Ten Years Later

by Edna Tenney, Editor, Business People

A look at the businesses making news in the June 1989 issue of Business Digest Ten years ago the cover story of Business Digest of Greater Burlington told the tale of the amazing growth of

The Offset House

The Offset House, a commercial printing company in Essex Junction, that began in 1969 when John and Mary McGrath purchased a small Burlington photocopy shop. The couple had to have their parents sign the purchase agreement because neither young entrepreneur was 21. The firms progress was so steady and eventful, the rate of growth so steep, and the volume of business so large when the article was written during the firms 20th year, its hard to imagine the business could keep up that pace over the next 10 years. But it has. Don Tucker et al. This update has to start with the acknowledgement of the tragic death of co-owner Mary McGrath in a flying accident in June 1991, an event that shook the entire community of people who knew her. In the intervening years, Offset House added George Little Press in Burlington to its list of purchases. The George Little location became the headquarters for the companys pre-press operations as well as added printing capabilities. A year and a half ago it was merged with The Offset House and moved to Essex Junction. Contacting John McGrath for an update meant catching him off the golf course, not an easy thing to do. He outlines some personnel changes at the company that are the reason McGrath can spend so much time honing his golf game. Two longtime employees make up the plant management team; Don Tucker is president and John Carp, vice president. Its going so well, thats why I stay away, McGrath says. Id just mess things up. On the sales side McGraths son, Kevin, is the key, McGrath says, helping to fill Marys shoes in sales and as a link to the customers. Kevin and his sister, Stacy, an attorney with Deloitte & Touche in Hartford, Conn., are board members. Next McGrath talks about the presses at Offset House, noting the addition of two large, sheet-fed presses from KBA Planeta in Germany, purchased through its sales and distribution location in Williston. The major equipment purchase in this decade at The Offset House was the Heidelberg- Harris M-130 heatset web press, a mammouth press that took a team of 30 people from the manufacturer eight weeks to set up. To demonstrate its speed and capacity, McGrath offers an interesting little tidbit about that press. If you ran it for an hour, how long do you think the piece of paper that comes out would be? His answer: Nineteen miles!

Resolution


The June 1989 issue included an article about Resolution, a Burlington business established in 1982 at the dawn of the video revolution that had experienced startling growth and technological changes in its first seven years. The company founded by Michael Couture, Jim Taylor and Bill Schubart provided video production full length TV shows, commercials, promotional tapes, how-to videos duplication of video tapes (at that time producing 65,000 dupes a month for the now-defunct Academy Entertainment of Shelburne among others) and fulfillment. As the article ended, Resolution was just adding the capability to take and fulfill 800-number phone orders. The business was described by the writer as a multi-faceted business with startling technology just around the bend, and included predictions of high-speed duplication (54 seconds to copy a two-hour movie), the conversion of print magazines to video magazines, and the ability to reproduce any literary property as a video. Schubart et al. Rather than try to give a chronological account of the business over the last 10 years, Resolution president Bill Schubart says, Let me tell you where we are now. Noting that things are very different, he takes a breath and launches into an incredible summary. We have 175 employees full time and about 250 on our payroll. We have two locations, one thats 130,000 square feet, the other 30,000, and were full. We handle more than 25,000 broadcast properties for several major companies ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, A&E, Golf Channel, Rand McNally, Turner Broadcasting, Discovery ... (there are others). We handle 5,000 to 6,000 orders a day from customers and 150 to 300 wholesale orders. The big one right now is Joan of Arc for CBS. Our sales this year will be just under $22 million. He takes another breath and answers some questions. Yes, the technology that was just hinted at in the article 10 years ago is a reality. The firm can duplicate a two-hour film in 40 seconds, running 30 feet per second. Video magazines havent caught on, but all kinds of old movie properties are now available on video. The possibilities of the Internet were not even predicted in 1989, but Resolution is very much a part of it. It has been selling over the Internet for more than two years, managing the sales of broadcast properties from the Web sites of all the major broadcasters that it serves. More than 50 percent of the sales of Joan of Arc have come via the Internet. Thats just the story of Resolution Inc. There is also Resolution Production Inc., headed by Mike Couture and Jim Taylor. It, too, has grown and flourished, producing long form and serial projects for broadcast companies like A&E, Discovery, Turner and PBS. Weve done major specials for A&E and Discoverysome of the recent ones were on great ocean liners and the history of money. We have a special on people and their pets running on PBS. And, he continues, they do it all come up with the ideas, research them, write, direct, produce, handle the legal and accounting. We even got the sponsors for this lastest one. Sounds hectic and complex. So, how does it feel to be at the helm of such a busy ship? Its still fun, Schubart says. Its more fun. And Im one who has clear boundaries between business and family and leisure. I dont need to work 60 or 70 hours a week. That has been challenging because everything is changing so fast. You wake up in the morning and everything is different.

