What can a fellow say in bidding farewell after more than three decades of covering tire-industry goings on? It's hard to believe, but the time has come to step out of the work-a-day world at least long enough to investigate what retirement has to offer.
I couldn't leave without saying a heart-felt thanks to those who've read even a single line that I've written over the years. Thanks as well to all the hardworking and colorful people who made covering this industry's news so interesting.
And finally, thanks to my employers, editors, associates and colleagues who try so hard to live up to the highest standards of journalism. Few professionals take their jobs more seriously or exercise greater self-scrutiny than many who labor in the trade press.
It's been my privilege to work alongside some of the best in this industry, and I'm proud to count them as friends.
Not the least of these is Tire Business' founder and former editor and publisher Ernie Zielasko, who initiated me into this business some 38 years ago and did his best to hammer home the finer points of business journalism to this then-24-year-old, green-as-grass newspaper reporter.
More than two decades later, after I had spent several years running my own business, Ernie persuaded me to sign on with Crain Communications-a decision I've seldom regretted even in the pain of struggling to make deadlines.
Then there's Dave Zielasko, who succeeded his father as editor and publisher of Tire Business. Although more than capable in his own right, he has graciously put up with an ``old timer's'' advice that doubtless was offered more frequently than needed or appreciated.
Dave never has departed from the ground rules set years ago by his father, and Tire Business has continued to grow and improve under his watch.
A flood of memories comes to mind at times like this: old ``war stories'' that news people collect over the passing years.
For example, there was that time years ago when a supplier known for tippling a beverage or two, hosted his company's hospitality suite at the Louisville Retreaders Conference wearing little more than jockey shorts.
Or the time an exhibitor paid a woman to wheel a chimpanzee in a baby carriage across the trade show floor at a National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association convention. The chimp, looking cute and cuddly in a bonnet and baby clothes, prompted lots of ``coochie-coos'' from convention goers-until it bit one or two, prompting a rule forever banning animals from future events.
Then there was that time when NTDRA convention goers were given sparklers in celebration of the association's anniversary. Unfortunately, the heat and smoke from the sparklers set off the hotel's automatic sprinkling system, drenching everyone. Most came away laughing. Tire dealers, I've found, aren't afraid to laugh at their circumstances-even in diversity.
There are other recollections-good and not so good. For example, the pride and satisfaction that comes in seeing Tire Business readers step forward to help once they learn of someone in need...tons of off-duty time spent polishing stories and finishing page layouts, disagreements over who knows what (It's funny how in hindsight some issues no longer seem as important.)...and a journalist's typical failure to understand why non-journalists don't appreciate our ethics.
Opportunities for travel? Lots of them...trips to exciting places like Italy, Switzerland, Finland, Hawaii and Japan-travel most news reporters only dream about. Fortunately, tire dealers are well-traveled and many a trip became possible by my tagging along-sometimes accompanied by Elaine, my bride of nearly 40 years.
Come to think of it, that's a good description of what this job involved: tagging along, literally and figuratively, with you, the readers, and sometimes sharing in your good fortune. Thanks for the ride. It's been grand.
Until we meet again, I wish you all a good life, and may God bless you, readers and friends!
Chuck Slaybaugh, Tire Business' executive editor for the past 15 years, looks forward to trying some different types of writing in his retirement. He may even write a screen play.