The Century Club
It is with great pride that we have joined a very elite group of companies and organizations, serving customers and our suppliers for 100 years - the Century level. Very few companies and organizations reach this achievement.
We thank E.H. O'Brien and H.H. Marshall for their vision over 100 years ago and also thank all of our people, our partners and our customers, for all of the collective efforts that have enabled us to achieve this very important milestone. Our company was founded on entrepreneurial spirit and hard work, all which continue and will lead us into the future in this unique and exciting industry. It is exciting to read the legacies of E.H. O’Brien and H. H. Marshall.
The E.H. O’Brien Legacy
The story of the O’Brien family is a great one, as the first pioneer in our business in Canada.
E.H. O’Brien was born in 1886, and left school in Grade 6 to support his family.
Ed O’Brien started his business on the 26th of November, 1907, with the Toronto Daily Star as a part time operation with ten dealers. At the same time, he was working in a cigar factory making cigars. That very first day, he received 100 evening papers, loaded them onto a child’s wagon and trundled them around to half a dozen news agents in the downtown area of Hamilton Ontario. In short order, he opened a small office on King Street East in Hamilton with 150 square feet of floor space, which contained a desk and a phone.
The business grew and prospered, with Ed joining the business full time in 1909, and at this time he rented a horse and bought a wagon for deliveries. In 1909, the Hearst franchise was acquired, followed by in 1914 the Curtis franchise. In 1916, the first truck was purchased, at a cost of $600.
By 1918 the business had grown with acquisitions of Muncey, Macleans, Consolidated Press and others. In 1921 Ed purchased the F.J. Roy News Company. At this point, Ed was an earlier consolidator, as all independent franchises in existence at that time were acquired.
In 1923, publishers supplied E.H. O’Brien for the Brantford, Ontario market as the former operator had gone out of business. A new company was formed, General News and Novelty Company, which supplied over 150 dealers in Western Ontario.
In 1934, Ed started the National News Company in Ottawa, Ontario, and subsequently purchased the other independent news companies in Ottawa.
In the 1950s, Ed’s son Fred managed the three agencies, in addition to purchasing the Hamilton operation and renaming the company Mountain City News. Along with Fred, Rudy and Gordon Birk had a lifelong involvement as father and son, helping manage Mountain City News, with Gordon retiring in 1991 as the President. Fred’s notable achievement was acting as a lead marketer in introducing magazines and books to local supermarkets, ahead of the market as always.
E.H. O’Brien grew his business and with it his reputation until he became one of the most respected and widely known men on the circulation side of the business. Fifty years ago he was bestowed great honor by prominent executives in the American publishing world.
In the late 1960’s another member of the O’Brien family purchased Seaway News in St. Catherines, with Reg Jackson, E.H. O’Brien’s, son-in-law, owning and managing Seaway.
Over the years, there were plenty of changes, including the company name, which changed to Mountain City News, serving publishers and Ontario retailers in an area from Grimsby to Burlington. In 1972, the Jim Pattison Group purchased Mountain City News and continued its growth with an equal share of entrepreneurial vision and insight.
E.H. O’Brien continued to own National News and General News until he passed away, in 1973 at the age of 87.
Michael O’Brien entered the business in the 1970s, after working in the business at National News in Ottawa, Michael purchased General News in 1983, and Seaway News in 1987. Michael continued the heritage of the family as an entrepreneur and leading marketer of magazines and books in all market areas served, and was an early innovator in changing the business in terms of logistics and delivery methodology to retail. The O’Brien quest for growth and their vision of serving publishers and retailers
Michael left the business in the late 1990s, during the massive consolidation of supply in Canada and the US, and today is President of a leading fabricator and installer of custom handcrafted counter tops based in the Hamilton area.
We at The News Group feel great gratitude for all the years of growth, excellence and innovation that have been the hallmark of all of the O’Brien companies, since E.H. O’Brien made his first delivery in 1907!
In Atlantic Canada another great pioneer of our business, H.H. Marshall, began his legacy in a somewhat similar way…
The Legacy of H.H. Marshall - The Dream of a Young Halifax Schoolboy
Harry H. Marshall, like many other young school-aged boys took on a newspaper route nearby Halifax, where he lived and attended school.
The young entrepreneur soon began engaging other boys to operate additional routes in the city and the H.H. Marshall, empire began. His early success attracted the attention of local newspaper publishers, especially the Dennis family who then gave him responsibility for all the major routes in the city. In those early days delivery was carried out by horse and a closed carriage.
H.H. Marshall also operated a variety of retail outlets and therefore saw the need to set up a delivery service for the newspapers that grew by adding on weekly newspapers and magazines. This formed the basis for H.H. Marshall wholesaling. The distribution business grew and in September of 1914, H.H. Marshall Limited was formally incorporated.
