A Curiosity Question

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A Curiosity Question

Postby Dave Roberts » Fri Jul 12, 2013 5:29 pm

According to this article, LifeWay is bidding to lease space to the state of Tennessee. Has LifeWay downsized to the point they have this much extra space?

http://www.tennessean.com/article/20130711/NEWS0201/307110107
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Re: A Curiosity Question

Postby Sandy » Sat Jul 13, 2013 8:35 am

The building that Lifeway owns, and leases out, is the oldest of the three complexes they've constructed on the city block they own between Church St. and Broadway, and between 9th and 10th Avenues in downtown Nashville. The "downsizing" they've done is related to switching from direct provision of all of their own services to contracting for things like travel, attorney services, bookkeeping, the church envelope service, and the printer, all of which were once housed in the old BSSB office and warehouse that was located on the corner of Church and 9th. The office and warehouse complex that is now known as One Lifeway Plaza, is between 10th Ave. and the railroad tracks, and runs the length of the whole block from Church to Broadway. It houses the publishing divisions, the bookstore divison, technology services, and the literature publishing and shipping enterprise. When that was built, the old office and warehouse complex, constructed in the 1950's at 127 Ninth Ave. North, was renovated to house the conference center and church services divisions. The printer, the envelope service, the travel agency, the lawyers, the business office, the catalog, phone and internet sales, all moved in there. That left the oldest set of warehouses and office space, on Church St. between Tenth and Ninth, vacant. It is right across the street from the State of Tennessee's office and parking complex. Rental property in downtown Nashville is an excellent investment, so Lifeway renovated the property and the State has been a tenant in one of the office buildings, Thomas Nelson in the other. The printer, envelope service, and travel are now contracted out, so that space may also be available.

Given their revenue report to the SBC at the last convention, "downsize" isn't an appropriate term.
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Re: A Curiosity Question

Postby Dave Roberts » Sat Jul 13, 2013 11:53 am

Thanks, Sandy. I guess those buildings have been converted to taxable real estate, which I'm sure the city of Nashville appreciates, given how much church agency real estate there is in downtown. I guess now, with the sale of Glorieta, the conference center division can just go to Ridgecrest as well. I knew they were out of the printing business because it's cheaper to contract with larger firms.
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Re: A Curiosity Question

Postby Sandy » Sat Jul 13, 2013 12:28 pm

Dave Roberts wrote:Thanks, Sandy. I guess those buildings have been converted to taxable real estate, which I'm sure the city of Nashville appreciates, given how much church agency real estate there is in downtown. I guess now, with the sale of Glorieta, the conference center division can just go to Ridgecrest as well. I knew they were out of the printing business because it's cheaper to contract with larger firms.


I guess what they lease to private business is taxable. I'm sure that whatever the State of Tennessee leases is tax exempt.

I had a friend who worked in the print shop when they had it in the warehouse next to the Frost Building. It was gigantic, and I believe they also printed for the United Methodist publishing house, and Thomas Nelson. It may have been a private contractor then and they had some lease agreement for the warehouse. It may be the same printing company now, but it is at a different location, though it may be nearby. I was in there for a conference back in January, they have a really nice conference and training center on the third floor at the back of the old Frost Building that connects to the atrium in the main lobby of the new tower.

I've wondered why they didn't just sell the facilities they vacated when they built the new office tower and warehouse and distribution center at One Lifeway Plaza. With the exception of the corner of 9th and Broadway, where Christ Church Cathedral sits, they own the whole block from the railroad tracks to 9th, and from Church St. to Broadway. In addition to the warehouse and office complex they vacated at 9th and Church, that the state leases, they also own the property on which the SBC headquarters building sits, and there is a Holiday Inn Express at 10th and Broadway that they either own, or lease. The answer is that they still need the parking areas, especially the four level garage on Church, and leases are more profitable uses of the property than simply selling it would be. They also make $10 a car for off hours parking when there's a big event at Frist Center, across the street, or at the arena, or the Ryman, which are just a few blocks walk.
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Re: A Curiosity Question

