Crain Communications Changes Family Ownership Structure

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Rance Crain (left) and Keith Crain.
Rance Crain (left) and Keith Crain. Credit: Crain Communications

Crain Communications, the parent company of brands including Advertising Age and Crain's Detroit Business, has changed its ownership structure with the buyout of longtime President Rance Crain and his family.

Crain Communications acquired Rance Crain's 50% stake in the company, giving Chairman Keith Crain, along with his wife, sons and daughter, full control of the Detroit-based publishing company.

Keith Crain and Rance Crain are brothers and the sons of founder G.D. Crain Jr.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

As part of the buyout, Rance Crain will step down as president, editorial director and member of the board of directors. Rance Crain's daughter, Cindi Crain, also relinquishes her position on the board, the company said in an internal email.

"My mom and dad worked right up to the end of their lives at the company, and at 78 I want to explore new opportunities," Rance Crain said in an email. "I am designating myself the family historian, and I am looking forward to exploring our legacy and the fascinating people who shaped it. I leave the company in good hands, and I wish Keith and his family continued success and prosperity."

KC Crain.
KC Crain. Credit: Crain Communications

Following the deal, Keith Crain's sons were promoted. KC Crain now serves as the company's president and chief operating officer, promoted from executive VP-director of corporate operations. Chris Crain is now senior executive VP, promoted from executive vice president and director of strategic operations.

Rance Crain had been with the company since 1960 after earning a journalism degree from Northwestern University. He first served as a reporter for the Washington, D.C., bureau of Ad Age. He also worked in the New York and Chicago offices, promoted to senior editor and then editor-in-chief of the magazine before becoming the first editor of Business Insurance.

Rance Crain became editorial director of the Crain Communications in 1971, adding president to his title in 1973. He created several Crain publications, including Pensions & Investments, Crain's Chicago Business, Investment News, Crain's New York Business and Electronic Media.

He also owned a handful of publications independent of Crain Communications, including Golfweek magazine, which he sold to Gannett Co. Inc. last October.

Rance Crain is member of the Advertising Hall of Fame and Direct Marketing Hall of Fame. He has served on the Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism board of advisers for 30 years. He's also a former board member of Davenport, Iowa-based Lee Enterprises Inc.

Crain Communications ranked 71st in Crain's Detroit Business' list of Southeast Michigan's largest private companies with revenue of $221 million in 2016, down 3.5 percent from $229 million in 2015. The company employs approximately 650 worldwide.

"The ownership change retains the company's privately held, family-owned structure," Keith Crain said in a statement. "Now in the third generation of family leadership, we look forward to continuing our legacy of producing relevant and trusted content for our audiences of business and industry leadership."

Dustin Walsh is a senior reporter at Crain's Detroit Business.

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