In December 1997, I joined JCK magazine and the JCK Shows. My first year on board has been an eventful one that I thoroughly enjoyed. Despite the doubts of naysayers about Reed Elsevier, JCK’s “new” parent corporation, the company has proved itself time and again to be wise and decisive about the challenges presented to JCK. By listening to the people on the firing line – Rick Bay, JCK’s publisher and group vice president, and Dennis MacDonald, senior vice president of Reed Exhibition Companies – and following their recommendations, the transition was very smooth indeed.

Under Bay’s leadership, Debbie and George Holmes were persuaded to return to JCK during the transition that began in the fall of 1997.Senior editors Hedda Schupak, Russ Shor, and Bill Shuster did the lion’s share of the writing while George and Debbie wrote some, managed a lot, and hired strong new editorial personnel, including Larry Frederick, Rob Bates, Jessica Stein Diamond, Keith Flamer, Gary Roskin, and Barbara Spector. JCK never missed a beat. Based on our latest independent market research survey of readers of all industry publications, JCK remains No. 1 in every important category by which trade magazines are judged by its readers: quality, relevance, usefulness, writing, and “shelf life.”

On the business side of the magazine, Bay, a veteran of senior-level management at JCK, hired Shawn Mery as associate publisher. Mery, in turn, put together a sales organization that hit the road and met with JCK’s customer base. Frequent, competent, customer contact, as we all know, is critical in today’s business world.

Demonstrating its long-term commitment to the jewelry industry, JCK announced the JCK Industry Fund just prior to the 1998 JCK Orlando Show. Supported equally by the shows and the magazine, the fund provides $400,000 annually in grants to industry organizations or individuals who develop program ideas that benefit the entire industry.

The JCK Orlando Show proceeded very effectively through the combined efforts of the Pemco staff and the new JCK Show staff. Pemco was JCK’s show-management company prior to the Reed Elsevier acquisition. The transition plan worked even more effectively in June with the JCK Las Vegas Show, which attracted a record number of attendees because of good, solid, basic marketing work.

The remaining six months of the year flashed by at light speed. Von Clauswitz, the famous military tactician, wrote that the largest, best-equipped army with smart leadership would ultimately prevail in any conflict. JCK proved the wisdom of that statement in 1998 again and again by focusing on what is truly important to this industry: publishing magazines that provide solid, useful management information to jewelry store owners and managers and hosting two trade shows that reflect the needs of retailers and exhibitors alike.

Everyone in the industry will face new and more challenging situations in 1999. There are lessons that manufacturers and retailers can learn from JCK’s experience in 1998. Understanding customers in every aspect of their business, effectively communicating with them, and responding to their needs are the three basic elements that will keep JCK in its leadership role. Thank you for your continuing support and readership during the past year and our best wishes for a successful 1999.