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Crain Communications, Inc.

Crain Communications, Inc.

740 North Rush Street
Chicago, Illinois 60611-2590
U.S.A.
Telephone: (312) 649-5200
Fax: (312) 280-3179
Web site: http://www.crain.com

Private Company
Incorporated:
1916 as Grain Publishing Company
Employees: 900
Sales: $240 million (1998)
NAIC: 51112 Periodical Publishers

Crain Communications Inc. is an anomaly in the business worlda solid, innovative media conglomerate run with the values of a neighborhood grocery. This small, family operation quietly yet rigorously carved a place for itself among the nations media titans. Rance Grain has called his familys company one of the last bastions of caring and humanity due to its progressive treatment of its employees in an era of downsizing. Grain is headquartered in Chicago, with 15 offices around the world, and publishes primarily trade periodicals, while also providing subscription, direct mail, and custom printing services. Grains roster of magazines and news weeklies includes industry heavy-hitters Advertising Age, Automotive News, Business Insurance, Electronic Media, Modern Healthcare, Pensions & Investments, Plastics News, and Grains Chicago Business. Rounding out Grains holdings are two 100,000-watt Florida Keys radio stations and new ventures into electronic media, such as the highly successful AdAge.com.

Freelance Origins

Gustavus Dedman Grain, Jr. (known as G.D.) was born in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, in 1885, the second of three boys. Raised in Louisville, G.D. delivered newspapers as a boy. After serving as editor of his high school newspaper, he accepted a scholarship to Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, graduating in three years with a masters degree in English. Returning to Louisville, he signed on as a staff reporter with the Times, developing a powerful instinct for breaking news and frequently scooping his rivals, the Herald and Courier-Journal While writing for the Times, G.D. augmented his income by freelancing for dozens of business papers. Quitting the Times, G.D. Grain hired a small staff and started his own editorial service, churning out news and features on a daily basis. Still G.D. Grain hoped to achieve more, to receive the copy, edit it, and actually publish it.

In 1916, 31-year-old Grain put his experience to the test and founded two specialized periodicals, Hospital Management (HM) and Class. Later that year Grain moved the company, his wife Ailiene, and daughters Jane and Mary to Chicago, a burgeoning hub of the business world. Setting up shop at 608 South Dearborn Street, in what became known as Printers Row, Grain founded Grain Publishing Company, which revolved around a simple premise: give readers what they wantfactual, fairly-reported news written and edited in a professional mannerand theyd keep coming back. G.D. Grains unbridled enthusiasm and energy became the cornerstone of Grain Publishing Company and its eventual successor, Crain Communications, Inc., while setting the course for a decades-long career in publishing.

Crains first endeavor, the 36-page, seven-by-ten-inch Hospital Management, debuted in February 1916. Directed toward medical administrators, managers and decision-makers, HM covered the ever-expanding hospital field, competing with a St. Louis-based magazine called Modern Hospital. G.D. Grains second venture, the smaller-formatted, 32-page Class was a business-to-business digest covering the industrial advertising and sales field. It was also a convenient way to advertise its sibling publication, HM. To devote himself to selling ads and editing copy for Class, Grain hired sportswriter Matthew Foley as editor of HM. In 1919, Grains older brother Kenneth Grain relocated to Chicago and soon became HM s general manager. By 1922, Grain Publishing was thriving. Yet the year also brought two disparate occurrences with long-reaching consequences: the first was the tragic death of Grains wife, Ailiene, leaving his young daughters motherless; the second, the auspicious appearance of a young man named Sidney R. Bernstein. Under Foleys tutelage, Bernstein was given his first writing opportunity and was named HM s assistant editor, one of many titles he would hold over the next 71 years.

A New Ad Age in 1930

In 1927, Class (revamped in the early 1920s as Class & Industrial Advertising} was now called Class & Industrial Marketing and grew from pocket-sized to a more accepted 8.5-by-11inches. Also during this time, G.D. Grain, longtime friend Keith Evans, and other colleagues helped create the National Industrial Advertisers Association to address the collective and individual problems of industrial advertisers and marketers. In the months before Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929, G.D. Grain finalized details for a news weekly called Advertising Age. On January 11, 1930, without knowing the full extent of the nations financial quandary, he published the premiere issue of Ad Age, promoted as the national newspaper of advertising. With no advance notice, 10,000 copies of the 12-page edition appeared on the desks of professionals selected from the Standard Advertising Register. Its premise was to print all news related to advertising and marketing and, moreover, to cover what the industrys bible, Printers Ink, deemed unimportant. Many thought Grain made a crucial mistake with the precipitous launch of Ad Age; not only was Printers Ink a well-established and respected business periodical, but the risks were phenomenal. However, G.D. Grains passion would not be quelled, and years later he admitted he probably would have gone ahead with Ad Age despite even the worst financial forecasts. (His risks paid off handsomely--Printers Ink folded in 1967 and Ad Age has been considered the publication of record for decades.) In the lean years of the Depression, the previously healthy Class and HM suffered losses and wavered in red ink. To the credit of Ellen Krebby, who was hired in 1921 to handle the office and accounting, Grain never realized the tenuity of the companys financial status. In 1933, rather than sacrifice Class altogether, it became a special section of Ad Age until ad sales and circulation could recover.

