For a newspaper editor, deadlines add up to milestones

I keep a three-ring binder in a desk drawer at work. The binder contains lists of stories that have appeared in the Business Times — one page for each issue. There are exactly 597 pages crammed into the binder, a paper weight that totals nearly 8 pounds.

I share this information not so much to belabor quotidian statistics about newspaper production, but describe a passing milestone. As of this issue, I’ve worked as editor of the Business Times for 20 years. In one respect, that binder documents my efforts over two decades and almost 600 press deadlines.

Like so many things viewed in retrospect, it’s difficult to comprehend how so much transpired so quickly. Twenty years. Don’t they go by in a blink? It’s a span that now accounts for more than half my career.

For those wondering about the math, the publication schedule of the Business Times has changed three times during my tenure — monthly in 1999 and 2000, twice-monthly in 2001 and 2002, weekly from 2002 to 2007 and then back to twice-monthly starting in 2008.

I’m proud to note I’ve worked on every issue of the Business Times since January 1999. I missed only two deadlines in that time: once in 2014 when I was briefly hospitalized after a heart attack and once in 2015 after I lost my beloved wife to cancer.

Given opposing trends, I consider myself fortunate to not only have worked for one newspaper for so long, but also to continue working for a newspaper. Many journalists no longer do. While I respect colleagues who’ve gone on to work in public relations — several rungs up the evolutionary ladder, perhaps — I’m not at all certain I could relate to the public.

Of course, the best things about working for one newspaper so long include the opportunity to cover a single community and develop lasting relationships. For the editor of a business journal, that means the ups and downs of the local economy and remarkable entrepreneurs who start and grow their ventures.

Even a cursory review of the lists of stories in my three-ring binder shows the cycles the Grand Valley has gone through over the past 20 years. One of the first stories I wrote as editor in 1999 detailed what was at the time a tight labor market. Subsequent stories reported the rapid growth that corresponded with a boom in natural gas development. What followed was a doubly detrimental downturn in both the regional energy sector and overall economy. Thankfully, the news has been better in recent years as the Grand Valley economy has rebounded and become more diversified and resilient. It’s been my experience, by the way, bad times are never quite as bad as they seem. But neither are good times quite as good as they seem — or lasting.

It’s been enjoyable to follow the growth of a number of notable local companies, among them Bonsai Design, Colorado Document Security, Enstrom Candies, Leitner Poma, Reynolds Polymer Technology, StarTek and West Star Aviation. That’s not to mention a more recent addition to the list in ProStar Geocorp. One series of stories covered over the course of several years the lifespan of Glideware, from the launch of the venture to its expansion and finally its sale.

It’s been fun, too, to report on the growth of industry sectors and institutions, including the construction of four hospitals in the Grand Valley as well as the incredible transformation that’s occurred at Colorado Mesa University.

Ultimately, though, business comes down to people and the inventive and hard-working entrepreneurs willing to risk so much because they believe they can provide better products and services cheaper and faster than competitors. It’s important to write about successful entrepreneurs because they offer examples others can follow in their own operations.

Over the course of 20 years, it’s only inevitable some of the people I’ve covered and enjoyed the opportunity to get to know on professional and personal levels have moved elsewhere or retired. But I relish the privilege to continue working with some of the same people I met when I became editor, among them Dale Beede, Robert Bray, Jamie Hamilton and Diane Schwenke. Several of the business professors I profiled in 1999 continue to share their wisdom with students at CMU.

Craig Hall and God willing, I’ll keep adding pages to my three-ring binder. Who knows? I might even need a bigger binder.