The Packer publisher’s produce roots run deep

04/27/2012 08:44:00 AM
Fred Wilkinson

Fred Wilkinson, Managing EditorLENEXA, Kan. — Sometimes a product or brand can be well-known while the company behind it may not be.

Green Giant Fresh, for example, is an iconic name and label readily recognized by most consumers, while a company like Growers Express (which supplies and markets fresh vegetables for the brand) is far from a household name outside of produce circles or maybe the Salinas Valley.

Here at The Packer, we can relate to that.

Any reader knows from the nameplate on Page A1 that The Packer has informed members of the trade with the latest fruit and vegetable industry news since 1893.

But not as many are familiar with Vance Publishing Corporation, publisher of The Packer.

I’ve been fortunate to work at The Packer for nearly 16 of the paper’s 119 years, and I along with the entire staff take pride in the publication’s long history and stature among its audience.

This year, the entire staff and I can take pride in another milestone as Vance Publishing celebrates its 75th anniversary.

Herbert Vance (left), president of the Vance Publishing Corporation, and George H. Gurley, president of the Packer Publishing Company, pictured in this 1964 company newsletter, conclude arrangements under which Packer publications became part of Vance Publishing.Like many in the produce industry, Vance is a multigenerational family business.

The company, currently run by chairman of the board William C. Vance, was launched in Chicago in 1937 by his father, Herbert A. Vance.

From its inception, Vance Publishing has served the food industry: Its first publication was Canning Age.

Vance Publishing and The Packer were both established and successful institutions when, in 1964, Herbert Vance purchased Kansas City-based The Packer Publishing Co. from George H. Gurley.

Gurley was the son of George A. Gurley, who took the reins of the publication in 1903 after the death of its founder, Issac Barrick.

George H. and a group of other Packer employees purchased a controlling share of the publication in 1948.

The deal with Vance Publishing included a couple of other properties.

One, a sister publication Poultry & Eggs Weekly (a legacy of the early days when Packer publications covered meats and other ag commodities) is long gone from the Vance stable of publications.

The other, Red Book Credit Services, continues to serve the produce industry.

The acquisition and what it meant for the growth of Vance Publishing was detailed in the May 1964 company newsletter, Vance News.


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Maryann Danis Cochran    
Holiday, Fl  |  June, 24, 2013 at 12:38 PM

My Dad worked for the Packer from 1946-1971 when he died. He was a Packer man thru and thru. His territory was served out of Pittsburgh, PA. Enjoyed reading that it is still a vibrant and exciting company with which to be associated. Thanks for the memory.

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