In July 1998 I sat intimidated in front of my computer screen, wondering what I could possibly say to all of you about a business totally new to me and wonderfully familiar to you. Adding the words, Editor-in-Chief, Professional Builder behind my name did little to eliminate my butterflies or erase my uncertainty. Lacking any inspiration, I did what has served me well for my 22 years in publishing — I told the truth. In that August issue, I wrote:
"I will walk your construction sites. I will tour your model homes. I will sit in your offices. I will listen to your stories. I will attend your meetings. I will learn and I will work to make PB the magazine you want it to be."
Now, as I write my last column with the words Editor-in-Chief, Professional Builder behind my name, I know that very little has changed despite the passing of seven years. I walked your construction sites, toured your model homes, listened to your stories and attended your meetings. I learned so much about the home building business and poured that learning into the pages of this magazine each month. Yet, I never lost sight of the fact that what I wrote about each month you did each day, and respect is owed to the doers.
In closing that gap between knowing and doing, I asked for your help: "Share with us your successes. Help us — and help your fellow builders — learn from your mistakes. There is an amazing body of knowledge among PB's readers. Together, let's tap it."
My proudest accomplishment in the last seven years is that together, we've plumbed that knowledge pool. Through PB's talented team of editors and writers, we've connected readers with issues and with each other in ways designed to build better businesses.
People and programs changed my life and the industry for the better. The entrants and the judges of the National Housing Quality award shaped my thinking — and the rest of the industry's as well — on what a high performance home builder is. Likewise, the entrants and judges in the Best In American Living Awards program taught me — and I hope you — that good design equals good business.
Thank you for sharing your stories with me, infecting me with your passion for this most noble business of housing America's dreams. You've made me a part of this industry family, and I'll be forever grateful. As I cross the line from writing about this industry to working in it, I look forward to laboring along side you, learning from our stories and forever seeking together a better way to fulfill the dream of home ownership.
A smart builder shared with me some simple words during my first week on the job and they've been my guiding force. "Remember," he said, "connect before content."
Keep in touch — that what friends do. My new e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy home building.