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Jan. 21, 2008 – New name equals same principles, stronger commitment

January 21, 2008
Filed under Columns

You might have already heard Powersports Business, as well as all of our consumer powersports publications serving the motorcycle, ATV, snowmobile and PWC markets, are now part of Affinity Media, a new division created as part of a re-branding effort by our parent company Affinity Group Inc.
Beyond the fact that we’re busy changing lobby signs, stationary, business cards, trade booth graphics, etc. from Ehlert Publishing Group to Affinity Media, you might wonder what the change means? And, more specifically, what it means to the long-standing partnership many of you have enjoyed with Ehlert Publishing Group? I’ll get to that answer, but lets take a stroll down memory lane first.
When I joined this company in 1980 as a wet-behind-the-ears associate editor, it was called Winter Sports Publishing Inc. We had one publication, Snowmobile Magazine. The small staff, located in downtown Milwaukee, Wis., quickly earned a reputation within the snowmobile market as hard working and trustworthy. Founder and then-president John Ehlert built this small publishing company on two main principles: editorial integrity and building strong relationships within the industry.
Several years later, after moving the company to Minneapolis, and acquiring or launching several additional publications, the name was changed to Ehlert Publishing Group. Through the latter part of the 1980s and the 1990s, the company grew through a strategy of developing niche publications and ancillary media products, both consumer and trade, in the powersports and boating markets. This growth included the acquisition of Snow Goer, the launch of ATV Magazine and ATV Sport along with merging several trade publications into Powersports Business. The key to Ehlert’s strategy was to develop deep relationships within the marketplace, to provide timely and accurate editorial and to truly focus on helping advertisers grow their business.
In 1996, John Ehlert sold his company, which by then was the leading trade and consumer publisher in the snowmobile, PWC and ATV markets, to Affinity Group Inc. of Ventura, Calif. After much initial consternation about what the sale would mean to employees, readers and advertising partners alike, it turned out this was a match (sorry for an overused cliché) made in heaven. Affinity Group Inc. is the leading media, club and member services company serving the RV market. And they got there by employing the same principles John Ehlert used in 1980: integrity and building strong relationships. Since the acquisition 11 years ago, Affinity has provided the resources and the encouragement to grow our business. And we’ve done just that by expanding into the motorcycle market (Rider, American Rider, Thunder Press) and the boating market (Boating Industry, Trailer Boats, Powerboat, Bass & Walleye Boats, Purely Pontoons).
So after 27 years of doing business as Winter Sports Publishing and Ehlert Publishing Group, what does this name change to Affinity Media really mean, and why is it important to you?
I’m convinced this change will make us an even stronger business partner in helping you reach your goals. The name has changed, but our values and principles remain firmly intact. By unifying Affinity’s many diverse outdoor recreation businesses, we can help you build deeper relationships with your customers and provide you with improved access to the multiple channels and touch points that Affinity has with passionate, outdoor recreation consumers. Affinity Media is now the largest provider of RV, powersports and boating media with more than 40 niche magazines and directories, 52 complementary Web sites, targeted events, customer-focused financial services and clubs. These combined media assets result in a consumer database of some 6 million outdoor recreation enthusiasts.
The vision for Affinity Media is simple: Strive to be America’s champion for fun, freedom and adventure of recreation in motion. As a company with a single focus and mission, we can now help you reach customers and create business opportunities in our niche markets better than ever. That is our commitment to you.
Dick Hendricks is vice president of Affinity Media. He can be reached at dhendricks@ehlertpublishing.com psb

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