ABARTA: A look at The Press of Atlantic City’s longtime family owners
ABARTA, a privately owned Pittsburgh-based holding company, recently announced it is selling The Press of Atlantic City to Berkshire Hathaway after more than 60 years of ownership. The newspaper and its related assets represented a small, non-core piece of ABARTA’s diverse portfolio.
The founder of ABARTA, Rolland Adams, started his company in 1933. Employed as a bank examiner at the time, Adams acquired an interest in a bankrupt newspaper, The Bethlehem Globe. He became its operating head, and subsequently bought out his investment partners. Adams continued to grow his company by purchasing The Atlantic City Press (later renamed The Press of Atlantic City) in 1953. He began diversifying the company that year by gaining partial interest in the Bethlehem Coca-Cola and Pittsburgh Coca-Cola bottling franchises.
Adams acquired a 90% interest in the Bethlehem and Pittsburgh Coca-Cola operations in 1963. The remaining 10% was purchased by his three sons-in-law, John Bitzer, Jr., George Roehr and Don Taylor. These sons-in-law created the ABARTA name. The acronym ABARTA represents the families’ last names — an “A” for each of the Adams daughters (Mimi, Ann and Marcia), “B” for Bitzer, “R” for Roehr” and “T” for Taylor.
In 1964 Adams sold the Atlantic City Press to his sons-in-law, and in 1969 his three daughters inherited The Bethlehem Globe and the remaining Coca-Cola interests. This left the second-generation daughters essentially owning one half of the company and their husbands owning the other. In 1972 a new ABARTA was formed as a holding company to bring all the individual companies together.
The second-generation ownership set its sights on continued expansion through the acquisition of additional bottling operations and other ventures. Summit Solutions, ABARTA’s raw materials purchasing division, was founded in 1974, and in 1979 the company founded ABARTA Oil & Gas, which operates in seven states today. The company diversified further in 2007 when it purchased a 91% interest in Kahiki Foods, Inc., a frozen food company located in Columbus, Ohio.
The Bethlehem Globe-Times (originally The Bethlehem Globe) was sold in 1991. An additional publishing entity was added in 1993, Metro Publishing, which was sold in 2004.
In 1996 ownership of ABARTA was transferred to the third generation. Members of the fourth generation also work in the organization today.