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Friday, March 29, 2013

ANOTHER DISASTER, PEARL HARBOR ALL OVER AGAIN

It was December 8th, 45 years and a day after the "Day of Infamy", but thanks to the misguided management team at Cahners (Reed), it became the day of mass dismissals . At about 10:30 a.m., Diane Ruggeri came into my office. "You're new best friend, Bill Platt is on the phone", she informed me. He had not been in contact since the meeting in my office in October. We exchanged pleasantries and then he hit me with a demand I couldn't believe. "Fire 150 people this week," he ordered. I can't remember ever losing my temper in a business situation before, but I couldn't help myself. Two months earlier, he had  told me our circulation and accounting department employees had at least six months to find employment. I was so hot, I shouted "Go f... yourself!" And I slammed down the phone. Seconds later it rang again. I knew who it was, and I answered "yeah". He said he thought we had lost our connection. I was simple and to the point. "If you want to sack 150 people, you come to New York and do it yourself," I replied, this time slamming down the telephone so hard I cracked it. I expected, that when he showed up two days later  for the execution, the number dismissed would probably be 151, and I'd be out too.

For some reason, in spite of my  outburst, he acted as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. He said not a word to me. I called Tim Burkholder in  Barrington for consolation. He was having his own problems. "Expect to be out of work on April first," I warned him. His response, "Why would they fire the best two publishers in the company?" And I answered, "We're the enemy." From that day on I had no tolerance for the Cahners executives, though I hoped my disrespect would not affect the staff of GAM.

I had not mentioned my problems to any of our customers or readers prior to that day,  but I could no longer contain my feelings. For nearly eight years, because I was always traveling, our family had not taken a holiday together. Now I decided that the whole family, Carol, Michael;, Leslie and I would attend the PIA Presidents Conference in Hawaii in January. It would give me a chance to say goodbye to a number of my friends in the printing industry. We had a great time. In February, Carol and I traveled to  Phoenix, Arizona for NAPL's Top Management Conference, and I alerted attendees to GAM's current shakeup. I guess the word had leaked out. John Favat, publisher of American Printer and Elizabeth Berglund, the editor, approached me to write a monthly column for AP. " I told  them I had to finalize my separation, which I expected to do at the end of March, but that I'd be happy to be one of their contributing editors..

Last, but not least we went back to Tuscon for  the NPES spring meeting. Going to Cleveland Indian Sprigt Training camp had always been on my bucket list. I remember Neil Richards, Kodak's statistical and market expert, organized a trip to Al Lopez Field. We even chatted with my teenage idol, Bob Feller and Neil still has the autographed ball from the Indian's Hall-of-Fame star. Every one of the executives on hand asked me how I was getting along with my new bosses. "They're so fond of me, I expect to get canned when I get back to New York," Most thought I was joking .(Next week: The end of an era and my final column in Graphic Arts Monthly.)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

REASSURING A NERVOUS EMPLOYEE BASE

On the Friday after my first meeting with the Cahners' executives, I called a meeting of the circulation, accounting and promotion departments. It was held on the 10th floor, which could accommodate the 160 people invited. Most were minorities, black, hispanic, and the majority were women. I climbed  on a chair, and hopped onto a desk in the front so everyone could hear me. With no mike, I projected my voice so even the people in the balcony could hear. Of course there was no balcony, but I could see others on the higher floors watching the gathering to get more information on our new owners. It was like  being in a class cage.  I began, "The good news is that you all have approximately nine months to find a new job. If you need a recommendation, let me know. Don't panic. If you're interested in relocating to Denver, let me know. If have any questions, call me or come to my office. I'll do all I can to make the transition less painful." It took less than two minutes to give them the bad news. I noticed a number with tears in their eyes, Only one, the head of the circulation department, Joe Zaccaria, said he would consider relocating. Making that short announcement was one of the most painful experiences in my career.

Later that day Tim Burkholder, who was handling the Barrington, Illinois office integration, phoned to tell me about his meeting. Sounded just like mine. He asked, "Are they nuts? They want all of the magazines to have a 60-40 ratio. I figured that will take a million dollars off the bottom line." I told him their formula publishing would cost New York 50% more. In total they had erased $2.5 million of profit in two short visits. I had lunch with Diane Ruggeri, who had been my assistant for the past 13 years. I tried to reassure her, but  she was too perceptive. "They're going to make Ron Andriani publisher, but I'll be publishing director Just do your job," I advised her. I added, 'Play it cool for a while and let's see what develops."

To tell the truth, I couldn't wait to get back on the road. The jubilant spirit in the office had dissipated.   For the first time in my life, I didn't look forward to going to work. Jim Olsen, who then managed Pacific Printing Industries, a PIA affiliate had  asked me to speak in late October in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. To get the most value from the trip, I also spoke in San Francisco. I told Jim about the new owners and explained that he would have to cover my expenses. Jack Abely was no longer there to sign my expense reports and I was sure Cahners wouldn't understand the self-promotion. Jim agreed and I made the trip.

What I learned was that business on the West Coast was slumping. The "soft landing" predicted by economist was bumpier than expected. In Portland I encountered a great deal of nervousness among the printers in the  city. It was depressing. And then I arrived in Seattle. The mood was almost ebullient. Not one printer complained about the economy. Virtually everyone said business was growing. Why, I quizzed them. In one voice, they responded "MSFT". Microsoft was Seattle's savior, proving that local markets can be influenced by one large company.

Returning from the trip, I hired a new publisher for Fire Engineering. His name was Henry Dineen, and he had no idea that his employment with Cahners would be so short-lived. After a few weeks on the job, we learned that a deal would spin-off the fire magazine and Solid State Technology, both now profitable, to PennWell Publishing in Tulsa Oklahoma. I didn't get the news from Cahners, but  from an old friend, Phil Lauinger, the president of the buyer. (Today the company is called Lauinger Publishing.) Phil congratulated me on Fire Engineering's turnaround and we reminisced about a week in 1964 when we were tutored by Marshall  Mcluhan,, the media guru of that era.. He was amazed that I had no knowledge of the sale, but it was minor to what I was  told in early December. (That horror story in tomorrow's post)

My lunch today


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

BUTTERED UP, THEN BATTERED DOWN

Several days after we had been sold, the CEO of Cahners (Reed) called to introduce himself and make an appointment to come to my office. At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, October 8, 1986, two  executives showed up in my office, Bill Platt, the CEO, and Terry McDermott,, the president. I showed them into my office, and offered coffee. They declined. They were all business. I had approached this meeting as if it were a chess match. For a couple of days, I had been keeping a check list of the moves I would make if I were in their position. But, when they arrived, I felt much like a homeowner, who had a visit from burglars. assessing the valuables they couldn't wait to get their hands on. I realized immediately that I was "them" and they were "us". If you've ever been acquired, you'll know how I felt.

 I sat them on one of the couches, and pulled up a hard backed chair. I wanted to be sitting on a higher plane than they were. Platt did most of the talking. He had done his homework, and had an accurate read on Graphic Arts Monthly's meteoric growth and Fire Engineering's turnaround. He started by complimenting on the job we had done. He explained that Tim Burkholder would have responsibility for the Barrington, Illinois transition, and I'd oversee the New York operations. Technical Publishing had about 350 people in the Midwest location and we had about 400 employees in New York City. They asked some personal questions, continuing to say nice things about the job I had done. I was trying to read them without success. Platt said, "We see your Publisher's Perspective is the best read page in GAM," McDermott chimed in, "And you're the only publisher who has come from the editorial side."  I nodded my head in agreement, while allowing them to do most of the talking, but I felt the boot ready to kick me in the butt.

 And it did. (To better understand what they were to tell me, readers should know that magazines operate with an advertising/editorial ad ratio, usually 60/40, but every additional percentage point of advertising is worth about $15,000 to the bottom line, depending on the circulation base. As GAM continued to prosper I had brought the ad percentage to 74%) "We want you to make some changes. First, we operate on a strict 60/40 formula company wide and we want you to abide by that." (In my mind I quickly calculated $225,000 erased from the bottom line.) Secondly we want you to stop those "begging letters". (That was another $125,000 wiped out on GAM alone and more than $600,000 company-wide,) I could believe what I was hearing. Within minutes they had lopped 15% off of our bottom line.

