The official opening of the new Leader Publications Web Press Division, the printing operation, was held in 1982.
The official opening of the new Leader Publications Web Press Division, the printing operation, was held in 1982.
This segment presents the years 1980 to 1984.
Follow The Leader
From the founding year in 1965
to the sale of the company in 1988
(Pictured is the offices of the
Petrolia Advertiser Topic)
As the move into the next decade reached the horizon, activities at The Leader were continuing at break-neck speeds.
By this time, the company boasted five Voice of the Farmer publications in Kent, Lambton, Essex and Elgin counties as well as the two community newspapers in Dresden and Petrolia, and the summertime weekly publication for the Grand Bend Sun.
The Petrolia operation was booming with the web press practically bursting at the seams and demands for still higher quality and more four-colour capabilities never ending. As a result, the partners decided to take the "bull by the horns" and laid out plans to expand the press printing facilities. They looked at properties in Petrolia but it was the new industrial park on the south entrance to the Town of Dresden that was in their eye.
Discussions with municipal representatives resulted in the purchase of two acres adjacent to Highway 21. The actual purchase date was May 5, 1981 and the firm paid $20,000. for the two acre plot. "We felt we had gotten the best location in the park," recalls Misselbro0k, as plans to erect a steel-sided building were discussed with local contractors. The Dresden firm, Agri-Urban Builders was chosen as the general contractor and construction started in 1981 with an official opening in 1982.
Expanded and re-built NEWS KING press units are at the heart of the new building
( Press operator Brian Aikman is shown
as he sample checks for quality).
NEW PRESS FACILITIES
The new building was a dream come true for the partners and the entire staff. "The convenience alone in being able to reach the press facilities in a matter of a few minutes was simply wonderful" recalls Clauws.
With the completion of the building came other changes and probably the most important of all...the reconditioning of the News King press and the addition of more printing units. An individual by the name of Bill Worshyl from Mississauga was retained to supervise the move and subsequent reconditioning of old units and installation of the new ones.
There were stumbling blocks that had to be overcome and one of the main ones was the availability of sufficient electrical power. Little did the partners know that the additional cost in making that available would be substantial. The firm was required to install what was know as 550 volt power which necessitated that three larger transformers be located at the rear of the property. That AC power was then transfered into the building and converted through transformers to DC power on which the press operated. It is interesting to note that each printing unit had 16 small motors to operate the ink and water rollers and with five units in place it meant a total of 80 motors, not counting the huge motor which actually ran the press and folding units.
Worshyl, however, was a well-versed press mechanic as well as part-time electrician and the actual installation went very smoothly.
To celebrate the mammoth step that had been taken, an open house was staged at the press building with a wine and cheese party. Actually two open houses were held. The first was November 5th when the Main Street location was opened to the public and employees gave guided tours of the various departments housed there, including the production, darkroom and sales areas. The second open house came the following day when the press building came under review. "We were a bit flabbergasted by the turnout," recalls Misselbrook, "We not only had local residents, dignitaries and our local Member of Parliament Lorne Henderson in attendance, but many fellow newspaper people from throughout southwestern Ontario came out to see the new operation."
Several speeches were recorded that day, including one by partner Ted Misselbrook
Misselbrook's comments included, "Sixteen years ago we received the support of subscribers, family, friends and the business community, and 16 years later we still have that support. I would just like to say thank you for all that you've done for us and we renew our pledge to continue to supply our markets with a quality product."
Dresden Mayor Tony Stranak offered congratulations and said, "I remember 16 years ago when two clean-cut young rascals started in the newspaper business. What Gord and Ted have done since that time proves what free enterprise can do."
Congratulations and accolades rolled in from Bill Kennedy, President of the Canadian Community Newspaper Association and Dave Wenger, President of the Ontario Community Newspaper Association.
(Pictured on stage Ted Misselbrook, seated from left Leader partner Gord Clauws, Dave Wenger OCNA president and Bill Kennedy CCNA president).
Perhaps the finest compliment came from Ontario Agriculture Minister Lorne C. Henderson who joined the proceedings after a session of the legislature at Queen's Park.
(Pictured is Leader Publications partner Gord Clauws receiving congratulations from Lorne C. Henderson, Ontario Agriculture Minister.)
Henderson told the audience he had just left the legislature where Premier William Davis had hours earlier explained the constitutional agreement hammered out between Prime Minister Trudeau and all but one of the provincial premiers.
Henderson compared the constitutional talks process, which after many years led to the provincial-federal agreement, to the formation and growth of Leader Publications Ltd.
"No doubt through the years, Gord and Ted thought differently on certain matters, but through negotiations and compromise, they came up with this fine company and new facility."
In his address, Henderson added, "your papers have a great responsibility in notifying and informing farmers in the most productive area in the country and they have carried out that responsibility."
Before decending from the podium, the Hon. Minister presented Clauws with a copy of the recently signed constitutional agreement.
"And while compliments were flowing freely, so was the wine, "smiled Clauws as he recalls that the open house ran very late that afternoon.
A SIDELINE STORY ON MOVING
THE NEWS KING WEB PRESS
During the moving of the web press operation from the Petrolia location to the new building in Dresden's Industrial Park, an accident occurred which sidelined one of the partners for a short period of time.
Partner Clauws was helping unload the huge rolls of newsprint (each weighed about 1,000 pounds) when he was caught between two of the rolls. Apparently one roll which was being put into place from a lift truck fell about eight inches and the momentum of the roll jammed Clauws' right leg against a stationery roll against the wall.
He was taken to the hospital where it was determined that the leg was not broken but a "bursa" had developed over the right knee necessitating surgery.
As a result his leg was in a cast for six weeks, including the time when the open house was staged. "I guess I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time," smiles Clauws today, "But perhaps I should not have been helping out in an area I had little knowledge about."
"I recall that I was hobbling around with a cane during the open house activities and was asked numerous times what had happened," he continued, "It was rather tiring to keep telling the same story over and over, but I think the wine did help to hide the embarassment."
Leader business growth continues with the birth of The Voice of the Huron Farmer
THE EXPANSION CONTINUED
With the press facilities now located within a few minutes drive of the head office on Main Street in Dresden there was a tremendous amount of savings to be had in travelling time for the two partners. Less and less time was spent at the Petrolia operation which by this time was being managed by Phil Dunlop as publisher and Peter Epp as editor.
It was expansion time again, as the Voice of the Huron Farmer, the sixth in the franchise, came into being. Hired on to serve as sales representative for that publication was John Roberts who did a fantastic job during the early months before a dreaded word moved into the publishing business, and indeed the world of commerce in general..."Recession".
"It hit us like a ton of bricks," recalls Clauws. A recession was declared in the first quarter of 1982 and it would last for the next 16 months.
