WHO WE ARE

Our Seaway PublicationsAs Great Lakes/Seaway Review turns 50, the staff at Harbor House Publishers is celebrating the longevity of the shipping industry’s trade magazine and the continued growth of our partnerships.

The company was founded as an ad agency in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The magazine was established by Publisher Jacques LesStrang in 1969 with the explicit purpose of further developing the system through targeted information.

Today, trade in the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway system is so closely linked with Great Lakes/Seaway Review that few remember one without the other. As we continue to work closely with the stakeholders—in covering key issues and producing the print, digital and mobile tools they require—we remain true to our original mission “of development, of information, of persuasion.”

In addition to the shipping magazine,  we work with cities, counties, chambers of commerce, convention and visitor bureaus, private companies, healthcare nonprofits and others to create custom publications  to help them market themselves and their regions. Our focus and our passion are
the Midwest. The rising tides raises all ships, even in our other sectors of work.

This special anniversary section gives a glimpse at what we do and how we do it.

“CAPTAIN, OUR CAPTAIN”

INSIGHTS INTO 50 YEARS OF ADVOCATING FOR REGIONAL SHIPPING

Michelle Cortright; Publisher, and Janenne Pung; Editor

Michelle Cortright is Publisher of Great Lakes/Seaway Review and Harbor House Publishers. She purchased the business from her father, diversifying the company into custom publications for chambers of commerce and economic development organizations. It has and continues to assist in regional business growth by creating business magazines, visitor guides and aiding clies with image development.

Great Lakes/Seaway Review Editor Janenne Irene Pung sat down with Michelle to discuss the company and its progression over the 50 years.

Pung: Briefly describe the company, pri-or to the 1969 formation of Seaway Review.

Cortright: LesStrang Advertising As-sociates in Ann Arbor, Michigan preceded Harbor House Publishers. Jacques LesStrang’s ad agency focused on banking, politics and commercial accounts, including Defoe Shipbuilding of Bay City, Michigan, which introduced the firm to Great Lakes ship-ping. Interestingly, one of the firm’s key ac-counts was Andy Stewart, a Scottish enter-tainer who was like Ed Sullivan in the UK. The agency maintained offices in Ann Ar-bor and in London, England.

Pung: How did the regional shipping industry become so important to maga-zine founder Jacques LesStrang?

Cortright: One of the accounts of LesStrang Advertising was promotion of the 10th Anniversary of the St. Lawrence Sea-way in 1969. The campaign was a big suc-cess and out of it grew Seaway Review maga-zine, with a purpose of promoting and advocating for shipping in the Great Lakes/Seaway. A close relationship was developed with the Saint Lawrence Seaway Develop-ment Corporation to promote the system.

Pung: The magazine’s original tagline was “The Voice of the Lakes.” Do you still consider this your focus?

Cortright: Today the magazine is much more than “The Voice of the Lakes.” It is a staunch advocate, an educator, a promoter for the binational region.

Pung: Why was the magazine’s name expanded from Seaway Review to Great Lakes/Seaway Review?

Cortright: Seaway Review was found-ed to promote international shipping into the system. As years passed, it became ev-ident that the system was interconnected and “Great Lakes” needed to be added to better encompass the focus on both inter-lake and international trade.
At the magazine’s outset there were ports operating throughout the region, but they did not view themselves as interconnected, as they do today. Great Lakes/Seaway Review played a role in bringing the system togeth-er. Today, the magazine is seen as a staple in the system, a trusted partner.

Pung: What have been the primary challenges of sustaining a trade magazine for five decades?

Cortright: The challenges of the sys-tem have been the challenges of the maga-zine. Because we are advocates and part-ners with stakeholders in the region, we work together closely to find solutions. Over the decades our Editorial Advisory Board has played a key role in providing input on topics of significance.
With business cycles and recessions there have been, of course, declines in ad-vertising. Because of our loyal supporters we have been able to maintain the maga-zine throughout the economic cycles.
Do you realize that only 21 percent of businesses survive beyond 20 years? That is why our 50th Anniversary is a proud milestone for us.

Pung: How has technology, including the Internet, changed how you produce the magazine?

Cortright: As publishers, we are con-tent managers. We have been delighted over the years to have more ways to share our message: print, digital, mobile. We can’t wait to see what’s next! None of the technological innovations have been a threat; they have been a benefit in further outreach for the region’s message.
Technology has allowed us to commu-nicate with a wider audience, and to do so almost immediately. And because of back-end technology, we can produce more publications than would have been possi-ble 50 years ago. Our readers have also noticed the design, color and quality of the magazine being enhanced year to year.

Pung: What do you consider pivotal moments of the magazine’s history and why?

Cortright: Opportunities have come throughout the 50 years. Some we have embraced and some we have declined. In the 1980s, we purchased Lake Log Chips from Bowling Green State University. It was a bi-weekly, four-page, print newslet-ter for Great Lakes/Seaway news. Sources from throughout the system would send us information to include, which we would edit and run.
We produced Chips for many years, to a dedicated audience of subscribers. With the advent of the Internet in the mid-1990s, we ceased publication of Lake Log Chips because readers were able to get their information in other ways.
When John Greenwood passed, his important annual publication, Green-wood’s Guide to Great Lakes Shipping, fell out of circulation. We purchased Green-wood’s Guide in 2008 and have published it annually ever since. We have made changes, including design and informa-tion updates, and have added the original cover art by Paul LaMarre we all enjoy.
In the past we published port profiles, which lead us to work with chambers of the publications that have occurred over the decades.

