Updated: Dec 20, 2018
Mark Twain once said “a man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn no other way.” I feel the same about a man who drives round trip from New York to Ohio, with his fiancé!
I’ve been writing for “The Paint Dealer” and the Mugler family for over 25 years. For a writer, having a regular outlet to publish their words is a blessing because the truth is: writers write! Whether I was publishing my columns in The Paint Dealer or not, the likelihood is that they would still be written, so I’ve always been grateful for the platform.
Much has changed in the paint industry in the 25 years or so that I’ve been in these pages. Automated tint machines have replaced the manual ones and point-of-sale computers have replaced receipt pads. The Internet has replaced the volumes of product data sheets and MSDS sheets that used to line the shelves of my office. Text messages and emails have replaced face-to-face customer meetings.
While technology was bringing all these changes to the paint business, it has been wreaking havoc in the publishing field. This doesn’t come as news to anyone reading this. What does come as news is that that havoc has made it into our own backyard: the December issue of The Paint Dealer will be their last publication.
I’ve been writing my whole life. When I was a kid, I used to write stories and read them to my family. I’ve written speeches for people, poetry and in college made a few bucks writing term papers. Before I had a phone that could do everything but make my coffee, I had a pad and pen with me at all times because you never know when an idea will pop up. I’ve worked on writing projects that have lasted from a few hours to a few months but the longest most consistent writing project I’ve ever had has been the 25 years I’ve been writing for The Paint Dealer.
The Paint Dealer provided me a platform that did not otherwise exist: a place to advocate for independent paint retailers and speak about “paint injustice.” My fiancée was right on our way to and from Ohio: it’s fun to point out other people’s problems! The Paint Dealer gave me a way to do that. Over the years, I got to know thousands of you. I learned what you liked and what concerned you for our industry. Your comments became my columns and through the pages of this magazine, manufacturers listened.
I give the Mugler family lots of credit for doing that. It’s not easy to try and sell an ad to a paint manufacturer that just read a column in your magazine about how bad a job they’re doing. But the Mugler family understood that that was the risk that they ran if they were going to try and be the magazine they say they are on the cover: The Voice of the Independent Paint and Sundry Dealer.
And the magazine DID give independents that voice. In addition to their pages, the previous editor started Paint_Talk, a Yahoo based chat room for paint dealers. It was the first, and for many years only, chat room for independent paint retailers. The magazine was not just giving dealers a voice through my column: through the Paint_Talk chat room they allowed dealers own voices to be heard directly: from the dealer’s fingers right to publication! Working with the editor at the time, we got that group up to over 1,000 active members. The paint manufacturers WERE listening: almost 1/3 of that Yahoo Chat group at the time were not dealers but employees of paint and sundry companies that wanted to know what dealers were saying and thinking.
The November issue of The Paint Dealer is the penultimate issue that the magazine will publish. The dramatic changes in the publishing landscape are stopping the presses. The world changes and we move on: but I find myself saddened by this particular change. This magazine and column has been a huge part of my professional life and so I’ll mourn it’s passing. I’ll keep writing and I suspect keep publishing, but it won’t feel