"We had been through recessions before, "Clauws says today, "We had an 11 month recession back in 1969-70 and again in 1973-75 which lasted 16 months as well."
"But we seemed to have weathered those early recessions much better that the one that hit in the early 80's, says Misselbrook.
"This recession deeply impacted the farm market" he recalls, "And we had to a take action that we had never considered before".
"Having seen a continuing growth pattern since its founding in 1965, the partners were nearly at wit's end when it was revealed that some drastic measures would have to be taken to rein in expenses.
"We didn't want to lay-off people," recalls Clauws, "So we devised a plan whereby some of the employees would work a reduced work week of four days rather than five."
"I guess the plan must have worked," he continues, "Because we managed to survive that recession and actually come out of it ready to move ahead.
ANOTHER IMPORTANT LETTER RECEIVED
On May 12, 1982 another important letter was received from Canada Post. It announced that the Voice of the Farmers published bi-weekly were being awarded Second Class Mailing Privileges. The announcement covered the six county papers published at that time, Kent, Lambton Essex, Middlesex, Elgin and Huron.
In October, 1985 when the Oxford Farmer became part of the franchise, it was covered as well without the need of the traditional waiting period.
Since the farm papers were mailed to provide blanket coverage to the rural areas in each of the counties, the special mailing privileges didn't provide substantial savings, but for the many newspapers mailed each week to special subscribers as well as to advertising agencies, etc. it meant considerable cost savings over a period of a year.
The Leader continues to computerize business and news room operations in the early 80's
Office Manager Eldine Bedell,
office staff Marilyn Leitch, Barb Babcock
and Bonnie Landuyt helped computerize
"the business office".
THE OFFICE BECOMES
The early 1980's saw mammoth changes in business practices as the "computer age" was thrust upon us.
The Leader, ever anxious to be on top of changing times, moved into computerization of the front office. The introduction of that equipment made it much easier to chart the accounts receivable and to have the outstanding account balances printed on the customer's accounts. "It was valuable information we needed both in house and for our customers," recalls Misselbrook. "We instituted a service charge on accounts over 30 days old and I think it made both ourselves and our customers more aware of just what was going on with account balances."
Computerization of the front office was not the only place were changes were made. The newsroom saw mammoth changes as individual terminals were introduced for the reporters and editors. What it meant was that the stories were typed and edited "on line" before being sent to the typesetting machines.
It meant that hard copies previously produced by the reporters were no longer sent to keyboard typists to be input into the actual typesetting machines. "It was a significant labour saver," recalls Clauws, "Albeit an expensive one initially since terminals were priced around the $3000.00 mark each."
Clauws was still very active in writing back in those early days of the 1980's and besides reporting on the Dresden Town Council, which he continued to do until 1984, he also wrote his weekly column "Scratchin Around With Clauws".
The computer-age helped out dramatically as Radio Shack introduced a small portable computer, the forerunner to the "lap top" as we know it today. Costing around $600.00 each, the company purchased two of them and Clauws managed to have one available weekends so he could enjoy some family time at their cottage on Lake Erie and still find time to do some writing. "It was a simple matter of getting back to the office on Mondays and transferring the data from the Radio Shack computer to a terminal in the composition department. "it was indeed one of the major steps in computerization for employees who worked off-base, "Clauws recalls.
The Radio Shack "computers" while a major step forward at the time, were a far cry from what we know today. " I think they had 64 bytes of memory," Clauws recalls, "That was about enough to write one major story, before it had to be transferred to one of the office terminals." The display part of the computer allowed the user to see a total of about 100 characters on three lines of type. "The screen was about one inch by three-inches", Clauws says.
As the introduction of computers into the business world became more and more evident with each passing month, the amount of paper work receded, albeit not to the degree that most people expected.
The firm, by this time, had nearly 60 full and part-time employees, and as a result the workload of producing the payroll was enormous.
The information for the payroll, became "bi-weekly" rather than "weekly" was produced every other Tuesday and submitted to the local bank branch. By Thursday night of that week the information had all been compiled by the computer and the necessary cheques returned to the local branch for pickup. In most cases the monies were deposited directly into the employee's bank account, provided they were associated with one of the major banks. A few employees chose the option of having a hard-copy cheque handed to them on payday.
"It was a real boost for those employees who worked out of their homes (primarily sales people in the outlying counties)" recalls Clauws, "They no longer had to make sure they appeared at the office on Fridays."
Editor Don Spearman and his news reporters received a new generation of computers to modernize operations.
What it meant was that the stories were typed and edited "on-line" before being sent to the typesetting machines.
By 1982 the partners were talking amalgamation with fellow publishers from Goderich and Listowel.
(Ted Misselbrook talks corporate amalgamation
with Dave Wenger of Wenger Bros Publishing)
By 1982 the entire country was in the throes of a recession and newspapers were certainly no exception.
The partners can't recall if it was the recession that prompted the talks, or simply an idea that needed exploring, but the two partners soon found themselves in Goderich in talks with the owners of the Goderich Signal Star, a thriving enterprise in Huron County, and the principals of Wenger Publishers, a company that had weekly newspapers in Huron/Middlesex Counties.
Attending the intial meeting were Bob and Jo Shrier, along with partner Howard Atkin, owners of the Goderich operations; brothers Bob and Barry Wenger along with Dave Wenger, Barry's son from the Wenger organization and, of course, Misselbrook and Clauws.
The ideas tabled at that session were numerous but the most interesting of them all was a suggestion from the Goderich trio that perhaps it was time for the three firms to join forces as a major publishing operation in Southwestern Ontario.
"It was a great plan, but one that was simply ahead of its time," smiles Misselbrook, "The Goderich people felt if we set up one major enterprises it would allow the present owners to withdraw their initial capital and still remain both active and as principal owners of the operation."
As one thinks back to this time in history it was simply a modified plan of what would become a higly successful financial scheme that made its presence known some 18 to 20 years later....Income Trusts.
"We were simply thinking way ahead of our times,"recalls Misselbrook, "And we just didn't have the knowledge among us to bring it to fruition."
Thousands were invested in equipment and building at the Leader Web Press Division in 1984
(Press operator Bill Janess installs
( a roll of news print to the Leader presses)
BECOMES BIG BUSINESS
All the while that efforts continued in the newspaper end of the business, another sector was making itself known....commercial printing and publishing.
The first major customer in that area after the press move to Dresden, was the Thames Campus of St. Clair College in Chatham. That organization was in charge of producing a booklet four times a year outlining the many various courses offered by the college, as well as the YMCA and other educational institutions in Chatham and Kent County.