Ad Age was not profitable until 1934, four years after its birth. In the interim, Sid Bernstein was named assistant to the publisher in October 1931, and Ad Age grew to average 16 pages with a circulation of 9,000, an increase of nearly 1,400 over the previous year. G.D. Grains younger brother, Murray Grain, became Ad Ages managing editor, and the three brothers made Grain Publishing Company a family affair. In January 1935, tragedy struck when Matt Foley suffered a heart attack and died at the age of 44. Unable or unwilling to run HM without Foleys guidance and verve, Grain sold it. Oddly enough, HM would eventually return to Grain after its buyers neared bankruptcy. Though the medical magazine would be sold again in 1952, the company would once again delve into the medical field by purchasing Modern Healthcare from McGraw-Hill in 1976.

In June 1935, Class reemerged from Ad Age as Industrial Marketing, then underwent its final name change to Business Marketing in 1936, its 20th anniversary. Amidst a flurry of retail and advertising agency growth in the area, Grain relocated north to 100 East Ohio Street. This year was also pivotal for G.D. Grain personally: while meeting with a sales executive of the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) in New York City, he met a 25-year-old woman named Gertrude Ramsay, a secretary at NBCs offices in Rockefeller Center. After a whirlwind courtship, the two married, and Gertrude was whisked off to Chicago. The company, meanwhile, known as Advertising Publications, Inc., opened an office in Washington, D.C. in 1939, and Grain relinquished his status as Ad Age editor-in-chief by appointing Bernstein (then director of research and promotion) to editor, while moving managing editor Irwin Robinson to New York full-time in 1940. As the United States became embroiled in World War II, Grain declared, There are many essential services which advertising is called upon to perform in wartime, and set about fulfilling this obligation. On the homefront, Gertrude had given birth to sons Rance (1938) and Keith (1941).

In 1943, Advertising Publications implemented an unheard of conceptan employee profit-sharing planfully funded by the company and the first of many employee benefits programs. When World War II ended, Grain and Bernstein rethought priorities in preparation for a postwar society. In a January 7, 1946 editorial, Bernstein announced Advertising has emerged from the war with a new stature, new tasks and new duties. It will never again be confined only to the sale of goods and services. This year also marked Ad Ages foray into agency profiles, breaking the industrys silence on billings. The 1950s brought the addition of a features section and the launch of the yearly 100 Leading National Advertisers poll; by the end of the decade, circulation hit 48,400 with the purchase of rival Advertising Agency. Once more outgrowing its premises, Advertising Publication moved into a remodeled warehouse at 200 East Illinois Street, its home until April 1962 when operations moved to 740 North Rush Street.

New Endeavors in the 1960s-70s

New developments in the 1960s included the debut of Advertising Requirements (later Advertising & Sales Promotion then Promotion before merging into Ad Age and shutting down in May 1974), and what many termed a changing of the guard in 1964. Nearing 80, G.D. Grain stepped down as publisher of Ad Age, a post he had held for 34 years, naming Bernstein president and publisher while assuming the newly-created position of chairperson. The next several years marked both growth and loss: a publication for college students, Marketing Insights, would fail after a few semesters, but Business Insurance, first published in October 1967, and the acquisition of American Drycleaner, American Laundry Digest, American Co-Op and American Clean Car substantially increased the companys holdings. To better represent its diversity, Advertising Publications became Crain Communications Inc. and created an American Trade Magazines subsidiary with offices at 500 North Dearborn Street, in Chicago.

Company Perspectives:

Crain Communications is primarily a publisher of business, trade and consumer newspapers and magazines. With over 900 employees in offices around the world, we provide vital, informative publications for industry leaders and consumers and are the authoritative source for business and trade. Crain Communications where the readers came first, from the first day.

As Rance and Keith Grain grew up, curiosity in the family business gave way to genuine interest. Generally considered opposites, Rance and Keith familiarized themselves with Grain Communications through years of Saturday office visits and nightly dinner conversations with their parents. Yet as Rance and Keith chose their divergent paths up the corporate ladder, each faced the daunting task of proving himself to be more than the bosss son. After studying at DePauw University in Indiana for two years (he later received an honorary degree in 1987), Rance Grain attended Northwestern University to study journalism, becoming sports editor of the Daily Northwestern. His tenure at Grain began as a cub reporter for the New York and Washington, D.C. bureaus of Ad Age, where his peers gave him little support and less chance of succeeding. However, Rance Grain persevered, doggedly tracking stories and proving both his mettle and writing skills. His management expertise and sagacity would prove paramount to the success of his greatest personal triumph, Crams Chicago Business, as well as the continued prosperity of Ad Age. Ad Age would have been bland and faceless had Rance not been there, commented Niles Howard, a former Ad Age reporter. Lou DeMarco, a former vice-president and retired Ad Age publisher, concurred: Rances enthusiasm is limitless; you cant satisfy his hunger for new ideas.

In 1978, Rance Grain channeled his energy in a new direction. After meeting Bob Gray, publisher of the Houston Business Journal, he decided a business weekly about the Chicago area would be twice as successful as the Houston endeavor. Marking the first public use of the Grain family name, Grains Chicago Business seemed blessed by fate; the Chicago Daily News was going under, and several staffers including Dan Miller, Sandy Presman, and Joe Cappo jumped ship to the new Grain publication. The rest, as they say, is historythough not a smooth one. Just as Rance Grains drive and enthusiasm pushed Ad Age and Grains Chicago Business to the forefront, there were misfires as well. Neither Thursday (a jazzy, mid-week edition of Ad Age), The Collector-Investor nor Grains Illinois Business generated sufficient interest, and Grains New York Business faced an uphill battle after its founding in 1985. Yet Rance Grain stated unequivocally that hed never give up on Grains New York Business, believing it would someday be to the New York area what Grains Chicago was to the Midwest.

