It feels like we've been talking about adapting to a new business climate for a long time now. New locations, new products and services to meet changing consumer demands and updated technology that provide tools for efficiency and to help us make sense of it all. I think we all agree that the future will hold a place for the vending, OCS and music and games industries -- and for information media as well. And we also recognize that as we continue to forge ahead there will be light at the end of this proverbial tunnel. But we are all too keenly aware that the way we run our businesses will look very different when we emerge on the other side.
VENDING TIMES is undergoing renovation, too. It started with improvement to our online media products several years ago, and continued with VT's format “facelift” at the beginning of the year. We are also exploring the possible value of a digital version of the print edition, and other ways in which we might meet our readers' demand for information to help them grow their businesses, and assist our advertisers to maximize their brands' reach.
At VT, we've got a job to do: To provide a reliable, comprehensive, relevant and user-friendly resource that stimulates dialogue, engages and inspires, and helps industry members succeed. This will continue to be our mission statement, but, depending on the desires of our audience, we may end up taking alternate paths to the goal.
My father (cofounder and former publisher) always told me that we are only as healthy as the industries we serve. “If the industry is successful, Vending Times will be successful,” he said. Truer words have never been spoken! For this reason, if no other, it is our duty to serve as a resource that can help operators and suppliers meet the challenges that threaten our survival and mutual prosperity.
In the midst of all this change, VT is moving its offices out of Manhattan. (What next, I wonder? Pile it on, please!) On Aug. 22, we will relocate to Rockville Centre, New York, about 20 miles out on Long Island.
VT was headquartered in New York City for two reasons. First, one of the founders lived north of Manhattan and the other east of it, so they needed a site convenient to both. Second, in 1962, many large companies that sold products to the vending industry were based in the city, as were their advertising and public relations agencies.
Just about everything in the world of publishing has since changed. The days of the three-martini lunch and the advertising agencies on Madison Avenue here (and Michigan Avenue in Chicago) are long gone (and, I think, sincerely missed by many).
Technology and processes have changed, too. The reality is that we no longer need 3,500 square feet to produce the publication. Laying out the magazine is done by computer; pages are assembled by “desktop publishing” instead of standing at drafting-tables with steel rules, single-edged razor blades and rubber cement. The computer files that have replaced the old paper “mechanicals” are sent across the Internet to our printer in Illinois, 800 miles away. Ad pages are stored as digital files, and proofing can be done from any remote location as long as Internet access is available.
For these reasons, I've again been compelled to think about the accidents that determine many of a company's important decisions. We do many things one way rather than another because we've “always” used that method, but more often than not, we started to use it because it was convenient, or the available resources did not give us other options. Operators who pioneered automated data collection often reported that persuading their drivers to buy into the new method was one of the hardest parts: People become accustomed to things being a certain way, whether or not that way is the best available. That's why we need to look at what we're doing, every so often, and ask why we're doing it.
For me, our impending move is bittersweet. I have been commuting into Manhattan from Long Island for over 20 years, and it is a good place to work – though less appealing as a place to rent office space! I am excited about starting anew, but naturally sad to leave the city where it all started almost 50 years ago. I will miss the hustle and bustle of the city that never sleeps. And I will miss the faces of my fellow commuters who joined me on my daily 50-minute trek – even those I've never actually met. I will surely miss the falafel from the Jewish deli across the street.
As we begin this new chapter at VT, I also think of my dad and wonder what he would make of all these changes. I reminisce about all those years we spent literally running for the train together as we could hear our ride approaching the station (I am always late)! I remember listening to his stories before I'd had enough morning coffee to comprehend all he had to say -- stories that I long to hear today. But, we charge ahead and hope the decisions we make are the right ones, because we know that when we're through changing, we're through.