"It really was a big undertaking for us," recalls Clauws, "The booklet, printed on newsprint with a gloss cover, totalled anywhere from 64 to over 100 pages, and all typesetting, printing and binding came through the Leader doors." During this time, as well, the firm was still tyesetting and producing negatives for the annual Bluewater Circle Drive as well as many other "commercial" type jobs, including a weekly flyer for the Ontario Knechtel Food Stores based in Kitchener.
"The Knechtel Food Store flyer actually evolved into one our biggest projects," recalls Clauws, "In fact it got so big that we had to finally tell the firm that we were no longer able to produce it on a weekly basis.
The arrival of the Knechtel food chain in Dresden came about in November 1980 when Henry Solway opened his food store in the newly constructed shopping plaza on St. George Street. The plaza, besides housing Solway's enterprise also featured five other smaller retail outlets.
"It was certainly a welcome addition to the community, " Clauws continued, "And provided The Leader with one of its biggest customers."
Henry Solway was an enterprising individual and lost no time in contracting The Leader to produce a four-page tabloid sales flyer each week. The majority of the flyers were inserted as part of The North Kent Leader with additional copies being distributed by mail to residents in Dresden and outlying areas.
Solway sold the business within a year to Roger and Grace Burtnyk who continued to have the flyer produced weekly by The Leader. The relationship continued during the tenure that the Burtnyk's owned the food outlet. They eventually sold the business to Dave and Marg Johnson in November 1984 who had emigrated from England in the '70's, and who brought with them a bundle of enthusiasm.
"Dave Johnson was a promoter says Clauws, "And it wasn't long before he began to push his head office to expand the weekly flyer program to cover all the Knechtel "K-Stores" in the province.
Eventually other franchise owners including Rod Lyons of Seaforth Knechtel Store would pressure the head office and an Ontario-wide flyer progaram was announced.
Partner Misselbrook met with directors of the Knechtel Corporation and earned the contract to develop and print the weekly flyer for all Knechtel franchised stores. "At it's peak, we printed well over a 100,000 flyers a week for Knechtel," recalls Misselbrook.
Lynda Tiffin (who later became Lynda Cunningham) was in charge of the Knechtel flyer production at the Leader office and had constant contact with Knechtel's head office management, ensuring that the flyer's design and copy changes were made as needed.
"We continued to serve the firm with the province-wide flyer for more than a year, before it simply "out-grew" us, says Misselbrook today, "The size of the press run simply grew too large for our press capacity."
"The Kitchener-based firm decided to produce their flyers from their head office," Misselbrook continues, "And in 1986 Lynda Tiffin resigned from Leader Publications and was hired by the corporate head office as Advertising Manager and she continued to design flyers from her new office in Kitchener.
"It was important business for the Leader's web press division and we have always been grateful to Knechtel Corporation for their trust in us," recalls Clauws.
As time marched on so did the requirement for more space at the web press building. "If we were to continue to service that aspect of the business, we simply had to expand the physical structure," recalls Misselbrook.
And hence, plans for an addition to the two-year-old press building reached the drafting table. Complete with a loading dock and ample storage for the rolls of newsprint, the new addition would also house a huge collating, inserting, stapling and trimming machine.
"This was a major purchase for us," says Clauws, "We were just coming off one of the most devastating recessions in Canadian history, and here we were spending tens of thousands of dollars on a new building and equipment."
The move, however, was a good one as the partners look back in hindsight.
"What it did do was make us aware of the fact that other opportunities were out there for us to capitalize on," says Misselbrook.
Leader Publications brings "large print" telephone books to southwestern Ontario
LARGE PRINT TELEPHONE
One such opportunity was the introduction of "Large Print Telephone Directories".
"It was an idea we 'borrowed' from an Eastern Ontario publisher, " smiles Clauws, "Before long we had directories being published yearly for practically every municipality in Kent County as well as neighbouring counties of Essex, Lambton and Middlesex."
Of course not everything "turned to gold" for the partners as they explored Big Print Directories. Misselbrook recalls one episode when neighbouring publisher in Amherstburg, John James, was livid when he heard that the Leader group was planning such a directory for his town. The end result, after a few heated discussions, was that James himself, moved quickly to publicly announce that his firm would be publishing a directory for Amherstburg, and local advertisers should not spend their advertising dollars with an "out-of-town" firm.
"He won the battle," recalls Misselbrook, "And we learned to never under-estimate James and his influence in Amherstburg.
To this day, big-print telephone directories are still produced, but not by the Leader group. The publishing rights were sold by parent company Sun Media to a large international firm for an undisclosed sum of money in 2006.
Doctor John Payne took issue with subscription price increase in a "Letter to the Editor".
WE TOOK A LITTLE HEAT
As was the pattern from previous years the company was forced to increase the cost of single copy papers as well as yearly subscriptions.
The first in this time period came in early 1981 when the single copy price went to 35 cents and the yearly subscription rate remained at $10.00. In August of that year the annual subscription did increase to $12.00.
Continuing increased costs, primarily in the area of newsprint forced another increase the following year and in September, 1982 the annual rate went to $14.00 but the single rate remained at 35 cents.
It was that increase that prompted a letter to the editor from local doctor John C. Payne.
The good doctor was critical of another increase in the subscription rate and didn't hold back as he chastised the publishers.
He wrote in a letter to the editor: "I was very interested to read your announcement "Rising Costs Force Increase" in which an attempt was made to justify the increase in the price of your newspaper.
When Doctors in Ontario were given an 11 per cent increase this spring (three percent more to come in January), your paper described this as "disgraceful" in an editorial titled, "Another Successful Snow Job. "You went on to say that governments "are the greatest offenders in creating and allowing inflation to run rabid." Good point! In a recently released report from Stats Can it was shown that prices regulated by the government have risen by 17.7 per cent between April 1981 and April 1982. (Compared with the private sector of 9.1 per cent).
When Dresden Police were awarded a 16 per cent increase only last week again you indicated that this was terrible at a time when concessions were being requested and when the June 28 Federal Budget had aimed for six per cent and price controls.
Imagine my surprise when I saw that your rates were going up 20 per cent in one year. Consider my further surprise when on looking at my cheque stubs I discovered that on June 29, 1981 my subscription cost $10.00. Translated, that is a 40 per cent increase in fifteen months.
In truth I am sympathetic to your arguments that operating expenses are going up. When Doctors made the same claims several months ago, however, your response was an editorial, "Quick Nurse....the Crying Towel".
Hopefully this little review will make you a little more humble and introspective when reporting on future issues which affect this town and its inhabitants."
The only response that the publishers could make was to title the letter "Touche!"
A DIFFERENT TYPE OF PUBLICATION
Always looking for possible new publications, the partners make a very different move in July 1983.
