August 7, 2017
Executive Profile

Barcikowski is CT's Polish gatekeeper, point man

HBJ PHOTO | John Stearns
HBJ PHOTO | John Stearns
Darek Barcikowski holds up a recent edition of White Eagle Media's Connecticut paper, which is written in Polish for the state's large Polish population.

VIEW: Executive Profile: Darek Barcikkowski

Darek Barcikowski

Publisher and managing partner, White Eagle Media LLC, New Britain, and honorary consul for the Honorary Consulate of the Republic of Poland in Connecticut.

Highest education: Bachelor's in criminology, Northeastern University, Boston, 2001.

Executive insights:

Read as many business books and business magazines as possible. "They offer a tremendous amount of knowledge."

One could say Darek Barcikowski is Connecticut's Polish point man, wearing many hats for a Polish community that he said numbers roughly 300,000, or about 10 percent of the state's population.

Barcikowski is publisher and managing partner of New Britain-based White Eagle Media LLC, which publishes biweekly Polish-language newspapers covering Connecticut and seven other states, honorary consul for the Honorary Consulate of the Republic of Poland in Connecticut and executive director of the American Polish Advisory Council in Washington, D.C., an organization to get Polish Americans more engaged politically and advance Polish American issues — all from a building on New Britain's Broad Street. The office is in the heart of the Little Poland neighborhood in a region with one of the highest concentrations of Poles in New England.

About seven people work in the newspaper office, which is the nerve center for three other White Eagle editions, one for Massachusetts/Rhode Island, one combining New York/New Jersey/Pennsylvania news and another for Florida/Georgia, with about eight other staff sprinkled among the states and in Poland in writing, sales, administration, circulation and graphic design, plus about 15 more who are correspondents, not staff.

The office also publishes a bimonthly healthcare publication, Healthier Living, for New England and another for New York-New Jersey out of the office, plus a New England Polish business directory.

Stories focus on issues and events important to Polish communities, for example, an analysis about the impact of consolidating parishes in the Catholic archdiocese, which included the closure of six Polish churches, Barcikowski said. It also covers stories that aren't Polish per se, but which it feels the community should know about, including the state budget and New Britain mayoral race. It also localizes stories from Poland.

White Eagle Media, where ad revenues are up 47 percent so far this year, relocated from Boston in Jan. 2016, but has produced a Connecticut edition since 2004, shortly after the company started its first paper in 2003. It relocated for the large employee pool of fluent Polish speakers; easier access to the larger Northeast market, which has about 4 million Poles; and because Connecticut is its strongest advertising and circulation base.

The cost of doing business in Connecticut, including rent, also is lower than in New York or Boston, Barcikowski added.

"It was probably the best decision that I could have made personally and also that we could have made for the company," said Barcikowski, 39, who's equal partners in White Eagle Media with Marcin Bolec, Boston-based editor-in-chief.

The move came after the company emerged from a punishing recession that forced reconfiguration, including the closure of California and Arizona editions, and the sale of a Polish business directory in London and magazine in Poland.

Barcikowski is scouting Chicago, one of the country's largest Polish communities, for expansion, possibly starting with a healthcare publication or acquisitions or partnerships with other ethnic media. It's also considering other ways to exploit White Eagle's media expertise on a national scale, including expanding advertising, branding, and web and public relations services.

"I think long term, the only way that ethnic media will be able to survive is if they're part of larger networks … that will be able to put out publications, whether it's Spanish or Asian or Polish, so that you have a certain base that allows you to do this at a lower cost," he said.

Bolec said he and Barcikowski never have to worry about the other's iron-clad honesty or integrity, allowing them to focus on what's best for business.

"I know that he's passionate, I know that he will do whatever it takes to move us forward," Bolec said.

As consul, the first for Poland in Connecticut and his title since fall, Barcikowski — who moved to the U.S. at age 9 — officially represents the Polish government in the state in areas that include passport and citizenship inquiries, business, education and cultural exchanges.

One consulate task is facilitating more trade between Connecticut and Poland and he's looking at organizing a trade mission to Portland next year. All told, Barcikowski's schedule is dizzying.

"I don't want to tell you how many hours I work," he said.

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