Then came the telling blow. Because Jim Morris, publisher of Datamation, the largest magazine in our family, was one of the consortium, he had been severed, and that book was without a publisher. "We'd like to you replace him," they advised me, They asked about Ron Andriani. "He's a great salesman, but he's not a publisher," I replied honestly. "We have to make do," they answered in unison. You'll be publishing director of the three magazines, including Fire Engineering." There was not much more to say, but on my check list I had two questions that needed answers. The first involved contracts for 1987. Platt told me the current agreements would be extended to March 31, the end of Cahners' fiscal year. (The first thought in my mind was that March 31st would be my last day. (How appropriate I thought.The next day was April Fool's Day.) My final question was the most important. "I know you have your circulation department in Denver and accounting Newton, Mass. What do I tell the 160 people in those departments about their future?" Without blinking an eye lash, Platt replied, You can tell them we are going through a reorganization, and won't make decisions for six to nine months, maybe a year.. But, if they are interested in relocating to Denver or Newton, they should let you know."

It sounded reasonable to me. But, you guessed it. They were lying through their teeth. By the end of the year, I knew exactly where I would be on April 1,..out in the cold (The best part of this story in tomorrow's post. I when I tell Platt  he should do something Clint Eastwood had noted in his "chair speech" at the Republican Convention, was a physical impossibility.

Wake up, it's a beautiful day ♥






The pictures above are from Monday

Yesterday was such an amazing day!
I met my too lovely friends, Noa and Tal, and we decided to watch The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
Have you heard about this movie? I can honestly say it left me speechless! AMAZING ♥
I can't wait to read the book!

In the evening Tal, Inbar and I took the bus to the beach. It was really cold but still fun as always when it comes to us (:

How was your Tuesday?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE?-EXPLORING OPTIONS

It certainly wasn't the  best of Times. The rumors were rampant. Though most knew something was going on, we tried to operate as normal. In the midst of the turmoil and uncertainty, key people were leaving. My phone was ringing off the hook. One call from Joe Webb, Chemco's marketing manager posed an interesting opportunity. Joe, studying at NYU, was looking from someone to underwrite the research for his doctoral thesis on marketing in the printing industry. He needed $1500 and since he had recently doubled his ad pages in GAM, how could I refuse. There was one hook. When it was completed, I wanted him to put it in lay language and submit it in two parts for a special feature in GAM. I could then charge it to the editorial budget, and at the same time, solidify our campaign and strengthen our focus on marketing, a win-win situation..

A couple of days later, Ron Andriani came into my office with annother proposal, to acquire the regional printing publications. I wan't sure if he had heard the rumor or was just floating a dumb idea. I played it as dumb idea. I asked, "Why would you want to siphon of ad dollars from the mother ship and compete against yourself?" He shrugged his shoulder at the rejection. But it wasn't a bad idea if you weren't connected with Graphic Arts Monthly, and my gut told me that when the sale was finalized,  I'd be out. Leo Joachim had launched Printing News East in 1928. When he passed away in 1985, his wife Florence, who still loved him dearly, continued the publish the weekly news publication. She was about 78, but tiny and frail. I called her and visited the PNE office which looked like it had in the 1940's. I asked if she would be interested in selling since Leo had been gone a year. She surprised me by saying she no longer owned it, and that Playbill, the theater handout had purchased it. I called the owner whose name was Brill. He explained he and Leo were good friends and had promised Leo, that when he passed, Brill would buy the publication to protect Florence. "It's my fiduciary duty to Leo to keep Printing News in the family," he explained. (The end of this story will come next week.)

So much for making an acquisition.. But the next day another opportunity A phone call from PIA Chairman Bob Houk informed me that Rod Borum was leaving (translation, fired) and he and Bob Jocham, my travel companion in Italy in 1983,  thought I'd be a good candidate to replace him. I asked Bob to send me the prospectus and the job description. A week later I received a large envelope with "CONFIDENTIAL" written in red ink. I opened it and started laughing. The first paragraph contained a physical description of the perfect candidate."Tall, slim, full head of hair, white (the word Christian was not included, but implied.) I called Bob Houk and asked if he had read it. "No", he answered.  "Bob, you know there is nothing in this about business acumen, intelligence or knowledge of the industry. And we are friends. You know I'm short, fat, bald and Jewish. I wouldn't get by the first interview. They wanted a robot who won't disturb the board," I told him. Ray Roper, who took over the job in 1987 was just what they were looking for.

Ironically I was in Arlington Virginia at PIA for the 1986  Marketing Excellence Awards, when I learned that  the deal had been done. It was late September. Jack Abely called as I was making myself presentable for the presentation. It was about 7 p.m. and I was in my jockey shorts when the phone rang. I sat on the bed, picked up the phone and heard Jack's voice on the other end. "The deal has been finalized. We've been sold to Cahners (Reed) for $161 million. The six of us still in the consortium have been axed. You and Tim (Burkholder) will oversee the transition, They (he didn't say who) will be in your office next week to discuss the change in management" he told me in resigned, staccato tones. I thanked him for the information and we both disconnected simultaneously.

My mind was whirring with the information. Cahners had paid 33% more than I had valued our company. Was I wrong, or were they idiots? Of course, they had no debt service to worry about, with a several billion dollar entity backing them. But there was no way this acquisition would work. I went to the presentation, and, by the way, Dennis Castiglione of Carpenter Reserve repeated his 1983 victory with another outstanding marketing program. (In tomorrow's blog the new bosses show up in my office.)

Meet my new baby



New perfume - Viva La Juicy 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Good night (:




Finally it is warm enough to wear my heart PJ!
I can't get it off me, it's so soft and pretty hihi (: More pics will come tomorrow.
Have a lovely night ♥

BEGGING LETTER PRODUCES ANOTHER $500,000

Returning from Germany, I couldn't wait to find out what progress had been made in our quest to acquire Technical Publishing. Jack Abely called to ask me to make an appearance in his office. To my surprise, he wanted copies of the letters we had written over the past couple of years asking readers to pay a share of our rising printing and postage costs. He told me Dun & Bradstreet wanted another half million dollars on the bottom line and wanted me to direct that effort with most of the other publications with controlled circulation. The publishers weren't happy, but they had no say in the matter. I assumed that Jack's year-end bonus was based on bottom line results, and despite the attempt to spin off the company, he was anxious to achieve that goal in what could be his last year in the job. Over the next couple of months we met the goal.  And including not GAM's $125,000 contribution,, we added more than $500,000 to our coffers.

The consortium met for the first time. I had previewed our financials.  Without Dun's Business Month our revenues of $120 million generated income of $25 million. If we cut expenses in several areas, we could return another couple percentage points more. If you'll remember, the U.S. economy over the previous years had rapid expansion, but things had slowed down. Economists referred to it as a  "soft landing." We had participated in that growth, but I was concerned about the slow down. As a group we agreed on an initial offer of $120 million, close to five times earnings. We didn't expect it to fly, but it was a start. We learned there were other companies bidding, and one of them was Cahners Publishing, located in Newton, Massachusetts. It had been acquired by Reed, a major publisher in the U.K, in 1979.  Though I had never directly competed with Cahners, other publishers had, and that company was labeled "the enemy." To get to the point, they continually outbid us. When we escalated our bid to $131 million, I announced I was dropping out of the group. I din't think we could handle the debt service on that large an amount. Tim Burkholder, the publisher of Industrial Research & Development agreed with me and also withdrew. The consortium was down to six. There was no question in my mind that it would be outbid, and my tour at Technical was ending.

As far as I could tell the negotiations were a tightly kept secret. Other than my staff and the other publishers, my only friend at Technical was Stan Cohen, the editor of Consulting Engineering. We had similar backgrounds. We both had journalism degrees and had been sports writers.  In fact, Stan had written the definitive book of the college basketball scandal in the early 1950's. Titled, "The Game They Played", it's the best book on the subject I've ever read. (An interview with Stan can be found on YouTube.) He came into my office, closed the door to make sure we couldn't be overheard. He told me he had been hearing rumors about our being sold, and was looking for verification. Of course I had been sworn to secrecy, but as an ex-member of the consortium, I decide I no longer had to abide by my pledge. Obviously word had leaked out, though we couldn't pinpoint the source.

