I’ve spent the last 10 years working as an editor here at GIE Media. I came from working as a daily newspaper reporter to a business-to-business publishing company with no knowledge of what “business-to-business publishing” even meant, but I knew I liked to write and to ask people questions.
When I came in for my first interview, I remember waiting at the receptionist’s desk and reading over the titles of all the magazines GIE Media published, including one called Snow Magazine. I had worked at my family’s parking lot business in the winter clearing snow, so I knew the basics of wind rowing and staying up all night in the cold and dark.
“How can you publish a magazine entirely about clearing snow?” I thought. “It’s not that complicated. What would you even write about?”
I now sit next to the editor of Snow Magazine, and I’ve learned that they write about a lot of stuff that goes far beyond my main questions as a newbie plow driver, which were mostly: “What coffee place is open at 3 a.m.” and “Did I remember to put all my Tom Petty CDs in the truck?”
In the last decade that I’ve spent here, first a year with PCT magazine and then 9 with Lawn & Landscape, I’ve continued to learn a lot, and I have been helped by more people than I can count. But after 10 years with GIE Media, this will be the last time you see my head shot in this column. Starting in August, I’ll be joining the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) as its vice president of communications.
Every month I send a stack of thank-you notes to people who have helped get the issue out the door. Now it’s me who’s headed out the door, and so I’d like to use this column as a way to say thank you to an entire company – and industry – for allowing me the good fortune to write and talk and visit with you for the last several years.
I’m so grateful for all the experiences I’ve had in this industry, and all that I’ve learned. I’ve raced go-karts at Briggs & Stratton’s private track at Road America, run new UTVs through fresh powder at Lake Tahoe and hung out on the beach in the Bahamas talking shop with landscapers.
“I’d like to say thank you to an entire industry for allowing me the good fortune to write and talk and visit with you for the last several years.”
All that was fun, but what I’m most proud of are the emails and calls and letters I get from contractors all across the country who tell me that some story or report or research we published has helped them solve a problem or improve their business. During the Great Recession, a landscaper in Wisconsin wrote me to say that the positive messages we had in our magazine encouraged him to stick with his business and not give up, even though it felt like the entire world was falling apart.
And I’m proud of the team I get to work with – and all the folks I have worked with – here at GIE. I know I’m biased, but I think we have the smartest, most talented, most creative, most ambitious and most tenacious group of editors, designers, salespeople and support staff in the business. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work with each day.
When I started here at GIE, I came in thinking of myself as a reporter: I asked people questions, I wrote down what they said and then I put it together into a story. Ten years later, and thanks to the support of the team at GIE Media, I get to do that and so much more.
As the editor, I often hear from people like that contractor in Wisconsin, about how Lawn & Landscape has helped them.
But as much as our magazine has helped them, the people in the landscape industry have helped me even more. You all have shown me that an entrepreneur can overcome tremendous challenges to build something strong and long-lasting. You’ve shown me that a public greenspace can be a place of healing and rejuvenation. You’ve shown me that with the right equipment and some ingenuity, a team of dedicated people can build something much larger than themselves.
You have opened up your offices and your trucks to me. But more than that, you’ve opened up your hearts. I’ve heard terrible stories of theft, loss and sometimes death. I’ve written stories honoring the achievements of contractors who have changed the industry for the better. I’ve talked with landscapers who have built multi-million dollar businesses only to see them crumble into bankruptcy. And I’ve also been able to help celebrate those companies coming back from nothing to rebuild.
How can you have an entire magazine about mowing lawns? Simple: The magazine isn’t about mowing lawns.
The magazine is about the people – each of the landscapers, lawn care operators, hardscapers, educators, equipment dealers, distributors, engineers, suppliers, association executives and salespeople – who work every day to make it better. That’s what makes this industry so special, and that’s what I am so grateful to have been a part of.
This summer my family and I will move to northern Virginia and start a new adventure. In my new role with OPEI, I’ll still be around the industry, and I hope our paths will continue to cross. Once again, good luck out there. And thank you. – Chuck Bowen
“How can you have an entire magazine about mowing lawns? Simple: The magazine isn’t about mowing lawns. It’s about the people who work every day in the industry to make it better. That’s what makes this industry so special, and that’s what I am so grateful to have been a part of.”