First Word: As good as it gets

Believe it or not, the business of publishing has a great deal in common with that of running a construction firm. In the construction industry, you can establish a reputation for doing the very best job from a technical standpoint and yet fail miserably at bidding jobs or billing your current customers. No matter how good your work is, if the books are a mess and the bills aren’t paid, your prospects for long-term success aren’t good.

Of course, the converse is also true – if your books are in perfect order and all the bills are paid, but your crews are consistently producing inferior work, failure becomes the ultimate verdict as well. The hard, cold truth is that being successful or adept in one particular area of your business doesn’t guarantee overall financial stability or long-term success. You’ve got to be on top of all aspects of your business to be truly successful. And if you’re really lucky and really have your act together, then one day perhaps you’ll find other people taking note of your hard work. You may even be good enough to be recognized as one of the country’s top contractors by Equipment World’s annual Contractor of the Year program.

In a publishing company, editors’ jobs are similar to those of equipment operators. Their performance helps create the reputation by which a company is known. In a construction company, it takes foremen and operators working together to get a project in on time. Teamwork is also important to meet a magazine’s deadline. The sales, art and editorial staffs have to work in perfect harmony to create a profitable magazine that contains current, useful information its readers can use to improve their own businesses.

We’ve been doing just that for more than 15 years here at Equipment World, and I’m happy to report our editorial staff’s hard work has been recognized by a group of their peers. In February the editorial staff of Equipment World won their equivalent of the Contractor of the Year award when they were presented with the Jesse H. Neal award for Best Subject Related Series of Articles for our March 2005 special report on equipment theft, titled Hot Iron. In this feature, all four of our editors contributed stories about the rising epidemic of equipment theft in our industry. As a result of their fine work, all were named winners of the most prestigious award given to editors of business-to-business magazines.

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Television has the Emmys, the music industry the Grammy and the motion picture industry presents their best with the Academy Award. For those of us in publishing, the Jesse H. Neal award is as good as it gets. For Editorial Director Marcia Gruver this had to be especially gratifying. Marcia is the only chief editor this magazine has ever had, and the fact that her whole staff was recognized for this story made the occasion even more special for her. It is quite a challenge to come up with thought-provoking articles each and every month, and to make sure we are covering the most important issues facing the construction industry. After years of building arguably the most useful product in the industry we serve, our “operators” have finally received their due. But just like a construction firm, next month is a new job, with unique challenges in a changing workplace. Somehow, I just know our editors are up to the challenge.

And the accolades keep coming: As a postscript – just before this magazine went to print – the Construction Writers Association announced our Hot Iron series won the prestigious Robert F. Boger award for Best Special Report.