In the spring of this year, Eric Wright and Joseph Duda took over the ownership of Space Coast Magazines, the publisher of Space Coast Living, Space Coast Business, Discover the Space Coast and a number of other community focused specialty publications. These periodicals have become the central source for the Space Coast’s live, work and play culture, where this burgeoning county goes from Titusville to Palm Bay, to “Know Brevard.”
What was your motivation in taking over Space Coast Magazines?
Eric: It was two-fold. These publications have been serving Brevard for 16 years and Joseph and I had been minority owners. In 2017, Jeff Piersall had a health complication that seemed to be exacerbated by the pressures of the business and we realized he needed and wanted to exit, so we became the owners. But that is only half the story.
Joseph: The opportunity to celebrate this incredible area, what I like to call, ‘Florida’s best kept secret,’ is remarkable. The potential we have because of our positioning, bordered on
the west by the St. John’s River, split by the Indian and Banana Rivers and over 70 miles of coastline, makes it unique in the state. We have more waterfront property than any other county in the U.S., plus one of the most diverse economies in the state.
Eric: Plus, if you want certain big city venues that aren’t here, Orlando is only 45 minutes from Viera. Professional sports, world-renowned theme parks, but you don’t have to live with that traffic every day.
What is the difference you think people will see?
Joseph: The former owner wanted to develop a marketing company that published magazines. Inherent in that is a certain conflict of interest, where marketing clients, were at times, the content focus versus the incredible stories that are going on every day in Brevard.
Eric: I think people will see the publications shift from a marketing client focus, to an audience focus. We have always been a source of intelligent conversation, insightful information, social/professional networking and community awareness, but more than ever before we want to be a nexus of engagement.
Explain your connection to the community?
Joseph: In 1948 our family business, A. Duda & Sons, bought the 50,000-acre ranch that today is Viera for, believe it or not, $250,000. Of course, in 1948 that was a fortune. That became where I would go to hunt and had my first job, putting up fences for our cattle business. When I became company CEO and we began making plans for our planned community, I moved here and tried to move our corporate headquarters. Viera is an expression of the vision and aspirations we have for this county.
Eric: My family moved to Cocoa Beach in the mid ’50s. My father retired from the Navy and went to work for NASA, before it was NASA. I remember witnessing every manned launch, from Alan Shepard through the Space Shuttle. It was a magical time and a magical place to grow up. When we weren’t at the beach, we were out on the river. This county is home for me.
What excites you about the Space Coast?
Eric: Joseph alluded to the diversity of Brevard’s economy. We need to really wrap our minds around that. We have the largest percentage of engineers per capita in the country and manufacturing jobs in the state. What is more, this area could well become, what we have called, the ‘Silicon Valley of Space,’ as the global space industry tracks towards a trillion dollars a year by 2050. The new bi-partisan emphasis on exploration and the rise of commercial space development is a complete paradigm shift that is being seen globally.
Joseph: In addition to the growing aerospace, manufacturing and tourism industries, you have an unrivaled lifestyle opportunity that gets better every year. From the spiritual environment, to the incredible community engagement and new restaurants opening all the time, this community has something for everyone, with great schools for young people, while also being the perfect place to retire.
What is the biggest challenge in front of Space Coast Magazines?
Eric: I think people don’t understand what has changed and hasn’t changed about print media. Yes, newspapers are falling like dinosaurs, but magazine readership is still on the rise and magazines play well in print and in a digital platform. Our pubs have an incredible shelf life and are relevant and entertaining months, if not years, after publication.
Joseph: What people want is great content. Content that educates them and that engages them. People want to know about the community, where to go, what to do and we help provide that.