This editorial kicks off more than just the year 2003, it launches the first step in a plan that was one of the most painful, fruitful and necessary efforts I’ve ever been involved in.

It started a couple of years back during a conversation I had with manufacturing expert Denny Pawley. We were talking about staying competitive and Pawley told me about the “crisis mentality” and how" />

Issue: Jan 2003


Welcome to the AI Team



A magazine that is out of touch with its readers is out of touch with its customers.

by Gerry Kobe

Gerry KobeThis editorial kicks off more than just the year 2003, it launches the first step in a plan that was one of the most painful, fruitful and necessary efforts I’ve ever been involved in.

It started a couple of years back during a conversation I had with manufacturing expert Denny Pawley. We were talking about staying competitive and Pawley told me about the “crisis mentality” and how it destroyed companies.

“A lot of companies need to be in a crisis before they start to react,” he said. “It’s somebody’s job, or it should be somebody’s job to look down the road and anticipate what’s coming. If that doesn’t happen, you wake up one morning and you are looking over a cliff. In a crisis like that, a company changes its whole behavior and becomes reactive in nature. To succeed you have to plan ahead and have the discipline to do what’s necessary.”

For the purposes of the story I was working on, Pawley’s quote was off topic, but his words were hauntingly applicable to the publishing business. Costs for paper, printing, postage and overhead were skyrocketing and the industry as a whole was merely digging in to weather the storm.

Automotive Industries decided to plan. We looked for cost-effective suppliers, ways to reduce postage and figured out how to get more editorial product for our investment. We checked every name on our circulation list, replacing retirees, duplicates and people that left the industry with high quality readers. We asked you questions. We listened. We implemented. We kept our powder dry.

Today, Automotive Industries finds itself in a unique position. We are adding staff, growing circulation and executing the plan that we hammered out over the last two years. We have an owner/partner that lives, breathes and loves the business. We are healthy at a time when other trade magazines have closed their doors. We are growing while others are cutting staff. We have momentum. We have a plan.

For the first phase of that plan, our new feature editors represent the best and most experienced writing talent in the business when it comes to engineering, manufacturing and marketing. Our new managing and associate editors have come aboard to smooth out the bumps of our internal processes. Our senior editors and myself will continue to dig for the controversial and topical stories that have given AI the best readership in the business. And, of course all of us will listen. We’re here for you.

But as I said, that’s only phase one. As the business environment changes we recognize that we have to change with it. We have plans to add coverage in key growth areas and have already established partnerships with industry experts who will work exclusively with AI. Until we announce who they are, I can't be more specific, but suffice it to say their names will jump off the page at you as we execute the third phase of our strategy.

And what about the second phase? Well, that's where you, our readers and advertisers, come in. A magazine that is out of touch with its readers is out of touch with its customers. Phase two is to open up the lines of communication between editors and readers like the trade book business has never seen before. We'll make it easy for you to contact us and encourage you to do so. Drop us an e-mail. Give us a call. Tell us your thoughts about a story we've written or tell us what you'd like to see. Let's talk.

Ironically, it took the auto industry 20 years to figure out that it needed the combination of a long-term vision, talented people and open lines of communication to compete with the best in the business. I'm a quick study. I've got the people, the plan and I'm listening.

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