CCI Media carving a niche

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Prior to the economic meltdown in late 2008, the woodworking market in b-to-b media was pretty sturdy, said Tim Fixmer, president-CEO of CCI Media, who has operated in woodworking-related media markets for nearly 30 years. However, the recession led to some paring in the marketplace. In 2009, Cygnus Business Media closed Wood Digest, and Randall-Reilly Publishing shuttered Modern Woodworking. “A lot has changed in the market in the last three years, but what has not changed is the reader's need for information,” said Fixmer, who was president of Stamats Business Media before forming CCI Media last August. “There's a lot of pent-up demand.” Fixmer is betting he can tap into that demand, starting with the acquisition of the CabinetMakerFDM Woodworking division from Watt Publishing Co. The deal, announced in February, included the monthly CabinetMakerFDM (42,000 circ.), a website, weekly email newsletter and a virtual event. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The acquisition was the first for CCI Media, and Fixmer said he is seeking other b-to-b media properties in the $10 million-to-$150 million range to grow his portfolio. “There are advertisers in the woodworking industry who are still in the business [but] have dialed way back and are barely scraping by and waiting for the economy to turn,” Fixmer said. “Our intent is to get out there and ferret out the little morsels of business that are available today and help those advertisers find the buyers.” Fixmer has expanded the unit's Woodworking Business E-Vent from an annual frequency to semi-annual, and intends to bump up the circulation of the print version of CabinetMakerFDM. He's also aiming for organic growth. In March, CCI Media rolled out a subscription-based database product, WoodPoint, which is accessible from smartphones. It also plans to launch two email newsletters—one this month and the other in June. Greg Watt, president-COO of Watt Publishing, said the divestiture of the company's woodworking assets will enable it to focus on its agribusiness and petfoods portfolios. “We want to go broader and deeper in those markets where we maintain a dominant global brand position,” Watt said. He added that the company is now considering other acquisitions that can dovetail with existing properties, but he would not elaborate. Watt's brands include Feed Management, Petfood Industry and Watt PoultryUSA. “You're seeing some people doing the buying who are in smaller groups and are much more entrepreneurial,” said Tom O'Connor, managing director of media investment bank Berkery Noyes. “These are buyers who really have their pulse on their market and can take a very niche approach. They'll make small, tactical acquisitions, not from diversified markets.”
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