The founder’s wise advice — “Hire good people, treat them as partners,and let them grow” — has been the practice since the beginning. Those are the words of Elmo Smith, who in 1933 borrowed $25 to start a newspaper in Eastern Oregon, which is where the history of Eagle Newspapers began.
The publisher/manager and the employees at each site have the benefits of a large company, but operate in an environment of a small company doing what is best—and works for that business and that community. Corporate control is lean—on purpose—and is mainly restricted to bookkeeping, technology, human resources and capital investments.
From the board of directors to the youngster on the bicycle delivering the newspaper, the extended family of managers, employees and contract workers has been instrumental in the family company’s success.
Recognizing this, Eagle allocates 50 cents of every dollar in sales to employees in wages and benefits. “And those benefits are top of the line,”says Eagle president Tom Lanctot. “Eagle’s self- funded medical insurance has been an excellent health care program and we are proud to have been fortunate to remain self-funded. We believe it has served our employees well for over 20 years.” Eagle also offers a 401k Salary Plus Savings Plan for employees to plan for their retirement. Eagle profits also continue to be invested in the equipment employees need to do their jobs and safe, pleasant workplaces.
Eagle invests, too, in the communities we serve. Among past grants are major donations toward construction of Newberg’s community hospital and extensive remodeling of Hood River’s public library and Sunnyside Community Hospital. Under the leadership of publishers and managers,Eagle has contributed to many programs in all our communities to help make each a better place to live and work.
Board of Directors
The family corporation’s extended family includes a working board of directors. Non-family board members are or have been managers at one or more of the sites. Each board members is assigned responsibility for shepherding two or more site managers, developing monthly written reports for the full board. These communication and business links have proved invaluable as an efficient way to monitor activities—a corporate “umbrella” that is vigilant, but not obtrusive.
Many board members also serve on a committee that monitors company-wide activities such as finance, programs, new products and promotions, the 401(k)plan and advertising.
In 2006 when ENI received an Austin Family Business Award of Excellence, the judges wrote they “were impressed with the decentralized nature of the company, the independence given to and faith in site managers, and a working board that works.”
The 2011-12 Board of Directors:
Denny Smith Chairman of the board
Tom Lanctot president and chief operating officer
Nancy Adams publisher, Polk County Itemizer-Observer
Tony Ahern publisher, Madras Pioneer
Bill Cassel vice president, publisher, Canby Herald
Mike Connor general manager, Eagle Web Press
Andy McNab publisher, Idaho County Free Press
Joe Petshow publisher, Hood River News
Marilyn Roth publisher, The Dalles Chronicle
Jim Smith Central Oregonian, past president/retired
Maggie Smith Hemmer