Guest Editorial: Read this at your own risk
Twenty-eight years ago next month I attended my first convention in the plumbing-heating-cooling-piping industry. As an editor or publisher of Supply House Times, Contractor, Plumbing & Mechanical, PM Engineer and Reeves Journal, I’ve had the pleasure to meet many of you at these meetings.
I’d say the chances are good that I’ve attended more of these meetings during this time span than anyone in our industry. I go to these conventions because they are important. From the start of my career, I’ve believed the goal of a good trade magazine and good trade associations that produce these events is the same. We aim to raise the level of our industry by sharing information that helps to move our readers — and their members — forward.
I’ve found the personal interaction I’ve had with many of you at these meetings is invaluable in helping me understand you, your businesses and our industry better. I’ve also listened to more business and motivational speakers than I can count. I’ve reported their words to our readers who can’t or don’t spend the time and money to go to these conventions.
One message I’ve heard from an alarming number of speakers is this: Don’t listen to the media. Cancel your newspaper subscription, don’t watch the nightly news, and somehow you will be a happier human being and a more productive businessperson.
This message is ridiculous. I do what I do because I believe information is important to you. With our magazines and digital products, we strive to let you know what’s going on around you to help you do a better job of doing your job. Outside our industry, what happens in our country and in your locality makes a big impact on you and your company.
Giving you the information and inspiration you need to succeed is important work and will be even more so moving forward. I’ve been very fortunate during the last 28 years to work with talented and hard-working journalists who understand this.
Along with articles giving you news, trends, case studies and company profiles, it’s important that we give you our opinions of where we stand on issues we face as an industry. You’re free to disagree with our views, which is why we have a letters section in our magazines and a comments section on our websites. Another trait of a good trade magazine is to be a forum to exchange ideas.
I’ve always trusted in you, as readers, to know what to believe among all the different viewpoints we present to you. You know what has worked for you and what might be worth taking a risk on to make your business more successful.
Where you get your information is important. Media is changing and the places where you can access news about our industry is increasing all the time.
Our own research at BNP Media (parent company of Supply House Times) shows 68% of you still prefer to get information about our industry in print. However, a growing number of you tell us you expect to use your smartphone and tablet in the coming years to find out what’s going on.
So, you’re changing, too, and you have to change — not only in how you want to get information but who we are in this industry. The average age of a Supply House Times reader is 55 years old. We need to get younger. Bringing in the next generation of people at all levels of our industry is the biggest challenge we face today.
And, we need to get more diverse. Our same research shows 93% of Supply House Times’ readers are males. Along with attracting more women, we need to find ways to bring in more minorities, including those whose first language is not English.
What has not changed in the last 28 years is that the PHCP industry continues to offer wonderful opportunities to those who choose to work in it. I attribute this fact to the people in our industry who continue to innovate their business practices. It’s really up to each of you as individuals to get the word outside our industry to give more people a reason to find a place in it.
I’m retiring from these magazines after almost three decades of covering our industry. Rather than look back, I look forward to the exciting times you and our industry have coming in the years ahead. Keep reading. You’re putting yourself at risk if you don’t.