STEVE MURPHY, 47, HAS been promoted to president and CEO of Rodale, a $500 million family-owned publisher of healthy lifestyle books and magazines in Emmaus, Pa. He succeeds Ardath Rodale, 72, who will remain chairman of the business her family began 60 years ago.
Murphy joined the company from Disney Publishing as president and COO in April 2000, after Rodale, long known for stable growth, began losing money in 1999. In the past two years, Rodale has folded New Woman magazine, restructured its executive team and laid off employees for the first time in its history. Murphy returned the company to profitability this year by streamlining expenses by $40 million.
His goal now is to woo new readers. “Taking a leaf from [Clinton’s campaign strategist] James Carville, we have a sign on the wall that says, €˜It’s the edit, stupid,'” he laughs.
In this he has the blessing of Ardath Rodale and her heirs. “They are incredibly supportive€¦and they invest in [artistic] and editorial [material]-which, bottom line, is why we’re going to achieve our goals,” says Murphy, who has vowed to double revenues by 2006.
Asked how Rodale differs from public companies, he says, “Working with a board of directors is like learning to ride a bicycle,” because they’re all the same. “Working with a family is unique from business to business, because families are unique. The Rodales approach the success of the business from the point of view of helping people improve their lives and the world around them. These folks have been fighting the good fight for 60 years.”