HPC's 20th Anniversary Issue

HPC's editor-in-chief Jeff Sloan looks back two decades to HPC's beginnings, on the occasion of its 20th Anniversary Issue.
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In the fall of 1987, I was a sophomore journalism major in at Colorado State University. In one of my classes, Publication Management, I had to write a business plan for the first five years of a startup magazine, including the editorial topic, focus and philosophy, subscriber-base demographics and size; potential advertisers; marketing plans; paper, printing, mailing and subscription-maintenance costs; staff salaries, benefits and payroll taxes; and anticipated revenue. We were graded on the thoroughness of our work and the “viability” of the enterprise — a subjective metric to be sure. Our professor reminded us repeatedly that most magazines fail within three years of launch, so the viability bar was set pretty high.

On paper, my publication-to-be appeared editorially and financially stable, and maybe even viable. But what I didn’t know then was that any magazine, no matter how sound the premise and data on which it is founded, needs one key ingredient that does not show up in the business plan and was not mentioned by my professor: At least one person who is passionate not only about the magazine, but about what it represents — a person in whom the magazine’s market is ingrained, who knows and is known, who is willing to be the magazine, craft its vision and make sure that every issue hews closely to it. In short, a successful magazine, when launched, needs an evangelist.

HPC’s evangelist from day one was Judy Hazen. She worked in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a sales representative for Advanced Composites. When that magazine was effectively folded by the company that owned it, Judy saw a hole in the market and moved to fill it with HPC. She launched the first issue 20 years ago this month, in 1993 — no mean feat for a woman in a male-dominated, manufacturing-oriented industry. (See p. 48 for a look back at HPC’s debut.)

For more than a decade, Judy carried the title of publisher and editor, and in that role exerted over the magazine her vision of what it should be and represent: Technically astute, trusted, accurate, timely, forward-thinking, visually attractive and relevant. She was the face of the magazine at trade shows conferences and seminars. She knew and was known. She managed the sales staff, marketing, layout, design, circulation and edited every feature story in each issue. She asked the hard questions and sent back articles that didn’t meet her expectations. She profited from the rapid expansion the composites industry but also saw the magazine through downturns that might have pushed lesser leaders out of business.

The result, today, is not just HPC the magazine, but HPC the brand, surrounded by a sister publication (Composites Technology), a digital presence on the Web, a weekly newsletter, technical conferences and, in my opinion, a sales, editorial and marketing staff without equal in the composites industry that still shares the passion and interest that launched the magazine two decades ago. Judy retired after the sale of HPC and CT to Gardner Business Media in 2007, but what she envisioned lives on. The core staff of editors and writers she assembled still gratefully navigates the course she set.

That said, there’s one other absolutely indispensable element: readers. That’s you. HPC magazine ultimately proved viable because you continue to subscribe to it, and benefit from what’s on its pages. So, to you, we owe a debt of gratitude as well. In payment, we’re launching into the next 20 years with the same commitment to accuracy and relevance that you’ve come to know and love. Thanks for reading, and thanks for your support.