When I started at this magazine in August 1990, I knew nothing of sealcoating, striping, paving, pavement repair or sweeping. (In fact, the weekend before I started, I spent two very long days sealcoating my new 100-ft. driveway from 5-gal. buckets for the local hardware store.) That I know way better today is a credit to the hundreds of contractors, manufacturers, and consultants who have taken the time to teach me about their work.
More than 30 years ago, when I became editor of this magazine, salespeople, a publisher, and I sat down to figure out how best to approach the pavement maintenance market, this magazine, and the National Pavement Expo trade show – all of which was new to us. The goal, obviously, was to make some money. We decided the best way to do that was to invest in and be invested in the industry. We wanted to become a part of the industry, and we knew we had a lot to learn.
But we decided that by helping contractors do a better job, be more productive, and operate a better business, we could become a valuable industry resource. More successful contractors would result in more sales by our advertisers and exhibitors, which would, in turn, generate dollars for us. A win-win, if you like, but the phrase that we kept coming back to was, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” We didn’t want to just take something from the industry, we wanted to give to the industry and grow along with it. And that has been a guiding principle ever since. So, we became a “how to” magazine for the technical, on-the-job, and business management issues facing contractors. (We also applied this to the NPE conference program, which we ran until selling it to Emerald Expos in 2019.)
To be a successful trade magazine (and nowadays website), the magazine must be a filter, a conduit, and a mirror for the industry. It needs to be a filter in the sense of knowing what’s happening in the industry, determining the importance and value of what’s going on, and reporting the important aspects to the readers. It must also try to be at least a little bit ahead of the industry so business owners can prepare for what’s coming. Readers and almost 30 years of rotating Advisory Board members have helped us do that.
A trade publication must serve as a conduit to convey information from those who know – contractors, manufacturers, consultants -- through people like me, to those who might be able to apply that information to their own business. That requires both a willingness to learn and a willingness to teach, and the people in this industry did yeoman’s work and demonstrated incredible patience as they answered my persistent questions over the years.
And a trade magazine must reflect the industry it serves – when people read it they want to see people and businesses like theirs, people who do the same work, run the same types of business, and face (and overcome) the same challenges they face.
As editor of Pavement Maintenance & Reconstruction and conference manager for National Pavement Expo, I’ve tried to keep all those goals in mind. And I certainly hope that the information conveyed in these pages and at NPE has helped contractors survive the tough times and grow in the better times.
This industry has treated me so well, and while it’s easy to say “Thanks,” it’s difficult to say “Goodbye.” But “Goodbye” it is. This industry has provided me a career, helped me raise and put two kids through college, and do all the other things a father wants to do for his family. I hope that my work on Pavement has helped readers do the same.
So thanks to all the contractors and consultants who gave of their time to help me convey a striping layout in print, who helped me learn the intricacies of constructing a quality asphalt mat, who helped me learn the business of sealcoating and the time-management aspects of parking lot sweeping, and much, much more. Thanks to the manufacturers – the advertisers who support Pavement and the exhibitors who support NPE – who took the time to teach me about their equipment and materials, who were willing to relate often proprietary market insights to give me a better understanding of what was happening so I could do a better job for our readers. Thanks to all the people I’ve worked with over the years -- publishers, editors, designers, salespeople, marketers -- who helped pursue the goals set 30 years ago. I appreciate the support of all of you.
With this, my final Pavement Editorial, I turn the stewardship of the magazine over to Dormie Roberts. She’ll take over this space and this magazine beginning next issue. And if she gets even half the help this industry gave me, she, and this magazine – and the paving and pavement maintenance industry – have a bright future.