On Friday, June 20, Jefferson-based McFarland Publishing celebrated 35 years of making its business home in Ashe County by inviting the community to enjoy lunch and tour the company’s facilities.
For McFarland, the anniversary provided a way to share the art of publishing with the area.
“We are so grateful because the community has been good to us in so many ways,” said Rhonda Herman, executive vice president of McFarland & Company Inc. “The culture of the people who come to work here and the good neighborly kinds of things that are available to a business that locates in a mountain community, we thought it was a great opportunity for people to come in and learn about what publishing is.”
McFarland Publishing, since coming to Ashe County in 1979, has been known for publishing specialty nonfiction and academic works. The company is independent and publishes approximately 400 titles yearly, while around 4,500 titles are being sold.
“The fact (McFarland founder Robert Franklin) decided to settle here has been significant for Ashe County,” Herman said. “The fact we had a knowledge business, back when that wasn’t really cool or done, and what it’s meant to the families of those who work here. There’s just gratitude that he chose Ashe County.”
Many of the books McFarland publishes focus on pop culture, baseball, other sports and automotive history. The company now sells to libraries, specialty bookstores and now produces ebooks.
“The industry has changed a lot over 35 years,” Herman said “When (Franklin) first located here, it was a shock, when I say that people didn’t believe it, because it was such a weird thing to do at that time. If you weren’t in New York or some other center, people just didn’t get it.”
Herman said as time has progressed Franklin’s move in 1979 has become the norm with many publishers locating to smaller towns, because of the expenses involved in starting up in New York, Los Angeles and other publishing centers. In 2014, McFarland has 53 employees working in Jefferson.
“After 35 years, we are in as good of a position as the big (publishers), because their overhead is so high and their expectations of what they have to do is so much larger,” she said.
At 1 p.m., a special 35th anniversary cake was brought out to help celebrate the occasion.
In addition to Friday’s events, on Tuesday, June 24, Boondocks Brewing released a special McFarland beer and hosted a special edition of McFarland trivia. In addition, patrons who ordered a pint of the Scottish ale received a free beer glass that featured the Boondocks logo and a McFarland logo made by McFarland graphic designer Mark Durr.
“We had a Scottish ale made in honor of the McFarland family name,” Herman said. “There was a collaboration between some of the McFarland employees that are beer lovers and some of the folks (at Boondocks). I think they had a really good time putting it together.”
For the future, McFarland has close to 200 additional books they will publish in 2014 and looks to keep the McFarland tradition alive in the community.
“We like to think we will still be here in 100 years in Ashe County, employing Ashe County people,” Herman said.
For more information on McFarland Publishing, visit http://www.mcfarlandbooks.com/.
Wil Petty can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @WilPetty.