Key Pilot Jobs Change Hands
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Two of the men who played key roles in The Pilot's growth over the last several years are retiring.
Advertising Director Tom Bryant and Circulation Director Dennis Lenart are stepping down, but Publisher David Woronoff expects a smooth transition.
"We've been planning for Tom' s and Dennis' retirements for a couple of years now," Woronoff said, "in hopes that this transition in management would be orderly."
Vestal C. "Pat" Taylor, who moves to the Sandhills from his most recent position as general manager of The Winston-Salem Journal, has started this week as advertising director.
Darlene Stark is training under Lenart to become circulation director later this fall. She has worked at The Pilot in advertising and elsewhere for three years.
Though their replacements are extremely capable, Woronoff said, the newspaper is losing two people who helped build the business -- after Woronoff and his partners purchased The Pilot in 1996 -- into what it is today.
"When you hire guys who are 55 years old, you know that this day would come in about 10 years," Woronoff said. "I've been dreading it. Tom and Dennis are great friends to me, The Pilot and, most important, the community.
"Individually and together, they have done first-rate work for many years. On top of all that, they've been an inspiration to our staff."
Bryant will stay on through Oct. 4 to help out. Lenart is staying until about the end of the year to train Stark.
After they retire, both will still be involved with the newspaper, Bryant as an outdoor columnist and Lenart as a consultant.
"I'm excited for them and the fact that they'll remain affiliated with The Pilot for years to come," Woronoff said.
Both Bryant and Lenart said that they think highly of their successors.
"We brought The Pilot to the 20th century," Bryant said, "They'll bring it to the 21st century and beyond."
Taylor has had experience working with Woronoff and The Pilot. He served as a consultant to Woronoff during the acquisition of the Whistle Stop Press in 2005 and has helped with the strategy behind the launch of The Pilot's wireless Internet initiative.
"Pat's one of the best newspapermen in North Carolina," Woronoff said. "We're lucky to have him. The fact that we were able to recruit an executive with his talent speaks volumes about what a special community we all enjoy."
Taylor will move to the Sandhills with his wife of 25 years, Lani. The couple has two grown children who live in Charlotte. Taylor has held senior management positions at The Jefferson (N.C.) Post, the Roanoke (Va.) Times, The Anniston (Ala.) Star and for the last 10 years, The Winston-Salem Journal.
He has served on the North Carolina Press Association board, the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association's traveling campus faculty, and has authored a textbook on advertising sales.
He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and earned an MBA at Wake Forest University.
"I started as a cub reporter and photojournalist in West Jefferson (at what is now The Jefferson Post)," he said. "I ended up as publisher and editor."
The job at The Pilot interested Taylor, he said, because he likes the way the paper cares about its audience and community.
"They really focus on readers and customers first," Taylor said. "They're proving that's the way to run a newspaper. A lot of newspapers have lost sight of that."
Stark began her newspaper career as a child in Ohio, where she delivered The Toledo Blade.
She has been learning a lot about circulation from Lenart. Stark actually started working for The Pilot in circulation answering the phone on Sunday mornings, but quickly proved adept at selling and was promoted to classified advertising manager.
Classified revenues jumped 20 percent under her management.
"Circulation is all about sales and service," Woronoff said. "Darlene has demonstrated time and again that she excels in both of those areas. Her steady demeanor, joy of newspapering and sound judgment made her the logical choice to succeed Dennis."
She's now refamiliarizing herself with the circulation department under Lenart's tutelage.
"I have done everything from loading papers and driving the forklift to working with our subscribers and growing our home delivery and single-copy sales," she said.
Stark has most recently been the general manager of Carolina Mailing Solutions, a direct mail business run in conjunction with the Whistle Stop Press.
She worked in the banking industry in Florida before moving to Southern Pines, but has recently found that she may have been predestined to work with a newspaper.
"I just found out in talking to my mom that my great-grandfather was a pressman for The Cincinnati Post," Stark said, "and my granddad worked for the Cincinnati Inquirer. So, I guess the newspaper business was in my blood."
Matthew Moriarty can be reached at 693-2479 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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