FORT ATKINSON

W.D. Hoard & Sons has sold its flagship publication, the Fort Atkinson-based Daily Jefferson County Union, along with 13 other community newspapers and shoppers under its umbrella.

Brian Knox, president of W.D. Hoard & Sons, announced Monday the company had sold its long-running newspaper group, including weekly newspapers run by affiliate Hometown News Limited Partnership.

The buyer is Minneapolis-based Adams Publishing Group.

The sale ends a 148-year-run of the Daily Jefferson County Union under W.D. Hoard & Sons. The paper was founded in 1870 by William Dempster Hoard.

W.D. Hoard & Sons was later bought by the Knox family. Brian Knox, the publisher, has been with the Daily Union for 41 years, according to a news release.

Other newspapers in the sale include the Milton Courier, Sun Prairie Star, Waunakee Tribune, McFarland Thistle, four other weekly newspapers and several shoppers that serve a six-county area in southcentral Wisconsin.

Robb Grindstaff, general manager of the Daily Union and papers under Hometown News, told a Gazette reporter that the sale was official Dec. 1.

Dirks, Van Essen, Murray & April, a New Mexico-based media merger and acquisition firm, represented the Knox family in the sale. The companies have not disclosed terms of the sale.

Grindstaff said he will continue his role as general manager of the papers sold in the deal. He said the Daily Union will continue to operate out of the Hoard building in Fort Atkinson under a lease by W.D. Hoard & Sons.

“Right now, everything is going to pretty much remain the same. We’re on-boarding all employees for the Daily Union and Hometown News,” Grindstaff said.

He said under new ownership the papers will begin looking at technology Adams has that hasn’t been available to the Daily Union and hometown papers.

“We may find ways to do business better. That’s the goal,” Grindstaff said.

He said Knox “searched diligently for a company that was just as committed to local newspapers as he has been,” and he located Adams as an interested buyer.

In statements to the Daily Union, Knox said the papers’ sale does not change their production agreements or general staffing.

“One of the reasons we chose Adams is that they do not come in and put their own people in charge,” Knox said.

Adams owns 30 daily papers and more than 100 nondaily papers across 20 states, including Wisconsin.

Grindstaff told The Gazette he wasn’t authorized to disclose business strategy or reasons why the papers were sold.

In statements to the Daily Union, Knox said community newspapers have faced swift changes through technology. He said despite W.D. Hoard & Sons’ papers having grown circulation in recent years, cost increases including newsprint have been a source of financial pressure.

W.D. Hoard & Sons will continue to own and operate Hoard’s Dairyman magazine and several other agricultural publications, along with a dairy farm and creamery it owns and operates.

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