'A moving target': Local publishing firms now produces 300 titles a year

Fargoan Donn Bryant decided in 1993 to make the jump from selling television advertising to publishing a magazine. He launched From House to Home, a glossy publication featuring articles covering everything from home decorating and architecture t...

Fargoan Donn Bryant decided in 1993 to make the jump from selling television advertising to publishing a magazine.

He launched From House to Home, a glossy publication featuring articles covering everything from home decorating and architecture to landscape design and entertaining.

Initially, the free stand-alone magazine was circulated only in Fargo-Moorhead.

Today, 2 million copies are distributed either bimonthly or quarterly as newspaper inserts in 50 U.S. markets.

"It's a moving target. Every week it keeps growing," said Phil Lewis, current president and CEO of the magazine's parent company, Publication Services of America. "As we sit here, we have 26 new markets coming on the pipeline.


"We've doubled every year for the last three years," he said. "Right now we're doing a magazine a day. We will do about 300 titles this year."

In 2001, two years before Bryant retired, Lewis became his business partner.

From House to Home is printed exclusively in partnership with newspapers across the country.

Markets range from the Mankato (Minn.) Free Press, with 10,000 magazine inserts, to the Newark (N.J.) Star Ledger, with 145,000 inserts.

Locally, 35,000 magazines are inserted into The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead every other month, said James Boberg, Forum advertising director.

"It's an enhancement to our product," Boberg said.

"Especially in the key readership graphic of females 35-50," said Forum general manager Steve McLister.

"It's continued to grow. It's been a successful magazine," Boberg said.


Bryant got the itch to publish a magazine while in sales with Fargo television stations KTHI and KVNJ.

"I always admired The Area Woman," he said, referring to a Fargo-produced magazine published by Michael Sherman since 1984.

"I wanted to do a magazine," he said. "I had no idea what I was doing. I just wanted to do it and I did it. I thought there was room in the market to do a magazine about buying, building, remodeling and decorating your home."

Bryant is the first to admit that his company, Publication Services Inc., got off to a rough start.

But by 1998, From House to Home was doing well, he said.

Bryant decided to launch two other titles, Smart Business and Fargo-Moorhead Today. Neither succeeded.

Along the way he met Lewis, whose administrative savvy helped steer the magazine to success.

"The whole business plan spoke to filling a void in the newspaper industry," Lewis said.


Bryant sold the product - on the road 40 to 42 weeks a year - trying to get newspapers across the country to insert regionally created editions of From House to Home into their publications.

"I started with The Forum," Bryant said. Iowa newspapers in Sioux City, Cedar Rapids and Waterloo bought into the idea.

"Then I went to California and got it started out there," he said. "Lewis was doing an excellent job figuring out how it all could be done."

By 2003 Bryant was thinking about retiring and sold the business to stockholders.

The rest is history.

The company employed three people in 2001. Today there are 33, Lewis said, 14 at company headquarters in Fargo.

The magazine's creative services department is in Atlanta, executive offices are in West Palm Beach, Fla., and marketing and sales departments are in Dallas.

"Fargo is where we do all our production of the magazine," Lewis said. "We wanted to keep the magazine here because that's where it hails from."


Lewis, a graphic artist in the early 1960s, designed magazine covers in New York's lower Manhattan.

"When you get the ink under your fingernails, it never really leaves," he said. "You get it in your blood."

In some newspaper markets, From House to Home is inserted quarterly; in others, bimonthly.

"Each magazine we do in a different newspaper market is localized," said Lewis.

"We actually fly in and produce those pieces," said Kim Malakowsy of Fargo, the magazine's editor-in-chief and the company's vice president of operations.

"We don't use any canned articles. It's all written for us exclusively," she said.

Malakowsky, a Leonard-Chafee, N.D., area native, has been in the printing industry since 1979.

"I kind of moved from the printing industry to the publishing industry in 2003," she said.


From 1999 to 2003, she worked at Knight Printing in Fargo, where prepress activities for From House to Home are coordinated.

The magazine is printed in several locations across the country, Malakowsky said.

The company's second publication, Better Health and Living, was beta-tested in February 2004.

The bimonthly publication is now circulated to 700,000 readers in 16 markets, Lewis said. Again, the vehicle for distribution is newspapers.

Susan Flagg Godby, editor-in-chief, served as executive editor and creative director for Prevention magazine, published in Allentown, Pa., for 15 years.

Godby thought she was headed in a different direction when she left Prevention magazine.

"It didn't work out that way," she said.

Godby said she enjoys working with Better Health and Living magazine's larger format compared to Prevention's digest size.


Publication Services of America launched Wedding Vow, its third title, in February.

"This is a wedding magazine with an online wedding planner," Lewis said.

The Web site was created by Sundog, a Web-based marketing and advertising agency in Fargo.

"That is where the prospective reader will go to plan their wedding," Lewis said.

Another publication is being created.

"We're just about to go to press with our first real custom publishing project, designed from start to finish," Lewis said.

Titled High Roller, the gaming magazine is printed in California and is expected to debut Monday in 25,000 "high-roller" hotel rooms across the world, Lewis said.

PSA is producing the magazine for Internet gaming site, he said.

"It's been an interesting ride," said Lewis. "The whole success of this company is about its people. The work ethic here is phenomenal."

Readers can reach Forum Business Editor Craig McEwen at (701) 241-5502

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