John and Jim Mehlenbacker from Chatham were putting out a montly publication called "Outdoor Trade 'n Post. The "pony" sized publication was primarily targeted to sportsmen and covered everything from hunting to fishing. Besides columns on those activities, advertising was sought and the publication continued on a monthly basis for a little over a year before changes became necessary. "It just wasn't a viable product, "recalls Misselbrook, "We had paid $6000. for the publishing rights and gave it our best shot...it just didn't work."
Onto to the planning board and by October, 1984 the plan was established to redesign and try another concept expanded to encompass a larger audience. The result--The Shopper's Connecton. It also failed to meet required profit margins and the publication was suspended entirely several months later.
The year 1982 marked the 100th anniversary of the founding of The Town of Dresden.
(The 100 page North Kent Leader award winning
Centennial Edition was published in 1982)
Since the Leader's inception back in 1965, the firm had been highly involved n community projects.
The year 1982, marked the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Village of Fairport which would eventually become known as the Town of Dresden.
"It was a big year for us around The Leader, " recalls Clauws, "We produced the largest ever publication in the history of the firm, a centennial edition of 100 pages. It took us weeks to prepare that edition and it turned out to be one of our greatest
Published with many full colour pictures, the centennial edition was a masterpiece. So impressive was the endeavour that the publishers entered it in the 1983 competitions of the Ontario Community Newspaper Association. It won as the "Best Feature Edition".
That year, 1982 also saw the firm sponsor a Centennial Dance at the Czech Hall. "The staff of the day really involved themselves with all the projects, but especially during the centennial year, " the partner continues, "It was a sell-out crowd as people showed up in centennial costumes to enjoy live music and great luncheon provided by the 'Czech ladies' know for their tasty morsels and especially the Czech desserts." The dance was dubbed Centennial Wind-Down and saw Curly King and Co. supply the music for the evening. King was a former Dresdenite and manager of the Public Utilities Commission before moving on to Ridgetown several years earlier.
The dance actually had a two-fold purpose. At the time the community was involved in raising funds for a new arena. A total of $850.00 was realized from the event and the partners decided that they would "top" that figure up with a $500.00 Corporate donation.
We had a huge Centennial Year Float complete with antique hand fed press.
(Two young participants Josh and Jarrod Tiffin (sons of Leader staffer Linda Tiffin) joined the Leader Centennial Parade float as it worked its way through the streets of Dresden).
Another highlight for the firm was the centennial parade which was over three hours in length. "The employees jumped on this project with almost uncanny optimism," Misselbrook recalled, "We had a huge float complete with an antique hand-fed press with employees in period costumes at one end representing "time past" and at the other end huge rolls of newsprint and computer terminals representing the "today time" in newspaper publishing."
As noted, community involvement began almost the same day the firm opened its doors back in 1965.
Misselbrook recalls that at that time in history, the town did not have an active business association. "We got the ball rolling immediately to re-activate the Dresden Business Association, and had it up and running by the end of the year."
Both Misselbrook and Clauws held various positions in that association including president and director. "The staff continued involvement over the years, " smiles Misselbrook, "I don't think there was ever a time since 1965 that a representative from the company was not on the board of directors in one position or another''.
It was not long after the 1982 celebrations that the firm would continue its involvement in both community affairs in Dresden and many neighbouring communities in an entirely different format.
A 1965 GMC Pickup Truck with "Follow The Leader" on the tailgate was used as a parade truck.
Misselbrook, who had become an "old car enthusiast" by this time suggested that the firm should have a mascot".
Enter the picture...one 1965 GMC pickup. The truck would represent the year that the firm was founded. Partner Misselbrook located the truck in Toronto and along with friend Jim Tricker they hoisted the old 65 GMC to a flatbed truck for the return drive to Dresden. It was then taken to a body shop in Wallaceburg, owned and operated by Dresden resident Roger Holmes.
"I really can't recall, and probably never really wanted to know, just how much the truck cost us to get it in running order and great looking shape," recalls Clauws, "But there was no doubt it was a proud addition to the Leader's fleet of vehicles."
Besides attending old auto shows the truck was sent to various parades throughout Southwestern Ontario to promote the firm, including both the North Kent Leader and various other publications, not the least of which were the Voice of The Farmer publications.
The acquisition of the "GMC mascot" acted as a springboard for other community involvement. "We started a tradition that continued for many years," recalls Misselbrook, "The Leader sponsored a 50-60's dance held in conjuction with an 'old auto' show sponsored initially by Bob Ellis Pontiac Buick of Dresden." The owner of that firm, Bob Ellis and Misselbrook , had been childhood playmates and came up with the idea of a summer celebration for the community. The whole town got involved as the " 50-60 Weekend " approached and merchants would stage sidewalk sales and offer special discounts during the weekend celebrations.
"Those dances raised a lot of money for the community over the years, "smiles Misselbrook. The dance floor was crowded with people and the arena ice surface housed dozens of cars from the 50's and 60's. "It was a great party and tickets always sold-out well in advance of the event" notes Misselbrook. A look back in the files of the North Kent Leader and one finds the following: 1984-$1240.00 went to the McVean Ball Park for new lighting; 1985-$1,800.00 split between the Minor Soccer and the local Figure Skating Club; 1986 $2800.00 was split between St. John Ambulance and Chatham-Kent Big Sisters; 1987-$3400 split between Meals on Wheels and the local Gymnastic Club; and 1988-$3050.00 to the Junior Farmer's Community Pool Fund.
Of course all activities staged within the community got support from the publishing firm. "Whether it was a program to raise funds for a new swimming pool, a new arena or a funeral chapel at the cemetery, or the staging of a blood donor clinic, the Leader was always present, and most times provided free advertising space for such endeavours," recalls Misselbrook, "It would really be interesting to know just how many tens of thousands of dollars of 'in-kind donations' the firm provided in it's 23 years of operation under our ownership."
Leader 50-60's dances sold out to capacity crowds and raised thousands of dollars.
Jeannie Stinson dressed in her poodle skirt and Nelson clothed in the fashions of the 60's enjoyed fun and dancing at the Leader 50-60's dance fundraiser.
(By the mid 1980's Misselbrook was conducting sales training seminars and workshops across Canada).
1984 WAS A BUSY YEAR
FOR THE PARNTERS
While 1984 did mark the 20th anniversary of the founding of the firm, it was also a year of busy activities for the two partners.
Misselbrook was practically "up to his neck" in promotional activities on salesmanship, conducting seminars and work shops throughtout Ontario and indeed Canada.
His talents as an instructor of sales techniques had become well known by the mid 80's and he found himself "working" for various newspaper associations across the nation, as well as for individual firms who were large enough to be able to afford the cost of hosting their own in-house seminars.
