3 Questions for Summit Business Media’s New CEO
Summit Business Media, a business-to-business media company serving the insurance, investment and professional services markets, announced this week the appointment of Andrew Goodenough as president and CEO. Goodenough was previously serving as president, but will now assume William Reilly’s CEO responsibilities as well.
Reilly originally formed the company (backed by Chicago private equity firm Windpoint Partners) in November 2006 with the acquisition of two companies: Highline Media, where Goodenough was CEO, and Pfingsten Publishing, run by Joe Bennett. The plan all along was for Reilly to step back from his day-to-day duties as CEO at some point, and Goodenough’s continually expanding role prompted the change this week.
Publishing Executive Inbox spoke to Summit’s new president and CEO about the state of his company and the challenges of b-to-b media in today’s world.
Inbox: So what does Summit look like today, as you assume president and CEO responsibilities?
Andy Goodenough: … We’ve done seven acquisitions in our first 21 months. The first two were, of course, to form Summit. We’ve done five since then—two pretty large ones, and three smaller ones. … The company is about triple the size of what I was running less than two years ago. It’s about $150 million in revenue. [Of that revenue,] about 60 percent is advertising revenue, and 40 percent is non-advertising. So we’re diversified with our event division, our reference division, and our data division. We actually have four divisions—those three plus our media division, which is where our magazines and our Web sites are located. The media division is our largest—it’s about 65 percent of our total revenue. …
Inbox: Between the own rising costs of doing business and the current, unfavorable economic conditions a lot of b-to-b media companies are struggling today. What’s on tap for Summit’s next 12 months, and will you be able to continue making acquisitions?
Goodenough: I wish we could say that we were immune from all of those things, but of course we’re not. I think we’ve been fortunate that the markets that we serve are still growing, and the print ad page counts are still growing. I’ve been quoted that print is not dead, and that we can still grow print, which is maybe more important. That’s kind of heresy these days, as no one seems to want to say it. But we’re fortunate in several of our key markets … that print is still growing.
So rather than having this big substitution effect where print is declining and people are moving dollars out of print into online, our customers are still advertising in print, and then adding online on top of that.
But we’re in a slow-grow mode right now, and that will continue. I don’t see things turning around for quite a while. For the prior 20+ years of my career, I was focused on the banking industry, so I’ve seen the cycles and we’re in the middle of a bad credit crunch right now. Access to debt capital is limited. We’re private equity backed, and private equity is all about leverage, so it certainly slows any private equity business down a bit in terms of its ability to acquire. And we’re not immune from that, so we’re going to take a pause here, I think, over the next few months. We may do one or two small deals, but nothing major for the rest of 2008.
Inbox: What is your greatest challenge going forward as the president and CEO of a major b-to-b media company?
Goodenough: I think probably No. 1, short-term, is making sure that we properly orchestrate all of the products and brands we have. … [In certain sectors] we have four to six magazines, we have six or eight Web sites, we sell marketing data from several different sources. We have half a dozen or so live events. We have 50 or so reference products. So how do you coordinate all of these so that they make sense to the market. And how do we internally make sure that we still have a healthy dose of internal competition without beating ourselves up here.
We have just enormously strong market positions, and that was my original view of Summit. That we would be concentrated in this insurance/financial/professional services markets, and not be serving a multiplicity of unconnected markets. But we go very deep in the markets, so we’re not all about advertising. We’re about these other product sets as well, so I think we’re very diversified in terms of revenues.