As Rance Grains newshound instincts had propelled his career, so Keith Grains abiding interest in cars was the back bone of his own career. A car enthusiast since his teens, Keith Grain attended Northwestern University then sold ads and worked on a variety of Grain publications before heading to the companys offices in Detroit to indulge his passion. In 1970, on Keith Grains behalf, Bernstein bid on the downtrodden Auto-motive News (AN), a 46-year-old weekly tabloid based in Detroit. Keith Grain was not only familiar with the internal workings of cars, but soon demonstrated an innate sense of how a trade magazine about vehicles should be written, edited, and marketed. Publisher of AN at the age of 30, the often brash, always pertinacious Keith Grain won over Detroits plutocracy and solidified a place among them. Keiths first AN issue came out on June 7, 1971; within six months, it was breaking even and eventually secured a 100 percent paid circulation. As the Detroit office boomed, Keith purchased Akron-based Rubber & Plastics News in 1976, stipulating that editor and publisher Ernie Zielasko and Lowell (Chris) Chrisman, vice-president of sales, come along. Rubber & Plastics Newss first issue under the Crain Communications banner appeared in April, signifying an important venture into the Akron/Cleveland area.

In 1977, Keith Grain led the company into virgin territory with the purchase of AutoWeek, Grains first consumer periodical in 61 years of publishing. Overhauling the tabloid into a glossy magazine, management saw AutoWeeks circulation soar from 25,000 to nearly 280,000. Zielasko and Chrisman, the dynamic duo of Rubber & Plastics News, were also the driving force behind the formation of Grains Cleveland Business in 1980, which overtook its competition, the Northern Ohio Business Journal, to become the areas definitive news weekly. In May 1981, Keith Grain was named vice-chairman, overseeing Crain Communications daily activities with Rance Grain. Taking over Keiths former duties as secretary-treasurer were his wife, Mary Kay Grain, as treasurer, and Rances wife, Merilee Grain, as company secretary (both women, along with Gertrude, Rance, and Keith made up Grains board of directors).

Gertrude Grain began her own pivotal role in the company when the boys were in high school. A graduate of secretarial school in Manhattan, Gertrudes business interests were put aside to raise her sons. Beginning part-time and progressing to full-time, Gertrude Grain mastered a myriad of tasks that included representing the company at conventions worldwide, overseeing the companys extensive benefits program, monitoring expense accounts, scouring accounts payable invoices, and even signing checks. As the 1970s progressed, Gertrude, Rance, and Keith confidently plied their trades, and Crain Communications hit several milestones. G.D. Grains pet project, Ad Age, commemorated its 40th anniversary and reached a circulation of 65,000, while the Grain think-tank developed Pensions & Investments in July 1973.

Key Dates:

1916:
G.D. Grain begins publishing Hospital Management.
1930:
Advertising Age debuts.
1943:
Company initiates employee profit-sharing plan.
1973:
Gertrude Grain becomes chairman following her husbands death.
1977:
Grain buys its first consumer magazine, AutoWeek.
1978:
Grains Chicago Business launched as the companys first local business journal.
1996:
Gertrude Grain retires in May, and dies two months later.
1998:
AdAge.com garners $1 million in annual advertising revenues.

On November 7, 1973, G.D. Grain was felled by a stroke. Though he recovered temporarily, the ebullient patriarch died December 15th at the age of 88. The loss did not send the company into a tailspin, however. In January, Gertrude Grain became chairman of the board; Keith Grain assumed her former duties as secretary-treasurer; Bernstein was named chairman of the executive committee; and Rance Grain became president. Though Gertrude Grain often downplayed her role at the company, under her influence the company more than quadrupled its number of publications, generating revenues of $160 million in 1993, a steep climb from 1974s modest $10 million.

In October 1975, G.D. Crain was posthumously inducted into the American Advertising Federations Hall of Fame. Four-teen years later, Sid Bernstein, known in the industry as Mr. Advertising, was finally given his due as well, inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame on March 28, 1989. Gertrude Crain, meanwhile, was busy too: in 1986, at age 75, she rode shotgun with NASCAR racer Tim Richmond, hitting 185 mph; for her 77th birthday, she went parasailing in Key Largo. She was recognized not only for her spirit of adventure, but for her professional accomplishments as well. In 1987, she was inducted into Working Womans Hall of Fame; named Chicagoan of the Year by the Boys and Girls Club of Chicago; and selected as one of the Top 60 Women Business Owners by Savvy magazine. In 1988, she received Mundelein Colleges Magnificat medal. In 1992, she was inducted into the Junior Achievement Chicago Business Hall of Fame, and in 1993, she was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the Magazine Publishers of America. Gertrude Crain also served on the board of directors for several organizations, including the International Advertising Association, the National Press Foundation, and the Advertising Council of New York.

