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Starting Off: Times Change – Or Do They?

The last time I wrote a column in a Babcox TechGroup publication, I was editor of Brake & Front End. I had dark hair with not a touch of grey (never mind about the mullet). There wasn’t a single www.anything.com anywhere in the issue, said Doug Kaufman, Editorial Director.

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Doug Kaufman

The last time I wrote a column in a Babcox TechGroup publication, I was editor of Brake & Front End. I had dark hair with not a touch of grey (never mind about the mullet). There wasn’t a single www.anything.com anywhere in the issue.

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But there was one lonely email address.

That was the one for my AOL account and, in May 1995, I was still waiting for the flood of messages that someone – anyone – would write to me at my “internet address.”

Well, that’s not entirely true – in that column I talked excitedly about the one email that I had just received from a reader praising his boss for doing things the right way in an economy that made for a challenging business environment.

It’s nice to be home.

I’ve been editor and publisher of Engine Builder, Babcox Media’s brand written for and distributed to the professional engine building and machine shop industry, for nearly 20 years, so the chance to get back into the service world is an exciting change. It really is a homecoming for me and I am very happy to be back.

When I was last in this role, TPMS was barely a dream. OSHA had just issued its final rule on asbestos, aerosol spray cans and non-aqueous solvent baths for brake cleaning. And the average age of the car on the road was 7.3 years old, up from 6.7 years old just a few years earlier. Telematics and connected cars? Jules Verne would have said “you’re crazy.”

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Looking casually at how much things have changed in almost 25 years, I might be tempted to describe myself as a stranger in a strange land. Except things haven’t really changed all that much.

Sure, some of the players have changed teams and some of the teams have changed cities (or even countries) and the TechGroup is now active with webinars, podcasts and social media activity that was really the stuff of science fiction. But our mission remains the same.

I said this in 1995: “We haven’t been this excited about an upcoming editorial season for a long time.

“We know how focused you have to be in the daily operations of your business…and we know you want us to be more responsive to your needs. At times though, it may see like we’re locked in a huge vault in a media conglomerate’s corporate headquarters. We’re not. You’re encouraged to pick up the phone and let us know how we’re doing.”

Don’t laugh at the quaint notion of “picking up the phone.” I want to encourage you to reach out to me to talk about what we’re doing right – and what we could improve on. Use my email address ([email protected]) OR my physical address (3550 Embassy Parkway, Akron, OH 44333) or EVEN my office phone number (330-670-1234 ext. 262) to share your stories and ideas.

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We’re focusing our attention on delivering better service to you every day. How will we know if we’re succeeding? I hope you’ll tell us. And I promise we’ll listen.

That’s something that won’t change.

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