A couple of days later I had a phone call from Ray Luca, a friend who headed ATF Davidson, a manufacturer of small printing presses in New England. He was looking for a recommendation for Beth Hogan-Scott (Beth had married Jim Scott and purchased a home in Northern Connecticut and was looking for work closer to home.) "Hire her", I said simply. She came into my office to thank me, and revealed she had heard the same rumor Stan had reported. You can image how quickly it spread throughout the office. Glen Usdin, who had been the publisher of Fire Engineering, had also heard the rumors and left to launch his own company, refurbishing used fire truck and reselling them. Things were in a state of flux.  (The saga continues in tomorrow's post.)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Pancakes recipe



The easiest recipe ever, but tastes so good!
What you need is:
♥ 25g flour
♥ 1/2 cup milk
♥ 1 egg
♥ 1 small teaspoon of sugar
♥ 1 spoon of canola oil

Mix it all together and fry it on middle heat.
Done!








Friday, March 22, 2013

I miss my moon

I woke up really early today and the house was all quite, without all the mess of everyone getting ready before school\work. So I went up stairs to the roof to pick up my dry laundry and it was a bit after sunrise, when there was still a cold breeze, the sun was almost fully up and moon nearly disappeare. Then I realized I couldn't remember the last time I was looking at the sky.
It made me feel sooo happy (:

Thursday, March 21, 2013

MUSEUMSLADEN SCHLOSS UNVEILS RISING STAR

Moving from press conference to press conference, especially when it requires covering acres of territory and tight time tables, can be exhausting. So, a couple of days into DRUPA 86, it was a bit of a relief to hear that the press and some its customers were to meet at the Scitex exhibit prior to be transported to Museumsladen Schloss, a well known castle near Dusseldorf. The three buses carried about 100 people and sped across the Autobahn toward the site of the luncheon. But whoever arranged the event might not have realized we were to be seated in two separate rooms. Brian Newman, Scitex America president, was unhappy that he needed to make his presentation in a door jam between the two rooms, so he quickly turned over the presentation to the recently appointed vice president, George Carlisle. George had previously worked at Compugraphic. (In 1981 Bayer, a German company acquired Agfa Gaevert, a Belgium company. In 1988 Agfa purchased publicly owned Compugraphic, which was defunct by the end of the year.) George obviously had a very accurate crystal ball.

We watched as he waltzed back and forth through the doorway, making sure that the two audiences could meld as one, and not miss his message.. It was a masterful job. He was a big, genial guy, and I was trying to decide whether he was a power forward in basketball, a linebacker in football or a catcher in baseball, or possibly all three. I later learned he was a quarterback and had graduated from Dartmouth. Following his stirringl presentation, I introduced myself, and we took our drinks on to one of the terraces at the back of the castles. An  imposing figure, he filled a room when he entered. He had a hearty laugh and a great sense of humor. I could picture him in an Santa Claus outfit. More importantly we had an instant connection, much like the relationship I had with John Dreyer of Pitman, consultant Dick Gorelick, and young Joe Webb, who was the ad manager at Chemco and attempting to earn his doctorate at NYU.

 Following our conversation, on the drive back to Dusseldorf, I said to Peter Johnston, "Keep your eye on that guy, he's going to be a star. Evidently Scitex agreed and later that year he was name CEO of the American unit. I spoke to George recently and he called me his mentor. I responded by saying he was my savior. Today George is  63, lives with his lovely wife Susan in New Hampshire. Their four offspring have blessed them with eight grandchildren with a ninth on the way. George's influence on my future will revealed  over the course of this blog.

Another memorable evening was spent a Zum Schiffchen, a Dusseldorf restaurant. Gary Dolgins had organized a dinner with several other industry executives, including Rick Mazur, so we could experience the  of eating schweinhoxen (pigs knuckles). Gary continually reminds me he picked up the check. He's probably right. In the midst of our drinking and dining, a ruckus developed on the far side of the restaurant. Music was playing and a young blond girl was dancing on the table. I couldn't see her from my perspective, but Gary said it was Vicki Blake, then with Belgium based Barco Graphics and based in  that company's Dayton, Ohio office. I teased her for the rest of DRUPA. (I was told that she was dating Rob and Chad Lowe's father, so, even though I considered it, I never hit on the cute blonde. Besides I knew Carol would find out and I had enough problems with our possible sale.)

True to my word, I never let slip that fact that we were up for sale. I couldn't wait to return to the office to update the status of our pending office. (What's happening in New York in next week's  blogs.)

Dreaming instead of sleeping


Good night my lovely readers 

THE HINDENBURG, THE TITANIC, AND OTHER DISASTERS

Early in 1986 I noticed a number of unfamiliar faces visiting our offices. Something was going on and I wanted to know what it was. I snooped around as I usually did, trying to uncover the mystery, but with no success. In late February, President Jack Abely called to invite me to lunch. As we walked east toward First Avenue, he said he wanted to get as far away from the office as possible. We walked into an Italian restaurant  on First Avenue, where Jack was obviously well known. I asked, "Why all the secrecy?" He ignored the question, as we ordered our martinis. He asked how the year was shaping up and I said, "good." After the second drink I could tell he was ready to spill the beans. "D&B is shopping Technical Publishing...  everything but Dun's Review is on the sales block." (That publication, which had recently changed it name to Dun's Business Month, was the only consumer magazine in the stable. Its revenues were close to $18 million, with a $3 million loss each year. Dun & Bradstreet saw it as a promotional vehicle.) I sat stunned. I knew the rest of our 23 publications were profitable and growing. I asked, "Why do they want to spin us off?"

Jack didn't know the answer. But he then suggested a possible Leveraged Buyout, looking for my initial reaction. He explained he had been pursuing the idea with The Bank of Boston. (That cleared up the mystery of  the unfamiliar faces I had seen entering his office. "I want to put together a consortium of officers and publishers to explore buying the company. Are you interested in joining us?" We ordered a third drink. Jack added, with his grimacing stare, "I'm swearing you to total secrecy. You can't say a word until we get further along." My future was a stake and I hesitated. I sat back looking at my glass and gathering my thoughts. "I'll need to see all of the financials (some I had reviewed with the publishers) and I'll get back to you."

As we walked back to the office, I couldn't help thinking this could be a great opportunity or a gigantic disaster. My future was at stake. Will I go down with the Titanic or will I strike it rich. I told him I wouldn't say anything, but that I would be going to Dusseldorf in June for DRUPA. "Don't worry it will take a couple of months to put the offer together," he assured me. A couple of months later a major international disaster, far more serious than my own, occurred on April 26th. It was the explosion and fire at a nuclear plant in Chernobyl, which spread radioactive particles across western Europe. Germany was affected and many Americans wondered if it was wise to make the trip overseas. I had told DRUPA's New York staff, I'd be going in spite of the radiation, and asked them to book a small hotel near the train station, so I wouldn't need to rent a car. Roger Ynostroza and Peter Johnston had booked rooms in Aachen, about 40 minutes from the Messe. We had learned our lesson in 1982 and were only staying a week.

We were warned against eating vegetables which may have been contaminated, to drink only bottled water, and to be extremely careful about what we ate. I was booked at the Madison (pronounced "medicin" in German. Small would be a generous adjective to describe the room. The elevator had a four person limit. But the hotel was clean and very convenient to the Hauptbahnhof  (central train station). The ride to the fairgrounds was less than 20 minutes. We attended the ritual of the opening night opera, and as usual the jet lagged handful of Americans dozed off. Peter, a music lover couldn't believe it.

The opening day, in between press conferences, we stopped  at the Kodak exhibit. Bill Sherman, who had rounded up the usual suspects for our 1982 interviews told us not even that loyal group had attended. But the next day we attended a Scitex luncheon, at which I met one of my top ten printing executives, a 34 year-old George Carlisle, who had just been named a vice president of Scitex America. (The rest of the  story in Friday's post.)

