The Inside Story
By Jerry M. Lawson, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief
Half a Century. It seems like a lot of time has passed since I began publishing these trade papers back in 1969. The industries which we have served have changed, some simply gone, This HVAC industry we now serve exclusively is changing constantly. There are new products, new rules, new applications we never thought about a few decades ago. We try to keep up with the changes which effect your business.
When I began my news career back in 1962 we had never heard of faux news. I took discharge from the Army despite very enticing incentives to reenlist. I wanted to return home to Texas and somehow get into this news business. There were several other applicants for a job with the Tyler Courier Times. I checked with the man I wanted to work for every day. There were better qualified applicants, but I was eager for the job, I was a veteran, married with a child.
I worked there for three years. When Don Schultz resigned and took a great job with a huge ad agency, a man was designated to take his place that I didn’t respect and didn’t want to work for. I accepted a job with Harte-Hanks Newspapers in Marshall, Texas. That was a great year for the Lawson family. As I made my rounds introducing myself to the advertisers I would be serving, several asked me the same question “Are you one of Hickory’s boys.” When I said yes, he was my grandfather, the reply was the same everywhere, “You’ll do then.”
At the end of my first year I was due for a nice raise. The entire staff was called into a meeting where we were told that the company had begun a new retirement policy. There would be no raises for at least a year. I was 24 years old and could not care less about retirement. I learned of a job with the Dallas Morning News and applied. I was interviewed by the national ad manager and told him I wanted a job working with local advertisers where I had experience and skills.
A few days after I returned to Marshall, the manager of the retail advertising department called me for an interview. I met him at his home on a Saturday and was hired.
The three years I worked for the Dallas Morning News was better than a college degree. We had a difference of opinion about my working with an advertiser that I recognized as a crook. I was told that if I would not take care of any advertiser, I could resign. I quit my wonderful job.
I was hired by a national magazine to move to Atlanta and straighten out the mess the former manager had left. I did. The agreement was that if I did my job the magazine would open an office in Dallas and I could go home. They refused when the time came and added the Texas Southwest territory to the Atlanta office. I was living on airplanes. There were other lies told to me and I decided it was time to leave corporate America and start my own business. I quit my job.
It took two months to convince the durable goods distributors in Atlanta that I could produce a worthwhile trade newspaper. I called it Retailing News. Our little paper grew from one state to the southeast to national. We also produced a computer paper called ComFax and a builder paper called BuilderFax.
Several distributors of HVAC equipment advertised in our BuilderFax to encourage my readers to install their equipment.
The builder business went on a downside in 1988/89. The HVAC distributors had a regular luncheon meeting where theydiscussed many things. One thing they discussed was dropping out of my paper and asking me to publish a trade paper for HVAC only. It sounded like a job offer to me. It was the best job offer I had ever had.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.