Patty Axenroth, publisher and Influential Women in Business award-winner, has built her business by investing in individuals
As a publisher, Patty Axenroth has seen countless changes to the industry since she first started her business in the 1970s. She still owns Pennywise Publications, based in Kaslo, B.C., a company that includes Pennywise Ads and a number of tourism-related publications and websites. Through the growth of her business she has emphasized the importance of the people she works with, believing their talents make the company what it is today.
When did you find out you were nominated for an Influential Women in Business award?
When you sent out the letter because my staff put it on my desk with a card and a bouquet. When I saw that at my desk I told them I had already received an award because they had nominated me, so in my heart I already had it.
Why do you think you were considered for the award?
I think (I was nominated) because my staff feel that I’ve been a good influence for all of them. I mean, the sky's the limit to what we can do. They have so many talents and I try to give them the atmosphere and the place where they can explore those talents and they’ve just taken us away.
Tell me about your business, Pennywise Publications.
I started it in 1975, just from my house. From that we slowly expanded publications to the Go and Do Visitor Guide, the Kaslo Visitor Guide and the Camper’s News for the parks. Over the years many staff have been with me for 30 years, 29 years, 28 years—so we’ve all kind of grown up together. We stepped into this new age of digital and social media and that gives them lots of opportunity to explore new ideas and new ways to do things.
What do you personally most enjoy about your work?
I enjoy working with the people that I work with and I enjoy that it provides challenges and opportunities every single day, because we interact with people all the time. It’s interesting to see how things change socially and how people do things differently and how they relate to us. It’s kind of like a sociology class every single day, so it’s really fun that way.
Can you tell me about someone who influenced you in business?
My dad was a publisher, but I didn’t really ever know what a publisher did . . . But when I started my paper (my dad) showed me how to do a paste-up. Even though he lived 1,500 miles away he could be my mentor and that really helped me. He passed away in 1988, but he was very positive, so all of that influenced me. I have to say the men in my life, my husband as well, were always positive and proactive in me pursuing this career.
What are you looking forward to with the future of Pennywise Publications?
Well, I’m looking forward to it becoming diversified in all the different ways that media is becoming diversified. And, again, doing all kinds of new things—giving opportunities to the people who work here and to see the directions we go. I don’t know, because with all their skills they’ll be guiding the way.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve overcome?
There were always financial challenges—especially in the older days there were a lot of big players in this business who had pretty deep pockets. But the good side of that was we could move way faster than they could, because they had to go through all their echelons of authority to be able to do one or two things. We would just say, “Oh, we should do this,” and we’d go ahead.So that was always a challenge, but being small is a benefit too.
I was very fortunate that the very basics were shown to me and I had a mentor, that I have worked with people who have believed in the dream.