Happy girl




Wish you all a lovely day 

Good morning (:



Such a pretty day, eating such a yummy breakfast with my most favorite person in the world!
I can't ask for a better ending to the week 

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.)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Today's dinner




Arugula, basil, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and pine nuts 

ORDER IN THE COURT, HERE COMES THE JUDGE

If you've been following the saga of the slipping salesman, he did get my message. Days later I found a letter of resignation on my desk. I wasn't surprised. But a week or so passed, and I was served with legal papers. Emidio Gaspari was suing both yours truly and Dun & Bradstreet in Illinois and Federal Court for "constrictive restrain". At the time I had no idea what that meant. Two lawyers from our parent company appeared in my office to explain the term. It usually is used in arrests without cause, but it can also mean badgering an employee to a point he or she cannot bear it anymore and is forced to resign. The lawyers asked me to recount the past history and I did. "Do you have any back-up material?" I said I did, and asked Diane Ruggeri to bring in "the red file", as it was affectionately called in the office.

I hadn't seen it in a while. It was now a least three inches thick and contained dozen of memos giving suggestions to Gaspari on how to improve his sales efforts. It contained share of market reports which illustrated how his was on a downward slide. It contained the memo regarding his abuse of his expense and on how he was banned from including any expenses for meals at The Palm Restaurant. There was the one indicating that I was upset over his unwilling to take the sales quiz, and finally the memo I had written summing the fact that he was aware of his excess bonus payment and said nothing. But I was giving him a final chance to recuperate from his recent poor performance.

After about a half hour of silence, the lawyers, who  had been passing the aforementioned paper work between each other, spoke only one word in unison. "Wow". I asked is that a good "wow", or a bad one. "You have done a great job in documenting the total history. We usually don't have such a solid case," they remarked. To tell the  truth, I had been rattled by the legal attack before they came into my office. But relieft washed over me after their assessment of  the situation and their reassuring words about the "red file". I felt like a ten ton weight and been lifted of my back...and a month or so later, when they called to tell me that the suits had been thrown out of court both in the state and federal courts, I found myself breathing again.

Now it was time to develop our approach to PRINT '85. Beth Hogan and I discussed how we could get the best exposure out of the exhibit. Our sales people had instructions to attend all of their advertisers' press conferences with one of the editors. Once we had that schedule, we assigned booth duty so the two staff members were in the booth at all times. We ordered 1000 model kits of the Gutenberg press with a price tag of $40. We would net $33,000 if we sold them all. Beth would earn  5% on each sale. We also decided to offer mugs at $10 each. The front of the mug carried the  GAM logo and the back side, a cartoon of an attendee leaving with one of those canvas bags strapped to his bag and carrying tubes of posters that had been printed on the show floor. The caption read, "I DID SURVIVE PRINT '85. We also designed a sign that indicated for every mug sold we would donate $1 to the printing program of the buyers' choice.

When I arrived at the booth on setup day, Beth was very excited. Linotype's CEO, Bob Trendkamp, was walking the show floor and liked the mugs. He wanted to buy 200 to distribute to his people working their exhibit, but wanted a quantity discount. We settled on $8 a piece and she made the sale I suggested that she solicit other exhibitors, and by the fourth day the 1000 mugs had been sold. The retailing effort gave our staff the  opportunity to interface with the attendees, and paid for a celebratory dinner on the final day of the show. We also contributed $800 to the RIT and Carnegie Melon printing programs.

Monday, March 18, 2013

DELIVERING A MESSAGE THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE

As we welcomed in 1985, Charlie Moritz took over the reins at Dunn & Bradstreet, and DuPont announced the newest in a series of executives to manage the company's Graphic Arts unit. His name was Jerome Smith. He was the fourth general manager of that division in five years. Each time a new guy would come in, the ad manager would call  and ask Tom Melchers, who handled the Wilmington Delaware company, to bring me down to break in the new person. I felt like a college professor with a new student. It was only my fifth year in the industry, but I guess I knew more about the company's distributors and its customers  than the new executive did.. Our visit always gave us the opportunity to cement our position as DuPont's number one media choice in printing. I warned Jerome that he was the last executive I would tutor and that he'd need to last four years and graduate. He did. As we left his office we were introduced to Mark Suwyn, whom I was told,  had the inside track to become the next chairman of DuPont. Mark didn't get the spot, but several years later showed up at International Paper. (That story will be told in a future blog.)

Satisfied with what we had accomplished, we settled in for the drive home. Tom, a solid citizen,  brought up the bonus over-payment problem in 1984. His was so inconsequential, he didn't even notice, but he knew that both Ron Andriani and Emidio Gaspari were significantly overpaid. The entire sales staff was evidently talking about the screw-up. He began to reminisce about several of Emidio's shenanigans, which I had blocked out. Prior to one of our first sales meetings, held on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, Emidio shipped a bicycle so he could ride around the ship. After complaints from other guests, management suggested Emidio use his transportation elsewhere. The next year, hoping to unite sales and editorial into a cohesive team, I provided the entire staff with  baseball caps.     The letters "GAM"  were embroidered on the front of them. Only Emidio refused to wear his. But the following year's meeting puzzled me the most.

The industry was in the midst of a technological revolution and the editors were writing about prototypes and beta tests of products which would forever change the shape of printing. In a effort to get the sales force to more closely read the magazine, and be aware of these new companies, I informed them I would give a test on the upcoming issue ."Make sure you read it closely. You'll probably find one or two new companies in your territory that will be advertisers next year," I wrote in a  memo written prior to the sales meeting..  Before hand, I secured seven new  $!00 bills, which I put on the conference table. "The winner gets $400, second, $200 and third $100," I explained. The questions were simple; What was on the cover? What was the subject of the editorial? What was the subject of Publishers' Perspective? What did  the feature spread cover?  And did you find one new prospect and who was it? Emidio refused to take the test. Obviously he hadn't done his homework. (Tom Melchers finished first, Ron Andriani, second, and Paul Holder, third.if you were curious.) When Emido'a market share slipped from 50% to 40% in 1984. GAM overall market share had passed 60% even though his was on a downward slope. I expected  continued  trouble brewing, but would not reveal that to Tom.

Tom asked how I was going to deal with the situation. I hesitated, choosing my words carefully. I knew what ever I told Tom would be passed on to Ron (they shared an office) and then to Emidio.  It would be like talking on a telephone with three parties listening in. After a couple minutes, I answered. "Well, he deserves another chance. I'm really pissed that Ron and Emidio accepted the over-payment without a saying something. I'll send him a memo telling him this year his market share will be closely scrutinized and I'll give him all the help he needs. All he has to do is ask." The implied message I was sending was that if there was no improvement, I'd have to make a change. There was no question in my mind that it wouldn't take a day for my words to get back to the Chicago office.

I wrote the memo reiterating what I had told Tom and sent it to the Chicago office. but never had a response form Emidio. Not a phone call. Not a return memo. There was nothing I could do except monitor his activity very closely. In the meantime, I had to develop strategy for our exhibiting at PRINT '85, the first international show in America since PRINT '80. The issue before the show would determine whether the year would provide the continued growth I was looking for. (The story continues in tomorrow's post.)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Dark side





Ohhh music sweet music 
Listen to this song (Credit to my lovely friend Noa)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sweet Dreams

I'm jealous of the moon,
because it knows all your latest secrets.

I'm jealous of your sheets,
 who get to touch every part of you as you fall asleep.

I'm jealous of your pillow,
who gets to feel the warm of your face.

But the sun is the luckiest of all.
When you are half asleep and unaware of how beautiful you look,
it kisses your lips with light. 

Love is caring for eachother even when you're angry


I just had to post it!

Throw me a dream please, It's been a dreamless sleep




My all weekend is lighted.
The summer days are definitely here.

