Vance Publishing -- home of such B2B publications as the Packer newspaper (where I was once senior writer) -- has named Peggy Walker president and chief operating officer.
The move may mark a turning point for Vance.
The family-run company has a tradition of home-growing its top executives. But Walker is an outsider. Most recently she was president and group publisher of the National Underwriter Co. Before that, she was an executive at Putnam Media.
Walker replaces Mike Ross -- a longtime Vance man who moved up through the magazine ranks. Ross replaced Jim Staudt, who started in the circulation department of the Packer. Most interestingly, Walker assumes the title that most insiders assumed would go to Bill O'Neil, who had been with the company since 1976. But O'Neil stepped down a few weeks ago. And people inside Vance tell me he left because he'd been taken out of the running for Ross' job.
As a general rule, one of my favorite things about small B2B publishers is the collegial, supportive environment in which workers can learn and grow. But there's a downside to any closed system: no new blood often means no new ideas.
Given the increasingly competitive nature of publishing in the Internet era, Vance's decision to look outside for inspiration may prove to be an inspired idea.