Jeremy Petrie’s father started Willow Creek Press in the 1970s by publishing books written by one of Wisconsin’s favorite authors of the time: Gordon MacQuarrie, who wrote humorous stories about fishing and hunting in northern Wisconsin. In the first 20 years of business, Willow Creek Press published books about hunting and fishing. All that changed in 1995 with the release of Just Labs, a photo-driven book illustrating the joys of owning a Labrador retriever dog. The book became a national bestseller, and Willow Creek Press entered the publishing mainstream.
“We were able to follow that book up with some other successful products,” says Jereme Petrie, son of Petrie Sr. and president of Willow Creek Press. “Then in 1995 we acquired the Angler’s Calendar Company. Fast-forward to today, and about 85 percent of our business is calendars.”
WisconsinMade Artisan Collective was founded several years into Willow Creek Press’s success around the turn of the millennium. The two partnered in 2002 to sell Wisconsin-themed calendars online. Today, WisconsinMade also sells puzzles and photo-centric inspirational books by Willow Creek Press. One of their most popular items on WisconsinMade are Lakelife, a book about the simple pleasures of living on a lake.
Jeremy has been working at Willow Creek Press since before their successful boom. After graduating high school in 1995, he started working at the Willow Creek Press warehouse helping to ship orders. He had plans to go to Milwaukee for school, but decided to stick around when business started to boom later in 1995 going into 1996. He’s been there ever since.
“I began working in the warehouse and received training to be a sales associate,” Jeremy says. “One day our sales director decided to go to another company, so I stepped in there just until we found a replacement. The rest is history, as they say there.”
Jeremy has been president since 2014.
Petrie Sr., meanwhile, is mostly retired. Or, as Jeremy says, “75 percent retired.”
“He does some editorial and photo edits,” Jeremy says. With approximately 500 calendars in its total line-up, and a mixture of monthly and daily calendars to boot, there are a lot of images to edit.
Most of the day-to-day business falls to Jeremy, who enjoys the work. The company wouldn’t be where it is today without the sincere dedication of its employees. Every person on staff contributes to the success of the company and the passion shines in the product.
“There’s always something new coming down the pipeline to be excited about,” he says. “Whether it’s production, design, sales, creative . . . we built a 12,000 square-foot office in Minocqua. There’s a lot going on here!”