newspapers now.  Still going though. The reason he reached out to me was to discuss his new project, redeveloping a golf course. The golf course architect that referred me to him has known him for most of his life and told me he was up there in years. So, I had to ask, how old is this guy?

Ugh, 90, he said.

And, I said, “Wow,” I gotta meet this guy. And I did.

A few weeks later I joined his development team and we became fast friends.

What a guy, what a family and what a story.

Being a polite guy, I would never intrude into someones past unless I felt comfortable enough to ask. And like my Dad taught me, people like to talk about themselves, they will be pleased to tell you how great they are.

So, I asked him, how did he get into the newspaper business.

Well, he started out as a printer, and he moved up the ladder to management, then due to his great skill of good manners and charm had an opportunity to take over a newspaper. So, he did.

From there he managed the business like his life depended on it, which it did and then he began to grow.

So, I asked him, how did you grow the business, and what was the intriguing part, what blew his hair back about the newspaper business that drove him to own and operate 179 newspapers?

My Newspaper Man explained that the big money in newspapers was in local or community news and newspapers. And that you could buy a weekly newspaper for one times the gross revenue. But the real trick was turning that weekly newspaper into a daily newspaper and . . . .

. . . . . selling it for 10 to 15 times the gross revenue.

Politely and calmly my Newspaper Man told me he thought that would be a pretty good strategy when they got started and 50 years later he was still right.

So, my new good friend, just shared a great Golden Goose secret. He found something he could focus on that made a substantial profit, and did just that again and again for over 50 years.

Of course, things are different today, but the principal is the same.

Let’s review.

He purchased (or acquired, another story) a small weekly newspaper. Typically, these weekly newspapers would generate $1,000,000 of annual revenue. Then he would put his operation skills to work and in three years turn this little weekly into a daily, that now generated $3,000,000 of annual revenue.

At the start of this story this small weekly was worth $1,000,000. At the end of three years this new weekly turned daily newspaper was now worth between $30,000,000 and $45,000,000.

Alrighty then.

Now, my Newspaper Man did make a confession that he could not always sell or value these newly converted newspapers at 15 times the gross revenue, but it did fit in between, 10 and 15 times the gross revenue just about every time.  Wow, Wow, Wow!

There you have it. Find something you love, something that is profitable and voila you have Financial Freedom.