Sun Advocate owner receives national award
William (Bill) Brehm, Sr., has been named this years Dean Lesher Award recipient by the Suburban Newspapers of America. Brehm, Sr., has been active in the publishing industry for more than 60 years and at one time served on the SNA Board of Directors. In 1984, Brehm, Sr., presented the Dean Lesher award to Ralph Markham of the Antelope Valley Newspapers (California). Twenty seven years later, he was presented with this distinguished honor in Phoenix, Ariz. on Sept. 15.
Brehm, Sr., began his career at the Industrial Post in Bell, Calif. (near Los Angeles) in 1946 and became president several years later. He also was president of the company's first newspaper (The Daily Democrat in Fort Madison, Iowa). The newspaper is still under the same ownership 90 years later as part of Brehm Communications, Inc.
Today Brehm operates more than 60 daily, weekly and semiweekly newspapers, shoppers and niche publications located in the states of California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana.
The nomination packet included letters from many of Brehm's senior executives.
"The nomination was impressive, inspiring and special," said Nancy Lane, president of SNA. "We had a very competitive field for this year's Lesher award but the packet that was submitted by the Brehm organization made the decision easy. Brehm Sr.'s contributions to his company, the industry and the communities that he has served are simply awesome. We are thrilled to honor him with our association's most prestigious award."
In addition to high praise on the operations side, many of the nomination letters cited the tremendous commitment to the communities served by Brehm newspapers.
Here are some examples of what was written about him.
"Rising from a printer's apprentice to the chairman of a successful family-owned group of suburban newspapers, he represents the true American example of a self-made achiever. Even today, his marketing sharp, analytical mind inspires his publishers and staff to new levels of success." Gary Blackburn, Senior Publisher, Tri-State Media.
"Bill, Sr., truly believes in letting his local publishers run their operations as if they owned them themselves. We hire, promote, purchase all products and services and are involved in many local boards and committees. Community involvement is truly a Brehm philosophy." Gary L. Milks, Publisher, Fort Madison Daily Democrat.
"Even during tough economic times, he has always insisted that his newspapers give back to the community, both in active community involvement by newspaper management as well as putting money back into the community...Bill has always had a vision that through his newspapers, he could make the communities that those newspapers serve a better place to live and work." Jerry M. Wright, Publisher, Big Bear Grizzly.
"A tough negotiator, while buying and selling over a hundred community newspapers over the years, his goal was to close the sale with both the buyer and the seller feeling that they had done a fair deal." Jeff Johnson, Controller, Brehm Communications, Inc.
Some of the narrative concerning his nomination mentioning community commitment through his newspapers also included a passage that talked about the "No grave unadorned" project that the Sun Advocate initiated and has sponsored for the last two years.
Brehm Communications purchased the Sun Advocate and Emery County Progress in 1996 after buying the Richfield Reaper in 1990. In 2007 the company also bought the Uintah Basin Standard in Roosevelt and the Vernal Express in Vernal. Together, the group known as Gull Communications, has thrived under the direction of the Brehm family and their corporate staff.
Bill, Sr. is the chairman of the board of the company, while his son Bill, Jr. is the President of the company. Bill, Jr. directly supervises the publishers in Utah and visits the papers at least one time a year.
"Bill, Sr. knows everything there is to know about newspapers," said Richard Shaw the publisher of the Sun Advocate and Emery County Progress. "I can't think of anyone in the newspaper business that I personally know that has the knowledge he does concerning community newspapers and their operations. All the publishers in the company respect him and his family greatly for the commitment they have made to our communities."