Bill Roebuck has been the Editor of MRO Magazine since it was launched in 1985. Photo by Media Bar.
Toronto – It’s been a good run – 30 years. Three decades ago I became the founding editor of Machinery & Equipment MRO magazine, never intending way back then to hang around so long. In this business, 30 years is an extraordinarily long time to be the editor of any magazine. Yet while various other staff members came and went, I stuck it out – mainly because I really enjoyed the job and the people I met through working on the magazine.
I knew a bit about the field of maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) from my early days working in industry, before I went back to school to become a journalist. I had studied engineering earlier – it was electronics, but in hindsight, it should have been mechanical.
Work-wise, I’ve been a draughtsman, making drawings for repair work to be done on glass-making furnaces. I’ve been an electrical construction and maintenance apprentice for one of Hamilton’s huge steel mills. (My right shoulder is still lower than my left from carrying around my surly journeyman’s massive and insanely heavy wooden toolbox, with its thick leather strap slung over my straining shoulder.) Somewhere in there I was also an oceanographic technician, working on wave-tossed ships in the Bay of Fundy, hauling up giant tide-measuring instruments for checking and repair.
Later, sitting at a desk doing writing and editing was just as interesting to me as those challenging jobs, although my working life was certainly a lot more tame. As an editor, I’ve worked on magazines in the fields of foodservice, electronics, construction, finance, computer technology, manufacturing and even automotive.
This particular magazine would not have become the success it is without the founding publishers having a great idea they believed in, and without the help of readers, maintenance consultants, distributors, and the suppliers and vendors of various MRO products and services. And, of course, there are the many advertisers who helped make this a viable business.
But now it’s also the end of an era for me personally, as I’ll be handing in my MRO editor’s hat on Dec. 18 and moving on to other ventures.
Due to an acquisition earlier this year by Annex Publishing & Printing of several magazines published by Glacier Media – which previously owned MRO – several changes are afoot.
The December 2015 issue, which subscribers will receive by mid-December, marks the final issue for which I’ll have been responsible for the editorial content and direction of Machinery & Equipment MRO magazine as its Editor and Associate Publisher. Also, the final e-newsletter I’ll be sending out will be on Dec. 15.
Yet MRO Magazine carries on, albeit in a new format. The first print magazine that subscribers receive next year (February 2016) will be edited by Rehana Begg, who has been the editor of Plant Engineering & Maintenance (PEM) magazine, which has ceased publishing and is being amalgamated into MRO. She is also the editor of Resource Engineering & Maintenance (REM) magazine, which will continue. Begg has more than 16 years of editorial experience and has managed a variety of B2B and consumer publishing projects and events. She holds a master of journalism degree from Ryerson University and a certificate in project management from the University of Toronto.
There are other changes in the works for the print magazine, including re-sizing MRO from its current ‘tabloid’ size (16 in. tall x 11 in. wide.) to a new size that will be 12 in. tall and 9 in. wide. This should be good news for the many readers we’ve surveyed over the years who told us they felt MRO was cumbersome, although we’d held fast to the big size because we liked the fact it was difficult to lose sight of on a desk, lunchroom table or workbench, and because of the large amount of ‘real estate’ available on each page to advertisers.
The new, smaller size will also mean there will be more physical pages in each issue – about double the current number – which should allow for an expansion of the range of content provided.
Commenting on the amalgamation of PEM into MRO, Begg says, “I believe that we share a number of traits – we are devoted to quality editorial content, a passion for the industry and a deep and enduring respect for those who are engaged in it. I look forward to the challenge of ensuring the new format meets the evolving needs of our audiences.”
Looking back, I can’t think of better work for me than sourcing and compiling interesting content that helps readers in their jobs, writing and rewriting to make the paragraphs clear and understandable, helping create compelling layouts that combine useful text and graphics, writing headlines and captions that grab attention, and managing the production phase of creating each edition of the magazine. On top of that, there’s the newspaper-like action of writing daily news for the magazine’s website and producing its weekly e-newsletter.
I am reassured that both the magazine and website will be in good hands with Begg co-ordinating the editorial content starting next year. I know she will appreciate your input, and if you have some suggestions for story ideas you’d like to read about, don’t hesitate to e-mail her at email@example.com.
Meanwhile, if you’d like to reach me with comments or feedback, please send an e-mail to my personal address at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to everyone – all of our readers, those involved in the magazine and those in the industrial aftermarket – for your support over the decades. I expect that 2016 should be an interesting year for all of us.
Bill Roebuck, Editor & Associate Publisher