Called as near a perfect example of a specialist magazine as is possible to produce by British journalist Eric Clark, in his book, The Want Makers, Ad Age celebrated its 60th anniversary by unveiling a spiffier look and new logo. Rance Crain, after years of commuting, finally moved east to be near Grains New York offices. On May 29, 1993, another Crain legend, 86-year-old Sid Bernstein, died. Sid Bernstein has always served as the editorial conscience of our company, Rance said in a tribute published in Ad Age shortly after Bernsteins death. The company carried on, expanding in the memory of both G.D. Crain and Bernstein. In 1994, in a joint venture with America On-Line, Crams Chicago Business and Crains Small Business were hooked up to Chicago On-Line. In the fall, Crain staffers laid the groundwork for two new publications, Franchise Buyer and Waste News, set to debut in the spring of 1995.

In the mid-1990s, with Gertrude Crain well past traditional retirement age, the industry was rife with speculation about who would take the reins of Crain when the time came. If you ask my mother about succession plans, Keith noted, shed probably wonder about how to replace Rance or me, because she plans to outlive both of us. Though Rance and Keith had taken Grains interests to new highs, some critics had found fault with the brothers unusual brand of decision-making, such as choosing ventures based on interest and convenience rather than profit. When Gertrude Crain was asked in a 1987 interview what the biggest problems facing the company were in the near future, she quipped Rance and Keith. One thing was certain: Gertrude, Rance, and Keith would always be united in perpetuating G.D. Grains vision. As Nancy Millman, who wrote a family profile for Chicago magazine in 1993, pointed out: The last time a Chicago media empire passed to two brothers with very different personalities and interests, Marshall and Ted Field ended up selling the Chicago Sun-Times to Rupert Murdocha spot of history that isnt lost on the journalists at Crain.

New Frontiers in the Late 1990s

The increasing globalization of the auto industry spurred Crain to launch Automotive News Europe in February 1996. The new sister publication to the 70-year old Automotive News was based in London. In the United States, local city magazines were receiving declining support from national advertisers, making them less viable as stand-alone publications. In the fall, Crain announced plans to incorporate Detroit Monthly as a supplement to Crains Detroit Business.

Gertrude Crain retired as chairman in May 1996. In her 22 years in the role, the companys annual sales increased from $10 million to nearly $200 million. Keith Crain attributed this success to her ability to spot and nurture talent. She was also remembered for bringing a sense of family to the company as she guided it to tremendous growth. She died on Cape Cod on July 20 at the age of 85. Her sons pledged to keep the business family-owned.

Also that year, American City Business Journals bought CityMedia, reducing the number of large players in business journals to only two. Most were locally owned by small, independent operators. American City, owned by Advance Publications and a sister company to Random House, held 34 after the acquisition, six of which had been City Medias, while Crain owned four, in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, and New York.

Keith Crain became the companys third chairman in February 1997, while Rance Crain remained president. During this time, Keith Crain was known to preach about the importance of maintaining editorial integrity on the lawless World Wide Web. Nothing else could win reader loyalty in the long run, he maintained. The companys own local web sites were sometimes criticized for simply skimming the content of the print products they represented. Still, AdAge.com billed $1 million a year in advertising revenues in the late 1990s; the timeliness of the content was a key selling point. Ad Age also sent out stories via a fax service as well as on the profitable Daily World Wire, a subscription-based service for corporate clients. The site also registered 200,000 new subscriptions a year for the print product.

Crain launched the weekly InvestmentNews in September 1997. Its audience included investment advisers, financial planners, and attorneys. Another new quarterly was Automotive Global Quarterly, the official magazine of the International Federation of Automotive Engineering Societies, which debuted the next year. Crain bought Media International from Reed Business Information in March 1999, and the London-based monthly, which had been started in 1974, was soon incorporated into Advertising Age International.

Crain grew fast in the late 1990s, prompting a series of hirings and promotions. The company fostered an entrepreneurial outlook in its editors, whom it saw as most responsible for capturing readers interest. According to one executive, the editor-as-salesperson could lead the ad sales force to a new level. As it approached a new millennium, Crain was relocating its New York offices, where it employed 200 staffers. Keith Crain told Folio that integrating the Internet into the companys traditional publishing remained its largest issue.

Principal Subsidiaries

Crain Associated Enterprises Inc.; Grain Broadcasting, Inc.; Crain Communications Europe LLC.

Principal Competitors

Advance Publications Inc. (American City Business Journals); The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.; Primedia Inc.; VNU N.V.

Further Reading

Bernstein, Sid, A Little Book of Proven Truths, Ad Age, June 8, 1992, p. 19.

Borden, Jeff, A Quiet Trailblazer Is Remembered, Crains Chicago Business, July 29, 1996, p. 1.

Crain, Rance, A Good Idea Can Take Time to Bear Fruit, Pensions & Investments, October 19, 1998, p. 52.

, If You Cant Beat Em, Join Em, Ad Age, May 25, 1992,

, Mom Knew: Treat the Staff Like Family, Ad Age, May 27, 1996.

, New Course in Adopt-A-School, Ad Age, October 27, 1986, p. 58.

, New Worlds to Conquer, Ad Age, January 21, 1991, p. 34.

, The Conscience of Our Company, AdAge, June 7, 1993, p. 22.

, The Daredevil of Publishing, Ad Age, July 19, 1993, p. 17.

, Wear-Down School Prevails, Ad Age, February, 4, 1991, p. 24.

Crain Receives Lifetime Achievement Award from Magazine Publishers, Automotive News, August 1989, p. 22.

Crain Remembered by Friends, Family, Ad Age, July 29,1996, pp. 1, 24.

Danzig, Fred, Sid Bernstein Leaves a Legacy of Ideals, Progress, Ad Age, June 7, 1993, p. 1.

