Having recently celebrated my 25th anniversary with Electrical Wholesaling, I found myself thinking about how lucky I was to have somehow stumbled into the electrical wholesaling industry.
I still remember riding the elevator up to EW's offices on the 36th floor of Manhattan's McGraw-Hill Building in my new three-piece Brooks Brothers suit for my initial job interview, and the panic attack I had when I realized I had forgotten to put on a belt that morning. Tugging on my suit vest to cover up my sagging pants, I survived the interview process, got the job and embarked on quite an adventure through the electrical wholesaling industry.
Since 1982, I have met more fascinating people than I have room to mention in this column. Many were entrepreneurs who let me into their businesses and taught me what's possible in the business world if you have an idea, energy, a little luck and enough cash to fuel the dream. Others were co-workers and bosses who amazed me with their talents in writing, graphic design, management, sales and marketing.
When I look back over my 25 years covering the electrical industry, more than anything else I remember people with passion — passion for this magazine, and passion for the companies or products they created. People like George Ganzenmuller, my first editor, who strived to make EW the magazine of record in the electrical market with accurate and fair reporting. People like Andrea Herbert, who wanted nothing else but absolute perfection in the manuscripts (typewritten back then) of her editors, and demanded the same of herself when putting together the Top 250 and Market Planning Guide each year.
Wandering into our Manhattan offices on a regular basis back then were people like Tom Preston, a passionate supporter of independent manufacturers' reps in his role as executive director of the National Electrical Manufacturers Representatives Association (NEMRA) and Dick Noel, founder of NEMRA and the Equity Electrical Associates buying/marketing group and a passionate creator of many, many entrepreneurial ventures in the electrical business.
As a young and somewhat impressionable writer, I saw that these mentors made a pretty good living by being the absolute best in the business in their specific niches of the electrical industry, and thought that perhaps this business might offer me an interesting and fulfilling career, too.
It's been all that and more, and I have had more than my share of laughs along the way with some really great people.
It's certainly had its share of “interesting” moments, too. In the past 25 years, EW has survived two full-blown recessions; the ups and downs of the space-advertising business; an attempt by at least one mean-spirited competitor to put it out of business; the move of its editorial operations from New York to Overland Park, Kan.; and five different ownership groups — McGraw-Hill, Intertec Publishing Corp., Primedia, Prism Business Media and, most recently, Penton Media. But through it all, it survived, thrived and won more editorial awards than any other magazine covering the electrical market, in large part because of the passion of the many talented employees who made it part of their lives.
In this age of corporate downsizing, I like to think that I have survived by learning to dance between the raindrops without getting wet. I think the biggest reason I have “stayed dry” at EW is my passion for the electrical market and figuring out enough new and profitable ways to create content to keep the bean counters happy. This is the 300th issue of EW I have helped create, and I got the same thrill in helping to produce it as I did with my very first issue.