News Tribune advertising rep retires after 40 years in the industry
Bernie Bischoff worked with the newspaper since 1998.
DULUTH — For the past 24 years, Bernie Bischoff has created customized advertising campaigns for clients who he calls friends. On March 7, he retired.
Bischoff's fascination with the newspaper industry began as a child, while visiting his mother's family who owned a publication in northwestern Minnesota.
Before earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications and media from the University of Minnesota Duluth, Bischoff worked at the college newspaper as assistant editor and outdoors writer. In 1985, he was hired as an advertising representative at the weekly Duluth Budgeteer News before joining the Duluth News Tribune team in 1998.
There were no cellphones when Bischoff got his start in the newspaper industry, and work was completed on a fax machine rather than computers.
"Fax machines were new. They were a big deal. Glossy pieces of paper called Velox came out in curly little rolls and would run through waxers. I remember getting my tie caught in the waxer one time. The Velox would all fit on the page. They would take a camera shot of the page and that's what was printed. All cameras had to use film back then," Bischoff recalled.
Over the course of 40 years, the pace has picked up.
"There is so much more that we do now besides print paper ads or inserts. With the e-paper, it's in people's homes at 6 a.m. every day, rain or shine. Ads have hyperlinks so you can go to the website. So much at people's fingertips. They don't have to wait for the paper to get to their doorstep," Bischoff said.
Publisher Neal Ronquist praised Bischoff's growth in the digital age.
"These last few years, I've enjoyed his willingness to adapt to the changing landscape and embrace new technology," Ronquist said. "I am sure learning the complexity of digital advertising was a heavy lift, but he gave it his all. His curiosity and willingness to ask questions helped all of us be better."
While staying on the cutting edge, Bischoff strived to be efficient without losing that personal element of working alongside others to bring in ideas and develop creative campaigns.
"Bernie was a true team player, and always put our customers first. He truly had a passion for helping our clients grow, and developed some amazing business relationships during his 40 years in the industry. One of Bernie's greatest attributes was his ability to always remain positive and give our clients 100% every day," said Advertising Director Megan Keller.
"I tried to be a partner on the same side of the desk as the client to understand what their business is all about. The past couple years, people have been facing challenges due to COVID, and now to the economy. I see some people trying not to lay employees off, or making other adjustments to stay in business and realize that what advertising dollars, if any, that they have are often limited. It's a big responsibility to find something that will work for them with whatever they have to work with," Bischoff said.
Now it's time to hand the baton to someone else, Bischoff said, referencing the 1949 stage play, "Death of a Salesman."
"I don't want to become like Willy. The grind got to him. You want to get out while you're still on top," he said. "We had a really good run this past year. ... The advertising department made our goals for the year. We have just been through so much together and I've always wanted to hold up my end, but I know I can't do that forever nor do I think I should. I'm happy to be going out at a good time. It's just the right time."