Gord Clauws was president of the Ontario Community Newspaper Association in 1984
For Clauws, 1984 was a most interesting year. It was that year that he took over the presidency of the Ontario Community Newspaper Association and spent countless hours and days involved in activities at the Oakville offices as well as travelling across Canada attending conventions and other activities of provinicial associations.
"I kept a diary of my travels, "recalls Clauws, "I was away from our office a great deal that year and actually spent a total of 135 nights in motels and hotels across Canada."
"It was a most rewarding experience, " Clauws continues, "And I certainly could not have done it without the help and assistance of my partner, Ted Misselbrook."
"I'll always be indebted to Ted for keeping the home fires burning brightly, and allowing me the opportunity to serve our association."
It was in that year, as well, that Clauws decided it was time to put the cap on his pen and "retire" from actively reporting on the activities of Dresden Town Council. Actually Clauws had been doing that job since the firm started back in 1965 and even before that time when he worked for the Dresden News. "I think I had about 25 years of reporting on town council activities, "smiles Clauws today, "The only other individual to spend that much time in the council chambers since the founding of the town was town clerk J.L. (Jim) Babcock who ended up spending almost 40 years there before retiring."
There were, of course, some "rewards" attached to serving the provinical association and one of them was the opportunity to attend "think tanks" staged in locations much warmer than Ontario in the winter months. Both Clauws and Misselbrook reflect warmly on having attended such "think tanks" in Jamaica and Grand Bahama Islands as well as Bermuda. "It was a service reward I guess," smiles Misselbrook, "But one that was appreciated".
1984 was also the year that Misselbrook had the opportunity to travel to Germany for a week to participate in the "fall manoeuvres" of the Canadian Armed Forces. Those activities, based from the Canadian Forces base in Lahr, Germany, were most interesting as the Canadians joined with American troops in staging "war games".
"It was another 'perk that came with involvement in the provincial association affairs, " recalls Misselbrook.
Clauws had also attended such an outing the previous year and has some most interesting tales to tell.
"We were in Germany for those fall war games, and had taken a side trip to Dachau, one of the concentration camps from World War 2," Clauws remembers, "And it was while on our way back to Lahr, relatively late at nigh, that we were informed that the Russians had shot down Korean Airlines 747 which had apparently strayed into communist airspace, and 269 passengers and crew perished."
"When we awoke the next morning, we found ourselves in the middle of an 'orange' alert, he continues, "What that meant was that as we left our hotel for a summoned meeting with Commanding Officer Colonel Whitehead at Lahr headquarters, we saw a completely different army base..warheads pointing out of bushes at the entrance of the Lahr base gave us goose bumps. We were informed of the situation and warned that we might not be able to return to Canada as planned since all outgoing flights from the Army base had been cancelled until further notice.
It all worked out well, however, as the orange alert was abated one day later and the group were allowed to return to Canada on the Labour Day weekend.
A major celebration was a luncheon for the business owners who were around back in 1965 and who had advertised in the first editon of The North Kent Leader
YEARS IN BUSINESS
The year 1984 marked 20 years since the founding of Leader Publications Limited and celebrations were held to mark the occasion.
One of the major celebrations was a luncheon held for the business owners who were around in 1965 and who had advertised in the initial edition.
Attending the luncheon and also recipiants of certificates of appreciation were Audrey Weaver, Maple Lanes Bowling Alley (back in 1965 it had been owned by Glen and Lil Pearson); Don Weese, Dominion Automobile Association; John McKay, Dresden Hardware; Mel McKaig, McKaig Furniture & Appliance; Walter Babcock, Babcock Jewellers; Larry Leotot, Dresden Red and White Foodmaster (in 1965 owned by Al Dolsen); Murray McKim, Byron McKim and Son Limited; Clark's Fuel and Supply (in 1965 it had been operated by his late father, Gordon Clark); and Lloyd Northcott, Dresden Farm Equipment.
"It really was a great reunion, of sorts,"comments Misselbrook as he reflects on that event, "I think those merchants really appreciated the fact that someone would publicly recognize them for having done business with them".
During that year as well, the rural correspondents were honoured. They were mostly women from the various outlying areas in the North Kent Leader readership area, who submitted weekly columns of happenings and visits by friends and relatives in their respective neighbourhoods.
A check of the October 10, 1984 edition named those attending the special luncheon in the Anglican Church Hall. They included: Mrs. Hugh McCorkle, Union Baptist; Mrs. Jeanne Forshee, Florence; Mrs. George Babula, Croton; Mrs. Ken Clark, Dawn Valley; Miss Frances Rogers and Mrs. Eileen Parking, Rutherford; Mrs. Cecil Jacques and Mrs. Verlyn Kyle, Wabash; Mrs. Cleo McFadden, Turnerville and Lindsay Road; Mrs. Pat Anderson, Rosedale; Mrs. Franklin Wicks, Bentpath; Mrs. Kenneth Elgie, Dawn Mills; Mrs. Annie Johnston, Oldfield; and Marlene Hunter, Appledore.
"It was kind of funny, "recalls Clauws, "Back in those days the correspondents would compile the weekly happenings and would include such tidbits as 'Mr. and Mrs. Ray Harper and Mr. and Mrs. Ray Bryans called on Mrs. Charlie Rogers on Sunday'."
"While many people knew these people there were some who didn't and would laugh when it was revealed that Mrs. Bryans and Mrs. Harper were daughters of Mrs. Rogers.
The rural correspondents, who were paid on a per column inch basis which usually amounted to about $100.00 to $200.00 a year, were, however, a highly valued asset to the
newspapers of that time era. "It brought us readership from the entire area, including many fringe areas," recalls Misselbrook, "And it helped us establish a paid circulation of almost 3,000 back in those days.
Full page ad messages, offering a simple "Thank You" was published in each Leader publication to mark the 20th anniversary year.
As the 20th anniversary of the founding of The Leader approached, the publishers took a page in each of its publications to offer a thank you.
"Thanks to our Readers---
The original concept of the North Kent Leader was to present in a clear, interesting and informative format, the news and views that concern and affect our local readers. We view every subscription order, every renewal, as a vote of confidence in our efforts. We are pleased that you have stood by us over the years and that you continue to "follow the Leader". Without you, our readers, all would be for naught. Thank you for your support.
Thanks to our Advertisers--- We are proud to be part of Dresden's Business Community and to call our business associates friends. The support that you have shown over the years has allowed us to produce an award winning newspaper, nothing less that your customers, and our readers deserve. The faith that you placed in us in 1965, and throughout the years, has kept us striving for an ever better newspaper, and vehicle for your sales message. Without your support the North Kent Leader would not be possible.
Thanks to our Staff---Leader Publications has grown over the last 20 years from 3 employees to over 50 dedicated staffers. Without the teamwork of the five departments working in concert, the production of 10 newspapers, that make up the present day operation, would not be possible. Each member of the "Leader team" is well trained in his or her discipline and together form one of the leading production houses in Ontario. To our staff we say thanks for giving 110 per cent all the time.
