The most dramatic part of Dennis Triola's decision to leave longtime employer Primedia Business Magazines & Media wasn't work-related. It was the change in scenery as he trades Kansas City for Los Angeles and faces buying his teenage daughter a surfboard.
For Triola, the decision to join the entrepreneurial, rapidly growing Ascend Media as president of its Allied Healthcare division is akin to moving back in with his extended family. Triola's two mentors at Primedia were Cameron Bishop, now Ascend's president-CEO, and Ron Wall, its exec VP and sales manager.
"One of the main reasons they've hired me is the familiarity and the trust factor," said Triola, a 30-year b-to-b publishing industry veteran. "But my group has been innovative in the past five years. We had really changed the way we were doing business. We weren't just talking about ad pages anymore."
During his time at Primedia, where he most recently served as group publisher, Triola was responsible for running two to six magazines at any given time, including Broadcast Engineering, T&D World and Radio. He now will oversee 15 titles, including Medical Imaging, Rehab Management, Clinical Lab Products and Sleep Review, and he has embraced the idea of working for 3-year-old Ascend.
"There are a lot of growing pains going on, but I know a lot of the people involved. It's just a matter of pulling the loose ends together," he said. "Allied has been an incredibly profitable, successful division. They've asked me to try to grow it. It's been successful, but it hasn't been growing."
The most critical issue to address, Triola said, is the books' online presence. Web products need to be beefed up with more content and, for some brands, a Web presence needs to be created. The Web sites of some of the titles currently offer only contact information.
During his tenure at Broadcast Engineering, online revenue climbed to $970,000 from $80,000 in four years, thanks to the rapid growth of e-newsletters. Meanwhile, reader impressions combined for the print and online products rose from 1.2 million to 18 million reader impressions. "Most readers after viewing an article-70% of them-go to the Web site for more information," Triola said.
He also wants to use third-party research to better learn about the individual markets, buying trends and what works and doesn't work from an advertising and editorial standpoint.
Custom media products are another opportunity that Triola plans to explore.
"Obviously our mother ship is our print products, and we'll continue to support them," he said. "You've got to take care of the mother ship or you won't have those little PT boats."
This is not the first time Triola left Primedia. He joined Intertec Publishing (which became Primedia) as a sales manager after college but left the company to work for Globecom Publishing for 10 years. His resume also includes five years at United Entertainment Media.