The Next CEOs

By Gillis, Cindy; Gonser, Sarah | Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management, May 2001 | Go to article overview

The Next CEOs


Gillis, Cindy, Gonser, Sarah, Folio: the Magazine for Magazine Management


As publishing media companies navigate the digital age, diversify their businesses and combat the first serious ad slump in a decade, visionary leadership is more critical than ever. Which executives have the experience, people skills and charisma needed to take the chief executive office? In the following pages, we've profiled 15 of the industry's most promising prospects.

FRANK ANTON

PRESIDENT, HANLEY-WOOD LIC Frank Anton combines, market knowledge, a personable demeanor and impatience with the status quo to drive his company's growth and revenue, colleagues say.

"Frank has a terrific sense for the bottom line and is very focused on how to build business and take it to the next level," says Jeffrey Stevenson, a Veronis, Suhler & Associates partner and president of the VS&A investment fund that acquired Hanley-Wood in 1999.

Anton, with Hanley-Wood for 20 years and its president for seven, oversees the management of the fast-growing company's five operating divisions: magazines, ebuild, custom publishing, exhibitions and home planners. Those who know Anton, 51, describe him as a strong leader who pushes his employees without alienating them.

Under Anton's guidance, H-W revenue increased from $25 million in 1994 to $125 million last year, says Hanley-Wood CEO Michael M. Wood. Telling one of his favorite Frank Anton stories, Wood recalls the time Anton--while publisher of Builder-decided he refused to be number two in the market. Anton gathered his staff for three days of idea-generating meetings that recast the magazine's sales, editorial and design. Within six months, Builder was the category's circulation and ad-page leader, Wood says.

THE CHALLENGE: The industry closely associates Anton with a growing but relatively small media company focused on the limited markets of residential and commercial construction.

STEPHEN COLVIN

PRESIDENT, DENNIS PUBLISHING USA Dennis Publishing USA's phenomenal track record goes a long way toward making the case that Stephen Colvin, 38, is CEO material. "Felix Dennis gave him the financial backing," says one corporate recruiter. "But Colvin built that business."

Responsible for the launch of Maxim and Stuff in the United States, Colvin shook up the men's category, proving that the imported beer-and-babes formula was just what American men were looking for in a magazine. Maxim has soared from an initial 175,000 distribution four years ago to a 2.25 million ratebase in the first half of 2001. Stuff, geared toward a slightly younger demographic, started with a 275,000 distribution, moved to an 850,000 ratebase in the first half 2001, and plans to boost that to one million in the second half of the year. The Maxim franchise now includes a Web site, a radio segment, a book unit and a 300,000-circulation biannual magazine called Maxim Fashion.

This year, when the slumping economy has many other publishers shelving any start-up plans, Colvin is building the Dennis Publishing USA portfolio with the launch of a general-interest music magazine called Blender, which will publish quarterly, and a newsweekly called The Week.

Prior to building Dennis USA, Colvin was publishing director of Dennis UK, where he launched three magazines, including PC Pro, a competitor with PC Magazine.

THE CHALLENGE: While he is widely recognized for Dennis Publishing's success in the United States, he hasn't yet demonstrated that he can manage a company through hard times. "Anyone can sell a magazine and be a great success when a magazine's circulation is rising 50 percent every ABC period," says one industry executive. "When you're mature, you're there, you're big and established--that's when you have to show what you can do."

ALEXANDER S. DEBARR

EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, ADVANSTAR COMMUNICATIONS Alexander DeBarr is a deal-maker whose ability to juggle multiple projects, motivate staff and integrate acquisitions makes him a prime candidate for the top spot at a b-to-b media company. …

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