, Triumphs and Failures: Six Decades of Marketings Roller Coaster Ride, Ad Age, June 18, 1990, p. 50.

Goldsborough, Robert, The Crain Adventure: The Making & Building of a Family Publishing Company, Lincolnwood, 111.: NTC Business Books, 1992.

Love, Barbara, A Stepping Stone for Editors, Folio, November 1, 1993, p. 10.

, What Are You Doing to Develop Your Editors as Entrepreneurs? Folio, Folio: Plus, July 1998, p. 9.

Millman, Nancy, Two Grains Running, Chicago, April 1993, p. 73.

The 1987 Working Woman Hall of Fame, Working Woman, November 1987, p. 107.

Silber, Tony, Business Title Targets Detroits Foreign Visitors, Folio, June 1991, p. 21.

Stell, Jennifer F. Challenges for the New Year, Folio, Outlook 2000, January 2000, p. 92.

Tannenbaum, Jeffrey, Franchise-News Junkies, Wall Street Journal, September 28, 1994, p. B2.

Wilkinson, Stephan, The Keeper (and Stoker) of the Company Flame, Working Woman, October 1987, p. 70.

Yakal, Kathy, Read (Not Quite All) About It!, Barrons, January 20, 1997, pp. 54, 56.

Taryn Benbow-Pfalzgraf

updated by Frederick C. Ingram

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Crain Communications, Inc.

Crain Communications, Inc.

740 N. Rush Street
Chicago, Illinois 60611
U.S.A.
(312) 649-5200
Fax: (312) 649-5228

Private Company
Incorporated:
1916
Employees: 1,000
Sales: $160 million
SICs: 2721 Periodicals: Publishing & Printing

Crain Communications Inc. is an anomaly in the business worlda solid, innovative media conglomerate run with the values of a neighborhood grocery. This small, family operation quietly yet rigorously carved a place for itself among the nations media titans. What was once a fledgling, two-publication company became an international empire of 1,000 employees headquartered in Chicago, with 15 offices in cities worldwide, including Denver, Detroit, London, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C., Frankfurt, and Tokyo. Publishing primarily trade periodicals, as well as providing subscription, direct mail, and custom printing services, Crains roster of 24 magazines and news weeklies includes industry heavy-hitters Advertising Age, Automotive News, Business Insurance and Crains Chicago Business. Additionally, consumer and specialized Crain publications like AutoWeek, Detroit Monthly, Euromarketing, Modern Healthcare, Rubber & Plastic News, and American Laundry Digest produce respectable revenues in a growing number of niche markets worldwide. Rounding out Crains holdings is a 100,000-watt Florida Keys radio station and new ventures into electronic media, such as on-line Crain s Chicago Business and Crains Small Business information services and one-minute local news briefs broadcast on Chicago radio and television stations.

Gustavus Dedman Crain, Jr. (known as G.D.) was born in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, in 1885, the second of three boys. Raised in Louisville, G.D. delivered newspapers as a boy. After serving as editor of his high school newspaper, G.D. accepted a scholarship to Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, graduating in three years with a masters degree in English. Returning to Louisville, he signed on as a staff reporter with the Times, developing a powerful instinct for breaking news and frequently scooping his rivals, the Herald and Courier-Journal. While writing for the Times, G.D. augmented his income by freelancing for other publications. He was soon writing, or stringing as it was called, for dozens of business papers. Quitting the Times, G.D. hired a small staff and started his own editorial service, churning out news and features on a daily basis. Yet something was still missingdespite the autonomy of running his own company and succeeding, G.D. longed to be on the other sideto receive the copy, edit it, and actually publish it. In 1916, 31-year-old G.D. put his experience to the test and founded two specialized periodicals, Hospital Management (HM) and Class. Later that year Crain moved the company, his wife Ailiene, and daughters Jane and Mary to Chicago, a burgeoning hub of the business world. Setting up shop at 608 S. Dearborn Street, in what is known as Printers Row, Crain Publishing Company revolved around a simple premise: give readers what they wantfactual, fairly-reported news written and edited in a professional mannerand theyd keep coming back. G.D.s unbridled enthusiasm and energy became the cornerstone of Crain Publishing Company and its eventual successor, Crain Communications, Inc., while setting the course for a decades-long career in publishing.

Crains first endeavor, the 36-page, 7-by-10-inch Hospital Management, debuted in February 1916. Directed to medical administrators, managers and decision-makers, HM covered the ever-expanding hospital field, competing with a St. Louis-based magazine called Modern Hospital. G.D.s second venture, the smaller-formatted, 32-page Class was a business-to-business digest covering the industrial advertising and sales field. It was also a convenient way to advertise its sibling publication, HM. To devote himself to selling ads and editing copy for Class, G.D. hired sportswriter Matthew Foley as editor of HM. In 1919, G.D.s older brother Kenneth relocated to Chicago, and soon became HMs general manager. By 1922, Crain Publishing Co. was thriving. Yet the year also brought two disparate occurrences with long-reaching consequences: the first was the tragic death of G.D.s wife, Ailiene, leaving his young daughters motherless; the second, the auspicious appearance of a young man named Sidney R. Bernstein. Under Foleys tutelage, Bernstein was given his first writing opportunity and named HM s assistant editor, one of many titles he would hold over the next 71 years.

