Family-owned Adams Publishing Group—which in the past few years has grown to operate 30 daily newspapers, more than 100 non-dailies, and other media enterprises located in 20 states—expanded its industry footprint again as 2018 drew to a close.
On Dec. 3, Adams bought the newspaper division of family-owned W. D. Hoard & Sons Company. The division includes the Daily Jefferson County Union and the Hometown News Limited Partnership, which publishes 13 community newspapers and shoppers in parts of six counties in south central Wisconsin.
The Daily Jefferson County Union was founded in 1870 by William Dempster Hoard. The Knox family eventually acquired the company from the Hoard family. Brian Knox, the second generation of the Knox family and current publisher, has been with the newspaper for the past 41 years.
Hometown News publishes the Sun Prairie Star, a twice-weekly newspaper, plus eight weekly newspapers: Milton Courier, Cambridge News/Deerfield Independent, Lake Mills Leader, Herald-Independent/McFarland Thistle, Waterloo/Marshall Courier, Waunakee Tribune, DeForest Times-Tribune and the Lodi Enterprise/Poynette Press.
Knox said in a statement that his family’s interests are refocusing on other sectors of the company: “When I became publisher, almost all of the 37 daily papers in the state were independently owned, either as single papers or in small groups. Now there are fewer dailies and just a handful of independents left. One of the reasons for this is that in the 41 years I have been publisher, the industry has had to technologically re-invent the way we do business every three or four years to continue on. We have done this successfully and even our circulation numbers have fought the industry trend and grown the last few years. But the reality is that we’ve reached the point where we need to be much bigger to spread those costs and to take advantage of rapidly changing technologies.”
The day after the Wisconsin acquisition, on Dec. 3, James M. Clifford announced his family sold the five-day Watertown (Wisconsin) Daily Times and the weekly Dodge County Independent News to Adams Publishing Group.
Members of the Clifford family have owned the Watertown Daily Times since 1919. James Clifford, chairman of the company said that this was a difficult day for the family but felt the Times would be in a stronger position to compete in a challenging and fast changing competitive environment if it were part of a larger group.
Stephen Adams, Adams Publishing Group principal, said the newspapers in both acquisitions served “exactly the types of communities that we look for as we build our company.”
Adams Publishing Group describes itself as “first and foremost a family-owned community newspaper company, which is driven to provide high quality products and services that make a positive difference in the lives of its constituents, which are, in prioritized order: its readers, customers/advertisers, communities, associates (employees) and its shareholders.”
Other Adams family enterprises include outdoor advertising, radio, wine, and Camping World/Good Sam.
Dirks, Van Essen & Murray, a media merger and acquisition firm based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, represented the Knox family in the W.D. Hoard & Sons Company transaction and the Clifford family in the separate Watertown Daily Times transaction.
Terms of the transactions were not disclosed.