What goes around, comes around. That old adage certainly rang true for me recently, when my employer, Crain Communications Inc., on July 27 acquired the polymers publishing and events business of Britain's Emap Communications Ltd. For it was nearly 26 years ago when another deal between Crain and a firm now owned by Emap first propelled me to Europe.
The latest transaction also gave me a small, personal indication of how globalization impacts us all.
Maclaren already had announced it would shut down ERJ soon, so Crain swooped in and bought the publication, which was stuffy, boring and overly scientific. Crain also tapped me, a 24-year-old with a whopping 18 months of real-life journalistic experience, to go help reshape ERJ into more of a monthly news magazine with features on people and business. It was stressful but fun.
My mentor was Ernie Zielasko, who founded Rubber & Plastics News in Akron before selling it to Crain in 1976. I still remember going by train in early 1982 with Ernie, then ERJ publishing director as well as RPN's editor/publisher, to Croydon from London to meet with Maclaren Managing Director John Copeman, whose family had partly owned ERJ for 81 years. Back then, Crain London general manager Paul Mitchell oversaw the transfer of the publication and its operations to London, and we're proud that Crain today still publishes ERJ, under the leadership of publisher Mitchell and editor David Shaw in London.
In the meantime, Emap acquired Maclaren, and about 15 years ago bought European Plastics News from Reed Business Publishing. Emap since has grown into a diverse, publicly held media company with more than 200 brands and, like so many major communications firms, is changing rapidly. Its two polymer industry titles, while well-managed and profitable, no longer fit its long-term plans.
But they certainly fit into ours. Years ago, we used to compete head-to-head with PRW. So it's with more than a little nostalgia that today, more than a quarter-century later, I see Crain reuniting PRW and ERJ as stable mates, along with PN and EPN. We're thrilled at the prospect of combining our editorial firepower on three continents to better cover the fast-globalizing plastics industry. Overnight, the deal gave PN a strong beachhead in Europe, where we previously had been underrepresented, and it instantly gave PRW and EPN experienced news bureaus in North America and China.
Additionally, because of the similarity in PN's and EPN's names, many people over the years have long thought we were sister publications. Well, we finally are!
There are signs of globalization everywhere. Renowned columnist/author Thomas Friedman summed it up neatly when he declared, "The world is flat."
Well, it's a long way from the early-'80s punk-music days of London, but the world just got a lot flatter for PN, and we firmly believe that our customers — readers and advertisers alike — will benefit as a result.
Robert Grace, who joined Crain Communications in Akron, Ohio, in March 1980, is Plastics News editor, associate publisher and conference director.