The Grand Rapids Business Journal now is the first business newspaper in Hour Media Group’s portfolio.
The Troy-based media company owned by John Balardo and Stefan Wanczyk announced Sept. 4 it purchased Gemini Publications — which owns the Business Journal, Grand Rapids Magazine and Michigan Blue — from founder, CEO and Publisher John Zwarensteyn, who will explore other opportunities.
The company now is called Gemini Media and will operate as a subsidiary of Hour Media.
Following the acquisition, the Business Journal became the first business newspaper in Hour Media’s portfolio — although it also owns DBusiness Magazine, a bimonthly general-interest business magazine that covers metro Detroit.
Balardo, who has known Zwarensteyn for almost 30 years through the Alliance of Area Business Publishers (AABP) and the City and Regional Magazine Association (CRMA), is Gemini Media’s new president.
“I’ve known (Zwarensteyn) for a long time and have always respected what he’s done, how he’s built this business and his editorial integrity,” Balardo said. “We share that same appreciation for content.”
Hour Media’s “entrée” into business news publishing via the Business Journal affords the owners a “great opportunity,” Balardo added.
“Grand Rapids is a great growing town with all kinds of upside potential,” he said. “We feel on our media platform, we can help actualize the potential pretty quickly.”
He said the acquisition of the Business Journal signals an “opening and expanding” for Hour Media and likely will open the door to new opportunities.
Hour Media and its related entities are multimedia companies that publish and produce more than 130 magazines and custom titles, 37 consumer websites, and 65 shows and events throughout the U.S.
The company, founded in 1996, began its first of 13 acquisitions in 2000. Before the Business Journal, it recently acquired Gulf Shores, Alabama-based Compass Media, a digital marketing and print publishing outfit.
Balardo said Hour Media plans to grow the Business Journal as part of the Gemini Media brand.
“I don’t look at it as ‘it’s going to fit in’ (with our portfolio),” he said. “It’s more a part of Gemini, and it’s how Gemini fits in. I’m not looking at the Business Journal as separate. We’re here to build the Gemini platform, and GRBJ is part of that platform.”
He said readers can expect to see the same “journalistic integrity and independence” that have characterized the Business Journal since it was established 35 years ago this month.
“We’re not changing anything editorially; we leave that up to our local editorial team,” he said. “We don’t want to come in and dictate. … It’s about growth initiatives for the platform in general.”
Balardo said his first impressions of Gemini since kickstarting the acquisition process several months ago is that the staff cares deeply about the company.
“We have a very engaged and positive attitude among the staff, and we’re excited to build on that,” he said.