Watt Publishing Company/WATT Global Media 1917-2017
Watt Publishing Co., was originally incorporated July 6, 1917, as the Poultry Tribune Company by founders J.W. Watt and Adon A. Yoder. In 1929 the company name was changed from Poultry Tribune Company to Poultry-Dairy Publishing Company, and in 1944 the corporate name was changed to Watt Publishing Company. To recognize the spectrum of media channels offered across online, live events and magazines to its global audience, the company was rebranded as WATT Global Media in 2014.
Far from the hum and buzz of the metropolitan centers, WATT Publishing Co. was founded in the rural Midwestern town of Mt. Morris, Illinois, on the campus of an old college. J.W. and Adon started the company in the historic Sandstone building, which was erected when Lincoln was president and which was home for the WATT corporate offices until 2007 when the company moved to Rockford, Illinois.
The history of WATT began with the acquisition of Poultry Tribune, “America’s Leading Poultry Farm Magazine” for poultry raisers. Poultry Tribune, owned by R. R. Fisher in Freeport, Illinois, had published its first issue in September 1895, with a circulation of 5,000. When Watt took over in 1917, distribution had increased to 25,000. After 1925 the industry grew very rapidly until distribution peaked at 515,000 in 1940.
An exclusive service feature of Poultry Tribune for its half million readers was the Poultry Tribune Experimental Farm, where 2,500 laying hens, 4,000 head of young stock and 900 turkeys comprised the editorial laboratory. Built in 1927, the Experimental Farm – which was only one mile away from the editorial offices – studied many new feeding, management, and construction ideas. Every July when the farm crop of pullets had to be wormed and vaccinated, all executives from WATT pitched in to help.
The most complete collection of oil paintings in America featuring the more important breeds of poultry was commissioned by the Poultry Tribune staff beginning in the mid 20’s. More than 56 varieties of both popular and rare poultry breeds were painted between 1926 and 1950 by the late Louis Stahmer, F.L Sewell, and by Arthur O. Schilling, the foremost poultry artist in the country. Reprints of the original oil paintings were sold for 10 cents each in 1945. The original paintings, many in gold leaf frames, today are on display in the WATT offices in Rockford, IL.
The WATT portfolio in the ‘20’s, ‘30’s and ‘40’s grew through start-ups and by acquisitions. Economic changes in the poultry industry in the middle ‘20’s led to the formation of the commercial hatchery industry. This development prompted the Poultry Tribune staff in 1927 to create Hatchery Tribune magazine, which was circulated to hatcherymen and feed retailers.
At about the same time, turkey raising became a huge commercial enterprise. WATT acquired Turkey World magazine in 1934 from Lightner Publishing Co. of Chicago, which had founded the publication in 1926.
Those three magazines made Watt the largest poultry publishing organization in the world, and in 1944 the company acquired Better Farming Methods “The business magazine for leaders who train and advise farmers” from Midland Publishing Co. of St. Louis.
In the 1950’s as the poultry industry expanded and became more vertically integrated, the WATT magazine mix adapted to cover all phases from production through processing, further processing, and marketing of broilers, turkeys, and eggs. Leslie Watt, the 2nd generation of family leadership was named company president in 1949 at the age of 36, had the foresight to enter international markets. In 1957 WATT acquired Industria Avicola, a Spanish language publication serving the Latin American poultry industry. In 1962 Poultry International magazine was established to serve the poultry and egg industries throughout Europe, Middle East/Africa and Asia/Pacific.
As the WATT portfolio became increasingly global in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, WATT editorial and sales personnel were added in England and the Netherlands.
In the ‘80’s Leslie Watt implemented his new vision – creating brand presence in China. Working with government officials from the Peoples Republic of China, WATT established Poultry International China Edition to become one of the first publishers from North America to produce Chinese language business-to-business magazines exclusively for distribution in the PRC.
With the poultry industry as a base, the company with 3rd generation leadership from James W. Watt expanded its market portfolio to include pet food manufacturing, animal feed, and pig production. In 1993, the Petfood Forum, a Symposium and Trade Show Exhibition for pet food manufacturers and suppliers, was founded and quickly became the largest annual event of its kind in the world and was the driving force into transforming WATT as the global pet food market leader for business information.
In 2006 Greg Watt, the 4th generation President/CEO, began the transformation of WATT into the leading business information and marketing solutions-based company across multiple media channels driven by online/digital, live event, and magazine channels. The company now serves 150,000 professionals across the Pet Food, Poultry and Animal Feed industries from over 140 countries. WATT live events and conferences are hosted in Bangkok, Shanghai, Cologne, Kansas City USA, and Baja Mexico.
Today the core strategy of the company is:
(1) Delivery of business intelligence, industry data and specialized information to the global Pet Food, Poultry and Animal Feed markets;
(2) through a variety of channels including live trade shows and conferences, print magazines, e-newsletters, websites, e-marketing services, digital editions, white papers, webinars, custom content marketing and other digital initiatives;
(3) and, to be an innovative and consultative marketing & communications partner to industry marketers through fully understanding their business needs and objectives while creatively matching those with unique WATT product capabilities.
The 2017 Centennial Celebrations included:
• Client & Partner Hospitality Event at the International Production & Processing Exhibition (IPPE) in Atlanta, January 2017
• Client & Partner Hospitality Event at the VIV Asia Exhibition in Bangkok, March 2017
• Annual WATT Global Media Meeting in June 2017 @ Fair Oaks Farms in Fair Oaks, Indiana