National Lutheran News

Augsburg Fortress guardedl optimistic about finances

The board of trustees of Augsburg Fortress, the publishing ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), heard reports April 22-23 that suggest the publisher may have a much better year in 2005 compared to 2004.

The ELCA’s publisher experienced a better-than-forecast first quarter.
To help the publisher achieve its 2005 goal of at least breaking even — for the first time in many years — it is critical “that all institutions of the church consider Augsburg Fortress resources,” said Beth A. Lewis, president and chief executive officer.

“When we are competitive in quality, price and service, then the choice becomes a stewardship choice,” she said in an interview with the ELCA News Service. “I’m asking that the church support this ministry, so that any profits can be reinvested into new ministry resources for this church.”

The most important financial result from the first quarter of 2005 is that Augsburg Fortress was able to generate cash from its operation, said George Poehlman, vice president for finance, and treasurer. It generated $782,172 in positive cash flow, $662,070 more than budgeted, Poehlman reported.

The company’s first quarter sales were nearly $9.5 million, $387,000 better than budgeted, he said. Overall, Augsburg Fortress finished the first quarter ahead of its budget with an operating loss of only $110,000, Poehlman said.
In her report to the board, Lewis said the company’s product teams and employees are using a goal-oriented performance system called “Balanced Scorecard,” which constantly measures work performance.

For example, in a study of company service response time, results showed that orders are sent to customers within 24 hours of when the order is placed more than 99% of the time, she said.