Hope you will all enjoy the rest of the weekend and wish your lives will be full with quiet and sunny days, like today 

Listen to THIS song (:

Thursday, March 14, 2013

THE ACCOUNTING DEPARTMENT TAKES A HOLIDAY

Most kids grow up wanting to be firemen. Not me. But after attending the New York State Fire Chiefs' annual meeting at the Concord Hotel in the Catskills, I could understand why youngsters aspired to ride the red trucks and turnout coats. Driving on the New York Thruway, dozens of trucks passed me, sirens blaring. At first I thought it was a major fire, but then realized that the attendees were announcing their arrival. Each truck had a different New York town or city with its name meticulously hand painted in  gold leaf. Fire fighters are a hardy group, great drinkers with camaraderie engulfing the group. It was like a big fraternity party, and I enjoyed every minute there. Veterans in the printing industry will remember that in the 1980's, Xerox ran commercials featuring a "monk". The point was that Xerox copiers  had forced monks out of business.  The monk played by comic Jackie Eagle (his son Ian is currently a sportscaster in New York) would roam the printing exhibit floor, shaking hands and trading one liners. We became good friends. The first day at the Concord, a voice shouted "Dick" and I turned around to see the short, rotund comic standing in front of me.. He commented, "Left the printing industry, huh." I explained that I had a new responsibility. As it turned out he had a gig at the Concord and was the first night's entertainment.

Near the end July, studying our general ledger, I noticed our sales commission were higher than expected. I hadn't received the second quarter reports, so I called Walter Harrrington, the financial VP. He transferred me to Gordon Cody, who managed the accounting department.  Evidently one of his older employees had taken ill and was not available to send the paper work. Someone else had done the job, but neglected to send me copies. Being on the road as much as I was, I hope the matter would be resolved. It wasn't.

In October I headed to Washington D.C. to make the presentation to PIA's Marketing Excellence award winners. For some reason, Jim Wilkens had contacted Peter Drucker, the management guru, and solicited his permission to use his likeness on the medals I presented. Drucker's expertise was not in marketing, but it was to late to make a big deal about that fact. Exhausted, I returned to my room about 10 p.m. to hit the sack. The phone rang. It was Paul Holder calling from Cleveland. "I don't know how this happened but I think my commissions for the first nine months are $3000 more than they should be," he explained. I told him not to worry, I'd straighten out the matter when I returned to the office. I tossed and turned all night long wondering how severe the accounting error really was..

It took three days to find that the person in accounting had neglected to deduct the bogie (the base which must be hit before commissions are paid) when calculating bonus checks. The over-payments to  Tom Melchers, Mike O'Hara and Paul Holder were minimal compared to those to Ron Andriani and Emdio Gaspari's. Five years earlier, Emidio had purchased a computer. There was no way he didn't know he had been overpaid .as Ron was eagle eyed when it came to checking his bonus and when you are overpaid by 30% in the first nine months you notice  it  Their not saying something had me steaming. It was a Thursday and I tried to calm down before calling Emidio I was told he was not in his office, I left a long message detailing my concern, but trying not to show my rage. It was rather a harsh message. Next I tried to reach Ron. His over-payment was more than 10 times  Paul's. I left a message with his secretary that I wanted to see him the minute he got back to the office. The secretary saw that I was fuming. What I did not know was that Emidio  had called Ron that evening and told him to  stay out of the office, until I cooled down. . Ron didn't show up on Friday, supposedly he was making sales calls. Over the past five years, Ron and his wife, Joan, Carol and I had become friendly. We went to dinner and theater. They were fun to be with. Though I never fully believed some of his stories, I now knew I couldn't trust him.

I meandered over to the president'ss office. Jack Abely had already been advised of accounting's errors. He asked how I wanted to handle it. "It wasn't their fault, but both of them knew they were getting a lot more than they should have, and I'm really upset that I can't trust them. Let's omit their year-end bonus and deduct the balance of the over-payment of the course of next year. It will be like a loan with no interest., and they won't be hit all at  once," I suggested. He gave me  an okay. The following Monday Ron entered my office. "Close the door," I demanded. Based on the message left with his secretary and conversations with Emidio, they both knew they were caught with their pants down.  "You're going to pay it back," I told him. "I don't have it anymore. I built a swimming pool," was his response. If he had invited me for a swim, I would have punched him. I don't believe I have ever been that riled over a personnel situation before or since. And even though Ron was one of the best salesmen I've ever worked with, the trust in him had evaporated.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

NATALIE WOOD, E. GLAZER, G. BUSH, EMIDIO GASPARI

Before I accepted the publisher's post at GAM, I was a " professional" manager of Little League teams. It was a passion that I pursued for more than 10 years.  I loved working with 10 to 12 year-old kids and the job taught me a great deal. You didn't need all-stars, not that couple of MVPs wouldn't hurt, but the key to winning was teamwork. Every one had to play their position and fill the role the manager asked them to fill. We applied those same principles at Graphic Arts Monthly, and we all did our fair share. The score card in baseball was replaced by general ledgers, profit and loss statements, market share reports and the letters, which I urged the sales people to write to their clients. I had discovered early on that sales call reports were mostly fiction, but copies of follow-up letters covering what discussed in visits to advertisers revealed reality.

In August I began to notice a downward shift in market share in Emidio Gaspari's territory in the Chicago office. I also noticed some very large expenditures in his expense reports. I called a number of times to discuss the two  situations. Either he was avoiding my calls or he was working his ass off. I expected it was the first of the two, so I phoned Mike O'Hara, the other salesman in the Midwest. Mike made some excuses for him, but I finally uncovered that Emidio's second wife had left him, and Emidio wasn't handling it very well. (His first wife had passed away seven years earlier and he had married her best friend.) He was an unusual guy, well built, stocky and carried a knife in his belt buckle. He made for an a-typical sales person though he gave a great presentation without much knowledge of the industry.

I began corresponding with Emidio, sending him a barrage of memos. They included ideas and  instructions on improving the areas that needed work...  market share, better sales letters and greater knowledge of of the  printing. industry. And we kept a red folder with all of that correspondence.   Most of my memos were ignored and none were answered. Shortly thereafter, one of his expense reports appeared on my desk. It was unforgettable because of a $700 lunch at the  Palm  Restaurant in Chicago. His guests were Shelly Khan of Mandabach and Simms,  an ad agency with several accounts, and a couple of others, whose names I didn't recognize. I phoned Shelly on the pretense of checking future advertising schedules. In passing, I asked, "Have you seen Emedio lately?" He answered, "Not for a few weeks." And I knew I had a problem.

As I've previously noted, I urged sales people to have dinner dates with clients at industry exhibits. During Graph Expo, Emedio, Paul Holder from our Cleveland office and Ron Andriani, one of our NYC stars, arranged a family dinner, each bringing a guest who was a customer. The restaurant they had  chosen was The Palm in Chicago.. It was more entertainment than selling  but being with advertisers is what counted..  They  invited me to join them. I was seated facing the wall with caricatures of celebrities that frequented the eatery. Looking right back at me were Natalie Wood, George H.W. Bush, and Ernest Glazer, all of them surrounding our very own Emidio Gaspari. What no one else knew was that I had met three of the four. Though I had never run into Natalie Wood, I had met George Bush several times and  "Pudgy" Glazer, as he was known in college, not only graduated from Ohio State, but he was also a fraternity brother.  Our check exceeded $1400, which was split three ways among the sales people.

At the time Pudgy was a pharmaceutical executive with Pfizer. I called to say hello, told him I had seen his puss on the wall of the Palm. I asked how often he ate there and how much he had spent in the last year. He asked if I was working with the IRS and I explained the reason for of my question. He said he was there about once a week, and estimated he had spent $10,000 during the past year. When I returned to my office, the accounting department sent me, copies  of Emidio's expense reports. His Palm receipts were nearly $12,000. Another memo went to Chicago banning Emidio from future visits to the palm. (Tomorrow the saga continues and it gets worse.)

WE NEED ANOTHER $200,000 ON THE BOTTOM LINE

If the drapes on the glass window in my office were open, I could see into Technical President Jack Abely's office, and he could see into mine. We  both overlooked the atrium, and the floor which housed our circulation department. Our offices protruded out of the face of the Third Avenue building, mirror images of each other.In June, my phone rang. I answered, knowing it was Jack.. My back was turned to the massive window that went from floor to ceiling.  "Turn around," he instructed. I did. He was waving me to come over to his office. I crossed over to the other side of the floor, wondering, "What have I done now?" As I entered his office, he asked if I wanted a drink. He poured two scotches. It was about three in the afternoon on a warm summer's day. Before I could take my first sip, Jack said, "We have a major problem. Charlie Mortiz (who would become chairman of D&B in January, 1985) just called. Dun & Bradstreet is a bit behind  budget and Charlie wants another $200,000  from  Technical Publishing. As a publicly held company D&B regularly focused on its year-end numbers, crucial to its share price.

