Irvin J. Borowsky, Founder of North American Publishing Co., Dies at 90
Irvin J. Borowsky, the publisher and philanthropist who founded North American Publishing Co. (NAPCO), the parent company of Retail Online Integration, died Nov. 25 in Philadelphia, a few days after his 90th birthday.
Known as "Mr. B," Borowsky was born in Philadelphia in 1924, the youngest of nine children born to Polish immigrants. At the age of 14, Borowsky started a printing business called City Wide Press after answering an ad in Popular Mechanics for a $5 printing press. His next company, founded after World War II, was called Foster Manufacturing Company, which sold custom storage equipment to major newspapers of the day. His first stint in publishing was a company, founded in 1948, that would become TV Guide.
According to Borowsky's Wikipedia entry, during this time in his life, he introduced many new concepts to the world: He was the first person to present movies on television, for example, and the first to introduce the marketing of magazines at checkout counters in supermarkets. His redesign of numerous newspaper composition departments also produced major efficiencies which were adopted by newspapers worldwide.
NAPCO was founded in 1954, following Borowsky's sale of the TV magazine to Walter Annenberg. The company's first magazine was Printing Impressions, and NAPCO's titles grew to more than 20 in the 1970s. The company's growth continued after that, eventually becoming the modern media company it is today, comprised of five different subgroups (printing, promotional products, publishing, consumer electronics and direct marketing).
Borowsky stepped away from the company in the early 1980s, devoting his primary energies to philanthropy. For several years he served as president of the Jewish Exponent, the newspaper that has served the Philadelphia Jewish community for more than 100 years. For the Federation of Jewish Charities, he became chairman of the printing and publishing divisions. Borowsky also made many visits to Israel, notably during the Yom Kippur War and, on later occasions, for meetings with that nation’s leadership.