HPC's 20th Anniversary: Not just a magazine, but a mission

On the occasion of HPC's 20th Anniversary, HPC's managing editor Mike Musselman recalls his early days on staff, the things that have changed, and those that haven't.
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When I walked into the Ray Publishing offices on Ward Rd. in Wheat Ridge, Colo., I had no idea that my world, and ours, was about to be rocked. It was August 2001. While I waited for my job interview, I was given copies of HPC and sister magazine Composites Technology.

“Composites?” I asked myself, mentally. “Ok-a-a-y ….” But as I turned the pages, I saw a key word: Fiberglass. Years before, I had molded glass/polyester loudspeaker horns for a sound equipment company, on molds I had made myself, starting with a hand sculpted wooden tool, and then pulling two additional fiberglass tools from the first molded part. Suddenly, I was on familiar, if almost forgotten, ground. I spent the next half hour marveling at how far fiber-reinforced plastic had come since my early 1970s experience. More importantly, I marveled at how the two magazines put out by that little eight-person operation captured the challenge, mystery and complexity of my experience. It was good stuff. By the time I sat down with Judy Ray Hazen to talk about becoming her managing editor, I was in. I wanted the job.

More importantly, Judy was in. All the way. Automakers were still married to steel but were wondering if aluminum might be an economical answer to government fuel economy standards. Aircraft manufacturers, of course, had discovered aluminum 60 years earlier, and were married to it. At best, they were testing the composites waters on ailerons and hatch covers. But Judy saw the signs of the times. It was coming.

Judy had a Big Picture mind and a tenacious eye for minute detail — a rare combination. That made her a visionary publisher and a formidable editor. I was a pretty good managing editor when I walked in the door. She challenged me to do better. She wanted everything about her business to be the best it could possibly be.

They say the great salespeople are the ones that believe in the product. Judy, then, was a true believer. How do I know? Two weeks after I came to work, the World Trade Center was reduced to ash and molten steel. The economic chaos and widespread fear that followed on the heels of 9/11 soon had its inevitable impact on advertising income. While others avoided flying, for fear of terrorists, Judy defiantly packed her bags, got on a plane, and got face to face with folks.

An unstoppable force in a risk-averse business universe that had hardened to all but the most glacial change, Judy was passionate. She didn’t just believe, she knew that no matter what happened, the ”string and glue” would prevail. She’s been proven right, again and again. The day I watched the Boeing 787 Dreamliner take off for its first flight, I surprised myself. I actually wept. Some of that passion must have rubbed off.

                                                                          — Mike Musselman, Managing Editor