Graphic Arts Monthly had already budgeted a seven percent growth for '84, and I was stunned when Jack hit me with a bombshell. "I'm asking the bigger magazines to  raise ad rates five percent in July," he advised.. It was the first time in five years of working together that I disagreed with his decision ."I won't do it,"  I countered. He gave me one of his piercing stares of intimidation, but I wouldn't budge. I finally spoke, "We've both been in the publishing business for more than 25 years. Name one publication you've worked on that has raised ad rates in the middle of a year." He couldn't. While I stared at my drink, he called several of the other publishers, and each one agreed to raise rates.. I was in a dangerous position, but I stuck to my guns. "It would ruin my credibility with advertisers," I said.. There was silence for a couple of minutes as I considered my options. A past experience clicked in my head, and I knew I had a solution to my dilemma. I.  asked, "How much do you need from GAM?" He shot back, "$40,000". I finished my drink, stood up and gave him a thumbs up as I left his office.

Five minutes later he called to ask how I would generate the income. "Trust me, it's not illegal," I assured him, without revealing the details of my plan. I called Beth Hogan, our marketing manager, and Mary Oelz, who headed our classified ad department, into my office. I outlined the brainstorm I had, and told Mary she would have responsibility for the project. Over the next couple of days I drafted a letter to recipients of the magazine, printing companies in The U.S. and Canada. It noted that we had been sending GAM at no charge for the past 55 years. With printing and postage expenses escalating, we were asking that they send $15 to insure they would continue to receive the publication in the future. With the letter we included a card for them to fill out when sending in the remittance. It emphasized that the payment was tax deductible. Mary's name was on the enclosed postage paid return envelope so the checks would be properly delivered.

Later that month we executed the plan. The total cost of the mailing was $12,000 and we needed more than 5000 responses to achieve our goal. I sweated it out for about three weeks. Jack had no knowledge of the strategy until the mail room mentioned that Mary Oelz was getting thousands of envelopes. The accounting department also advised him of the receipt of the checks. When he discovered what we were doing, he called. "You sent out a begging letter," he stated rhetorically. "I prefer to call it my mendicant missive," I responded. Jack asked, "How did you do?" We netted $64,000. He couldn't believe it. The next year we refined the process and netted $90,000. The fact that readers were willing to pay for the magazine gave us an additional plus to our sales pitch.  I was extremely proud that I had executed the mission without upsetting our advertisers. A follow-up on this letter will appear  in a future blog covering 1986.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

I look so ugly when I'm not smiling :\



Well guess what? I got A in sport! Who knew?!
And even better I got to the top 10!
I was really proud of myself (: Hihihi

I have a big exam in a couple of days so I'm trying to study now :(
But I just wanted to share this with you.
Sooooo wish me luck

CAUGHT IN A CONFLUENCE OF CONSULTANTS

It seemed like I was spending more time in the air, traveling, than I was in the office. It was good to get back to NYC and check up with everyone on the staff. On my return from the west coast, Diane told me that Dun & Bradstreet CEO Charlie Moritz had called. He wanted me to  meet with a group of  consultants from recently retained  Boston-based Bain Consulting.  D&B, a publicly  owned company, wanted a  plan to unify the public presentation of all its properties, divisions and companies. There wanted commonality on all business cards, letterheads and promotional materials.. An appointment was made for me to meet with Bain's people and explain our publishing operations. With 25 publications serving diverse industries, each had its own logo and look, depending on the personality of the art directory. Four suits showed up, each one filled by an MBA, one from Wharton, two from Harvard Business School, and one from Dartmouth's Tuck School.of Business. Not one of them was over 30. The rumor was that D&B had budgeted more than one million dollars to  achieve the coordinated look. After 15 minutes with the  consultants, I had the urge  to tell Charlie that we were spending  money unnecessarily,  but I didn't have the guts.

Three hours later, after attempting to educate and teach them the lessons it took me more than 25 years to learn, I  lied and told them I had a lunch date with a major advertiser and escorted them out of the office. Months later,  following the submission of their reports, I followed some of the new recommendations and  suggestions, but not all of them. Graphic Arts Monthly was what we were selling, not D&B. So we kept our logo the centerpiece of business cards and letterheads, and in smaller type we printed, "Technical Publishing, A Dun & Bradstreet Company."   Corporate  never was able to monitor the suggest changes   and I never heard a word about our not fully implementing them.

About a month later, Technical's president, Jack Abely, called to tell me I had been selected as one of three  publishers to spend a week at a management seminar at the Arden House, located on the Harriman estate, north of  New York City. Today D&B has less than $2 billion in revenues and employs approximately 5000 people, but 30 years ago it was twice as large. I found out later that the four MBAs I had educated had recommended me for the program. To tell the truth, I was sorry I had been so accommodating.  Another week away for the office would require many  hours to catch up when I returned, but I had no recourse. I had to attend. In all,  there were  eight seminars, each lasting five days. Each group had  eight executives attending. In my group were the  presidents of  Moody's, the investment rating firm and Neilsen,s, the company that rated media. Pretty good company I thought.

 There was a team of three consultants from California and their thesis was rather interesting.They began the first day by showing  the movie, "Twelve  'O Clock High", starring Gregory Peck and an ensemble cast. It was released in 1949, and demonstrated how certain officers related to subordinates. It was a great movie and I looked forward to day two. The consultants listed four types of supervisors from dictatorial overseers to  laissez faire managers.. Each was illustrated in the film, which illustrated how different management styles meshed well with the right subordinates. We probably saw bits and pieces of that movie dozens of times.  The conclusion was that there were also four different types of employees who work best when matched with the proper manager. I really bought into the philosophy. My hiring tactics were simple. Hire the right person, show the candidate what to do and let him do his or her job. I told new employees, "Don't be afraid to make a mistake. Just don't make the  same mistake twice."  Over my years with GAM, I only  had to replace one person, other than retiring a couple. As Cal Poly's Dr. Harvey Levenson recently told me, "Stability leads to credibility."

What I didn't know was that one of the consultants had interviewed 20 of the people who reported directly to me. The final day of the seminar the revealed that fact. Each of the interviewees was sworn to secrecy. I was never a manager who looked over an employee's shoulder and luckily,  I never had to. For the most part, staffers liked the fact that I allowed them the latitude of flying on their own. I was given an "A" for my hiring practices. I didn't tell them half the staff was there when I started. I accepted their  accolades without comment. At the end of session, they read statements made by members of my staff. In my mind I associated each comment with a specific person. Only one was not happy with  my laissez faire management style. Only one complained and that story will be told in Friday's blog.

Monday, March 11, 2013

1984, AN ORWELLIAN YEAR TO SAY THE LEAST

Graphic Art Monthly closed 1983 with a host of records, including the highest revenue, the greatest profit, the most ad pages, an increasing number of inquiries and the best editorial in the industry. We were having fun, making money, and leaving footprints. We were educating the marketplace informing printers, and occasionally entertaining readers with a sense of humor. For example, in the same issue that covered the introduction of page description languages from Adobe (PostScript I) and AT&T, (does anyone remember what it was called?), we ran a "tongue in cheek" piece on a spanking new product introduction, the California Job Case, a necessary tool  in days of letterpress. Peter Johnston authored the piece which was rather amusing,  considering the industry's technology explosion. It stimulated a great deal of response from readers who contacted us to congratulate GAM on scooping the industry with that "news".