Postby TrudyU » Sat Jul 13, 2013 2:52 pm

Ed: I am amazed to read that that Lifeway is contracting out its printing. Perhaps they got caught in the rather rapid changes in printing technology. I had a individualized tour of the facilities back when it was still the Southern Baptist Sunday School Board (mid 1970's). At that time I was told that the Sunday School Board was second only to the U.S. Government Printing House in the volume of mail sent out each work day.
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Re: A Curiosity Question

Postby Sandy » Sun Jul 14, 2013 8:32 am

The printing has been contracted out for a long time, and I think it's probably less expensive to do that than it is to operate the size of a printing operation themselves. In addition to the massive amount of Sunday School literature and periodicals they publish, there are the book publishing divisions, and the Bible publishing. I would imagine that they use several different companies for the printing. I've seen the distribution center in operation, it is quite a process, largely automated. Since Thom Rainer has been there, the marketing has really expanded the sale of their products. They've gone way beyond just being a denominational publishing house. There was a time when you could only get their products by ordering them directly, or going to the Baptist Book Store, but they are widely available now. Their best sales pitch used to be that if your church was SBC, it ought to use SBC literature, but SBC churches account for only half their literature sales now.

I live about 30 miles from National Church Supply, which contracts with them for the church envelope service. That is quite an operation in and of itself.
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Re: A Curiosity Question

Postby TrudyU » Mon Jul 15, 2013 3:28 am

Sandy wrote:The printing has been contracted out for a long time, and I think it's probably less expensive to do that than it is to operate the size of a printing operation themselves. In addition to the massive amount of Sunday School literature and periodicals they publish, there are the book publishing divisions, and the Bible publishing. I would imagine that they use several different companies for the printing. I've seen the distribution center in operation, it is quite a process, largely automated. Since Thom Rainer has been there, the marketing has really expanded the sale of their products. They've gone way beyond just being a denominational publishing house. There was a time when you could only get their products by ordering them directly, or going to the Baptist Book Store, but they are widely available now. Their best sales pitch used to be that if your church was SBC, it ought to use SBC literature, but SBC churches account for only half their literature sales now.

I live about 30 miles from National Church Supply, which contracts with them for the church envelope service. That is quite an operation in and of itself.


Ed; Sandy when you say the printing has been contracted out for a long time, how long is long? Could you put that in a time frame relating to the takeover of the SBC? And when you talk about the expansion of marketing in the seven and a half years that Thom Ranier has been CEO of Lifway, just what does that mean.

And as i see it when you say "There was a time when you could only get their products by ordering them directly, or going to the Baptist Book Store, but they are widely available now". Translates to a wider non SBC market in which the proceeds from sales although spread more thinly, tend to offset earlier losses in SBC market share due to the more narrow theological stance and change of brand identification for the materials produced.

I am not surprised that many non SBC churches are more willing to use materials with the Lifeway brand than they where, when it carried the SBSB brand. I hear that some churches in IFCA are even using Lifeway materials, I have had a couple ABC-USA folk who use Lifeway material argue with me that Lifeway is not SBC operated any longer.

And as for National Church Supply, the only online customer reference I could find is quite unflattering. And I also found Lifeway listed at the same address in west VA. I am also aware that online references are not always accurate, in that those who have have had a poor experience with a company are more likely to write than are those who are satisfied.
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Re: A Curiosity Question

Postby Sandy » Mon Jul 15, 2013 10:25 am

Ed Pettibone wrote:Ed; Sandy when you say the printing has been contracted out for a long time, how long is long? Could you put that in a time frame relating to the takeover of the SBC? And when you talk about the expansion of marketing in the seven and a half years that Thom Ranier has been CEO of Lifway, just what does that mean.


The printing has been done by an outside firm at least as long as Lifeway has occupied the tower and warehouse complex at One Lifeway Plaza, so at least 30 years. I think the book printing and binding has always been done by an outside firm. I'd have to look up the date, but I believe the decision to get out of printing was made while Dr. Elder was still president, but was not implemented until Jimmy Draper became CEO.

