Ed Shotwell - Publisher, Founder and CEO
25 Years... It feels like just yesterday that we published our first Community Resource Guide and now seems like the perfect time to reflect on what we have accomplished, the challenges we have encountered along the way, and what the future may hold for us and our business partners in the years to come.
CRG Directories was founded in 1992 at the urging of our local merchants organization. They wanted to produce a concise, easy-to-read reference guide to all the goods and services available in our community, to remind them that they don't have to jump on the highway to shop the big cities or the malls. The format of a telephone directory was a natural because it was the best way to drive usage with white pages to find their neighbors and yellow pages to categorize businesses by familiar headings. Plus, users could easily find school and city information along with handy guides like local maps, organizations, religious pages, and more. What people liked best was the larger "No Squint Print" listings, the street index, and extensive maps, all in one easy to read volume. What local businesses liked the best was the very affordable advertising rates and the saturation in-home Postal delivery.
Fast forward 25 amazing years... how things have changed! I could not have predicted that our little local business would have expanded to 19 books serving 50 communities, covering almost 3000 square miles and delivered to more than 400,000 people each year in the rural and suburban Lansing, Jackson, Battle Creek, and Ann Arbor areas.
Through it all we are first and foremost a Community Resource Guide. Sure, we now include some email and web addresses in addition to phone numbers, and cell phones are a fact of life with 35% of our residents cutting the cord altogether. In the end though, the battle is the same: to encourage our local residents and businesses to work together for their mutual benefit, to support our schools, places of worship, community organizations, and our way of life. Do we really want to live in a world where our food is delivered by drone, unknown plumbers and other contractors are scheduled online, our friendly bank tellers are gone, and you can't even call your neighbor because there is no way find their name, phone or address?
Small towns like ours offer a unique way of life, a sense of community, and working for the common good. Bringing that all together is and always has been our top priority.
We're not operating with our head in the sand. As the online marketplace has expanded and the age of the smartphone is upon us, we have embraced this new technology with TotalLocal.com. Imagine a quick and easy search engine that allows you to search within any of our market areas with no annoying national advertisers. TotalLocal.com is our smartphone friendly version of our own Community Resource Guide. We are so proud of this new product! There is no app to download or update, just a simple easy-to-use web address that works seamlessly with any smartphone. Users get the power of searching any of our 50 communities with the same information that appears in our traditional print books and features "Click-to-Dial" and instant links to our advertisers' websites.
All of us at CRG thank you for your support over the past 25 years and look forward to serving you for the next 25 years as we continue to evolve and take on the challenges of the future.