In 1996 we moved our family to Kansas when my employers acquired a small company in Topeka and asked me to run it. At that time it included Capper’s magazine, GRIT magazine and Capper’s Insurance Service, which sells insurance mostly to the subscribers of the magazines.
My colleagues and I hoped the small, unconventional company would provide a platform for something bigger – something that could grow. In fact, it has. Today Ogden Publications employs about three times as many people as worked in the business when we started. I feel very fortunate to have shared this business adventure with my colleagues.
One of our first – and best – ideas was that a media company could focus on the idea of sustainability. I thought that the converging interests of the baby-boom generation, which had always been interested in protecting the environment and the millennial generation born 30-40 years later would create a new surge of interest in lifestyles that preserved valuable traditions of self-reliance while minimizing humanity’s negative impact on the environment. I was working on that theory in the form of a business plan when we had the opportunity to acquire Mother Earth News near the end of 2000 and my colleagues and I put the theory to work.
Success in business is always relative. By some standards Ogden Publications has been very successful. Our company is a solid, growing business, but our growth rate pales in comparison with the juggernauts of Silicon Valley. Our business has supported itself, grown and returned benefits to its shareholders. Today we have nine magazines, our websites are the fastest growing aspect of the business and our properties are arguably the largest media presence in the field of sustainable lifestyles. That category makes up about 80 percent of our media business.
Today the magazines are Mother Earth News, Natural Home, Utne Reader, The Herb Companion, GRIT magazine, Capper’s magazine, Motorcycle Classics magazine, Farm Collector magazine and Gas Engine Magazine. There are some smaller entities – magazines, books, websites, e-commerce enterprises, merchandise – but those nine brands make up the bulk of our business. We have offices in Kansas and Minnesota, plus fulltime colleagues in Colorado, Illinois, Oregon and New York.
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