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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

SIDE TRIP TO MACAU ON PIA JUNKET ENDS ON BAD NEWS

At PRINT '85 Rod Borum of  PIA stopped by our booth to invite Carol and me to join the association's June junket to Hong Kong and Japan. I told him I'd consider it. It was an inexpensive package, but I was exhausted from so much travel in the early part of the year. On the other hand, Carol  and I hadn't seen much of each other and it sounded like a cool adventure. I had been to the far east a couple of times, but Carol had never been there. Considering we were "empty nesters", Michael had moved to Norwalk, Connecticut and was working before attending  Yale for his  MBA. Leslie was studying in New Orleans at Tulane. The trip might have been just what we needed to reconnect. Fifteen minutes later my friend, Dennis Nick, the printer from Capetown sauntered by the booth with a glint in his eye. "You get the invitation? Hillary and I are going and we thought it might be fun if you came along," he suggested. He convinced me. I called Carol and told  her the news and she was excited about the prospect of seeing the Nicks again.

Midway through our visit the Nicks and the Vinocurs decided to go off on their own. Dennis had always wanted to take the Hydrofoil from Hong Kong to Macau. We spent the day in what is now one of the world's great gambling spots, thanks to Sheldon Adelson and The Las Vegas Sands.. It was a long day and we returned to the hotel about 10 p.m. Two of the PIA hostesses (one was Diane Koch) were waiting for us with grim looks on their faces. She told  Carol  her brother had been trying to reach her. We both knew that the news wasn't good. Her mother had been in failing health for the  past couple of years and had passed on. Diane had already retrieved schedules for the flight back. I tried to upgrade to business class, but the fare was prohibitive. As it turned out we both had full rows so we were able to sleep on the way home.

After a couple of days of mourning, I returned to  the office to find everything in shipshape condition. Both publications were sailing on the high waves of profitability. Glen Usdin and Tom Brennan had Fire Engineering back in the black after years of red ink. Graphic Arts Monthly, thanks to a rate increase, exciting new technology and rising market share, was also headed for another record year. To  help things along, Mary Oelz Ford (she had recently married Jack Ford) and I fine tuned the letter we had sent to GAM's readers. In 1985 we increased the "contribution" amount to $20, sent one letter to those had remitted  a payment in the previous year, another to those who had not, and even sent a third letter to Canadian readers. The mailing cost us close to $20,000, but the response was fantastic. Checks totaling more than $110,000 flowed into our offices and we netted $90,000 which went straight to the bottom line.

My sixth year as publisher of GAM was definitely the most hectic and stressful, but I certainly was not prepared for what would happen the next year. It would be one of the most memorable years of my life. (To be continued in tomorrow's post.)