For more than 130 years, Evening Post Industries has been a fixture in Charleston. It began as a single family-owned newspaper that has grown well beyond its media holdings.
While many people are familiar with the company’s flagship newspaper, The Post & Courier, they may not realize EPI operates in a variety of industries, including real estate, hospice care and pharmaceutical sales. Over the last few years, in particular, the company has created a diversified portfolio.
In 2019, EPI sold off its TV stations providing the liquidity it needed to continue to acquire businesses in new industries, explained Ron Owens, senior vice president and chief investment officer.
EPI is redeveloping the 11 acres it owns on upper King Street surrounding its corporate offices and The Post and Courier newsroom on Columbus Street. It also has branched out into hospice with Heart of Hospice, which has locations around the Southeast. The company also owns King & Columbus, an advertising and marketing firm, along with EPI Health, a Charleston-based pharmaceutical company focused on dermatology.
With its roots as a media company, Owens said for the last 100+ years, the company has relied heavily on advertising. About eight years ago, the company decided to diversify its revenue streams. Newspaper and TV stations are highly sensitive to advertising which suffer in recessionary times, Owens said.
Now, EPI is focused on diversifying its business interests even more. Tom Hayes, financial analyst for the company, said they are looking hard at service-based industries, such as cloud-hosting, as well as manufacturing and sustainability and climate change.
Owens added, “Our investment philosophy is: will the business be around for another 10 years and can we grow it to $20+ million of EBITDA?”
Plus, EPI has the benefit of being a family-owned company that can take a longer view, Owens said. It’s not as sensitive to what happens next month or next quarter. As a result, EPI is looking ahead to investments in renewable energy as well as recycling and energy efficiency.
“Those themes are long lasting. We’re trying to find the right place where a company from Charleston can add value with capital and strategy. We’re finding the right niche in those themes.”
EPI also is committed to adding value to local communities. A family foundation supports organizations and enterprises that have a positive impact on Charleston and other communities where EPI has a presence.
The community-minded approach also led Evening Post Industries to sign on as an early supporter of the Charleston Deal Alliance.
“We like to meet more of our neighbors as people continue to move to Charleston,” said Owens, a founding member of the alliance.
As more and more people make Charleston either their permanent or part-time home, an organization like the Charleston Deal Alliance plays an important role in connecting like-minded professionals. “Somebody next door to me could be working on a similar project and I may not even know it,” he said.
Charleston has become attractive to different types of investors — people looking for businesses to acquire, real estate investors or those managing hedge funds. The Charleston Deal Alliance gives people in financial circles a way to meet and connect.
And it gives a company like Evening Post Industries the opportunity to improve the community for another century — especially as it develops its downtown property.
“We want to help make our city a very good community by developing in a high-quality manner the projects surrounding our building,” Owens said. “This area is rapidly changing, and we can set the tone.”
Evening Post Industries
Ron Owens, senior vice president
Tom Hayes, financial analyst