2007 Top Innovators: Robert Brai, Production director, Northstar Travel Media

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Robert Brai Division: Production/Small
Title: Production Director
Company: Northstar Travel Media
Comment: Brai spearheaded a paper-buying co-operative to help small publishers gain negotiating leverage and is at the forefront of the recycled-paper movement.

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When you work for a smaller publishing company, you can sometimes have difficulty getting people to take your calls at your paper mill or printer, but when you represent 15 companies that use up to 10,000 tons of paper annually, you've got some leverage.

Robert Brai, production director for Northstar Travel Media, was instrumental in creating the Integrated Media Cooperative, which has provided that leverage to smaller publishers.

"That amount of tonnage is a threshold that gets the mills' attention," Brai said. "It's definitely provided a cost savings for us and the other companies involved."

The IMC has signed deals with paper mills, printers and telemarketers. It also provides a forum for sharing best practices.

More recently, Brai has been promoting recycled paper, which Northstar's Meetings & Conventions uses. "You want to be the good guy on the block," he said, "and you want advertisers to feel good about being in your pages."

Northstar is currently looking into recycled paper for its other publications, which include Travel Weekly and Travel Age West.

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