Pacific Publishing Group traces its roots back to 1886, less than six months after the incorporation of the city of Fresno. Originally founded by H.C. Miller and called the Abstract of Records, the business was purchased by Morris Shelby Webster in 1888.
M.S. Webster came to Fresno from the Midwest in 1876 at age 15, working as a sheepherder in the Sierras before landing a job at First National Bank, where he got his first taste of the business world.
Looking to strike out on his own, M.S. Webster bought the publication from Miller for $180. That’s when the real work began. Up until the relatively recent widespread use of computers and electronic communication, collecting public records for publication involved some serious legwork.
M.S. Webster had two sons, Norman and Lloyd, both of whom became involved in the family business at a time when their father had the publication adjudicated by the local courts. This qualified the paper for printing court-required trustee sales and other legal notices. Today, the printing of public notices is still a key source of revenue for Pacific Publishing Group.
While the Webster boys both maintained equal ownership in the company for many years, Norman ended up carrying the torch as the paper grew in size and readership, especially in the 1940s, when the name was changed to reflect an added emphasis in real estate sales and records.
Norman A. Webster invested more than 60 years in the Daily Real Estate Report and Abstract of Records up until his retirement in 1979, but not before his son, Gordon M. Webster, Sr. came on board in 1948.
Under his leadership, the business incorporated in 1976, purchased its first building in Downtown Fresno and evolved again with a new name — the Fresno Daily Legal Report — in order to broaden readership.
In the mid-‘80s, with the help of his two sons Gordon Webster, Jr. and Norman G. Webster, Gordon Sr. also acquired a separate commercial printing company producing publications such as a directory of Fresno County judges and attorneys that would later blossom into a product still being produced today called The Legal Directory. The Legal Directory celebrated its 50 th anniversary in 2015.
Not many years later, after a move into another downtown building, Gordon Jr. took the initiative and added a hard business news component to what had long been only a vehicle for public record information like fictitious business names and bankruptcies. That product is called The Business Journal, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2017. Readership was expanded even further to include Fresno, Kings, Madera and Tulare counties with three editions of the paper each week — one for local business news and two for just documental news and public notice advertising.
After selling his stake in family’s printing operation, Webster & Sons Printing, to his brother, Gordon Webster, Jr. then created Pacific Publishing Group to oversee The Business Journal and other products that have since grown as valued resources in their own right.
The company, now housed in a building at Van Ness Avenue and Merced Street in downtown Fresno, has held up as one of the Central Valley’s most treasured records of business news and legal notices.
And so far, Gordon Webster, Jr. said, it’s shaping up to stay that way as the company plans for its fifth generation, still adapting and growing despite some of the worst economic conditions in recent history.
Ashley Webster, daughter of Gordon Webster, Jr., has been working for the family business for more than ten years, and currently manages the audience development/circulation department for The Business Journal. As the fifth generation Webster in the company, she said there’s a lot of pressure to keep the family legacy going. Ashley takes a lot of pride in her family’s business and grabs every opportunity to learn more about the publishing business and all the different departments while working beside her Dad and having fun!
Much like the history of our hometown, Pacific Publishing Group has grown up and matured. What today is an award-winning, multi-title publishing and events management company fulfilling the growing business-to-business niche in the Central San Joaquin Valley started off over 130 years ago as a home-based printing business serving Fresno’s frontier community.
And for that, we are especially proud.