 Then Big Brother entered the picture with the formation of the Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC), which organized its first Graph Expos in 1983. The political landscape had changed dramatically.  Power in the industry shifted from the customers to the suppliers.The new organization, which included NPES, the vendor association, and PIA and NPES, the major printers' groups  abdicated  political control to the manufacturers. NAPL took the biggest beat, losing its management fee for organizing Graph Expos. Actually it was a bit of genius. Because the charter called for the NPES president to serve as chairman of GASC,  the most power went to Regis Delmontagne. In spite of my comments at the NPES spring meeting in 1983 describing Graph Expo West in San Francisco as a total flop in 1982, another was planned for 1984. It was to be held in Los Angeles, a week before the Gutenberg. show Obviously GASC was attempting to squash the rival exhibit. With the expanding show schedule, Patrick LaFramboise was hired as exhibit manager. Another show would be organized for the fall in Chicago. Regis came up with a brilliant idea. Vendors that exhibited at Graph Expo would get a discount by joining NPES, making membership in that organization a "freebie".  In one year NPES had almost quadrupled its membership.

Readers should know that while a publisher is aware of each month's editorial lineup, he or she doesn't not read every page before going to press. With that said, when I picked up  the March issue, I found coverage of the two west coast exhibits. The first was a spread covering  the GASC show. It pictured the registration room with less than a dozen individuals on hand. On the right hand page was a report with a couple of photos below. One of them was a shot of Dave  Jacobson, Gutenberg;s promoter, under a Graph Expo West banner. The caption read, "An interested observer visits the exhibit." I chuckled at the inside joke.  The following spread reported the Gutenberg exhibit and opened with thousands of people lined up waiting to register at tables outside of the Long Beach Convention Center. It was damaging pictorial evidence that GASC had finished a distant second in the two exhibit race. I almost ran a column saying, "I told you so."

I expected a furious phone call from Regis, so I visited Peter Johnston's office. Knowing Peter's sense of humor, there was no doubt in my mind he had orchestrated the coverage of the two exhibits. "It wasn't a set-up if that's what you're thinking. Both photos were taken at 10 a.m.,  the opening of  both shows," he said. Then he noted, "And I thought that showing Dave Jacobson at Graph Expo was kind of funny." I told him I had chuckled when I saw it. But  I knew there would be repercussions from Regis. The minute I returned to my office, the phone rang, and without caller ID, I knew it was Regis. He was furious. "Those photos were staged," he argued.. I explained that both photographs were taken at the same time of day. "It was not a set-up," I insisted. From that day on, our relationship had all the ear marks of a ski slope, all downhill. It wasn't quite a feud, but the romance between the two of  us appeared to be over.

During the summer Dave Jacobson organized a junket to Germany and invited about 12 editors and publishers along. He was considering a Gutenberg in Germany. Though I cautioned him against, calling it  futile and misguided, he went through the motions anyway Competing with DRUPA was insane.. Of course it never materialized. On one of the many tour bus rides he had arranged, I dozed off. John Favat Sr., publisher of American Printer, was on the bus While  I was napping, he  put a copy of his magazine on my lap. making it appear that I was reading it. He photographed the scene and sent me one. I framed and had it hanging in my office. Under the picture our  art department put a caption. It read,"I ALWAYS FALL ASLEEP WHEN I READ AMERICAN PRINTER." When advertisers visited my office, I always showed them that photo and it always got a laugh. Several years later, I became contributing columnist for AP and I never fell asleep when reading that magazine.

One final note on GASC. When it came time for Graph Expo in Chicago in September, Big Brother got even for our coverage of the west coast exhibits. Arriving at McCormick Place, we found Graphic Arts Monthly's booth was located in the basement of the convention center. While our competitive publications were on the main floor, visitors had to take an escalator downstairs and our booth was at the  back wall. We couldn't have been any further away from floor traffic. I made my dissatisfaction known to a number of major advertisers, most of which were members of the NPES board. The next year at PRINT '85 Graphic Arts Monthly found its exhibit in a prime location on the main floor near the entrance.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Yeah... I will succeed in life






I have a sport exam tomorrow!
Can I kill myself? :( Seems like the perfect time.

A welcome break!

Had another 2 day break from work recently and as you'd expect, I made the most of my time off with a bit.... ok a lot of fishing. Here's what went down

The first day kicked off with a 6am alarm, waking me with just enough time to get to Holyhead for a charter boat trip I'd booked with mate Steve on-board MyWay with Gethyn. Due to the time of year, we didn't deceive ourselves with high expectations, but we were both secretly hopeful of a bit of rod bending action from the spurs out in Holyhead deeps. After a hour or so steaming out to the mark, the first drops saw the majority of us on the boat pick up a doggie or two, that was all of us except the skipper of course, who decided to show us all how it was done with a spurdog of around 7-8lb. After the great start though, it turned out to be a slow day. There were a few more decent fish landed including another spurdog of around 12lbs, a thorny and a decent huss for my mate Steve. My best fish of the day was a nice whiting of over a pound, probably a new PB, but this one was lucky and went free, most likely to be eaten by a huss in the near future lol......you can see from the photo that something had already had a go at it. In all though, it was a great day out on the water and couldn't have asked for nicer weather. If there's one thing I took away from this trip though, its that Geth really knows his stuff when it comes to boat angling, when targeting spurs fish the baits just off the bottom to avoid the doggy plague! Will hopefully be out with Geth again before I head South for 7 months!

As we steamed back, I was still well in the mood to fish and decided that I wanted to challenge myself, in the end coming to the conclusion that I was gonna target a tadpole fish. Having only caught one before, I didn't really have much to go off, but after a quick check of my old blog posts from last year, I saw that I'd had my last one in very similar conditions exactly one year and two days previous, how convenient :)
Fishing with my mate magic, we braved the cold and headed to the ranges with a couple of rods each. My aim for the night was to land a few new species for the year, namely tadpole fish and rockling, although I'd also be using had my heavier duty set up for congers. I chose to use a very simple 1-up, 1-down running ledger rig with rag tipped with macky for bait and a few lumi beads just for that added attraction in the depths. To say the fishing was good would be lying, but after an hour or so, I finally got some action in the form of my first rockling of 2013, a small one of the shore variety. It was a good 2 hours before I'd see any more action but sure enough, almost dead on low tide I noticed a small tap on the rod tip. I lifted my rod off the tripod and felt the line for any more bites. It wasn't long before the tap turned into a decent knock so I lifted into the fish. Knowing it was something small, I immediately got a little excited, but nowhere near as excited as I was when I saw that I had successfully caught the fish I had been targeting, A TADPOLE FISH! My happiness was easy to see and magic was amazed that I had landed one of these, having talked about them none stop since we'd arrived. I think this was the first one he'd seen and he was in agreement that they are cool fish, although another friend of mine, having seen the pics, has funnily referred to it as...... the most miserable looking fish he'd ever seen lol.

On a real high and despite the lack of further action, I decided to pack down my conger rod, leaving just my rockling rig out. It was sods law though that the next fish I'd land (which turned out to be the last) was of course a conger, which luckily had been hooked perfectly in the top lip. Getting magic to steer it onto the rocks for me, I soon had it in my grasp, the first landed conger I'd landed on this particular mark, having hooked and lost a few really good fish previously. With no more action for a further hour we decided enough was enough and off home we went. Not a particularly hectic session but ticked off all three of my nights targets, so definitely can't complain.



The following day, a new target was made, this time to do a little LRF'ing for scorpion fish and blennies. Magic was again keen to come along for a fish and had never tried this method of fishing before, so it was great to see him catch a few fish and a new species. Although the fishing was again hard work, we did pull out a handful of scorpion fish between us, with magic getting the pick of the bunch with this fella taken on red power isome. I am particularly proud of this photo as well, really want one like this myself now.

Anyway, that's all for now,
Thanks for reading and tight lines,
Ross





Friday, March 8, 2013

THE TAMING OF THE SHREWISH PUBLISHER

Okay, this is the last headline this week based on Billy Shakespeare's 37 plays. Though the word "shrewish" rhymes with Jewish, the long tenured publisher of Fire Engineering was not. And though the word often refers to a female, again, he was not. Synonyms for shrewish include ill-tempered and intractable, which might be used to describe him. As a kid, I had a lazy eye which really came in handy during the summer of 1983. One eye watched the progress of Graphic Arts Monthly, and the other oversaw the operations of the fire magazine. After Technical Publishing's president "suggested" (it was more of a demand) that I include that publication as one of my responsibilities, I began to interview the staff of five. The publisher had been coasting along for years, the editor had no experience as a firefighter, and the  bottom line was awash in fire engine red ink. It was the second time I had been gifted with a property that was in deep trouble. The first time was in 1975 when Vance Publishing acquired Paper Trade Journal. There was no decision to make. Both the publisher and the editor had to be replaced.

