The times they are a-changin’. How can you tell? Here’s your sign: For most of the 105 years it’s been in existence, the Cincinnati-based publisher ST Media Group International was simply a publisher of a trade magazine about the sign industry. Signs of the Times was its name. Those days, though, are long gone. Now, the company has evolved into a multimedia, high-tech, multiplatform communications firm, and Tedd Swormstedt is leading the transition.
“We’re not just about magazines anymore,” says Swormstedt. “That’s just one piece of it. We’re about books and a wide variety of media, whether it’s the web, the iPad or tomorrow, whatever. We publish in whatever platform the readers require.”
Swormstedt joins every other publisher in the country trying to make the transition, only his has something extra riding on the outcome—the family name. Swormstedt is the third-generation family member to run the company, something, he says, he never really intended to do. Educated as an engineer, he spent his time working for General Electric until he realized he could have more of an impact helping the family business.
“At that time I realized I wasn’t going to be Mr. G or Mr. E and that it might be a good switch to get into something where I could have more influence and play a bigger role,” he says.
So he joined the family business in 1990, two years before earning his MBA from Xavier and just as new media was making its way into the market. Under his direction, the company’s communications vehicles now include traditional print, web, email, social media and mobile devices like the iPad. ST publishes nine specialty trade magazines and associated digital communications that serve the graphics and visual markets industry, mostly in retail, hospitality and package design. The company also organizes related trade events.
All of which, of course, are signs of the times.