Article > Opinion

Handing Over the Keys

By Jon S. Owens

It’s been an honor to produce Counterman over the years.

This is the last column I will write for this magazine as publisher and while it is personally a sad occasion for me, it is also quite a relief. You have no idea how difficult it is to come up with topical, fresh and (hopefully) somewhat compelling editorial month after month.

Can you imagine standing in front of some 50,000 of your industry peers each month having to deliver some type of 600-word speech without them feeling compelled to hurl rotten vegetables at you? Not to suggest that many of you haven’t wanted to throw something at me for the various diatribes and rants I’ve offered up over the years, but you get the picture. To add to the pressure, remember that this is, after all, the automotive aftermarket. Not the motion picture industry (thank God!), or professional sports (please!) or even consumer electronics or computers or the Internet. The topics are somewhat limited and dull, the “rumor mill” is the sacred cow of the manufacturer’s reps, and “juicy” corporate scandal is professionally toned down and smoothed over by savvy PR spin.

That doesn’t leave much for us trade

magazine types to pontificate on, does it? But as I’ve come to learn, some of the most engaging and compelling reading comes from those with a channeled focus. Or, to put it another way, a perspective that is a mile deep and an inch wide versus one that is a mile wide and an inch deep! So, whenever we’ve been able to hone in on specific topics like (just recently) the elimination of paper catalogs or adding a line item on your invoices for delivery service, to (in the past) eliminating lifetime warranties or suggesting that the true decision makers in this industry are the pros who work the parts store counters, we’ve not only been fortunate to have them (even as “re-runs”), but also as fortunate to have an audience that is a “mile deep” in their knowledge of these topics. Thus, we’ve been able to generate significant feedback,

interest and intrigue. What more could a trade publication ask for?

If you are ever so blessed to have an opportunity to sit in a wonderful pulpit like this, and peer out over a vast and complex industry like ours, and then offer up your comments and observations for all to read, absorb and react to, I hope you will shed whatever fear may be holding you back and take advantage of it as I did. Whatever you sacrifice in dignity and comfort is more than made up for in mutual respect and newfound friendships. I’ve often stated that being the publisher of this magazine is like having a front row seat at a heavyweight title bout. To our loyal readers I ask that you allow this last column to serve as my personal “thank you” for engaging us with your challenges and frustrations, for challenging us to deliver a higher level of value in our overall editorial package, and for praising us when we’ve touched the right chord, sounded the right note and mobilized and/or inspired you for the right cause. To our supportive advertisers, I ask that you also allow this last column to serve as a personal “thank you” from me for your tremendous support of this magazine, and as a “thank you” from the readers of this magazine for believing in them and how important they are to the success of your brands.

To you all I say “thank you” for tolerating me these past eight years. It has been an honor to p rod uce this tremendous magazine for you. I hope you have enjoyed our humble work at least half as much as I’ve enjoyed doing this for you.

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