KANSAS CITY — For Sosland Publishing, 2022 was a year of achievement and celebration. Major milestones were reached and observed with joy and pride. In this, the annual report to our readers we recount a few highlights of the year just passed while also acknowledging challenges the company has faced in the rapidly changing enterprise of business-to-business publishing.
Without question, a high point of 2022 was marking the 100th anniversary of this publication and Sosland Publishing Co., established in March 1922. It would be an understatement to describe such longevity as rare. In a 2021 article, Family Capital magazine estimated only about 1,000 companies in the United States are at least 100 years old, which is out of 10.8 million US companies operating in early 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At SPC, reaching the milestone was viewed as an opportunity for a two-year collaboration between the company’s various titles. Special features were published about major changes that have transpired in the respective industries covered as well as a look forward to trends that may be anticipated in coming years and decades.
Retired longtime editor Laurie Gorton also wrote histories of each of the SPC publications together with a history of the overall enterprise. All the special features may be found in a special section on the updated sosland.com website. In keeping with the culture and style of Sosland Publishing Co., the centennial celebration overall may be characterized as “low key.” Still, our several dozen associates in attendance at IBIE 2022 in Las Vegas gathered in a special space at the Las Vegas Convention Center to toast the milestone with about 350 customers.
The reason dozens of associates were at IBIE was to energetically help the company discharge its duties once again as the Official Media Provider for the 2022 International Baking Industry Exposition. With the effects of COVID-19 ebbing, the baking industry and allied trades were back in force at the triennial event, and SPC was determined to demonstrate media coverage was anything but routine. All materials were redesigned for the event, including the Show Directory, Show Dailies and numerous other publications, websites etcetera. Located for the first time in the Convention Center North and West Hall Connector, the Innovation Showcase powered by Sosland Publishing Co. enjoyed spectacular traffic and consistent attention.
The year just passed was not without challenges. After an extended period of dramatic growth, the website performance of foodbusinessnews.net, the company’s most actively visited website, was negatively affected by changes to Google’s algorithm. Still, the site generated 6.7 million pageviews in 2022 from about 268,000 average users and remains the No. 1 business-to-business website in its category. Bakingbusiness.com had 63% more average unique browsers than the second largest baking site — 1,200% more than a more recent competitor. Companywide, pageviews eclipsed 15 million last year, and average monthly users topped 651,000.
In addition to taking steps to further energize online traffic, the company in 2022 neared completion of a two-year initiative aimed at boosting the company’s digital business. Late in the year, an automated reporting system was rolled out, shortening the time needed to prepare and deliver product performance reports and leads to advertisers, providing them direct access to the reporting and allowing them to optimize their marketing messages. Advertiser facing dashboards meant to further enhance the customer experience have been in beta testing with several advertising accounts. The dashboards have been enthusiastically received and are expected to be released somewhat more broadly shortly.
Fueling our commitment to demonstrate such transparency to our advertisers is a belief that the company’s unbending commitment to editorial quality will continue to attract the devoted readership of the key decision makers in the industries we cover. Over our 100 years in business, the company’s reputation for quality has been rewarded with trust, evident in 2022 in myriad ways, including the wide variety of facilities our editors were invited to tour and write about, from Sanderson Farms and Galaxy Desserts, to the new Florida mill opened by Ardent Mills and a facility operated by Tuffy’s Pet Foods. Similarly, trust was evident in interviews conducted in 2022 with the chief executive officers of the two largest US baking companies — the first ever interview of A. Ryals McMullian of Flowers Foods, Inc. and a spontaneous and impactful interview with Daniel Servitje of Grupo Bimbo held at IBIE.
Reaching the century mark would not have been possible for Sosland Publishing Co. without extraordinary contributions from colleagues past and present, respected within our company and across the grain-based foods industry. A striking and proud reminder of the heights to which our associates have risen came in November when longtime SPC publisher G. Michael Gude was selected to the 2023 class of the Baking Hall of Fame. In addition to working 41 years at Sosland Publishing, Mike has served as president of the Allied Trades of the Baking Industry, chairman of BEMA and treasurer of the Grain Foods Foundation. He is part of a class of inductees “whose character strengths demonstrate the best of the baking industry,” said Rowdy Brixey, chair of the ASB Baking Hall of Fame Evaluation Committee. We couldn’t agree more and can’t wait to celebrate in Chicago in less than two months with Mike, his family and the industry he loves.