FARGO — Bill Rouse has joined Forum Communications Co. as its chief operating officer. He will work closely with company managers and oversee day-to-day operations and finances of the business. He will also focus on the strategic priorities of the company and the execution of those priorities.
Rouse brings with him more than 30 years of management experience in the agriculture, manufacturing and publishing fields.
A native of Superior, Iowa, Rouse majored in political science and sociology at Northwest Missouri State University, with aspirations of one day becoming a lawyer.
But growing up in a small farming community, it was natural for Rouse to take a job after college as a sales representative in the crop protection and chemicals business at American Cyanamid Co. He spent 17 years there in a number of different roles, including as director of European operations in Brussels, Belgium.
From there, Rouse spent six years at Cargill, leaving the company in 2006 as president of its seed division.
Rouse said he then decided to leave "corporate America" in favor of working for family-owned companies like Anchor Block Co., a manufacturer and distributor of concrete products based in the Twin Cities. He left the business four years later to join Holmberg Co., a value-added manufacturer of paper products.
Rouse most recently spent seven years as CEO and CFO of Coughlan Companies, a business he described as a diversified holding company with media and publishing resources as well as a number of industrial businesses.
Rouse explained one area of primary focus was the literacy of students in grades K-6.
"We built digital literacy platforms that were personalized for children's use in primarily elementary schools," Rouse said. "When I started there, we were about 95% print business, and when I left there we were almost to 50/50 business between print and digital," Rouse said.
Bill Marcil Jr., president and CEO of Forum Communications, said it's that kind of experience that will serve FCC well.
"Forum Communications is blessed to have someone of Bill’s caliber to join our team," Marcil said.
Rouse said that success depends on delivering news and content on a reader's preferred platform.
"When I was at Capstone (a division of Coughlan Companies), we spent a lot of time talking about the demise of the book and the printed book in elementary schools. That print business has stabilized in elementary schools today and the digital has grown so that business today is significantly larger than it was in 2008 when we only had a print business," Rouse said. "I think some of those same opportunities are here as we expand our digital offerings and continue to offer (content) in the formats that the customers desire."
Rouse said one thing that appealed to him about Forum Communications was the company's culture.
"I like the fact that it’s multimedia and we’re not just relying on one format or one way of reaching our customer. And probably even more than that, I believe in the culture that we have here at The Forum. It was very clear when I interviewed with a number of people here that there was a lot of passion about this business and people were very, very committed to it," Rouse said.