Pung: With partnership a corner-stone in the shipping industry, what ad-vice would you share with readers on the power of partnerships?

Cortright: Partnership is everything in business. It is the way things get done. It is the way we move forward. Relation-ships become partnerships. This is the ful-filling aspect of business.
In partnership, new ideas come that you could never have envisioned on your own. Diversity and different points of view open a world of possibilities.

Pung: How have you maintained en-thusiasm for what you do throughout the years and throughout staff changes?

Cortright: When you have a passion for your life’s work, you do not lose en-thusiasm—and you welcome the oppor-tunities that comes with change.
I have been involved with Seaway Re-view for its full 50 years, starting when I was in high school and then purchasing the business from my father in 1987. It is and has been an integral part of my life, and I am honored to be able to carry his legacy forward.

Pung: In looking ahead, what do you see for magazine?

Cortright: I see the next 50 years! Someday we will look back at what we are doing today and view it as an archive. Day by day, step by step, we will move into the future. We look forward to new ways of communicating, new ways to share the system’s message. And when the new ways come, we will embrace them.

Pung: Do you have anything to add?

Cortright: I sure do. Our team at Harbor House Publishers is incredible.
Publishing is a team effort like to no other. We each have our role, our responsibility to the whole, to produce this amazing, in-formative, beautiful magazine four times a year. We are proud of what we do and thank our readers, advertisers and system stakeholders for their support and dedica-tion for 50 years. ■

MEET THE TEAM

Michelle Cortright

Publisher

Michelle Cortright is Publisher of Great Lakes/Seaway Review and Harbor House Publishers. She purchased the business from her father, diversifying the company into custom publications for chambers of commerce and economic development organizations. It has and continues to assist in regional business growth by creating business magazines, visitor guides and aiding clies with image development.
As Publisher, Cortright oversees every aspect of product creation, which encompasses the editorial and business sides of our print, digital and mobile publications. She meets with clients, which we consider true partners, spearheads business development and is always looking ahead for “the next thing.”
There is often laughter coming from Cortright’s office as she interacts with partners from throughout the Midwest. She is fully entrenched in her labor of love, a company we now celebrate for 50 years of making a difference and supporting families.
She is the mother of an adult son, who is now a business owner in the same town, and is married to Rod Cortright, who pretends to be retired but remains involved as our corporate pilot and jack-of-all-trades.

Tina Felton

Executive Vice President

“For over 20 years, I have had the privilege of being a member of the talented team which produces Great Lakes/Seaway Review. Of utmost importance to me are the people and relationships that I have developed with our stakeholders, advertisers, subscribers and business associates in the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway maritime industry.
“Growing up in the Great Lakes area, I have always been intrigued by the water and the role it plays commercially, economically and in the quality of life it provides me personally as an avid boater on Lake Michigan. May the legacy of this 50th anniversary edition of Great Lakes/Seaway Review be a catalyst for the next 50 years of inspiration, innovation, advocacy and the development of relationships for advancing the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway system.”

Janenne Pung

Editor

Janenne Irene Pung has been Editor of Great Lakes/Seaway Review for 16 years. During her time with the magazine, she has represented the company at binational meetings, more fully activated the Editorial Advisory Board, developed new departments and evolved editorial styles.
Prior to joining Harbor House Publishers, Pung worked in mainstream media as a reporter and editor. She then moved into risk communications for the nuclear industry, documenting (visually and in writing) and communicating the process of decommissioning a plant and returning the lakeside property to a natural state.
In addition to being a professional, Pung is a wife and mother. She teaches life skills at a woman’s transition home and is a member of the Charlevoix County Sheriff’s Office Victim Services Unit. In both roles, she helps people work through trauma.

Andrea Lee

Associate Editor

“As a writer for Great Lakes/Seaway Review and Great Laker magazines, part of my job is to tell the stories behind the mighty vessels that sail the Great Lakes—the men and women who crew them, the cargoes they carry, the ports they call on. It feels strangely personal now to see them out on the Lakes. A point of light on the horizon sends me running for my Ship Finder app to discover who she is and where she’s headed. My experience here has given me a much greater understanding of the Great Lakes/Seaway system and a profound appreciation for the people who make it work.”

Cris Shankleton

Creative Director

“For years, Great Lakes/Seaway Review was the monster project in our office that I didn’t have to tackle. When becoming Creative Director, I was nervous about the daunting task of designing the magazine. Since then, the team has worked hard to modernize our look and make the magazine as beautiful as it is informative.”

Jen Shock

Production Manager

“Growing up, the Great Lakes were a place to swim and watch sunsets. After helping produce the magazine, I’ve learned that they are home to an entire network of companies which provide materials that support my everyday life. Each time I send the magazine to press and help prepare the digital edition, I feel a deep sense of accomplishment.”