In 1927, Class (revamped in the early 1920s to Class & Industrial Advertising) was now Class & Industrial Marketing (C&IM) and grew from pocket-sized to a more accepted 8.5-by-11 inches. G.D., longtime friend Keith Evans, and other colleagues helped create the National Industrial Advertisers Association (NIAA), to address the collective and individual problems of industrial advertisers and marketers. In the months before Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929, G.D. finalized details for a newsweekly called Advertising Age. On January 11, 1930, without knowing the full extent of the nations financial quandary, G.D. published the premiere issue of Ad Age, promoted as the national newspaper of advertising. With no advance notice, 10,000 copies of the 12-page edition appeared on the desks of professionals selected from the Standard Advertising Register. Its premise was to print all news related to advertising and marketing, and moreover, to cover what the industrys bible, Printers Ink, deemed unimportant. Many thought G.D. made a crucial mistake with the precipitous launch of Ad Age not only was Printers Ink a well-established and respected business periodical, but the risks were phenomenal. Why publish another publication about marketing anyway? Yet G.D.s passion would not be quelled, and years later he admitted he probably would have gone ahead with Ad Age despite even the worst financial forecasts (his risks paid off handsomely Printers Ink folded in 1967 and Ad Age has been considered the publication of record for decades). In the lean years of the Depression, the previously healthy Class and HM suffered losses and wavered in red ink. To the credit of Ellen Krebby, who was hired in 1921 to handle the office and accounting, G.D. never realized the tenuity of the companys financial status. In 1933, rather than sacrifice C&IM altogether, it became a special section of Ad Age until ad sales and circulation could recover.

Ad Age was not profitable until 1934, four years after its birth. In the interim, Sid Bernstein was named assistant to the publisher in October, 1931; the average number of pages grew to 16 and circulation cracked 9,000, an increase of nearly 1,400 from the previous year. G.D.s younger brother, Murray, became Ad Ages managing editor, and the three brothers made Crain Publishing Company a family affair. In January of 1935, tragedy struck when Matt Foley suffered a heart attack and died at the age of 44. Unable or unwilling to run HM without Foleys guidance and verve, G.D. sold it. Oddly enough, HM would return to Crain after its buyers neared bankruptcy. Though the medical magazine would be sold again in 1952, the company would once again delve into the medical field by purchasing Modern Healthcare from McGraw-Hill in 1976.

In June 1935, C&IM reemerged from Ad Age as Industrial Marketing, then underwent its final name change to Business Marketing (as it exists today) in 1936, its 20th anniversary. Amidst a flurry of retail and advertising agency growth in the area, Crain relocated north to 100 E. Ohio Street. This year was also pivotal for G.D. personally: while meeting with a sales executive of the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) in New York City, G.D. met a 25-year-old woman named Gertrude Ramsay, a secretary at NBCs offices in Rockefeller Center. After a whirlwind courtship, the two married and Gertrude was whisked off to Chicago. The company, meanwhile, known as Advertising Publications, Inc. (API), opened an office in Washington, D.C. in 1939, and G.D. relinquished his status as Ad Ages editor-in-chief by appointing Bernstein (then director of research and promotion) to editor and moved Managing Editor Irwin Robinson to New York full-time in 1940. As the U.S. became embroiled in World War II, G.D. declared, There are many essential services which advertising is called upon to perform in wartime, and set about fulfilling this obligation. On the homefront, Gertrude had given birth to sons Rance (1938) and Keith (1941).

In 1943, API implemented an unheard of conceptan employee profit-sharing planfully funded by the company and the first of many employee benefits programs. When World War II ended, G.D. and Sid rethought priorities in preparation for a postwar society. In a January 7, 1946 editorial, Bernstein announced Advertising has emerged from the war with a new stature, new tasks and new duties. It will never again be confined only to the sale of goods and services. This year also marked Ad Ages foray into agency profiles, breaking the industrys silence on billings. The 1950s brought the addition of a features section and the launch of the yearly 100 Leading National Advertisers poll; by the end of the decade, circulation hit 48,400 with the purchase of rival Advertising Agency. Once more outgrowing its premises, API moved into a remodeled warehouse at 200 E. Illinois Street, its home until April 1962 when operations moved to 740 N. Rush Street.

New developments in the sixties included the debut of Advertising Requirements (later Advertising & Sales Promotion then Promotion before merging into Ad Age and shutting down in May 1974), and what many termed a changing of the guard in 1964. Nearing 80, G.D. stepped down as publisher of Ad Age, a post he held for 34 years, naming Sid president and publisher while assuming the newly-created position of chairperson. The next several years marked both growth and loss: a publication for college students, Marketing Insights, would fail after a few semesters, but Business Insurance, first published in October 1967, and the acquisition of American Drycleaner, American Laundry Digest, American Co-Op and American Clean Car substantially increased the companys holdings. To better represent its diversity, API became Crain Communications Inc. (CGI) and created an American Trade Magazines subsidiary with offices at 500 N. Dearborn Street, in Chicago.

As Rance and Keith grew up, curiosity in the family business gave way to genuine interest. Generally considered opposites, Rance and Keith familiarized themselves with CCI through years of Saturday office visits and nightly dinner conversations with their parents. Yet as Rance and Keith chose their divergent paths up the corporate ladder, each faced the daunting task of proving himself to be more than the bosss son. After studying at DePauw University in Indiana for two years (he received an honorary degree in 1987), Rance attended Northwestern University to study journalism, becoming sports editor of the Daily Northwestern. His tenure at Crain began as a cub reporter for the New York and Washington, D.C. bureaus of Ad Age, where his peers gave him little support and less chance of succeeding. But Rance persevered, doggedly tracking stories and proving both his mettle and writing skills. His management expertise and sagacity would prove paramount to the success of his greatest personal triumph, Crains Chicago Business, as well as the continued prosperity of Ad Age. Ad Age would have been bland and faceless had Rance not been there, commented Niles Howard, a former Ad Age reporter. Lou DeMarco, a former v-p and retired Ad Age publisher, concurred: Rances enthusiasm is limitless; you cant satisfy his hunger for new ideas.