A serious and prolonged illness resulted in H.H. Marshall untimely death in 1923 at the age of only 39. His sister, Miss Helen A.B. Marshall, became president after his death. Not without struggle, Miss Marshall continued the operation and expanded its regional scope. Branches were opened in Sydney, N. S. and in Charlottetown, P.E.I. as well as St. John’s NF, which was at that time still a British colony
Charles J. Burchell, P.C.Q.C. became President following Miss Marshall’s death in 1953. He was succeeded by Charles A. Marshall, son of the founder. John Marshall, son of Charles A., became the third generation of the family to take an active role in corporate affairs during the period of growth in the 70’s.
Growth and diversification were pursued on-going at H.H. Marshall. Not only were new facilities constructed in all of the operating centers, John Marshall also added a regional book chain – Readmore and a pair of unique stores in Halifax with the name of Trindles Book Store in addition to a book publishing company. John Marshall continued to build the dream of that Halifax schoolboy from the history of hard work and good intentions.
In the nineties, Jim Pattison became John Marshall’s partner in business and then eventually John sold his shares to Jimmy.
The Marshalls were innovators and many of their locally initiated marketing programs featuring magazines and books were adopted at retail across the country. The company had a great reputation and was known for its integrity and fair business practices. These principles are also important to The News Group and it is our hope that we carry forward these HH Marshall traditions far into the future.
The industry is an exciting and ever-changing one and in 1995, reflecting changes in the business, our name changed one more time, to The News Group, a company that today is national, serving North American retailers from coast to coast. We have grown to over 9000 employees, serving over 33 000 customers with multiple suppliers of the greatest magazines and books available.
Credits: Hamilton Central Library Archives “Publishers Gather To Honor Eddie O’Brien” - News Biography, 1957. H.H. Marshall - brochure, circ. 1970’s
Canada – More Recent History
First and Oldest Periodical Distributor
TNG, as it is known and operates today, is the result of over a century’s worth of sales, skill, effort, and evolution. In fact, when the roots of our Company are traced back to its inception, we distinguish ourselves as pioneers: We are Canada’s first and oldest periodical distributor!
Canada - A Greatly Changed Landscape
Today, In Canada, there are four key regions that span the nation supporting our magazine and book distribution network: Atlantic Canada, Ontario, the Prairies and BC. Until 1997, each of them operated as a division of the Jim Pattison Group; however they were largely stand-alone and independently run operations with different banners.
The change in our industry toward consolidation, which began in Canada in 1996, led to enormous change on the magazine wholesaler landscape. In 1996 there were 26 wholesalers in Canada. Today, TNG is the only true national wholesaler. Where many wholesalers had once provided services to small geographic markets, now only a handful operate across the vast expanse of our country.
The News Group North American Brand
1997 represented the beginning of branding our Company as The News Group and the adaptation of best practices across our network. As we moved into an intense share-of-market battle, we had to find innovative ways to operate smarter and faster, and to trim our costs wherever possible. Our mission and values identify how we operate.
The recession and greatlly changing media landscape of recent years has greatly altered the magazine and book marketplace yet again. Consumer purchasing habits have changed, perhaps permanently, and although the industry remains a multi-billion dollar industry, and books and magazines remain our core business. the company has been seeking diversification strategies that dovetail well with our infrastructure and our expertise. Our acquisition of Stenek, a general merchandise management company, in 2010 has expanded our product and service offerings greatly. Our merchandising team offers in-store service expertise for a variety of products and our distribution and transportation centers offer opportunities for a variety of products resulting in cost savings for retailers and vendors.
TNG's diversification also resulted in the realization that we had grown beyond our name "The News Group" and in December of 2012, we changed our name to TNG.
U.S.A. – More Recent History
“Prosperity is a great teacher, adversity a greater.” - William Hazlett
The intense market share battle also happened in the United States. The difference was that fierce competition along with other market pressures left the health of the US wholesaling industry in a much more fragile state. On February 7th, 2009 the wholesaler supply-chain struggles became clearly evident as a major US wholesaler suspended normal business operations, thereby leaving thousands of retail customers across the U.S. without a source of supply.
Our ability to service our retailer customers was also greatly encumbered as we were locked out of Prologix East, a Joint Venture between us and the exiting wholesaler. 60 days later, several million dollars investment made, countless hours of our team and our partners coming together beyond expectation to do “what it takes”, we began to see the light at the end of the tunnel in consistently getting product to consumers.
Throughout this process, we hired 3,800 hundred employees, purchased 1,300 trucks, acquired 15 distribution centers, and 50 depots to service our customers and our suppliers throughout the U.S.A.
After the purchase of the assets, our infrastructure now shows 27 Distribution Centers strategically located throughout the US to provide the best customer service to our retail customers and suppliers. Through our News Group LP partnership, we now employ 8,600 employees throughout this system and have 2,500 trucks, and 120 depots. For Where We Operate, click here.
The News Group LP is a partnership, consisting of 5 separate ownership groups: The Jim Pattison Group operating in ProLogix East; ProLogix West, NGDS Midwest, and NGDS Alaska. John Kroeger operates The News Group Central in the south central U.S.; Cowley News Operating in Mid-Central US, MPPG which is a partnership of its own servicing the Great Plains area and finally, Benjamin News operating in Northern Idaho and Montana. Together we are The News Group LP, and our footprint serves 90% of the continental US, Hawaii and Alaska.