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Encyclopedia Dubuque

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WILLIAM C. BROWN COMPANY

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William C. Brown Company. By purchasing the rights to twenty-six college-level books from a St. Louis publisher, William C. BROWN began a publishing empire in 1944. After hiring two employees, the new company was opened for business at 973 Main Street in Dubuque. The company later moved into 725 BANK AND INSURANCE BUILDING and then occupied a site at 135 South Locust Street. Construction began on a $1 million office and production plant at the Dubuque Industrial Park on Kerper Boulevard in 1971. (1)
Block used for printing. Photo courtesy: Joe Jacobsmeier

Over the the next decade, the company made such business acquisitions as Educulture Inc., a California producer of audio-tutorial material, and the Hoffman House Restaurant in Dubuque. In 1987, the Religious Education Division of William C. Brown Company acquired ROA Media, a filmstrip and video cassette production and distribution company. To promote the company's products, WCB Publishers International Inc. was created in 1990. In 1991, Brown purchased Benchmark Press of Carmel, Indiana. The same year, William C. Brown Publishing divided into Wm. C. Brown Communications Inc. which included Wm. C. Brown Publishers and Westmark Enterprises Inc. which included Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.

Block used for printing. Photo courtesy: Joe Jacobsmeier

In 1992, the company, the tenth largest higher education publisher in the nation and the only one not part of a large publicly-owned corporation, underwent many changes. The Westmark Corporate Center opened on an 18-acre site near the Northwest Arterial. In September, Times Mirror, the fourth-largest higher education publisher in the United States, purchased Wm. C. Brown Communications Inc. including Wm. C. Brown Publishers; Brown & Benchmark' Brown-ROA; Business & Educational Technologies; W. C. Brown Manufacturing Division; Wm. C. Brown Publishers' International and group support services. (2) Involved in this group were 960 employees. The Brown family kept Kendall/Hunt, Westmark Enterprises, and the MIDWAY HOTEL. (3)

Westmark Enterprises was retained by shareholders. This included Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co., Ralmar Associates, Midway Motor Lodge and the Westmark Corporate Center. There were 260 employees involved in this group. Westmark was the first in the proposed $15 million office complex at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and the Northwest Arterial. (4)

In 1993, Brown added a school publishing division, unveiled a $600,000 addition to its short-run press facility, and acquired the Dushkin Publishing Group Inc., a specialized publisher of textbooks and supplementary materials for higher education. Harcourt, Brace and Company, the second-largest textbook publisher, purchased the Brown-ROA division of Wm. C. Brown Communications Inc, and Brown dedicated $7.84 million Technology and Distribution Center at its location on Kerper. The company was then the employer of more than 1,100 people in Dubuque, the United States and Canada and published over 4,000 titles for the high education market. In December 1994, Times Mirror announced the formation of the Times Mirror Higher Education Group headquartered in Dubuque. This included Wm. C. Brown Publishers; Brown and Benchmark Publishers in Madison, Wisconsin; and Richard D. Irwin Inc. of Burr Ridge, Illinois.

Times Mirror signaled changes to come in 1995. Company representatives announced that they did not foresee the company becoming a world leader in the marketing of college textbooks. In March 1996, Times Mirror announced that it would consider the sale of its higher education group which in 1995 had revenues of $228.2 million. Several large publishers made offers. In July 1996, McGraw-Hill announced its purchase of the Dubuque-based Times Mirror Higher Education Group. With the purchase, McGraw-Hill became the world's largest educational publisher and one of the major educational publishers of college textbooks.

The 1989 Dubuque City Directory listed 2460 Kerper Blvd.

The 1993 Dubuque City Directory listed W. C. Brown Communications Inc. at the same address.

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Source:

1. Hogstrom, Erik, "Dubuque Publishing Pioneer Brown Dies 25 Years Ago at 83," Telegraph Herald, February 21, 2020, p. 5A

2. Bergstrom, Kathy. "Times Mirror Buys Brown," Telegraph Herald, September 15, 1992, p. 1

3. Hogstrom

4. Bergstrom