MONDAY, JUNE 18, 2012 » ENTREPRENEURIAL EXCELLENCE AWARDS » INSIDE BUSINESS » E7
Excellence Award Winner
Paul Quillin Darden OWNER AND PUBLISHER | DARDEN PUBLISHING | CHESAPEAKE
ARDEN PUBLISHING SPECIALIZES in regional magazines with four publications – Healthcare in Hampton Roads, Hampton Roads Bravo!, Living in Hampton Roads and Coastal Virginia, which are complemented with digital online publications.
The biggest obstacle I’ve overcome is competition and raising awareness about our publications.” PAUL QUILLIN DARDEN
When did you start the business and what gave you the idea for it? I started the business in 1993. Prior to that, I was a sales rep for an airline magazine called Presidential Airlines. I liked the concept of tying in advertising with editorial placement. I started the magazine Living on the Virginia Peninsula in 1993. I basically invested my entire savings account and bought the rights to the magazine from another local publisher. I did that solely for 10 years. Then I decided to change the name to Living in Hampton Roads in 2005. I got involved with the Cultural Alliance of Hampton Roads and started publishing Bravo! And in 2010, I started Healthcare in Hampton Roads. What was the hardest part of launching your company? The hardest part was getting to understand printing. The printers have a language of their own. I had no idea how to design a publication and make it cost-efficient. I had to figure out which pages would get color and so forth. What lesson did you learn that you wish you’d known back before you started? Maintaining cash flow. I went from being employed to self-employed. The hardest thing was understanding that I wasn’t going to get paid until the magazine came out. You had to build a nest to live on and be able to spread your revenue out for 12 months until you go again. How to manage cash flow was a lesson I wish I would have known before I started. What risks did you take? Working for yourself and being your own boss was a risk. I’m a sole proprietor. I have no employees and it’s an independent contract-ba-
sis business. I pull in a team based on need. There is always a risk of financial failure. You always have to rely on your own passion and knowledge of management to get things done. Once you believe that you can get it done it’s a lot easier. What was the biggest obstacle you overcame? The biggest obstacle I’ve overcome is competition and raising awareness about our publications. Another obstacle was to always make sure the publication was credible and that we were able to raise enough advertising revenue to cover expenses. What or who has helped you the most in establishing your business? The business associates and the friendships I’ve developed over my life have helped me in establishing my business. What do you consider your greatest innovation? Always thinking out of the box and coming up with creative revenue sources. How has the company grown, both in terms of employees and revenues? It’s grown by adding additional publications. I started out with one for 10 years and I’ve added the other three in the past six years. Now instead of waiting for 12 months for revenue streams, I wait three months. It’s a matter of putting out product in multiple periods of the year. Has the company earned a profit? If so, how long did it take to get there? I made a profit within two years. The first year I didn’t know how to negotiate printing. I was using one printer who charged me $6 a magazine and I found out I could be paying $1.50 a magazine.
Discuss the future plans for the company. In the future, I’m looking to stretch out my presence in other states. Right now we are looking at Florida. I intend to implant myself with business professional groups so I can get to know the business community and research the market. It’s important to figure out what is available out there and come up with a niche that will fill a vacancy.
What is your biggest challenge for the future and how do you plan to handle it? My wife is retiring after 40 years from the city of Chesapeake. I plan to relocate to Florida in a few years. The challenge for me will be to manage my presence in both Florida and Virginia while IB starting up new businesses. – Interview by Lakeshia Artis