BANGOR, Maine — Robert Stairs, vice president and treasurer of the Bangor Daily News for the last two decades, will retire on Dec. 31 after spending 43 years with the company.
“It’s one of those things you have to do in life, I guess,” Stairs said Wednesday from his office. “To stay at a place this long, you have to have an interest, which I do, but it also helps to have good people around me, which I have. I’ve been lucky.”
Stairs, who is among the longest-tenured employees at the BDN, first came to the newspaper shortly after he graduated from the University of Maine with a business degree. He started as an accountant in the business office in April 1967.
Stairs said he remembers having a conversation with a co-worker in his early days about whether he liked the job or not. The co-worker told him not to be too hasty in looking for work elsewhere.
“That was good advice,” Stairs said.
Five years later, he was promoted to data processing manager and later served as manager of the computer services department, where he developed and oversaw the implementation of many business systems.
In January 1990, he was promoted to his current position, which involves overseeing the BDN’s day-to-day operations. Stairs also is a member of the board of directors of Bangor Publishing Co., a role he will continue into his retirement.
“His contributions and commitment to the company cannot be measured,” BDN Publisher Richard J. Warren said. “He has been a strong leader and a steady hand through challenging times. I appreciate his guidance and able leadership throughout the years and will miss him greatly.”
Stairs said the business has changed considerably during his tenure, from the days of hot lead type to instant news on the Internet. Things have been increasingly challenging in the last decades as newspapers across the country have endured declining circulation and reduced advertising revenue, but Stairs said the BDN remains a great place to work.
As for his retirement, the 66-year-old said he has plenty of hobbies to keep him busy.