Ninetieth anniversaries don't come around too often in the publishing industry, so you have to enjoy them when you can. Just how rare they really are for magazines has become all too clear over the past two years in the magazine world because of how many magazines were shut down. Few magazines see their 90th anniversary.
So what is it about Electrical Wholesaling that has kept it dancing between the raindrops without getting wet? The publishing industry is no different from any business, and a company's assets, be it monthly magazines, trade shows, data products or Internet properties, must stay in the black to stay around. EW and its predecessor, The Jobber's Salesman, have managed to do that for 90 years, surviving the Great Depression, World War II and at least four recessions along the way.
It hasn't always been easy. Around the office we have often joked that EW is like the Little Engine that Could (“I think I can, I think I can”) as it chugged up, down and through the cyclical advertising climate, always quietly producing a profit. In the past 25 years, publishers Jerry Ryan, John Behmke, Rich Hathaway, Bob MacArthur and David Miller believed in the magazine and helped navigate it through the office politics of five different ownership groups (McGraw-Hill, Intertec, Primedia, Prism and its current owner, Penton).
EW lives on because of the passion and talent of the people who have helped produce the magazine each month for the past 90 years. I have been lucky to have been with the publication for 28 of those years, and I am blown away by what many of my fellow staffers have given of themselves to EW during this time, and have tried to absorb at least a little bit from each of them.
In this age of remote offices and telecommuting, one of my best learning experiences as a young editor in the 1980s was being a few offices away from industry giants like George Ganzenmuller, Andrea Herbert, Tom Preston, Joe McPartland and Jerry Ryan, seeing how they worked and learning about the respect they had for and from the many visitors from the electrical world who came to our editorial offices on the 36th floor of the McGraw-Hill building in midtown Manhattan's Rockefeller Center.
Back then, the magazine's editorial offices were an industry classroom for a kid like me. I got to see how Tom Preston used the telephone like a magic wand, how Andrea Herbert edited a manuscript, and how the quiet giant George Ganzenmuller earned the staff's respect with a few simple words of encouragement. I also learned alot about the subtle nuances of how to act at a business lunch with industry executives (often held in one of McGraw-Hill's private dining rooms on the 52nd floor with sweeping views of all of Manhattan), a life lesson I never forgot.
More than anything else, just seeing their passion for the electrical industry and how these mentors devoted their careers to it made me realize that covering the electrical market as a journalist could indeed be a fulfilling career.
As with any business, it really is all about the people. Electrical Wholesaling has been fortunate to have had a great group of passionate editors, publishers, graphic designers, and support staff. But all that passion would have been for naught without you, the reader. Over the past 90 years, readers like you have welcomed us into your businesses or shared your industry insight with us during interviews so we can produce editorial content that helps distributors, reps and manufacturers run their businesses more profitably.
Part of the thrill — and challenge — of being in the magazine world these days is learning how to harness the new online tools of communication to profitably produce our editorial content. While we are big believers in the power of print, during Electrical Wholesaling's next 90 years you will see our content published in even more digital formats. We are off to a strong start in online publishing with www.ewweb.com, e-mail newsletters like Product Alert and G-Biz, Electrical Marketing's LiveWire and our EW University online training endeavor with BlueVolt, Portland, Ore.
Whatever format our editorial content may take, our pledge to you is that we will provide it with the same passion to fulfill our editorial mission — to help you run your business more profitably and sell more electrical products.