Seven years later we’re still going strong!

The Valley Patriot Celebrates Seven Year Anniversary

Valley Patriot Directors Duggan, Ormsby, Wilbur


By: Tom Duggan – March, 2011

For as long as I can remember, my ability to succeed has always been underestimated by others.

So, when the experts told us that going into the newspaper business was a losing proposition back in 2004, we paid no attention to their predictions of failure.

The print publication industry was starting to falter, the age of internet news consumption was booming and very few people had any faith at all that The Valley Patriot was going to last seven weeks, let alone seven years.

But, North Andover residents Dr. Charles Ormsby and Ralph Wilber understood the unique vision of printing a monthly newspaper that focused on honoring Veterans, had a conservative editorial policy and investigated real news stories purposely being ignored by the daily paper.

They had the foresight to recognize that The Valley needed another newspaper and, done correctly, such a newspaper could succeed far beyond what the naysayers said was possible. So, the Valley Patriot was born. A final meeting was held at Graphic Industries on Sheppard St. and we began the process of trying to find a printer and figuring out how we were going to make this thing work.

None of us had any experience in running a newspaper. None of us had any idea how to do layout, design advertising, or what would be involved in the business of running a print publication. So the first order of business was to try and find a printer in Lawrence, Methuen, Andover or North Andover as we were committed to helping the local economy.

With no commercial printers who could handle the job, (well, there was one but it was the competition), we hired a guy named Bill Samatis at Graphic Development (in Hanover).

Samatis and the people at Graphic were not just interested in printing our newspaper, but were willing to help walk us through the design process on our first edition. They advised us on layout development, tutored us on dealing with color and photo issues and became a vital part of our production process far beyond just printing a newspaper.

In March of 2004, a mere 2,000 copies of The Valley Patriot rolled off the presses at Graphic Development in West Hanover, Massachusetts for the very first time.

Destined for deliveries in Lawrence, Methuen, Andover and North Andover, this little 16 page publication took less than a day to deliver to 25 locations throughout The Valley.

Very few people noticed what we were up to that month and even fewer people were impressed with what we had considered a major accomplishment. But, I remember tuning into Ronnie Ford’s “Hot Line” program that first day to hear Ford reading through the paper on the air and saying how much he liked it.

This gave way to a spate of on-air calls from people laughing hysterically at the prospect of “Tommy Duggan running a newspaper”. Some of them cited well known statistics that nearly 90% of all new businesses fail within the first year … and that 50% of those that survive, fail within the second year. Some questioned whether or not The Valley Patriot would, or could have any credibility at all given how “controversial Tommy Duggan is.” Others predicted that businesses in The Valley would not support another newspaper since the Eagle~Tribune had such a lock on small businesses in this community.

But Ronnie Ford put them all to shame, “If I had the money to invest right now I would be investing in this little paper,” he told his audience. “I have the feeling The Valley Patriot is going to be around for a very long time, and if I was a head honcho up at the Tribune, I wouldn’t be laughing, I would be very worried right about now.”

How right he turned out to be. This month, exactly seven years to the day of our first press run of 2,000 newspapers… 22,000 copies of the March 2011 edition of The Valley Patriot rolled off the presses at Graphic Development in West Hanover, destined for delivery in 28 communities throughout the Merrimack Valley and the North Shore.

I’m not too good at math, but Dr. Chuck says that’s a 1,000% increase in production in seven short years!

And we couldn’t have done it without people like you… our readers, news sources, and advertisers.

I would love to list the names of people and businesses that have supported us in so many ways since 2004, but the list is just too long and we are only at 44 pages.

So, please accept this very impersonal thank you to everyone who has and continues to be a part of the Valley Patriot family despite the absolute madness that seems to occur every month around publication time.

A Very special thank you to Leo Lamontaign from Leo & Sons Auto Repair on South Broadway in Lawrence.

Leo has been an advertiser with The Valley Patriot since our VERY FIRST EDITION in 2004. And though he could have given in to political pressure to stop running his ads (as some businesses did back then) Leo stood by us and is still advertising with us today.

Thank you Leo. And thank you to Ralph Wilbur and Chuck Ormsby for being in on the ground floor when people were laughing and the experts were predicting our demise within less than a year.

If not for you, we wouldn’t be where we are today … a successful, profitable monthly newspaper that is not only surviving, but expanding every single month as we have been since March of 2004.

What a wild ride this has been … what a wild ride indeed!