In that same edition that offered the thanks, an article was published entitled....
"I AM A COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER"
The actual writer of the brief is not known but at the time the partners felt it was a good description of a community newspaper, including the North Kent Leader.
"While the high and the mighty strut and stamp across the world's stage, six women go out to visit the eldery.
A small boy scores the winning goal in a hockey game. An amateur theatre group produces a smash hit. A town council passes an important new law.
The real lives of real people. People who don't start wars, don't build empires, who don't go into the history books.
But whose stories are exciting, interesting, vital and important. Stories that should be told.
And I tell these stories every week....Because I am a community newspaper. My arena is not Parliament, the White House, the U.N.---it is the neighbourhood. The community. But what I have to say about it touches my readers' lives every bit as much as that larger drama. Maybe even more.
I am a community newspaper. I am welcomed into hundreds of homes every week. Not as an intruder, shrieking out harshness, violence and complexity of the world...but as a friend. A mirror of my readers' lives...their joys, sorrows, accomplishments.
I am a community newspaper. I am proud, tough, independent. I know when to smile, when to grumble, how to chide, how to help.
I am a community newspaper--in a great community.
And I'm proud of it.
THE SEVENTH AND FINAL 'VOICE' MAKES IT'S DEBUT
Before the middle of the decade, the seventh and final chapter of the "Voice of the Farmer" was written as the Oxford Farmer made its debut.
By this time the hype and fanfare of bringing out a new publication was becoming rather "old-hat" for the firm, but never-the-less it was still exciting as the firm now had a firm grip on the seven largest farm producing counties in the province. "We had one major competitor for the farm market in these counties, "recalls Misselbrook, "The Ontario Farmer, published by Bowes Publishers in London, was certainly a significant concern, but our continual thrust towards the local news kept us firmly in the marketplace."
THE KIDS COME ON BOARD
By the mid 1980's the four children of Misselbrook and Clauws could usually be found around the Leader office during the summer vacations doing odd chores to earn a little extra spending money.
"They became involved in almost all aspects of the actual operations of producing newspapers with the exception of direct sales and reporting," recalls Misselbrook. "They could be found doing filing of past copies, bringing the "art-service" books up-to-date, working in the darkroom and at the press building inserting or bundling newspapers or working on some of the specialty projects that the company was involved in.
First to come on board was Shawn Clauws, who had been born in 1967, followed by Jill Misselbrook (1970), Darren Clauws (1970) and BethMisselbrook (1972).
"They all enjoyed working there (I think)," laments Clauws. "At least they seemed to enjoy the pay cheques, as meagre as they were."
By the time the company was sold in 1988, all four children had had a rather productive introduction into the newspaper publishing business, but none of them showed an enthusiasm to convince the two partners that a second generation would take over the reins of the company.
One of the off-spring, however, Jill Misselbrook, took an interest in selling advertising for newspapers and later became associated as a salesperson for the both the Leader as well as other community newspapers in Southwestern Ontario.
Today she is still involved in the advertising world, working for Blackburn Radio from their Chatham offices.
Total Market Coverage for Advertisers "With a Twist"
A WHOLE NEW CONCEPT
In the spring of 1984 the groundwork began for the establishment of a newspaper network to serve Kent County.
Actually, it was the brainchild of partner Misselbrook. While firmly entrenched in his sales training work shops and seminars across the country, the idea struck heading back home on a return flight. "Why don't we merge all the other community newspapers in Kent County and establish a network of selling advertising that would benefit every member paper".
"Actually the eight community newspapers located in Kent County were starting to face stiff competition from the London Free Press and it's Pennysaver publications," recalls Misselbrook "And there was a definite need to come up with a plan to compete at a readership and price point level."
The two partners discussed the concept for a couple of weeks and then decided to bounce the idea off Tom and Daryl Kinley, friends and owners of The Wallaceburg News. They agreed that the concept had possibilities.
THE KENT COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER NETWORK" Boasted Total Market Coverage".
"From that point it was all Ted's work project," recalls Clauws, "He was the advertising specialist and actually had a bit more spare time that I did since I was actively involved in the provincial newspaper organization as president."
It was decided to bring in the other 'potential partners', to discuss the idea and a meeting was called with most of the publishers of the county's weeklies, including Blenheim, Ridgetown, Tilbury, the publishers of the two Wallaceburg newspapers and of course, Dresden.
Misselbrook explains, "We called the meeting at the Wheels Motor Inn in Chatham. Gary O'Flynn, publisher of the Courier Press, the competing weekly in the town of Wallaceburg, attended and wanted to know first off if we intended to share news stories as well as marketing and sales. He was told 'no', that this was strictly for advertising sales primarily in the City of Chatham, although other markets would be explored. O'Flynn politely said he was not interested and walked out before the meeting was even called to order."
Besides Misselbrook, the publisher of the Tilbury Times, Terry McConnell was keenly interested in the project and along with the Kinley's became the thrust behind what would become known as the Kent Community Newspaper Network.
The first order of business after the publishers agreed to pursue the idea was to put together information on the marketplace.
Misselbrook was good friends with Ken Goldstein in Winnipeg who operated a research company and worked for many different newspapers across the country. Goldstein pulled together the raw data for the buying power of Chatham-Kent and Terry McConnell developed the presentation package.
This was all accomplished by late 1984 and all that remained now was the hiring of an advertising sales representative. It was also decided by this time that two other Kent publications would be included, The Bothwell Times and the Wheatly Journal.
Marilyn Leitch, who had been working in the office of the North Kent Leader for some time, but who seemed to have a flair for advertising sales, was asked if she wanted to be the representative for the network. She jumped at the opportunity.
The information that Goldstein provided gave a realistic analysis of economic and demographic data for the communities served by the member newspapers.
"It was pretty heavy stuff," recalls Misselbrook, "The information and the manner in which it was packaged was attractive and powerful."
To give an example of just part of the presentation the sales representative had included the following. The total number of households that were located in the county (with exception of the city of Chatham) totalled 20,700: circulation of the four daily newspapers serving the county included, Sarnia Observer, 305 (1%); Windsor Star, 1,774 (8%); Chatham Daily News, 3,758 (18%); and the London Free Press, 4093 (19%).
By comarison the Kent Community Newspaper Network reached 119% of those 20,700 households. It was a keen selling point to the major advertisers who were looking to reach the entire population of the county.
The Kent Community Newspaper Network was a success from the word go and continued to operate succcessfully until a few months after Laurentian Publishing bought Leader Publications and decided that the concept no longer served their needs.
