Rodale transition now complete, hopes high for new employer
Emmaus Borough Manager Shane Pepe last week said there is a lot of anxiety in the community about the sale of Rodale magazines to Hearst magazines, in New York City, but community leaders hold out hope that another major employer could fill the space being vacated by the former Rodale organization.
While he could not identify the firm, Pepe said that a “prospect,” with the potential of being a major employer, had shown interest in purchasing the Rodale office property.
“Area residents are naturally ‘fearful’ about the loss of employment at the Rodale magazines organization, because they just don’t know what to expect,” Pepe said. “Rodale has not only been a major employer for many years, but the organization has also been a major community partner.”
Borough Mayor Lee Ann Gilbert echoed Pepe’s positive comments.
“For years we have had a very good relationship with Rodale. The loss of a large employer like Rodale in a community such as ours does bring major concerns. But, the borough will welcome any new property owner and business to the location. We look forward to the prospect of having a new business in our community.”
Pepe said borough officials received a letter from Hearst Feb. 13, notifying the borough of the latest reduction in employment at Rodale facilities on South Tenth Street, 1134 Pennsylvania Ave. and 554 North St. Such official notification is required by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry to any municipality where jobs are eliminated.
Hearst last week eliminated 35 more jobs locally, bringing the total to 185 since the beginning of 2018. Additionally, some 84 of 200 former Rodale employee jobs had been eliminated in New York.
Pepe said the borough’s expectation is that “virtually all” local Rodale employees would be gone by the end of March or April.
Earlier in January, Hearst said it had completed its transaction with Rodale announced in October 2017. Hearst acquired all of Rodale’s global health and wellness brands. In addition to U.S. print and digital editions, the newly acquired brands publish 62 print editions and 57 websites in 31 countries.
Hearst spokesperson Paul Luthringer told The Press Feb. 14, “The transition, which began in early January, is now complete. These brands will thrive at Hearst and a decision on the new Lehigh Valley location will be finalized in the coming months.”
Former Rodale titles “Bicycling” and “Runner’s World” magazines will make up the new “Hearst Enthusiast Group” reports indicate. Those titles will continue to be compiled in the Lehigh Valley.
Pepe said he did not know where the “continued presence” in the Lehigh Valley would be or how many employees would be involved.
Struggling to cope with the decline of print advertising and other changes in the publishing and media world, Rodale’s family-run board of directors, led by third-generation family leader Maria Rodale, said in June 2017, the brands would be put up for sale. Hearst announced in October 2017 it would acquire the titles.
Rodale’s General Store, 1002 Pennsylvania Ave., Emmaus, opened in 2012, also closed suddenly.
Editor’s Note: Calls to Rodale for comments regarding this article have not been returned.