In Baltimore, there's been a newspaper revolution. And its four weeklies, which had been untouched by the ownership battles weathered by the daily News American and Baltimore Sunpapers, now have been dragged into the fray.
The weeklies' publisher, Time Publishing Group Inc., has been sold by former Baltimore County executive Ted Venetoulis to MediaCom Inc. of Towson for an undisclosed sum. This latest shakeup in the Baltimore newspaper world followed on the heels of the sale of the Baltimore Sunpapers to Times Mirror Co. and the folding of the News American.
MediaCom is a joint venture formed by Susan Souders Obrecht, former Time Publishing Group vice president, and Dennis Shaughnessy, president of CRI International Inc. MediaCom bought the weekly newspapers for between "$5 and $10 million," Souders Obrecht said, adding that the sale price will be disclosed next week.
Time Publishing Group publishes The Baltimore Messenger, Towson Times, Owings Mills Times and The Jeffersonian. The weeklies have a combined circulation of 110,000 and last year reported $5.5 million in sales. Venetoulis, the owner for five years, served as president and publisher.
Souders Obrecht, 30, will become co-owner, publisher and president, and Jonathan L. Whitty will remain editor-in-chief. The format and cost (three of the four weekly newpapers are free of charge) will remain the same, Souders Obrecht said. The changes will be in an upgraded editorial and reporting staff, an enlarged sales force and an expanded circulation.
Souders Obrecht, who began with the company as a sales manager, has seen the company grow from 15 to 115 employes in five years. She hopes by 1987 that the weeklies' combined circulation will hit 180,000.
"The sale was 100 percent buyout, 100 percent turnover," the new publisher said.
The six members of the board of directors will be replaced by six others, described as leaders in the Baltimore banking, real estate and newspaper industries. The new board will be announced in the coming weeks.
But the takeover wasn't just a reaction to the turbulence in Baltimore's newspaper industry. Souders Obrecht planned it.
She approached Venetoulis about buying the company more than a year ago, but he was not receptive to the idea. Souders Obrecht said that by December 1985, he was in "a selling mode, convinced he'd rather do other things." It was reported in the Baltimore Sun that Venetoulis is buying several magazines on the West Coast. Venetoulis could not be reached for comment.
Souders Obrecht and Shaughnessy raised the capital for the venture and were represented in the acquisition by Wilbert H. Sirota of the law firm Frank, Bernstein, Conaway & Goldman. Shaughnessy, along with several investors from his company, put up half the money, and Souders Obrecht financed the other half with a loan from First National Bank of Maryland.
The sale of the Sunpapers and the demise of the News American make Times Mirror Co. the publisher of the only daily newspaper in town. But, according to Souders Obrecht, there is little overlap between the daily and the weeklies in areas of coverage. The weekly papers cover Baltimore's close-knit neighborhoods from Rolland Park to Glyndon and will not change their scope, management said.
"There is plenty of room for a weekly and daily newspaper in this town. The competition motivates us. Times Mirror and the Times Publishing Group are both smart, and we both produce quality papers. As for John Reginald (Reg) Murphy, Baltimore Sun publisher , we know each other and our respect is mutual," Souders Obrecht said.
A Norwegian company that manufactures laminated hardwood parquet flooring will establish its first U.S. manufacturing operation in the Oak Level community of Henry County, company officials said.
Officials of Johan G. Olsen Industrier AS of Kristiansand, Norway, selected the location over sites in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
The company bought the Jessup Furniture building and its adjacent 39 acres for $900,000. It will invest an additional $14 million in the location, $10 million of which will be financed by an industrial development revenue bond issued by the Henry County Industrial Development Authority.
In its application for bond financing, the company said it expects to employ 84 production workers and 19 management workers, with a payroll of $1.8 million. It expects to create about 50 support jobs.
The company said it will begin manufacturing the flooring at the new site within the next two years. Until then, the facility will be used as a warehouse and distribution site for Boen Parquet Flooring, marketed in the United States from a New Jersey site.
O'Sullivan Corp. of Winchester, Va., which had manufactured shoe components for almost 100 years, is getting out of the business.
O'Sullivan, a publicly held company, sold its rubber division to Vulcan Corp. of Cincinnati last week and its TPR and PVC units, also used for the production of footwear, to Jones & Vining Corp. of Massachusetts. Terms of the sales were not disclosed.
The business is drying up, according to James T. Holland, executive vice president and chief operating officer. Holland estimated that 80 percent of the footwear sold in the United States is manufactured overseas. The rubber division, which last year accounted for 12 percent of the company's sales, or $17 million, no longer makes "economic sense," he said.
Instead, O'Sullivan is stepping up its sheet-vinyl, injection-molding and assembly operations. The company will begin construction on an injection-molding plant in Luray, Va., next month, and the 200 rubber-division employes will transfer to other divisions.
Holland said the transfer of business will take six to nine months. Phillip Griffin, vice president and general manager of the rubber division, will work as a consultant to Vulcan.
Job hunters can expect good news in Northern Virginia, where there was an 11.6 increase in help-wanted ads during the first quarter of 1986, according to a study by the University of Virginia's Tayloe Murphy Institute.
The jump is an indication that the unemployment rate for Northern Virginia, which stood at 2.9 percent in March, will remain low, said Donald W. Lindsey, who compiles the figures for the institute.
"Combined with a drop in the employment rate from February to March, these statistics indicate that the availability of jobs will probably remain stable in the next few months," Lindsey said.
However, employment trends in the Lynchburg and Danville area don't look as promising. In Lynchburg, the help-wanted index fell 9.3 percent from December 1985 to March 1986. In Danville, which had the highest unemployment rate in the study, the index dropped 14.6 percent since the fourth quarter of 1985.
InterCAD Corp. of Vienna, the software publishing subsidiary of ERC International, signed its second international agreement last week to market its software products. Marubeni Electronics Corp. of Tokyo signed as the company's exclusive distributor for Asia. Marubeni Electronics is a subsidiary of Marubeni Corp. of Japan. The products also are distributed by CADCOM, AB, of Stockholm, Sweden.
InterCAD markets a line of workstations used by companies in the aerospace, computer, electronics and automotive industries to produce technical illustrations for manuals and catalogues.
Atlantik Express Lines and Ocean Star Container Line began operations at the Port of Hampton Roads last week, providing expanded service to Europe and Australia, the Virginia Port Authority said.
Atlantik Express, a Northern European service, will stop at the port every 21 days, and Ocean Star Container Line, an Australian/New Zealand service, will service the port every 14 days.
AAI Engineering Support Inc. of Baltimore received a $15 million contract from the U.S. Air Force last week to maintain F-15 Operational Flight Trainers at 15 Air Force bases, a company spokesman said. The three-year contract includes four options for renewal.