WIZN


Ten years ago, the June issue included an article about a former funeral director, Arty LaVigne, and the Vergennes radio station, WIZN, established in 1983 where he started out as music director, eventually buying into the ownership of the station and becoming the general manager. In June 1988 LaVigne, Robin Martin of the Deer River Group out of Washington, D.C., and Jay Williams from Wayland, Mass., formed a corporation, Burlington Broadcasters Inc., that bought the station. Our ownership hasnt changed, says LaVigne. Thats what is different about this station, with so much industry consolidation and changes in ownership going on. Arty LaVigne Shortly after the article was written, the station, which still offers classic rock, moved its headquarters to Burlington where its sales office was located, a move that put everybody on the same page, LaVigne says. Two years ago, Burlington Broadcasters signed a local marketing agreement with the Bissels, longtime owners of radio station B-100 in Plattsburgh. And there is a stipulation that we will eventually own it, he adds. The company changed the stations format to modern rock and dubbed it 99.9 The Buzz. That station is a significant player in Montreal, so we have a sales effort there, too. LaVigne sees it as an expansion of the local market, increasing what they can offer their clients. A recent addition to the staff is Harry Jacobs as general manager. Both WIZN and The Buzz are locally programmed, except for The Howard Stern Show, added in March 1998. The switch from the local Corm and the Coach show, which eventually joined a competing station, to the controversial national show led to a highly publicized ratings war, with Stern first losing out to the local show and then catching it by years end.

Graham Communications


Rosalyn Graham, president of Graham Communications, a small public relations firm, and publisher of The Shelburne News, a community newspaper, was featured in June 1989. Since graduating from the University of Western Ontario in the early 60s, Canadian-born Grahams career has always been divided between journalism and public relations work. The story followed her efforts in bringing the fledgling Shelburne News from a mimeographed newsletter to a semi-monthly, advertising-driven tabloid newspaper. Rosalyn Graham Since that article, The Shelburne News has moved out of Grahams home to offices on Shelburne Road, become a weekly newspaper and given up its non-profit status. It is now owned by ETF Inc., a for-profit corporation with Graham as president. The publishing company has embarked on a new project, BTV Destination Press, a monthly airport newspaper aimed at travelers and visitors to the Burlington International Airport. The publication debuts in June providing destination information maps, events calendars, and airport news and economic development information as well. Virginia Simmon is the editor/publisher.

Spotlight


In the June 1989 issue we included a correction and apology for misidentifiying people in a photo that appeared in the previous issue. The photo accompanied a press release about the principals of Truffles Catering of Essex Junction, Christie White and Deborah Turner, who had attended the 1989 Catering Expo in Nashville, Tenn. The photo pictured the Vermont partners with the featured speaker at the meeting, described as a nationally acclaimed expert on catering. Martha Stewart et al. Truffles Catering is no longer listed in the phone book, and a call to Christie White confirmed that the business has been closed. The partners continued into the 90s White says, but the expansion of the Sheraton and the addition of the Inn at Essex with their function rooms and in-house catering facilities put a lot of pressure on the small catering firm. White left and is now in real estate sales with Century 21 Jack Associates. Turner continued until last year and is now in food services at IBM. One more thing. About the other person in that photo, the one we misidentified as Deborah Turner? Yes, White confirms. Thats the real Martha Stewart. © 1996-2004 Mill Publishing Inc. All rights reserved. Please read this notice.
Last updated: 10/05/99
Cover
Business Digest
June 1989