In 1978, Rance channeled his energy in a new direction. After meeting Bob Gray, publisher of the Houston Business Journal, he decided a business weekly about the Chicago area would be twice as successful as the Houston endeavor. Marking the first public use of the Crain family name, Crain s Chicago Business seemed kissed by fate: the Chicago Daily News was going under and several staffers including Dan Miller, Sandy Presman and Joe Cappo jumped ship to CCB. The rest, as they say, is historythough not a smooth one. Just as Rances drive and enthusiasm pushed Ad Age and CCB to the forefront, there were misfires as well. Neither Thursday (a jazzy, mid-week edition of Ad Age), The Collector-Investor nor Crains Illinois Business generated sufficient interest, and Crains New York Business has faced an uphill battle since its founding in 1985. Yet Rance has stated unequivocally that hell never give up on Crains New York, believing it will someday be to the New York area what Crains Chicago is to the Midwest.

Just as Rances newshound instincts propelled his career, Keiths abiding interest in cars was the backbone of his own. A car enthusiast since his teens, Keith attended Northwestern University then sold ads and worked on a variety of Crain publications before heading to the companys offices in Detroit to indulge his passion. In 1970, on Keiths behalf, Sid Bernstein bid on the downtrodden Automotive News (AN), a 46-year-old weekly tabloid based in Detroit. Keith was not only familiar with the internal workings of cars, but soon demonstrated an innate sense of how a trade magazine about vehicles should be written, edited and marketed. Publisher of AN at the age of 30, the often brash, always pertinacious, Keith won over Detroits plutocracy and solidified a place among them. Keiths first AN issue came out on June 7, 1971; within six months, it was breaking even and eventually secured a 100 percent paid circulation. As the Detroit office boomed, Keith purchased Akron-based Rubber & Plastics News (R&PN) in 1976, stipulating that editor and publisher Ernie Zielasko and Lowell (Chris) Chris-man, vice-president of sales, come along. R&PNs first issue under the CCI banner appeared in April, signifying an important venture into the Akron/Cleveland area.

In 1977, Keith led the company into virgin territory with the purchase of AutoWeek, CCIs first consumer periodical in 61 years of publishing. Overhauling the tabloid into a glossy magazine, AutoWeeks circulation soared from 25,000 to nearly 280,000. Zielasko and Chrisman, the dynamic duo of R&PN, were also the driving force behind the formation of Crains Cleveland Business in 1980, which overtook its competition, the Northern OhioBusiness Journal, to become the areas definitive newsweekly. In May 1981, Keith was named vice-chairman, overseeing CCIs daily activities with Rance. Taking over Keiths former duties as secretary-treasurer were his wife, Mary Kay as treasurer, and Rances wife, Merilee, as company secretary (both women, along with Gertrude, Rance and Keith make up CCIs board of directors).

Gertrude Crain began her own pivotal role in the company when the boys were in high school. A graduate of secretarial school in Manhattan, Gertrudes business interests were put aside to raise her sons. Beginning part-time and progressing to full-time, Gertrude mastered a myriad of tasks that included representing the company at conventions worldwide, overseeing CCIs extensive benefits program, monitoring expense accounts, scouring accounts payable invoices, even signing checks. As the 1970s progressed, Gertrude, Rance and Keith confidently plied their trades and CCI hit several milestones. G.D.s baby, Ad Age, commemorated its 40th anniversary and reached a circulation of 65,000, while the Crain think-tank developed Pensions & Investments in July 1973.

On November 7, 1973, G.D. was felled by a stroke. Though he recovered temporarily, the ebullient patriarch died December 15th at the age of 88. Despite their grief and loss, however, the family did not let G.D.s death send the company into a tailspin. In January, Gertrude became chairman of the board; Keith assumed her former duties as secretary-treasurer; Sid was named chairman of the executive committee; and Rance became president. Though Mrs. Crain has often downplayed her role at CCI, under her influence the company more than quadrupled its number of publications, generating revenues of $160 million in 1993, a steep climb from 1974s modest $10 million.

In October 1975, G.D. Crain was belatedly inducted into the American Advertising Federations Hall of Fame. Fourteen years later, Sid Bernstein, known in the industry as Mr. Advertising, was finally given his due as well, inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame on March 28, 1989. Gertrude, meanwhile, was busy tooin 1986, at age 75, she rode shotgun with NASCAR racer Tim Richmond, hitting 185 mph; for her 77th birthday, she went parasailing in Key Largo. Yet Mrs. Crain has been recognized not only for her spirit of adventure, but by her peers as well: in 1987, she was inducted into Working Womans Hall of Fame; named Chicagoan of the Year by the Boys and Girls Club of Chicago; and selected as one of the Top 60 Women Business Owners by Savvy magazine; in 1988, she received Mundelein Colleges Magnificat medal; in 1992, she was inducted into the Junior Achievement Chicago Business Hall of Fame; and in 1993, she was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the Magazine Publishers of America. Mrs. Crain has also served on the board of directors for several organizations, including the International Advertising Association, the National Press Foundation, and the Advertising Council of New York.

