At our year end Christmas party for the publishers, hosted by Technical Publishing's president, +Jack Abely+ made an interesting announcement. We were moving our offices. The luncheon, held each year in a private banquet room at the 21 Club,was around the corner from our current offices at 666 Fifth Avenue in New York City. Our lease at that prestigious address was expiring, and we were moving to a new building, under construction It would be located on Third Avenue between 52nd and 53rd streets. (The Lipstick Building, made famous by Bernie Madoff, was constructed next door four years later.) Jack asked us to appoint someone on our staff to supervise each magazine's move. Of course, I named Diane Ruggeri, who had helped me orchestrate two office moves while we were at Vance Publishing. The move to the East Side was scheduled for the middle of June in 1982, about the time. DRUPA was ending. I was overjoyed that I would not be there for the transition. In another piece of information, Jack said Dun & Bradstreet had given its blessing on the purchase of a new text editing system from AKI, one of GAM's advertisers. The purchase price was originally $750,000. Before the deal was done AKI was acquired by ATEX, which raised the cost to $1.5 million. ATEX was later sold to Eastman Kodak, which became know for bad acquisitions. The rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would have said, will come in a later post.
In January Carol and I traveled to Puerto Rico for the PIA Presidents Conference at the Cerromar Beach Hotel where I began to solicit entries for our Marketing Excellence venture with the association. Then it was on to The Bay Hill Golf Club in Orlando, Florida for the company's annual publishers' meeting. Actually there was more golf, drinking and gambling, than meetings, but it gave us a chance to exchange experiences with our peers. I took our president for $300 playing backgammon, which might not have been such a good move. However, in one of jousts, he asked if I would take a look at P&Ls and general ledgers of a couple of magazines that were struggling. The punch line is predictable. The next year, in addition to GAM, I had responsibility for Fire Engineering, and one that taught me greater respect for firefighters.
Returning to the office, we met to discuss our editorial coverage of DURPA. Editor Bert Chapman had agreed to retire following the exhibit, and +Roger Ynostroza+ was the heir apparent. Realizing that the industry was on the doorstep of a technological revolution, it was evident that we needed someone who had an understanding of the digital world.+Earl Wilken+, who was then working for Editor & Publisher, a magazine covering the newspaper industry, was the perfect candidate. He had previously been an editor of Datamation, our largest publication, and was familiar with computer speak. Several vendors were organizing junkets and both Bert and Earl were invited to join the Agfa Gevaert party. Roger and I would also be attending. As we brainstormed, I threw out an idea. What if we published an extra issue in August, limiting the number of advertisers.
I called +Ron Andriani+ into the meeting. Ron was our number one salesman with the largest accounts, including Kodak and Heidelberg USA. One of best salespeople I had ever worked with, he was creative, personable and a bit of a con man. I was never sure which of his stories I could believe. Ron heard the proposal and suggested we sell the entire project one company, Heidelberg. We priced the extra issue at a gross rate of $160,000. Heidelberg's ad agency, +Alan Seide Inc,+ would earn a $24,000 commission on the placement,. It would bring more than $60,000 to the bottom line as a 36 page issue, including covers. Heidelberg would be buying eight pages of ads, plus another three articles on signature customers. In addition we would provide full coverage of DRUPA and include two pages of interviews with American printing executives. Roger and I were given that assignment, which not as easy as it sounded..
Ron and I drove to Queens, New York to make our presentation to ad manager +Joe McCall+, Alan Seide and +Lester Reiss+, marketing VP. Ron's father had been a sales person for Heidelberg and had close connections to the company. The plant was located in a rather seedy neighborhood, adjacent to a printing company that produced porno material. I remember Ron going through the trash, looking for discarded press sheets that may have had flaws. It took a second meeting, and then a final one at a German restaurant in the neighborhood. There were ten people at the lunch. I sat next to +Hans Peetz-Larsen+, the president, who had to make the final decision.One piece of the package deal was 10,000 additional copies that the Heidelberg sales force could deliver as a promotional leave behind after sales calls. As the coffee was served, Hans turned to me and said, "Make it 15,000 supplements and we have a deal." "Done", I quickly answered. We shook hands and the deal was finalized. As we got into Ron's car, we gave each other "high fives", and I told him to pack his bags because he would be joining us in making the trip to Dusseldorf. (Next week's posts will recount the many stories we collected during the 14 day marathon exhibit. And if readers, who were there, have stories of your own that you'd like to share, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.