"It was actually a model for other such networks that developed throughout Ontario and indeed Canada" recalls Clauws, "And a real achievement for Ted Misselbrook whose idea should probably have been patented."
ACTIVITIES WERE PLENTIFUL IN 1984
The Sydenham River flood of
1984 was the first major news
event of the new year!
The year 1984 also seen many other activities take place, and the first major event to be mentioned is the special flood edition published in February, 1984.
On Tuesday, February 14th, 1984 the waters of the Sydenham River decided to bring an unexpected and unwanted Valentine Gift to the residents of Dresden. While not as severe a flood as had been experienced on occasion by the community in the past, it was none the less damaging and certainly worthy of some major news reporting.
The entire story on how a special edition was put together in record time was explained in Clauws' Scratchin' Around column on February 22nd., 1984.
Under the title "The excitement was still there..."Clauws wrote:
"Events that happen on Tuesday night or early Wednesday mornings are problems in no small degree for the community newspaper that publishes mid-day Wednesday.
Case in point...last week's edition of the North Kent Leader had already been "put to bed" with the first papers anticipated to roll off the press by late Wednesday morning.
What did happen is now history, and many readers of The Leader have been most kind in expressing interest in how we managed to get a four-page second section covering various aspects of the flood on the street by early Wednesday afternoon.
I'll take the rest of this week's allotted space to tell you how the talents of some highly-skilled individuals played a part in producing the special section.
The actual decision to produce a special four-page section, composed primarily of photographs, was not made until 9:45 a.m. Wednesday morning. The decision had been left to that late hour to determine if indeed enough material could be had to produce the section and have it included with that week's edition without causing undue delays.
That meant conference time!. The managing editor Don Spearman said several photos had been taken throughout the night and early morning hours as residents in the flood area were evacuated under the guidance of the Dresden-Camden Fire Department. He felt confident that given another short time frame more photos could be available. Production Supervisor Joan Martin provided the assurance that her staff could "work in" the special section by shifting lunch hours among the compositors and proofreaders.
Darkroom supervisor, Scott McLachlin said "sure we can do it"
(Darkroom Supervisor Scott McLachlin is shown in this 1984 photo preparing negatives pertaining to the 1984 flood of the Sydenham river.)
Darkroom supervisor Scott McLachlin, back on the job only one day after having been on a three-month leave, said "sure we can do it". Next stop, the web press division...supervisor Mac Johnson and head pressman Brian Aikman provided assurance that the section could be "squeezed in" and mailroom supervisor Deb VanHyfte indicated her staff could get the inserting and labelling done in time to meet all mail deadlines.
It was a go.
The adrenalin started to flow as this publisher watched a group of highly skilled individuals ply their craft with all the interest that one could possibly hope for.
The deadlines were established. All photos would have to be ready for darkroom processing by 10:15 (that was later extended to 10:30); selection of the required photos would have to be made by 11 o'clock; all photos would have to be processed by 12 noon, the same deadline provided for the commentary that would accompany the photos; production would be completed by 1 p.m to allow the darkroom to process the graphic negatives of the completed pages; the press division said they would be ready to go at 1:30 pm. and the mailroom was scheduled to get the first pages at 2 o'clock.
I watched in pure amazement as all the deadlines were kept to within seconds and the publisher was holding the finished section at 2:02 p.m.
And now for a look behind the scenes and how teamwork played a most important role in getting the special section "to bed".
When the decision to produce the section had been made, the managing editor assigned two reporter-photographers to get as many photos as possible by the 10:15 deadline. As the last rolls of exposed film were handed to the darkroom supervisor, his two assistants rolled into action to develop and produce contact sheets of the photos that had been taken. Once the selected photos were determined it was back to the darkroom for final prints, all the while reporters, and the managing editor were writing the cut-lines and digging out details.
The production supervisor had shifted enough noon hours to allow for three people to be involved in the actual paste-up to meet the one o'clock deadline...it was as the layout discussed with the managing editor.
Back to the darkroom for the final graphic negatives that go to the web press to be etched into aluminum plates. This time a one-man crew, consisting of the darkroom supervisor himself, completed the task and drove the negs to the press plant located half-mile away in the town's industrial park.
There anxiously waiting was the pressroom supervisor and head pressman who, along with two other men who form the press crew, made short work of the stripping, burning and developing of the press plates.
It was a few minutes before 2 o'clock and at 2:03 the inserters in the mailroom had started their task. By shortly before three o'clock the labelling, inserting and bagging had been completed and the paper was in the postal system...only a bit later than normal.
The lapsed time from the decision to produce the special flood section to the finished product....less than five hours....a record I believe any newspaper, community or daily, would be proud to boast about.
As a publisher, I can relate that I am truly proud of the professional team that went to work to produce the section for "their readers".
And while those people were involved in producing the special section, the normal Wednesday workload was carried out by the other employee in those same departments. It was truly a team effort.
Misselbrook provided the business community with a detailed demographic and economic study for the Dresden market area.
(Ted Misselbrook and Gord Clauws just prior to a business association presentation in 1984).
A new market study released in 1984
was presented to the
Dresden Business Association.
Also occurring in 1984 was a presentation to the Dresden Business Association by partner Ted Misselbrook.
The report presented by the partner gave new and exciting information on marketing strategies to the local merchants.
The presentation was reported in the April 18th edition of the North Kent Leader.
"A new local market study provides detailed information and research on the coverage area of the North Kent Leader, said Ted Misselbrook of that firm, in speaking to the Dresden Business Association last Thursday.
The report had been commissioned by the Ontario Community Newspaper Association, through Infomarkets Canada Inc. of Winnipeg. The North Kent Leader is a member of the OCNA.
"Local businesses have an obligation to their staff, their businesses, and their community to know who their customers are, where they are and what they want in the way of goods and services.
"This demographic and economic study tells businesses exactly what they need to know," he continued.
The speaker noted that Dresden has a market area of 8,400 people with a personal disposable income of $76 million. He added that $19.5 million in consumer dollars in 1982 were spent in the Dresden area in three major sales groups.
While the $19.5 million in retail sales is "impressive" Misselbrook noted that the study further shows that the retail drift from Dreden to Chatham is in excess of eight million dollars.
He further commented that while it many be impossible to convince consumers to spend all their disposable income in Dresden, the study does show that local businesses have the opportunity to increase their business sales by "plugging the hole" wherever possible to slow down the retail drift to places like Chatham.
Misselbrook said that everyone benefits when consumers shop at home. Local business, when retail sales are high will create new jobs, support local activities, support church and other institutions. "It appears obvious to me, " he said, "that the consumer has a stake in wanting a strong retail sector in Dresden."
"Dresden has a vital business core," he continued, "as is evident by the fact that very few stores are vacant in Dresden. This is not the case in similar sized towns in Kent and Lambton.
