Al Frattura was just 21 when he started as a sales rep at his hometown newspaper, the Akron Beacon Journal. He was born in the city and studied sales and marketing at the University of Akron.
Frattura’s newspaper career has carried him far from Akron in the more than 40 years since those early days — and this month, he made yet another move. He packed his beloved golf clubs, took a plane to the Twin Cities and hopped off at the light rail line’s Government Plaza stop to become the next publisher of Finance and Commerce Inc.
“I’m a member of the team just like anyone else,” said Frattura, who started Monday. “I roll up my sleeves. I get involved. I’m not different than anyone else.”
Frattura’s move was an unexpected one. He was publisher and vice president of the Pacific Newspaper Group for Freedom Newspapers in California and wasn’t looking to leave the company. He oversaw the Daily Press in Victorville, California, the Desert Dispatch in Barstow and five weeklies.
But Mark A. McEachen, Frattura’s former boss at Freedom, had become CEO of The Dolan Company after the Minneapolis-based parent of Minnesota Lawyer emerged from bankruptcy.
When Finance & Commerce vice president and publisher Steve Jahn announced he was leaving, McEachen asked Frattura to take over as publisher for all Minneapolis publications. Frattura accepted the job within hours of the offer.
He now oversees Minnesota Lawyer and Finance & Commerce in Minneapolis, and the St. Paul-based Capitol Report/Legal Ledger operations.
“I have known Al for several years and in fact I recruited him to come to California to be my regional VP there and saw first-hand what he is capable of doing with an organization,” McEachen, a former Freedom CFO, said in a statement. “I have nothing but the full confidence that Al working with the team at F&C will continue to grow the business.”
Frattura — who said he took the job because of McEachen — arrives at Finance and Commerce Inc. as a difficult period of its parent company’s history is winding down. The Dolan Company, which publishes business and legal publications across the nation, announced in March that it would seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company emerged from bankruptcy June 12 when a Delaware judge approved a reorganization plan.
He said it’s too early to say what changes he’ll make but added that there will be changes: “We have to change. Times have changed, and we have to change, as well.”
He plans to start by getting to know the staff, getting involved in the community, finding out what clients want and learning about the publications: How are they perceived in the marketplace? What can they do to improve? Are there things they could be doing?
“Right now, it’s just getting my feet planted firmly and really getting an understanding of the products and services we provide and taking it from there,” Frattura said.
Although he’s quick to point out that his background is in advertising sales, he has built his career in newspapers. After 20 years at the Beacon Journal, he started a seven-year stint with Gannett Newspapers that saw him move between several publications.
He got his first publisher job with The Reporter of Lansdale, Pennsylvania. Frattura stayed on when Gannett sold the paper to the Journal Register Co. in 2001 and worked at another Journal Register paper in Pennsylvania before taking charge of 26 of the company’s publications in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. He then became publisher for the Record Eagle Publishing Co. in Traverse City, Michigan, before moving to Freedom in October 2012.
The papers he now manages in the Twin Cities target a niche audience rather than a general one.
“I just thought that reaching an affluent audience, a niche audience, provided a lot of opportunity that I felt for growth, taking into consideration some of the things we were doing in the newspaper industry,” he said. “Based on my background in sales, I do believe there is opportunity for growth.”