Sunday, January 15, 2012

From 1992: Newfield, Weekly Reader plan to move their offices

The following article is from 20 years ago today, published in The Hartford Courant on January 15, 1992. It was written by Matthew Daly.
Weekly Reader was bought by Wesleyan in 1952, which moved it to Middletown. The Xerox Corporation bought it in 1965. Since then, it has had a number of different corporate owners, it is currently owned by Readers Digest, with offices in Chappaqua, New York.
Weekly Reader moved out of Middletown for good in 1996.

Newfield Publications Inc. and the Weekly Reader Corp., which together employ 240 people to market children's books and produce a children's news magazine, are moving out of their joint headquarters in Middletown.

No relocation sites have been set, but company officials said Tuesday that Newfield Publications, the 160-worker marketing operation, will move to the Stamford area by the end of the year.

The Weekly Reader, a separate company that employs 80 people to produce the popular children's news magazine of the same name, also will move, but will stay within a 15-mile radius of Middletown, officials said.

Robert A. Quigley, president of Newfield Publications, said the company was leaving Middletown reluctantly, but decided it needed to be closer to the New York-based publishing industry.

"I'm very sad to leave Middletown," Quigley said. "This company has been an integral part of Middletown for a long time. But we really are dependent on New York City, {and} this part of Connecticut is relatively isolated."

The three-story glass and concrete building on Long Hill Road that Newfield shares with the Weekly Reader is for sale for $5.2 million, said Michael Gordon, a real estate agent with the Hartford firm of Cushman & Wakefield.

The price includes the 90,000-square-foot building that was completed in 1971, and its 21-acre campus, Gordon said.

Quigley said he did not expect the moves to be completed before the fall.

"We're at the very early stage of the whole process," he said.

Disappointed city leaders said Tuesday they were sorry to see Newfield go, but were cheered by the possibility that the Weekly Reader would stay.

Mayor Sebastian J. Garafalo said the city will try hard to keep the magazine in Middletown. "We want to make sure that 15 miles starts here."

Lawrence D. McHugh, president of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, said he was not giving up hope that Newfield Publications might stay.

"Until that dotted line is signed, we remain hopeful," he said.

Newfield Publications is one of the country's largest marketers of children's books through clubs.

The Weekly Reader publishes the children's news magazine, which is read by more than 10 million schoolchildren each week.

The companies, formerly known as Field Publications, were separated last year after they were bought by New York-based K-III Holdings Inc.

Quigley said Newfield employees have been resistant to the move, but appear to have accepted it.

"They don't think it's the greatest idea since night baseball," he said, "but it doesn't absolutely mean the end of their employment here."

All employees will be offered the chance to move with the company, and Quigley said he would be "delighted" if all 160 accepted the offer.

But an employee who asked not to be named said it is highly unlikely that the entire work force will move.

"Personally, I don't want to go," said the employee, a member of the editorial department who has been with the company more than five years.

"I don't want anything to do with Stamford. It's a very long commute for me. I have a house here. I don't really want to sell. This is where my family is."


Anonymous said...

I was one of those who commuted with the company to Shelton (where the marketing spin-off ended up for a while). Eventually they were bought up, moved to New York, and are history. Weekly Reader still survives in Stamford, though it too was bought and sold a few times. Everyone who worked here in Middletown remember it as probably the best time/employer of our lives. One of those rare times when the group of fellow workers and the employer were just top notch.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Weekly Reader is now in White Plains, N.Y. I joined the company in Middletown, moved with it to Stamford (so much for the 15 mile radius idea!), then to Chappaqua and now White Plains. There are only a handful of us here now who remember the Middletown days--ancient history!