Have you ever looked back at the lessons you’ve learned from mentors over the years?
I recently did that after Bob Miodonski announced his retirement (effective at the end of last year) as group publisher of BNP Media’s Plumbing Group, which includes Supply House Times.
I’ve learned a lot from some high-quality folks over the years. During my high-school, travel and American Legion baseball coaching career I learned kids, no matter what age, are more than just batting averages and ERAs. They are people with unique personalities who need to be coached and mentored accordingly.
In the newspaper business I learned about the importance of relationships and overcoming unexpected adversities such as a coach dying on the basketball floor during a game (my second-ever assignment at a daily newspaper) or having to dictate 500-word stories in less than 10 minutes with no written notes from random convenience-store pay phones in order to meet deadlines.
My foray into the world of professional sports public relations taught me if the media asks for something on Tuesday, you give it to them on Monday. And after more than a decade-and-a-half as an editor of consumer sports and business-to-business trade magazines I’ve learned the importance of telling the story and, specifically during my time here at Supply House Times, providing information that helps readers do their jobs and run their companies better.
But no one person has helped me out more along the way than Bob Miodonski, who enjoyed a distinguished and decorated 28-year career in the PHCP-PVF industry (Bob got his start as an editor on Supply House Times when it was owned by Horton Publishing).
I was a casualty of the great financial recession in the late 2000s and made the decision I would pursue opportunities in all realms of journalism, thus I answered an ad BNP Media had placed.
When I interviewed, I remember Bob handing me copies of the two magazines I would be working on (sister publications Plumbing & Mechanical and PM Engineer and thinking, “What in the hell have I gotten myself into it? I know nothing about plumbing.”
My worries were preposterously unfounded. On one hand the PHCP-PVF industry is no different than writing about sports — it’s just different subject matter, substitute a volleyball for a water heater. But in reality, writing about the PHCP-PVF industry is way cooler than sports ever will be. Now, I’m blessed to meet awesome people every day who have distinctly unique stories to tell. What more could a writer ever want?
And I owe all this to Bob for taking a flier on me.
I don’t have enough space in this column to write about all the things he’s taught me. Bob, who used to teach copy-editing at Northwestern University up the pike a bit from Plumbing Group world headquarters in Deerfield, Ill., is not only the best writer I’ve ever encountered, but his copy-editing skills are next to none.
During my days on PM Engineer, our many 3 a.m. email exchanges taught me so much about the written word and all the components that go with it.
But two things stick out to me the most about Bob, three actually. First, he quietly drove home the importance of relationships and becoming part of the industry. He also embodied what I feel makes BNP Media the unquestioned market leader — entrepreneurial initiative. Bob gave me the ball with Supply House Times and let me run with it.
Finally, there is the human side. I’m going to flat-out miss you, Bob. I’m going to miss our many conversations, all of which had some humorous component. I’m going to miss traveling with you (I will set an honorary place at the table in Houston later this month) and swapping road stories. Did you ever get those Embassy Suites bonus points?
While we say goodbye to Bob, the Plumbing Group is in excellent hands with new Senior Group Publisher Darrell Dal Pozzo, who I am greatly looking forward to working with. Darrell will continue to lead this unit down its current path of excellence.
And it’s a unit that was built up by one of the coolest cats I’ve ever encountered. Enjoy retirement, Bob. And thanks for everything.