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Bulking Up

As you may have already read on the facing page, Electrical Wholesaling is welcoming a number of new writers to its stable of contributing authors, and reintroducing you to several writers who over the past few years have become an important part of the magazine. They all bring invaluable industry expertise to the pages of Electrical Wholesaling, and their contributions are much appreciated. While Managing Editor Sarah Tobaben Dolash, Contributing Writer Dale Funk and I have a combined total of more than 50 years of experience as journalists covering the electrical wholesaling industry, there's no substitute for the industry experience these outside authors bring to the pages of the magazine.

You may have also noticed a louder sound when this month's Electrical Wholesaling hit your desk. The magazine is noticeably thicker. In publishing circles, it's called the “thud factor” — the sound of a beefy magazine hitting the desk of a reader or advertiser. It's not by accident. The increase in editorial is the result of a major strategic investment to improve the quality of the editorial product for readers and advertisers on the part of the magazine's new owners, Prism Business Media, a New York-based private equity firm. In late 2005, Prism Business Media purchased Electrical Wholesaling, Electrical Construction & Maintenance (EC&M), Electrical Marketing and the Electric West trade show that the publications sponsor, along with more than 70 other monthly business magazines. Prism Business Media also publishes 150 e-mail newsletters, manages 17 industry trade shows and markets 500 rich-data products. Company President and CEO John French, a publishing industry veteran, saw the power of these electrical properties and is working with Publisher David Miller, Group Vice President Bob MacArthur and the editorial and sales staffs of the publications to build out the company's electrical platform. Providing more editorial pages for Electrical Wholesaling was a top priority. You will see other investments in Electrical Wholesaling and the other electrical properties by Prism Business Media in the months to come.

It's the close to a rather tumultuous era for Electrical Wholesaling and the other business magazines previously owned by Primedia Business. Primedia's initial public offering (IPO) in 1996 didn't attract as much capital as expected, and in hindsight, the company's purchase of the search engine and Web community in 1999 for $690 million in stock was a costly mistake. With concerns over debt incurred from this purchase and an eye on improving quarter-to-quarter earnings for Wall Street, quite frankly, Primedia was more concerned with cutting costs to improve its financial performance than with making any major investments in its magazines.

All Primedia magazines had to pay a portion of the loans used to finance the ill-advised purchase with capital that would have been better spent investing in the print editions of the magazines. Primedia sold to the New York Times Publishing Co. last year for $410 million in cash. That kind of return on investment was considered a profitable venture for many of the dot-bombs that flamed out during the Internet craze a few years back.

Along with the debacle, during this era, a clash of cultures was raging at the company. Some long-departed senior Primedia executives were infatuated with the Web, and thought trade magazines in the traditional print format would be replaced by new Web-based communications vehicles. The Web has forever changed the way magazines manage and publish content, but instead of replacing print magazines, the Web has added new and exciting channels that publishers can use to inform readers and offer to advertisers as vehicles to promote their products.

Prism's investment in Electrical Wholesaling is a win-win for everyone in the electrical industry. Readers will get additional quality editorial. This will draw more readers to the magazine and create an even better editorial environment for advertisers who want to promote their products or services. It's an exciting new era for Electrical Wholesaling.

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