Called as near a perfect example of a specialist magazine as is possible to produce by Eric Clark, a journalist from the United Kingdom in his book, The Want Makers, Ad Age celebrated its 60th anniversary by unveiling a spiffier look and new logo. Rance, after years of commuting, finally moved east to be near CCIs New York offices. On May 29, 1993, another Crain legend, 86-year-old Sid Bernstein, died. Sid Bernstein has always served as the editorial conscience of our company, Rance said in a tribute published in Ad Age shortly after Sids death. Yet CCI carried on, expanding in the memory of both G.D. and Sid. In 1994, in a joint venture with America On-Line, Crains Chicago and Crains Small Business were hooked up to Chicago On-Line. In the fall, CCI staffers laid the groundwork for a new magazine, Franchise Buyer, set to debut with a March/April issue in 1995.

With Gertrude Crain well past traditional retirement age, the industry has been rife with speculation about who will take the reins of CCI when the time comes. If you ask my mother about succession plans, Keith has said with characteristic wit, shed probably wonder about how to replace Rance or me, because she plans to outlive both of us. Yet when Mrs. Crain does step down, will the companys atmosphere and direction be irrevocably altered? Will the joie de vivre be replaced by the pursuit of profits? Would the corporate headquarters be moved from Chicago to Detroit if Keith took over? Or to New York if Rance succeeded his mother? Though Rance and Keith have taken CCIs interests to new highs, many have openly found fault with the brothers unusual brand of decision-makinglike choosing ventures based on interest and convenience rather than profit. When Mrs. Crain was asked in a 1987 interview what the biggest problems facing CCI were in the near future, she quipped Rance and Keith.

One thing is certain: Gertrude, Rance and Keith will always be united in perpetuating G.D.s vision. Yet as Nancy Millman, who wrote a family profile for Chicago magazine in 1993, pointed out, The last time a Chicago media empire passed to two brothers with very different personalities and interests, Marshall and Ted Field ended up selling the Chicago Sun-Times to Rupert Murdocha spot of history that isnt lost on the journalists at Crain. Regardless of who succeeds Gertrude Crain and when, Crain Communications Inc. will continue to ply its trade in the quirky, unpredictable manner its detractors and admirers have come to expect.

Principal Subsidiaries

Crain Associated Enterprises, Inc., Crain News Service, Crain Subscription Services, Crains List Rental Service, Detroit Monthly Custom Printing.

Further Reading

Bernstein, Jack, PRAid to Management and Media, Ad Age, September 24, 1984, p. 20.

Bernstein, Sid, A Little Book of Proven Truths, Ad Age, June 8, 1992, p. 19.

Conklin, Michele, Rance and the Family Bible, Madison Avenue, November 1986, p. 19.

Crain Adds Detroit and N.Y. Papers, Ad Age, May 24, 1984, p. 1.

Crain Communications Inc., Ad Age, July 20, 1992, p. 39.

Crain, Rance, If You Cant Beat Em, Join Em, Ad Age, May 25, 1992, p. 28.

_____, New Course in Adopt-A-School, Ad Age, October 27, 1986, p. 58.

_____, New Worlds to Conquer, Ad Age, January 21, 1991, p. 34.

_____, The Conscience of Our Company, Ad Age, June 7, 1993, p. 22.

_____, The Daredevil of Publishing, Ad Age, July 19, 1993, p. 17.

_____, Wear-Em Down School Prevails, Ad Age, February, 4, 1991, p. 24.

Crain Receives Lifetime Achievement Award from Magazine Publishers, Automotive News, August 1989, p. 22.

Crains Franchise Buyer to Cover Burgeoning Industry, Ad Age, August 1, 1994, p. 2.

Danzig, Fred, Sid Bernstein Leaves a Legacy of Ideals, Progress, AdAge, June 7, 1993, p. 1.

_____, Triumphs and Failures: Six Decades of Marketings Roller Coaster Ride, Ad Age, June 18, 1990, p. 50.

Goldsborough, Robert, The Crain Adventure: The Making & Building of a Family Publishing Company, Lincoln wood, 111.: NTC Business Books, 1992.

Governing Absorbs City & State, Ad Age, January 24, 1994, p. 8.

Magiera, Marcy, Two Shots A Woman Screamed, Ad Age, May 4, 1992, p. 52.

McManus, Kevin, Two Crains Running, Forbes, February 27, 1984, pp. 9496.

Media Moves: Crain Communications Inc., Ad Age, November 11, 1993, p. 53.

Millman, Nancy, Two Crains Running, Chicago Magazine, April 1993, p. 73.

The 1987 Working Woman Hall of Fame, Working Woman, November 1987, p. 107. Sanderfoot, Alan E.,

Business Press Attacks Sequential Liability, Folio, January 1992, p. 30.

Silber, Tony, Business Title Targets Detroits Foreign Visitors, Folio, June 1991, p. 21.

Tannenbaum, Jeffrey, Franchise-News Junkies, Wall Street Journal, September 28, 1994, p. B2.

Wilkinson, Stephan, The Keeper (and Stoker) of the Company Flame, Working Woman, October 1987, p. 70.

Taryn Benbow-Pfalzgraf

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"Crain Communications, Inc.." International Directory of Company Histories. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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