Ed Pettibone wrote:And as i see it when you say "There was a time when you could only get their products by ordering them directly, or going to the Baptist Book Store, but they are widely available now". Translates to a wider non SBC market in which the proceeds from sales although spread more thinly, tend to offset earlier losses in SBC market share due to the more narrow theological stance and change of brand identification for the materials produced.


Looking back through the financial reports in SBC annuals, I do not see that the BSSB/Lifeway ever suffered a loss of revenue, or a decline in sales as a result of the conservative resurgence. The old-line traditionalists in the SBC saw Lifeway as a fief of denominational interests, and their vision was limited to its service as an exclusively denominational publisher, a "we do everything" approach, and their sales and marketing technique boiled down to "If you are Southern Baptist, then your church should use BSSB literature, and you should only read Broadman books and buy them at the Baptist Book Store." When Jimmy Draper came along, he realized that the denominational branding would limit the ability of the company to expand, and he saw that the common theology of a large segment of evangelical Christianity was also a potential market for their products and services. National Baptist Convention and Assembly of God churches were already purchasing large quantities of the generically produced literature, and the AoG bookstore chain stocked its stores with Broadman books and Bibles and Lifeway church supplies. Draper opened the door for selling Lifeway products to be sold in Christian bookstores other than Lifeway, which caused some of their authors to zoom to the top of the best seller list, and Rainer has opened the door to publish works by non-Southern Baptist authors, which has broadened their sales. The last figure I heard on literature sales was that, in spite of the changes that have taken place in the church culture regarding Sunday School "literature," Lifeway is cutting edge in this area, with on-line and software products, and they sell to over 100,000 churches. The potential market represented by the largest and most active segment of Protestant Christianity in America, which would be conservative, Evangelical churches, is much greater than the SBC alone, and most of those in non-denominational churches, as well as denominations which consider themselves conservative and evangelical, would have little problem or disagreement with the SBC's doctrinal perspective.

Ed Pettibone wrote:And as for National Church Supply, the only online customer reference I could find is quite unflattering. And I also found Lifeway listed at the same address in west VA. I am also aware that online references are not always accurate, in that those who have have had a poor experience with a company are more likely to write than are those who are satisfied.


National Church Supply is a church offering envelope supplier. They print customized offering envelopes for churches, including the boxed and dated sets with the accounting numbers on them that some churches utilize. I've seen their production facility in Chester, West Virginia, about 30 miles from my house, it is mainly a printing and shipping business. Lifeway is their biggest single contract, by far, though they also have contracts with several other denominations, and with individual churches. I don't think they are a subsidiary of Lifeway, they just have a contract for the envelopes.
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Re: A Curiosity Question

Postby TrudyU » Mon Jul 15, 2013 2:43 pm

Ed: Yep same place http://www.yellowpages.com/chester-wv/m ... c-15211836

Lifeway Envelope Services
https://plus.google.com/105269113731554 ... gl=us&hl...‎
Google+ page · Be the first to review
2670 Pyramus Rd Chester, WV 26034
(304) 387-5292

and National Church Supply
www.envelopeservice.com/
Welcome to the Envelope Service. Producing A Quality Product and Service Second To None.
Google+ page · Be the first to review
2670 Pyramus Rd Chester, WV 26034
(304) 387-5200

different phone #
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Re: A Curiosity Question

Postby Sandy » Mon Jul 15, 2013 4:34 pm

TrudyU wrote:Ed: Yep same place http://www.yellowpages.com/chester-wv/m ... c-15211836

Lifeway Envelope Services
https://plus.google.com/105269113731554 ... gl=us&hl...‎
Google+ page · Be the first to review
2670 Pyramus Rd Chester, WV 26034
(304) 387-5292

and National Church Supply
http://www.envelopeservice.com/
Welcome to the Envelope Service. Producing A Quality Product and Service Second To None.
Google+ page · Be the first to review
2670 Pyramus Rd Chester, WV 26034
(304) 387-5200

different phone #


They are a contractor, not a subsidiary. According to their main office, Lifeway accounts for 70% of their business.
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