Over the course of 28 years, Vitto Kleinschmidt has risen through the newspaper ranks from a position in home delivery to publisher of the Peninsula Clarion.
Kleinschmidt is taking over the position from Stan Pitlo, who is retiring from the paper after 21 years.
Kleinschmidt comes to the Clarion from the Juneau Empire, another Morris Publishing Group, LLC, paper, where he worked as the circulation and operations director.
In his three years at the Empire, Kleinschmidt said he helped in multiple departments.
“(Wherever) I could help because the paper has to go out and the show must go on,” Kleinschmidt said.
Initially, Kleinschmidt said he wants to get to know not only the Clarion employees but also the community.
“I want to guide this newspaper in the right direction and do it while having fun and meeting our goals,” he said.
Pitlo said some parts of the job will be easy for Kleinschmidt to step into; however, employees will have to get used to a different management style. He recommended Kleinschmidt to listen to department heads and be flexible as change can be difficult for employees — especially after many years with the same publisher.
But employees also need to be patient and consider that change isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Pitlo said.
“I did everything I could do to take the department heads as far as I could,” Pitlo said. “Maybe someone new can take them further.”
Kleinschmidt had never been to Alaska before he took the position in Juneau and moved up with his family.
“We just took a chance, a leap of faith,” Kleinschmidt said. “And we love it (in Alaska).”
His career in the newspaper industry began in Texas delivering the paper. He worked at multiple publications in Washington, a publication in Illinois and moved back to Texas to work at a new Spanish publication before moving to Juneau.
“I love it. I’ve loved it from day one and I still love it to this day,” Kleinschmidt said about working in the newspaper business. His favorite position, so far, has been circulation director because it is all-encompassing and involves working with business owners.
“You get to go out more, talk to people, get to know the subscribers and the advertisers, and I enjoyed that very much,” Kleinschmidt said. “I enjoyed meeting other people and being out on the field.”
After his first daughter, Melody, who is now 17, was born, Kleinschmidt began taking classes again to earn a business management degree from the University of Phoenix.
“It was challenging … and now it’s paying off,” he said.
This is Kleinschmidt’s first time in Kenai. He hopes to move his family and two dogs here in four to six weeks after he finds some housing options for his wife and daughters to consider.
Kleinschmidt said his wife, Aurora, is both his “left and right hand.” She takes care of the home and their daughters.
Melody recently graduated from high school and is working as a part-time graphic designer at the Empire.
“(Melody) has a creative mind, so she enjoys doing what she does very much,” Kleinschmidt said.
Kleinschmidt said she plans take time off from school and work after the family moves to the area. Madeline, 15, will be a sophomore in the fall. Kleinschmidt said she is a straight-A student and enjoys biking and going to the movies.
Once settled, Klienschmidt wants to participate in community sporting events whether it’s refereeing, coaching or development.
“Anything with sports, I am in,” he said. “And I like to be involved in the community … and make a difference, a positive difference in the community.”
While the his family has moved many times with Kleinschmidt staying at most of his positions for two to three years, he said he and his family enjoys living in Alaska and wants to stay in the state for a long time.
Kaylee Osowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.