Back in the mid ’80s, cars started showing up at repair shops with engine systems that were computer controlled and the technician couldn’t even adjust an idle as the computer would override it. Customers were sent back to the car dealer because independents didn’t have the necessary equipment to diagnose and repair these new cars.
Things got worse — or better — depending on how you look at it. Engine components got smaller and smaller, brakes started showing up with ABS and electric systems became electronic systems. Technicians had to expand their knowledge on the repairs and an array of new tools and equipment. Mechanics became technicians, or they got out of the business. They faced a daunting and expensive task to be sure!
In 1989, the automotive trade magazines concentrated on parts replacement and parts advertising, which wasn’t much help if you were looking to spend $3,000 or more on diagnostic equipment to stay current and keep your customers coming. Technicians and shop owners needed an independent source that could offer information on all the tool choices available.
It was obvious to me and my partner, Bob Swenson, that to start a magazine called Professional Tool & Equipment News would be a great service to automotive technicians looking for the new tools and equipment for a changing auto fleet. This new magazine had to get straight to the point, concentrate on the tools’ benefits and time savings and help put the reader in touch with the manufacturer. It was a simple proposition.
So we mortgaged the house, bet the farm, and started a magazine to do what nobody else was doing! I was 47, Bob was 51, and the U.S. was in a recession — a perfect time to start a new business. We presented the idea to everyone making tools for you professionals and shops and asked for advertising and press announcements about their hottest products.
Thirty-one tool and equipment manufacturers had faith in our idea, and participated with advertising in that first issue. I particularly want to thank Mohawk Lifts, OTC, Schley Products and Snap-on Tools who have been with PTEN for nearly every issue for the last 20 years. PTEN was an instant success ... after three years we turned a modest profit. Our suppliers also breathed a sigh of relief as we finally got current on our bills.
We really owe our success to you the reader. Many thousands of you mentioned our name as you bought new products, and sent us suggestions that guided us in producing a magazine that served our industry with information available nowhere else.
At our 20-year anniversary, the world of information technology is rapidly changing. Magazines are read on your computer and the information you need is available with a simple query. However you receive it, PTEN promises to be at the forefront of bringing to you the information you need about the products that will help you do your job faster, easier and more profitably.
— Rudy Wolf
PTEN has recently lost two members who were with the magazine at the very beginning; Tom Carruthers, editor, and Ginger Michelon, Midwest sales.
As editor, Tom was a key element in makingProfessional Tool & Equipment News the most informative, up-to-date and relevant publication serving the tool-and-equipment industry. Prior to joining PTEN, Tom had years of experience in the automotive aftermarket with stints at companies including Tenneco Automotive, Sun Electric, AMMCO Tools and the Shaffer/McGill Advertising Agency. Tom’s skill in creating interesting product descriptions accompanied by an eye-opening headline was unmatched. Readers and advertisers alike responded positively. Tom was instrumental in starting up a special tool distributor section in the magazine called “Inside Track,” the forerunner of today’s Professional Distributor magazine.
Ginger began her career at PTEN as an administrative assistant to Bob Swenson in the Chicago office. It wasn’t long before her talents were put to use in sales by developing PTEN’s first classifieds section. Her work ethic, loyalty to PTEN’smission and unique personality led to more responsibility as a regional manager. As sales manager, she treated her customers with kindness and respect and walked the extra mile to assure customer satisfaction.
Tom and Ginger will be remembered and missed.