Cofounder Jakob Funke died in 1975 at age 73. Under his leadership the WAZ publishing house had emerged from a single-publication start-up to a regional newspaper empire that included numerous local and four regional newspapers as well as several modern office buildings and printing facilities. After his death he was replaced by Günther Grotkamp, an experienced lawyer who had earned the respect and trust of the Funke family after he joined WAZ in 1960 and who worked closely with Jakob Funke up until his death. Grotkamp was considered the architect of the WAZ Group which was formed in 1978 to incorporate the acquired publishing houses into the company. The editorial departments of the four major newspapers the company owned in the Ruhr region retained their independence while production, the acquisition of advertising clients, marketing and administration were centralized. This business model proved to be very successful and became known as the WAZ Model.
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