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Opinion: The week SBJ almost wasn't printed

Eyes & Ears

Posted online

Sometimes, you look back at your work in awe. The week of Feb. 15 is one of those times. Am I right?

At Springfield Business Journal, I have to admit we didn’t know with certainty the paper would be printed as scheduled. Of course, we never took our sight off that goal. But for starters, we had to hold up our end of the deal and upload files to our printer by our Thursday afternoon deadline. That meant dealing with the rolling blackouts in the city, both in the SBJ office and in homes where most of us still work, as well as complicated server and internet connection issues. I can say the team exhibited a mix of resilience and patience to stay dedicated to getting the job done. Much thanks to our information technology provider, Pitt Technology Group, for stepping up when I know they were overburdened with clients in the same boat as us.

I know from social media posts some of your businesses were in situations of making the best of the snowy, frigid conditions. I saw one CEO brought their children to a scheduled client meeting and it turned out to be a great experience for all. SBJ’s printer had a mountain of a challenge to get our paper out the door: No water. In the whole city. Guess what? It takes water to run a printing press, specifically to clean the plates and to cool down the components.

SBJ contracts with Corning Publishing Co. in Corning, Arkansas, where a water main broke effectively shutting down the north-central Arkansas town for two whole days.

“It was certainly interesting,” says Al Bax, the plant manager at Corning Publishing.

Of course, he’s speaking with the events in his rearview mirror. Words might have been different in the moment. With no water, the plant had to shut down Tuesday and Wednesday. SBJ goes on press Thursday afternoon.

Our staff got wind Thursday morning Corning crews were shoveling snow into the plant – one tub at a time – to melt and produce some water to run the presses.

“We had 8-12 inches of snow out there, so we thought we ought to take advantage of what we got,” Bax says. “We filled totes that we get our chemicals in to melt the snow. We did put some snow in the system to clean the plates.”

The snow melting experiment was a first for Bax and his press team. They filled a couple of totes, and had 55-gallon drums lined up inside, and as snow melted began to pump water into the press system. He says it takes 3-5 gallons of water for each press run. While it’s not a large amount, it is essential.

“We were utilizing the snow as much as possible. We were going to get the paper out one way or another,” he adds.

Then the National Guard saved the day in Corning. By noon, Bax says the guardsmen brought water in as a state of emergency was declared.

While many towns dealt with electric outages, Corning never lost power. Just that essential water.

I tip my cap to the Corning Publishing team on a week we’ll remember for a long time.

“Every time we’d come to a hurdle, we’d figure out a way to overcome it. We knew SBJ wanted to come out that night,” Bax says.

And it did.

If you have your own business stories from the week to share, I welcome them at the email below.

Heard on the street
Let’s move on to chocolate.

The Askinosie Chocolate story is pretty well-known in Springfield. The one where a high-profile criminal defense attorney makes a sudden career switch to making high-quality, direct-trade chocolate. Shawn Askinosie’s dedication to craft chocolate has led to the cultivation of cocoa beans and distribution of chocolate bars around the globe.

I’ve seen the brand at coffee shops on vacation in Florida and heard similar stories from other travelers. Whole Foods is a national seller, and the company has made the Forbes list of the 25 Best Small Companies in America.

Well, some more national attention is coming this way. Author, blogger and podcaster Seth Godin apparently has tasted Askinosie Chocolate and he’s a fan. So much so that the Springfield small-batch brand will be on his upcoming social media series loosely dubbed “The best chocolate in the world.”

Godin’s calling it a virtual tasting tour of some of his favorite chocolates and conversations with the people who make them. The series drops in March on his social channels, and you can mark your calendar for the Askinosie interview release on March 3. Godin will be sampling a 70% dark chocolate bar made from beans Askinosie sourced directly from San Jose Del Tambo, Ecuador. Askinosie and his daughter, Lawren, are scheduled to be on.

Now you know and can taste along.

Springfield Business Journal Editorial Director Eric Olson can be reached at


1 comment on this story |
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Dianne Elizabeth Osis

Your insights on SBJ operations are fascinating for me. I may be somewhat prejudiced, but our company is a small business like others—even though we’re unique. Right?

Keep writing for me, please!

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