The popular women’s publication, Yellowstone Valley Woman, has been sold to new owners.
Jeremy and Haley Vannatta have been publishing Yellowstone Valley Woman (YVW) in Billings since 2006, and in 2016 they started a second publication, Raised in the West. In January they sold both publications to Julie and Ken Koerber. Julie Koerber has been editor of YVW for the past 12 years.
“I never saw myself in this role,” said Julie Koerber. She was surprised when the Vannattas suggested that she and Ken purchase the business. But, once they started thinking about it the Koerbers decided they could do it.
Julie said that motivating her was the possibility that the publication might otherwise be sold to a national company. “It just broke my heart,” she said, “I just couldn’t imagine not being part of the family of the people I work with.”
The next year will be a time to explore and learn about the business side of their new venture. As editor for so long, Julie very much understands the production side of the business. “It almost moves itself. We have a very good staff,” she said.
Ken will be a silent partner, as he continues with his job as a business strategist for Avitus Group, but his expertise will be a valuable resource.
Selling the magazines to the Koerbers made the whole prospect of selling easier, said Haley Vannatta. “That our editor was buying it made a huge difference. It wasn’t something we could let go to just anyone, and she has the same vision and heart that we did.”
Julie and Haley actually began their publishing careers together in working for YVW for Jay Hansen, who started the business in 2001. Julie was the editor, and Haley did the layout and design.
When the Vannattas purchased YVW it was a bi-monthly publication, with about 48 pages, and with a circulation of about 10,000. Today, it remains a bi-monthly publication, usually with closer to 100 pages and a circulation of about 25,000. “It’s been growing,” said Jeremy. It has also become a regional publication with circulation from Sidney to Lewistown and into Wyoming.
“Our goal was to basically inspire and educate our readers on amazing women who are doing amazing work in the Yellowstone Valley,” explained Jeremy, “Every cover featured a woman! We got to meet a lot of cool people along the way. The most rewarding part of it was hearing their story and hearing comments about how their story touched others.”
“I grew up with the business. We were so young when we bought it,” said Haley. The magazine and being a business owner taught her a lot, said Haley. “I learned a lot of about perseverance” through the good times and the bad. “I learned a lot about myself.”
The Vannattas started Raised in the West to address what they see as an underserved market, the rural and agriculture areas of Montana and Wyoming. It focuses on the human element of farming and ranching, and its 10,000 copies are distributed to rural areas of Montana and Wyoming. “It has had a heck of a response,” said Jeremy, “but it is still a growing publication.”
The business is a very modern concern, relying on technology, its five employs work from their individual homes or offices – there is otherwise no physical location for the business. It also employs numerous contractors for writing and photography.
Haley thanked the community of Billings for its support, “and especially the support of so many women who were open and vulnerable with us. It will be a part of my life that I will never forget nor take for granted.”
Haley is in the process of beginning a new career as a commercial real estate agent working with Matt Robertson at NAI Business Properties.
Jeremy will continue with what he has always called his “full time job” but is now his only job as Managing Director for Marketing at Payne West Insurance.
The Koerbers will be exploring ways to “branch out.” Julie said that they want to have a bigger social media presence and “see how much more we can do as a community partner.
The Koerbers have two children Calvin, 21, and Ellie, 14.