Behind the Lines

ALL OF US ARE GOING to have to stop Arthur Temple if he decides to move the headquarters of Time, Inc., to Diboll. We don’t care if Diboll is a nicer place to work than Manhattan, Arthur, you should have thought of that before you went ahead with the deal.

The deal Arthur Temple made was to go in one fell swoop from owner of The Angelina Free Press (circulation 4200) to key figure in a group of East Texans who now control as much of Time, Inc., (publishers of Time, Sports Illustrated, Fortune , etc., with a combined circulation of 12,956,228) as does the Luce empire itself. This fairly incredible turn of events was approved by Time shareholders a little over a month ago in a meeting at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan (pop. 7,775,000). The same day the shareholders of Temple Industries met to approve their merger with Time, only they met in the Pine Acres Community Center in Diboll (pop. 3558).

The air around the Pine Acres Community Center does not smell like the air in Manhattan, which is the main reason Time was so interested in Arthur Temple. Diboll has the sweet, tangy smell of resin, and the 400,000 acres of pine trees around Diboll along with a very healthy profit sheet, belong to Temple Industries. Combined, with Eastex, Inc., a Time subsidiary which already owns 585,000 acres of East Texas timber lands, Temple will help boost Time’s income from forest products to 42 per cent of its pre-tax earnings, which is a pretty hefty share for a company known as America’s most powerful magazine publishers.

The real question about the whole deal is not why Time wanted to merge with an obscure East Texas forest products company, but why Arthur Temple needed to merge with Time. Well, as we mentioned earlier, he comes out in a powerful position. Temple’s aunt, Mrs. Georgie B. Munz, 84, becomes the largest individual stockholder in Time, Inc., with 4.2 per cent (Claire Boothe Luce isn’t even close). Temple and 15 of his fellow executives in Diboll themselves now hold 7.5 per cent, or as many shares as held by the Henry R. Luce Foundation, a non-profit organization founded with Time’s founder’s shares. All told, former Temple Industries stockholders control 15 per cent of Time (market value: $50 million), or about as much as Time’s officers, directors, and the Luce Foundation hold. Arthur Temple is now on Time’s board of directors, and some rumors have him being the next chairman of the board of Time, Inc.

Needless to say, all these developments have not sat well with a considerable portion of the New York publishing and business communities, not to mention with a sizeable minority of Time’s other stockholders. Many of those people who have appeared genuinely appalled by the whole deal perhaps consider that most Texans can’t read and want to do away with those enlightened Easterners who can. Be that as it may, Arthur Temple did not arrange this merger without a certain country-boy flair that always seems to work best in New York, London, or wherever there aren’t too many other multi-millionaire country boys around to figure out just what’s going on.

The New York Times called Mr. Temple “a force to be reckoned with in the United States communications industry,” in the same story in which they felt the necessity to quote him in phonetic spelling, presumably to show his Texas accent. At the shareholders meeting, Time’s chairman of the board Andrew Heiskell was pressed by shareholders who wanted to know if there was a “great danger” that the Texans would wind up “running the whole show.” Mr. Heiskell defended Arthur Temple: “He’s got a good mind; he’s liberal, too—in Texas terms,” which is a good response—in New York terms.

There really isn’t any reason for those Easterners to be worried. In the first place, Temple already has acquired considerable experience in publishing (discounted in New York, no doubt) by owning The Angelina Free Press , published in—you guessed it—Diboll. In the second place, it turns out that Temple’s record on environmental matters, always a sore subject for timber companies, is considerably better than Time’s. When we ran our story on the Big Thicket [ TM, July, 1973], we pointed out the respect environmentalists had for Temple, in direct contrast to the view they held of Eastex. Time’s subsidiary which had been doing all it could to block the Big Thicket becoming a national park or to make the park so small as to be meaningless.

After our story came out, Mr. Temple called Al Reinert, the author, to congratulate him on a fair, balanced article. “Looks like I came out the best of the black hats,” Mr. Temple said. With that kind of humor, and with his proven civic spirit, Mr. Temple will get only wishes of good luck from us. The Murchisons and James Ling are some other Texans who have attempted to take over established Eastern businesses and who have left the Eastern business community at times less than impressed. We doubt that will happen with Arthur Temple, who while he kept his firm’s interest first in mind is still as fine an example of a public-spirited businessman as we have seen.

Anyway, our advice at the beginning of this column still stands. It doesn’t matter, Arthur, that Diboll is a lot nicer place to work than New York and you get tired of going up there for board meetings. But in case the idea gets too appealing, remember Saturday Review . They moved from New York to San Francisco and promptly folded. The last thing Diboll needs is all those Time journalists hanging around without a job. No, better to keep Diboll the way Andrew Heiskell described it: the town has a certain charm, although “it’s not so easy to find and you’re out of it before you get into it.” Set ‘em straight, Arthur.

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