Leif Hanson

Technology Director

“I’m the guy behind the scenes coding, creating the website and, most recently, designing the magazine’s online archive. I make shipping more visible for our subscribers and advertisers, as well as track global use of our digital products. It’s always a challenge to bring new technologies into a historic industry that’s still known for blue-collar production, but it’s a challenge I enjoy.”

Candi Wynn

Account Executive

“For several years I worked with a Mackinac Island, Michigan-based company and had the pleasure of photographing and taking videos of vessels passing through the Straits of Mackinac, especially the Round Island passage. My love and admiration for them was formed—and continues to grow. I now have the pleasure of working in the maritime industry and understand how important and vital these vessels are to our region and the economy. My goal is to work with our partners in the industry to help us all reach our collective best in the years ahead.”

Bill Wellman

Senior Account Manager

Great Lakes/Seaway Review knits together every aspect of the Great Lakes commercial maritime industry from deckhands to CEOs to ports.”

Jim Fish

Senior Account Manager

“I’ve known the magazine since Volume 1, first as a consultant in St. Paul working with Great Lakes clients and later as the Great Lakes Commission Executive Director, partnering with Jacques LesStrang. The last 30 years, I’ve worked on the inside.
“What makes Great Lakes/Seaway Review different is informed advocacy. Everything in the magazine is informed, factual and researched. We have spearheaded and part-nered in research that led us to advocate for season extension, forgiveness of Seaway debt and removal of tolls, designation of the Fourth Seacoast, recognition and control of invasive species and many other issues benefitting the system today.
“Informed advocacy draws people to Great Lakes/Seaway Review for information and understanding—and it’s what makes it valuable to our advertisers and our readers.”

Kathy Booth

Account Manager

“I’ve been a part of the sales team with this magazine for more than 15 years and, in that time, I’ve learned so much about the importance of our Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway. But nothing compares to the clients and the relationships we’ve built over the years. Their knowledge and compassion for the maritime industry is amazing. Truly, where would we be without them? Production efficiencies and technology continue to move the industry forward, but it doesn’t happen without all the people we call friends and family.”

Ellen Trimper

Account Manager

“Working on Great Lakes/Seaway Review has taken me from having a simple appreciation of the Great Lakes from a living/recreation standpoint to a deeper understanding of the system and all it encompasses.”

Rex Cassidy

Account Manager

“Any successful business relies on timely, accurate information to stay ahead in their industry. Great Lakes/Seaway Review magazine is a trusted source of news and analysis of information needed by all members of the maritime community.”

Pat Rumpler

Account Manager

“Historically, many of my family members have traveled the Great Lakes as ship captains, first mates and engineers. In fact, I had a family member perish when the Bradley went down in November 1958. As a child, my aunt would take me to the port in Rogers City to watch the ships load and unload their cargo. The mystique and beauty of the Great Lakes have been of particular interest to me.
“For the past 26 years, I have had the privilege of working with this talented team, which truly supports and advocates for the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway system.”

Sheri Rhoads

Proofreader

“As an advocate for water, a member of Friends of the Boyne River, I appreciate what I learn from the magazine each time I proof its stories. The technology being developed to assure environmental sustainability shows how industry stake-holders live as environmentalists, too.”

Carol Ochs

Office Manager

“I have early childhood memories of my dad loading us in the car on a Sunday afternoon and driving up to the Soo to watch the boats go through the locks, eat ice cream and buy saltwater taffy. I still go several times during the season. I have always loved that you can talk to the sailors on the ships—asking them where they’ve been and what they’re hauling. It’s like the whole world is at your doorstep.”

Jacques LesStrang

Publisher Emeritus

“Lake ports can grow no faster than shipping will permit. Shipping cannot grow beyond the capabilities of the ports. Yet neither has come close to reaching their present potential and will not until the savings in time and in dollars is fully understood by those who make the decisions on how and when and where to move goods. To the ends of development and information, the Seaway Review dedicates itself.”

Dave Knight

Editor from 1985-2003

“Jacques LesStrang, founder of Great Lakes/Seaway Review, had many talents, or “skill sets,” as we say today. But one that served him particularly well throughout his career as a writer, editor, publisher, publicist, etc., was his knack for knowing a good story when he saw it. And the story he recognized in 1969—the 10th anniversary of the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway—was as good as it gets. In fact, that story was so good it is still being told today, 50 years later.
“The publication created by LesStrang, or “J.L.” as his staff knew him, to mark the Seaway’s 10th anniversary was so well done, and so well received, that it grew legs, as it were, and took off running as a full-color, high-quality quarterly which became the most widely recognized chronicler of the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway system. Having Great Lakes/Seaway Review continue in that role today speaks volumes about the ongoing commitment of the current Publisher Michelle Cortright to Jacques LesStrang’s vision and high standards. Staying competitive in today’s information scrum is challeng-ing, to say the least, for print media. It requires dynamic, well-researched, topical content presented accurately and in a visually compelling format. In other words, it requires telling a good story. That was true in 1969, it is still true today and nobody tells it better than Great Lakes/Seaway Review.”