He stated that the fight for the consumer dollar would be a constant battle, and that the Dresden business sector must continue to provide excellent personalized service, run well kept and well stocked stores, if they are to slow down the rate of retail drift to major centres, more particularly Chatham.
"He said he would make the demograhic and retail study of the Dresden market area available to Dresden businesses upon request through Leader representatives or by calling the Leader office"
The Advertiser Topic moved their office to a new downtown location.
And while things were buzzing along at the Dresden location, activities in the Petrolia Advertiser-Topic office were in for a change.
The lease on the building which had housed the Topic for several years was due to expire and the partners decided that since the web press operations had been moved to Dresden two years previous the structure was simply to big.
Arrangements were made to lease the ground floor of an office building at 399 Eureka Street in the downtown area of Petrolia. The building was owned by Margaret Dee, whose doctor husband carried on a medical practice on the second floor.
The move was made on May 1st, 1984.
TAKING A LEADERHIP ROLE IN THE COMMUNITY
Leader Publications and its staff always prided itself in the role it played in the community.
In the fall of 1984, another event took place that put the company in the record book. It took the form of an agreement between the Kent County United Way organization and the company's employees. Penned on October 17th, 1984, the agreement was for the company to introduce a payroll deduction plan with monies going to the United Way.
"It was another first for the company as we became the first business in the Town of Dresden to institute such an agreement, " recalls Clauws, "We had been approached by officials of the Chatham-based organization and after a few meetings between key employees and management the agreement was reached."
"The majority of the more than 60 people we had in our employ at that time joined the plan, "states Misselbrook.
The United Way used that agreement to convince other businesses in the community to institute a similar payroll deduction plan.
"When you're in a tight spot it's always nice to be able to turn to a friend for help.
(Chris Cooke, co-owner of the Sarnia Gazette was quick to offer his help when the Leader presses crashed because of mechanical and electrical failures.)
GREAT FRIENDS IN
In December of 1984 another event would occur that could be written into the pages of the history book of The Leader.
It involved the operation (or failure to operate) of the web press. The events surrounding that memorable event were published in the December 5th edition of "Scratchin' Around with Clauws".
Under the title "How grey hairs increase...." he wrote:
"When you're in a tight spot it's always nice to be able to turn to a friend for help."
Such was the case for this publishing company last week when mechanical and electrical failures plagued the pressroom.
While the problems which prevailed at the web press certainly weren't visable to subscribers of the North Kent Leader, publications which are normally printed on Monday and Tuesday and again on Friday had to be shipped out of town for printing.
And that's where it was nice to have friends in the printing business.
A call to the closest web press---the Sarnia Gazette resulted in assurance that one of the publications, The Voice of the Lambton Farmer, could be printed late Monday night. Another publication was also printed at the Sarnia plant on Tuesday night. Then on Thursday night more trouble erupted and another call went out to the Goderich Signal Star.
What was so great for this scribe was the fact that a telephone call away was help. Chris Cooke, co-owner of the Sarnia Gazette didn't bat an eyelash when we asked if there was any available press time. Within seconds, the production manager, Dan Flagal was on another telephone and a schedule had been worked out for the two press runs required Monday night. It should be noted that a great deal of thanks has to go to the press crew in Sarnia as they worked well past normal quitting hour to accomodate the extra runs.
Without hesitation the offer for any additional help was passed along as well. While we were hopeful that our press would be operable by Tuesday, such was not the case, and we again called upon the Sarnia firm to help. They responded again without concern.
Then came Wednesday and a return to what appeared to be a normal day....and it was, the press ran the way it was intended to.
And then, came Thursday and another good day...until 4 o'clock when the electrics again went down. Another few phone calls....this time we ended up in Goderich getting help since Sarnia was booked full.
And I guess, that is perhaps what life is really all about...helping one another. I can say that the response to our problems from our Sarnia and Goderich neighbours and friends was most appreciated.
Our thanks go out to Chris and Dan and their press crew in Sarnia , as well as to Bob Shrier, John Buchanan and George Vandenburgh and the Goderich press gang.
And while I'm passing out thank-you's, I want to thank our own crew which spent up to 18 hours a day last week working with engineers and press erectors in attempting to solve our problems. Thanks also to the newspaper inserters who worked "strange" hours to meet the deadlines.
Perhaps I should explain just a bit of the problems that did occur at the press plant last week.
What had been scheduled for the Saturday and Sunday of the previous week was the removal and replacement of the folding unit of the press. Our original unit had been shipped some five weeks previous to Toronto to be completely rebuilt and was scheduled for return that Saturday. When the press erectors arrived on the scene last Saturday the unit was put into place with the required checking and adjusting to be done on Sunday.
To that point in time everything appeared to be going fine.
Sunday morning was a different story however. About five hours into the adjustment program the electrics on the press unit quit. As they say in pressmen's terms.."We're dead in the water."
Calls to an electronics engineer in Sarnia brought help, but not the required parts. They were not to be had anywhere except in Toronto or Detroit...ever try tracing down an electrical board on a Sunday afternoon...the engineer said it's not an easy job...and it wasn't...he didn't get one.
That meant a return to Toronto by our press erectors who managed to find the board late Sunday night and returned on Monday morning with it.
Again things were beginning to look good. That was until the electrical people said it wasn't the right board, it was something else as well.
To make a long story short, the electrics were restored by late Monday afternoon, but another several hours of adjustments to the press folder were required. By Tuesday morning things were again looking up, but then the electrics gave way again. Another full day and night of work on the part of the electrical people and the press erectors had the press ready to go by early Wednesday morning. But even that day was not without the same continuing problems although they did manage to print several of the regularly scheduled publications. Thurday wasn't much better and at four o'clock in the afternoon we again were "dead in the water" until the engineer returned to replace a small electrode no bigger than a button on a shirt.
It would appear that things are now back to normal with our fingers crossed until an entirely new electrical component drive can be had (they tell us probably a week or so).
I'm constantly amazed as I look around and see just how dependent we really are on the electrical and electronic gadgetry in today's world. It all tends to make life a little easier when it's working, but when it's not it tends to let the hair get a little greyer.
A THIRD COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER JOINS THE LEADER GROUP
In the final edition before reaching the mid-point of the 1980's, the partners announced that they had purchased the publishing rights to The Bothwell Times. That announcement appeared in the December 26th edition of the North Kent Leader. The transfer of ownership was due to take effect with the January 9th, 1985 edition of the The Times.
More of the purchase of this 110 year old community newspaper follows in the next segment.
The growth of the company had been fairly steady over the years and with that growth came the need for more employees. It is interesting to note that the last pay period for December, 1984 showed a total of 67 employees on hand, not including the two partners.