San Diego Business Journal

At age 26, Thomas F. Missett launched one of the most prolific media careers in San Diego County history as the publisher of the Oceanside Blade-Tribune.

His success continued throughout the 1970s and 1980s as publisher of the Blade-Tribune and later the North County Blade-Citizen, which was based in Oceanside.

Under Missett, the Blade-Citizen grew from a daily circulation of 5,000 to more than 60,000.

"When I came here I was up against 26 newspapers , dailies and weeklies , in San Diego County," recalled Missett, 64.

"We dominated the ZIP code in Oceanside."

When South Coast Newspapers, which owned the Blade-Citizen, bought the rival Escondido Times-Advocate and merged into the North County Times on Dec. 3, 1996, Missett stayed on as the associate publisher for four months, then moved on to pursue other ventures.

This year, Missett re-emerged onto the North County newspaper scene as publisher of The Scout, Camp Pendleton's weekly newspaper.

Missett's company, TFM Associates Inc., formed in January 2005, outbid the North County Times, which had published The Scout since 1980 under a civilian enterprise contract with the Marine Corps.

Missett attributed his win to his long history of working with military.

"They felt very comfortable with the way I handled the contract when I was the publisher of the North County Times and the Blade-Citizen," he said.

Under the contract, TFM Associates will be responsible for distributing and printing the military newspaper.

The editorial content is handled by the Marine Corps, which has its own writers and editors, Missett said.

His goal is to grow circulation from its current 28,000 to 40,000 by Jan. 1, 2006.

In 1997, Missett started the Signs of Support (SOS) program, a partnership between businesses and local government agencies aimed to provide funding for youth and community services in the cities of Vista, San Marcos, El Cajon, Escondido, and Oceanside, as well as for the counties of San Diego, Orange, Riverside and Los Angeles.

The SOS program works by selling businesses advertising space, which is displayed on the back of municipal and county trucks.

"Half of the money (advertising fees) is returned to the municipal entity for the use to help kids," Missett said.

Since 1997, the private-public partnership has raised more than $350,000 to benefit local youth groups and communities.

Among the local beneficiaries are the Boys and Girls Club of Oceanside, which used the money to help build a soccer field, and the city of El Cajon, which used the money for special projects in the parks and recreational areas, Missett said.

Missett said he splits half of his time between running the Signs of Support program and his consulting firm, TFM Consulting, which he started in 1998. He spends the other 50 percent running The Scout.

As a consultant, Missett has helped several clients, including Hanson Cement, McMillan and Co., and Allied Waste Industries Inc.

He rejects being labeled a lobbyist, preferring the less provocative term, "political and media adviser" instead.

Missett doesn't need to advertise his business.

"It's not a business that I pursue , they come to me," Missett said.

In December, Missett will celebrate his 65th birthday, but he's unlikely to stop the presses any time soon.

A natural-born storyteller, savvy businessman and political authority, Missett plans to continue his economic and social contributions to the San Diego region.