A History of the Business Bulletin
Transylvania, Louisiana, to Fleetwood, Pennsylvania
One Sunday afternoon in November of 2001, Ken Swarey and I, Phillip Koehn, were visiting with Marlin Wedel in our home after a hearty meal. Mr. Marlin, who owned Ole Dutch Bakery in Lake Providence, mentioned that he would like to sell his business to another Mennonite, but that he did not know how to get the word around. Both Ken and I sat there and looked at each other; we both said that we should start an advertising paper for “plain people.” In the course of our visitation, Ken and I agreed that very soon we should meet and talk about this some more.
Within a week, we both were sitting at a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Vicksburg, Mississippi. We decided to meet once a week to start the layout of the publication. We started out by doodling around with a name and a logo, along with a graphic. We took our ideas to the local newspaper office in Lake Providence and Jimmy Neighbors, editor of the Banner Democrat, turned them into reality.
Six months later, on July 2002, we sent out a sample issue containing one advertisement. Much to our surprise, ads came in steadily. The next issue, which was the August issue, had sixteen ads in it, much to our surprise again. This was the beginning of the Business Bulletin.
October 2004 marked the addition of a new member to our group, Bryan Wenger of Hiawatha, Kansas. Ken stayed on as an advisor and Bryan took on the role of editor and publisher. Jimmy Neighbors was our printer. Bryan made many wonderful improvements to the publication, some of which we still use today.
June 2005 was the beginning of a new phase, not only to the Business Bulletin, but to the lives of Phillip and Nancy Koehn and family. We made the move from Louisiana to Pennsylvania. It took about four months for the print job to be transitioned from the Banner Democrat to The Windsor Press of Hamburg, Pennsylvania. Bryan Wenger continued as editor-publisher until February of 2007.
A curious mistake that we made in the beginning was not realized until a year later. In an effort to gain more subscribers, we made an offer of a one-year subscription for $12. The second subscription cost $6 and the third one was FREE! The second and third ones had to be gift subscriptions from the first one. Wow! The subscriptions poured in and we felt very successful. Approximately six months later, we discontinued the three-subscription offer.
A year later, when it was time for the giver to renew at full price, very few renewed the two gift subscriptions; they would only renew their own. Our subscription list fell by about two-thirds in several months. It actually took approximately two years to regain the lost subscribers. On May 9, 2009, I, Phillip Koehn, became sole owner of the Business Bulletin by buying out Bryan Wenger at an earlier date, and then later Ken Swarey. The Windsor Press continued to do the printing and layout until August of 2009.
In June of 2009, a young 21-year-old man from Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, by the name of Weston Becker offered to do the complete layout in a professional style equal to that of national magazines. He was already designing advertisements for me. Weston sent me his first proof in June of 2009, and he continued to practice for several months until he was sure he could do the entire process without complications. His first issue that he designed for September 2009 is still my favorite. The front page starts with an article on train facts by Eli Weaver of Versailles, Missouri (Common Sense from the Show-Me State). Weston found a super close-up real picture of a train engine idling in the train yard and he wrapped the text around the picture.
At the same time this was going on, another phase began for the Business Bulletin. We installed a digital printing press manufactured by Canon. It was leased to us by the Fraser Advanced Information Systems of Reading, Pennsylvania. It was not an easy process, taking from January 2009 to August 2009 to complete all the details, including the lease, electrical, installation, and programming. Fraser Advanced did not leave one detail to chance. When we were ready to print the September 2009 issue, the machine worked without a single glitch. I was able to buy the machine a year later.
Two of the best moves we ever made were those of hiring Weston Becker and the installation of the printing press. Another advancement started shortly after we moved to Pennsylvania. Harlan Koehn, a computer programmer, was hired to design a program for our subscription list and advertiser’s information. This program has been a timesaver and a great help to our secretary who updates the subscription list once a week.
The last several years have more or less been routine. At this time there are a total of 17 people who help make the Business Bulletin a success. Many thanks to all the faithful, contributing editors!
— Phillip and Nancy Koehn.