January 4, 1994
By Yolanda Reynolds
Last week, La Oferta Review took a major step forward when its presses rolled out last week’s issue of the paper. La Oferta, in late November, moved from its location on Alum Rock Avenue to its own, larger offices at 1376 North Fourth Street. La Oferta now also has its own press both to print the paper and contract print other publications in the South Bay. La Oferta is the only Hispanic owned newspaper in the nation to have its own press.
This move for La Oferta Review is one of a chain of developments that began in the late 1970’s when the Andrades, Frank and Mary, began publishing a “direct mail coupon booklet to the public, promoting local businesses in a spare bedroom of their home.
Their talent and hard work has resulted in the publication of the twice a week La Oferta newspaper which now employs over twenty people and, as importantly has been nationally recognized by the National Association of Hispanic Publications. In 1992 La Oferta Review won more awards than other well established major publications from such cities as Miami, Los Angeles and Chicago. La Oferta has consistently been singled out for recognition in the various categories for which the print media is evaluated from news writing to newspaper format.
The experience, education and temperament of the Andrades are keys to their success in the very competitive print media La Oferta is growing at a time when many newspapers are closing their doors. Just recently, another newspaper in California, the Sacramento Union established in the late 1800’s, ceased publication and nearby, the Oakland Tribune is struggling to survive.
Berkeley Journalism Professor Emeritus Ben Bagdikian says that a democratic system of government is at risk when there are too few sources of information. He is very concerned about the slow death of competing publications and the consequent loss of different points of view.
La Oferta has been an important source of news and information to the Latino/Hispanic community, not only for its coverage of local interest news, but also for cultural and political information front Mexico, Central and South America and Spain. La Oferta has reporters in Spain, Mexico and Ecuador and has recently acquired Associated Press, (AP) services for news from Mexico and Latin America.
Mary Andrade, who with Frank is a co-publisher La Oferta, is a graduate of la Universidad de Guayaquil in Ecuador, her native country, where she earned a BA degree in Journalism. After graduation in 1965, Mary traveled to the United States to visit a relative in San Francisco, when and where she met Frank. They married two years later in Ecuador in 1967.
Frank was born in Ecuador but, his family moved to the United States (San Francisco) when he was six months old. His father died when he was seven years old.
Times were difficult, Frank wanted to help his mother and at eight years of age ﬁnally convinced her that it was safe for him to sell the San Francisco Daily News at the comer of Fillmore and Ellis Street. Frank says that it was not easy to convince her that it was safe.
The paper in those days sold for 5 cents a copy. Frank sold newspapers on the street until his early teens when he moved into the selling of subscriptions door to door, where he could earn more money. He found out that he was good at sales and soon was training other kids to sell subscriptions.
Frank was made a district manager of subscriptions while still in his teens. He was offered a job and a promotion by the Examiner. He accepted the offer and discovered that they had given him one of the most difficult areas in which to be successful. The district’s residents were generally uneducated and very poor.
There, Andrade was very successful, prompting his supervisor to advise him to move out and up, and introduced him to a subscription contracting ﬁrm, Milnes Sales, that had a nationwide operation in subscription sales. Frank was offered a job with the company and moved to the East Coast.
Andrade was sent to handle the company’s contracts with some of the major newspapers of those times, such as the Los Angeles Times, St. Louis Globe, Pittsburgh Post and Gazette, New York Journal Tribune, Newark Star Ledger and the Orlando Sentinel, among others.
In 1967 an offer came to return to California to handle subscription sales for the San Jose Mercury News. Frank, at the time deep in snow, ice, and freezing cold, accepted. He was in Newark, New Jersey at the time. Frank says “I remember that day – I had just bought a new car, and I was a California boy – I packed my things and it took just two days to make it to San Francisco.”
Andrade worked, on contract, for the Mercury News for seven years until the newspaper in a reorganization decided to bring the subscription sales “in house.” (Today, at La Oferta, the President of Marketing, John Baraona, is one of the young men who was trained by Andrade when Frank was with the MN.)
After leaving the MN and the contract company, Frank and Mary took an extended trip to South America for a rest and for time to think. Frank says, “we assessed our skills and the things that we liked to do and decided to start our own business.”
It was meant hard work for both of them. Frank says that his work days are rarely only eight hours and that his work week is at least six days long. Mary says, “it’s difficult to keep Frank from going to the office even on Sundays.”
Frank describes his long work hours as the situation of most small business owners. Andrade says, “business owners are the first to come and the last to leave.” Frank adds that their business evolved into a newspaper because, in their earlier projects (a direct mail coupon booklet and later a shopper’s guide in Spanish), Mary’s considerable talent and education “were missing.” The newspaper business allowed them both to use their talents – his in sales, marketing, and the mechanics of publishing and hers in journalism and photography. These talents and energy and drive have brought them to this signiﬁcant achievement for the Hispanic print media in the County.
Mary is an internationally known photographer and has had her work exhibited in Spain, Egypt, South America, and Mexico. Including Mexico City. For the last seven years, the celebration of Dia de Los Muertos throughout Mexico and the fauna of the Galapagos have been of very special interest to Mary.
Mary’s photography is frequently featured in the internationally distributed publication entitled. “Mexico: Events and Destinations.” Mary’s photography will also be featured in a Miami based Spanish language publication for photography enthusiasts entitled, “FotoImagen.” A book publication is also pending.
Mary has been astute in selecting contributing writers to La Oferta. Each of La Oferta’s frequent writers have, at one time or another, been awarded honors by the NAHP.
Frank Andrade says that, for him, it has always been important to set a goal, even if it is hard to reach. Frank explains that. “you want to reach them but, even when you can’t reach them – without goals there is no opportunity to grow.”
Frank says that his plan for La Oferta is eventually to serve the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo, San Benito. Santa Cruz, Alameda and Monterey – “that,” he says, “should keep me busy until I die.” In the meantime, the new press will ultimately allow La Oferta to be printed in the volume needed to better serve its readers in San Jose.
For this writer, and others at La Oferta it has been challenging, interesting and personally satisfying to be associated with this newspaper. Gary Valnizza, who has worked in marketing with La Oferta for ﬁve years says the newspaper business and sales was a first experience for him. ‘‘It has been exciting and interesting,” says Valnizza. “l’ve met Carlos Santana, many international musicians and famous athletes, including Willie Mays, and it also pays my rent!”
Mary and Frank have two daughters, both of whom are enrolled in college. Tatiana attends Evergreen Valley College and is preparing for a degree in International Business Administration. Veronica is the manager at La Oferta and is enrolled in evening classes at the National Hispanic University in San Jose where she is majoring in Business Administration.
La Oferta, a bilingual publication, serves a niche market that had been overlooked. Frank Andrade says that he wanted to reach those who were more fluent in Spanish, generally first generation residents, as well as the second and third generation residents of Latino ancestry who are comfortable with English; bringing both news of interest to the community as well as connecting the business community to the large and growing Hispanic market.
Frank and Mary Congratulations! © La Oferta Publication