ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BY JULIE ANDERSON
A small Marion County town has become home to one of the most successful?but largely unknown?publishing ventures in the region. And the man who started it all fits the same image.
Following eventful life experiences that have taken him around the world, Leslie Kitchenmaster has made Lost Springs his home and place of business.
Kitchenmaster, who has lived in Lost Springs since 1977, is the owner and founder of three successful trade publications: Oiltizer, Ag Ads and Punch Press.
He started Oiltizer out of his house with only one employee who typed labels. He moved it into a new building in 1986 and the business now employs 16 full-time workers.
?You have to find a need and fill it,? he said.
Kitchenmaster said when he was in the oil industry, he needed to know where to buy equipment for less money.
?I said, ?We need some communication here,?? he said.
Through advertising, the Oiltizer informs people of what equipment is for sale and where it can be purchased.
To create his publication, he studied the style of other successful ones and adapted it to fit his needs.
He said it was not as difficult to get started because it was the right time and place for his publication. He said the demand was there in the late ?70s because the oil business was doing well.
?We experienced very rapid growth,? Kitchenmaster said. ?We hardly did any advertising because we were so busy putting out papers. For several years, we didn?t call anyone, we just had people coming in.?
Oiltizer and Ag Ads have a circulation of 35,000 and Punch Press has a circulation of 90,000 throughout the world.
He hopes to continue the present operation while trying to expand.
One expansion occurred in Canada, where an identical office is just now getting up to speed with the publication. It is about one-third the size of the office in Lost Springs.
While Oiltizer caters to the oil industry, Ag Ads provides information on grain, feed, poultry and fertilizer equipment and Punch Press is designed for metal workers.
?Once up and running, it is relatively easy,? Kitchenmaster said. ?You have to stay up with the times and you have to stay up with the equipment and replace it, of course.?
One change he recently made was to hire a marketing manager.
He hopes it will help when he attends shows. Last year, he and his crew attended about 20 shows, which takes his people away from their work at home.
With the new manager, only one other employee will have to attend the shows.
?You have got to stay out there on the cutting edge,? he said. ?Somebody will run you over you if you get behind.?
Kitchenmaster became interested in the oil industry while in the military.
?I was Air Force and was down here at Fort Riley for three years, and that?s when I got tangled up in the oil, and the oil got me tangled up in the publishing,? Kitchenmaster said.
While at Fort Riley, he purchased some oil interests in Marion County, which he managed until he retired in 1975. He had been a pilot in the Air Force for 20 years and left the service with the rank of major.
?I started at the bottom end and worked my way up,? Kitchenmaster said. ?I have had a most interesting career. I have seen a good portion of the world.?
Before entering the Air Force, he had been a commercial pilot. He still owns a small aircraft in Newton, which he flies at times.
Kitchenmaster also is affiliated with the cable TV system in Lost Springs.
Previously, the town did not have any cable TV and antennas did not work well in the area.
In addition to his work, Kitchenmaster has gotten involved in the community and education.
In 1994, he ran for governor because he wanted to change the way the state is run.
?From the first law on up, every one of them needs to be reworked and brought up to date,? Kitchenmaster said. ?I can?t give you any one of them because there isn?t any one of them that would fix it.?
He would like to see something done so small businesses would be encouraged to stay in Kansas.
Even though Kitchenmaster was not elected, he learned a lot from the experience.
?My education has been very expensive,? Kitchenmaster joked. ?I should have gone to school.?
At age 70, Kitchenmaster said he doesn?t see what the big deal is about retiring.
?I?ve got to be some place,? he said.
ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BY JULIE ANDERSON