Tom Harris, director of sales and marketing for the Johnson City Press, will retire at the end of 2011 after nearly 40 years in the newspaper industry.
He began his career at what was then the Johnson City Press-Chronicle in August 1974 soon after his graduation from East Tennessee State University, serving as an advertising account executive until January 1978. He also served as the newspaper’s retail advertising manager from February 1977 to December 1978.
When he began his first newspaper job, Harris said, he never expected to spend all his career in the same industry.
“At that time, I wasn’t really looking past the next day,” he said. “But the newspaper business gets in your blood. It has always been a love of mine, I’ve always enjoyed it, and I never looked to do anything else.”
Harris moved to the Erwin Record in December 1978, where he served as assistant manager until April 1987, and then editor and general manager until August 1997. After that, Harris returned to the Johnson City Press in September 1997, where he became of director of sales and marketing, and has remained ever since.
Harris said he has seen many changes in the industry, and even worked through a change in ownership for the Johnson City Press and its sister newspapers.
“I worked for (original owners) the Jones family for almost 30 years, and I greatly appreciate them giving me the opportunity,” he said. “The biggest disruption in my career was when the ownership changed, but I thank Sandusky for the smooth transition. We didn’t miss a beat.”
He specifically thanked David Rau, owner of the Press’ parent company Sandusky Newspapers Inc., and Art Powers, publisher for the Press.
“Tom and I have known each other for well over 20 years, having worked closely here at the Press for the last 10,” Powers said. “He’s been a pillar and a true professional and highly respected by his peers in the industry. But better than all of that he is a very fine, Christian man who has strong values and those who have worked with him have benefited greatly.”
Rau also had thanks for Harris’ long career.
“I thank Tom for his long service, expertise and loyalty to the Press and to the region,” Rau said. “He’s participated in the extensive changes and growth that our business and the Johnson City community have witnessed over a remarkable 37-year career, and I wish him well in his retirement.”
Harris was on the Erwin National Bank’s Board of Directors from 1993-2006; is the former chairman of the Economic Development Board of Unicoi County and the town of Erwin; and is a member and former chairman of the Dawn of Hope Foundation Board.
He is married to Vicki (Vance), and has two children: Alan of Johnson City; and Julie of Morristown. He has three grandchildren.