It wasn't a question of cutting costs, it was more a challenge of growing revenues. And at the same time we had to, find two people to take over the management of the magazine. I couldn't be in two places at once.. Fire Engineering had about 30,000  subscribers who were paying only $12.95 a year. Since most were ordered by the towns and cities in which the departments were located, we raised the rate to $30. Ad rates were also increased. In investigating the market, I and found a young man,, who was 27 and a firefighter. When he wasn't fighting fires, he published a newspaper covering the Long Island, New York fire community.. His name was Glen Usdin,. I knew from the minute he walked into my office, he was my new publisher. Not only was he a firefighter, but he was also a photographer and the magazine carried a good number of  roaring blazes throughout the publication. We bought his newspaper for a modest sum, sort of a bonus for hiring on. Once on board he found  a  retired fire captain from New York, Tom Brennan, about 45 years old. The Jew and the Irishman made one hell of a team. After the first year on the job, they had produced a bottom line profit. More on Fire Engineering's progress will appear in Monday's post. Several public relations and advertising agency personnel learned of my new challenge and one even present me a kid's fire helmet which I wore at a subsequent printing press conference.

Prior to leaving for Graph Expo in Chicago, I received a letter from Dun & Bradstreet's CEO, Charlie Moritz. He congratulated me on an outstanding effort as I completed my first four year anniversary with the company, and sent me an IBM computer to celebrate the occasion .Iit went right to Diane Ruggeri's office. As I've mentioned before, I had a phobia about new technology, but she learned how to operate it quickly. It was amazing how much it improved our market share reports, as well as our record keeping.

The biggest news at Graph Expo came at a Harris Graphics press conference. President of the largest web offset press manufacturer, Jack Pruitt, announced that the company was initiating an LBO and separating itself from Harris Corporation, a major electronics publicly traded firm. Ten executives were involved, including Jack, Lloyd Butler, Dick Holiday and Brendan O'Donnell. It was major news. During the question and answer session, a German reporter inquired, "What's an LBO?" Within a year it became an oft spoken financial term, but in 1983 few knew what it was. Jack must of seen me grimace at the question, and responded, "Dick, why don't you explain it?"  I stood up and described a leveraqed buyout and its intricacies. When I sat down, Jack led the room in a round of applause. Harris Graphics, as it was known, went public and eventually sold its assets to Germany-based Heidelberger Druckmaschinen.

Graph Expo also provided one of my favorite stories which Dr. Joe Webb jumped the gun on recently.. On Monday Royal Zenith hosted a breakfast for press and customers to celebrate the retirement of it chairman, Jerry Reinitz. Jerry was about 70, but that didn't stop him from hitting on women half his age. I vowed then that I'd never mimic him as an old wolf, but I just can't help myself. There's something in the thrill of the chase. In any event Vince Mallardi and his young wife, Avril, an Israeli woman, sat with us, and Jerry charmed her with compliments for more than an hour. Monday evenings at Graph Expo  usually featured NAPL's Soderstrom Society's dinner. I was sitting with Dick Gorelicl and several others when the couple spotted the two empty seats at our table. Avril commented on how charming Mr. "Emritz" was at the morning's retirement party. I ask  "Who?"  She responded, "You know...Chairman." I had no idea who she was referring to until something clicked in my mind. Jerry was wearing a badge with the words "Chairman Emeritus" emblazoned across the bottom. When I explained her error, our whole table cracked up.

New make up bag


Thursday, March 7, 2013

My love ♥



I swear I can live only on alpro! 

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING AND SOMETHING

In early 1983, GAM's technical editor Earl Wilken came into my office and asked if I'd like to come with him to see the demonstration of a new computer from Apple. So I tagged along to keep him company. We cabbed to a lab on Sixth Avenue, and who would have believed it? Steve Jobs was on hand. I was kind of surprised. I had read that he was off  the Lisa project. I whispered to Earl, "Think he's  curious?"  He shrugged his shoulders. As I always did, I introduced myself to the others in the room, giving those who didn't know me a business card. Jobs thanked me and gave me his card. The head of the lab told us this was one of the first demonstrations of the Lisa, the newest computer in the Apple line. It was the first model to include a graphical users interface, (GUI) and had an external hard drive sitting on top of the terminal. There were 12 editors and publishers in attendance, and four computers with technicians sitting on swivel chairs ready to show us how the new product could perform.  It didn't go well..

Steve Jobs wore a jacket and bow tie and his face was clean shaven, though he had longish hair. I had read that he had abandoned his "hippie" period  He about 30 years old and a true genius. Apple's  IPO  had raised more than one billion dollars in 1980, but IBM was picking up share of market. Over the years I watched Steve give dozens of presentation to maniacal audiences who screamed with rapture as stood on the stage in a black tee shirt and jeans. More than 15 years later David Dinnin, then president of Linotype-Hell, invited Steve and his wife to a company dinner. It was the only other time I saw him in jacket and tie. He stood behind my group as the computer was turned on.. The technicians were evidently having trouble with the sluggish pace  at which the Lisa scrolled. Earl gave me a look of frustration as the techs struggled with the  equipment. At one point I turned around and said, "Looks like you have to go back to the drawing board," to which Steve responded, "No it just needs some tweaking". As most people know the Mac was introduced the next year and dominated the printing industry. The Lisa was scrapped a couple of years later. As we left the lab, I said to Earl, "Much ado about nothing."

Several months later, we were invited by Gannett,  the newspaper publisher, to visit their Arlington VA offices to observe the first electronic transmission of a newspaper page from Beijing to the U.S. Peter Johnston and Carol came along to witness the historic event. Approximately 20 other members of the press were there along with an old friend, George H.W. Bush, who was, at the time, Vice President of the United States. My first meeting with him was in 1970. I was visiting  Bruce Gelb, the president of Clairol, the premier manufacturer of hair coloring products.  The chairman of its parent company, Bristol Myers, was his brother, Dick Gelb. Bruce was outlining Clairol's future marketing plan, when Dick walked in with a tall good looking guy, It was George Bush. Dick introduced us, and told George that I was with the top five marketing people in the salon industry. Then he said to me, "Dick, remember this guy. He's going to be president in ten years." Dick Gelb's prediction was a bit off. It would take 18 years for George and Barbara Bush to move into the White House.

 Dick and George had been friends since prep school and at Yale. We spent a couple of hours sipping coffee out of china (not the styrofoam cups you got in my office). George explained that he had resigned his congressional seat to run for the Senate against a politician named Lloyd Bentsen.  Bentsen won, and later became known for his line during the 1988 vice presidential debate, at which he told Dan Quayle, Bush's running mate, "You're no Jack Kennedy." We talked politics and baseball and business. Noting he was left-handed, I said, "I'm guessing you were a first baseman".. He was impressed at my observation. I also recounted my meeting Richard Nixon during the 1968 campaign, and that I had arranged for Pat Nixon to be photographed for the September, 1968 Modern Salon cover. Both Gelbs remembered that issue. At the time I had no idea that five years later, I'd be attending White House briefings each year through the efforts of our association, the American Business Press and in 1975 have cocktails at the White House during Gerald Ford's term. It was an extraordinary afternoon and I never forgot it.

When he saw me at Gannett, he came over, put his arm around my shoulders, leaned over, and whispered, "How have you been? You know Dick Gelb has cancer, but he's a real fighter."  Dick battled it, but passed away 24 years later at  age 80. His brother, Bruce, was named ambassador  to Belgium during the Bush administration. After our tete-a-tete, several members of the press corps came over the me and asked how I knew the Veep. "We're old friends. Every time they have a problem in the White House, he calls for advice." It was much ado about something special. The next time I saw him I called him, "Mr President".