Monday, February 1, 2010

A late farewell to a great magazine professional

One link led to another, and to another, and finally led to some very bad news.

The connections: Better Roads, a magazine that was my arch-rival when I was publisher of Roads & Bridges, named Mike Anderson editor of the month trade magazine. Anderson had been an editor at Construction Equipment magazine. This made me want to call Terry McGinnis, one of the best B2B sales reps I've ever known.

Terry McGinnis, promoting the Tour of Utah Bike Race.  Photograph care of the Deseret News.

I'd known Terry McGinnis since late 1991 when I first joined McGraw-Hill in San Francisco -- I was publisher of Daily Pacific Builder, a daily (M-F) newspaper mostly composed of construction bid news, and Terry was an advertising rep for Intermountain Contractor. Back then, McGraw-Hill's Construction Information Group was made up of regional construction magazines, a couple daily newspapers, and was anchored by Engineering News-Record.

It was an interesting group and an amazing team.  Some moved on, some got promoted, but like all teams it eventually broke apart when the internal McGraw-Hill politics changed the dynamics.

Terry got a break and joined the sales team at ENR shortly after I left McGraw-Hill and moved to Chicago to take over R&B. Later he moved on to Cahners to sell Construction Equipment.  Terry and I would see each other at industry trade shows and client events regularly - the Gomaco Open, a golf tournament put on each year by the concrete paving manufacturer, is fondly remembered.  We traded gossip, talked about clients, had a few beers, and were certain that one day we'd be in a situation where we would work together in the same group or on the same publication. When I saw clients and mentioned Terry's name they would always say that he was their favorite rep. (The west coast territory for construction publishing is a difficult territory. One better not burn clients or your prospect list will grown smaller very quickly.)

Thin, with a warm smile, Terry McGinnis was an athlete -- a competitive cyclist, competing in over-30 contests when I knew him.

But a little over three years ago Terry was diagnosed with cancer. He left CE on a leave of absence, first off and on, then permanently. Eventually the length of time between our conversations grew longer.

But while Terry McGinnis may have stopped selling trade magazine advertising, he was not done selling. He worked hard to resurrect the Tour of Utah bike race and when he finally succumbed to cancer late last fall, he was eulogized in the Deseret News for his work in cycling: "Utah lost one of its biggest ambassadors for the sport of cycling Saturday when Terry McGinnis, the executive director of the Tour of Utah, passed away after a long battle with cancer."

"He was pretty much the savior of the Tour of Utah," Burke Swindlehurst, a professional cyclist from Salt Lake City was quoted as saying. "To step in and resurrect the event, even though he was going through what he was ... it takes a special person to accept that challenge."

In the comments section an anonymous client of Terry's from McGraw-Hill days posted "Terry was just a terrific guy. I first met him when I bought an ad in the Intermountain Contractor 18 years ago, and bumped in to him over the years-he was a high quality person!!!!" Page McGinnis, Terry's brother wrote "My brother was my hero, thanks for all the kind words. It's amazing how many lives he touched!"

I called Phil Bridge, the president of Journal Graphics these past 16 years since leaving the McGraw-Hill group, this afternoon. Phil knew why I had called the minute I said Terry's name. "He was just a great guy" was all he could say. Sadly, Terry's former publisher at Intermountain Contractor, Bob Marshall, had passed a couple of years ago after suffering from ALS.  It's been a tough couple of years for sure.

So I wanted to write this post because as great a guy Terry may have been, as great a promoter of local cycling, I will remember Terry McGinnis as a truly great B2B magazine representative -- one who cared about his industry, about his clients, and about the people who work in the B2B media field. This shouldn't go unnoticed.