Mark My Words—October, 2018

By Mark Lipton,

  Filed under: Departments, Mark My Words

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Contributing Writer

Penning the Penultimate

Mark Twain once said, “a man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn no other way.” I feel the same about a man who drives round trip from New York to Ohio—with his fiancée!

I’ve been writing for The Paint Dealer and the Mugler family off and on for almost 30 years. As a writer, having a regular outlet to publish my words is a blessing because the truth is writers write! Whether I was publishing my columns in The Paint Dealer or not, the likelihood is that they would still be written, so I’ve always been grateful for the platform.

Much has changed in the paint industry in the years that I’ve been in these pages. Automated tint machines have replaced the manual and point-of-sale computers have replaced receipt pads. The Internet has replaced the volumes of product data and MSDS sheets that used to line the shelves of my office. Text messages and emails have replaced face-to-face customer meetings.

While technology was bringing all these changes to the paint business, it has been wreaking havoc in the publishing field. This doesn’t come as news to anyone reading this. What does come as news is that that havoc has made it into our own backyard: the next issue of The Paint Dealer will be its last publication.

I’ve been writing my whole life. When I was a kid, I used to write stories and read them to my family. I’ve written speeches for people, poetry, and in college even made a few bucks writing term papers. Before I had a phone that could do everything but make my coffee, I had a pad and pen with me at all times because you never knew when an idea would pop up. I’ve worked on writing projects that have lasted from a few hours to a few months, but the longest most consistent writing project I’ve ever had has been the years writing for The Paint Dealer.

The Paint Dealer provided me a platform that did not otherwise exist: a place to advocate for independent paint retailers and speak about “paint injustice.” My fiancée was correct on our way to and from Ohio: it’s fun to point out other people’s problems!The Paint Dealer gave me a way to do that. Over the years, I got to know thousands of you. I learned what you liked and what concerned you for our industry. Your comments became my columns and through the pages of this magazine, manufacturers listened.

I give the Mugler family lots of credit for doing that. It’s not easy to try to sell an ad to a paint manufacturer that just read a column in your magazine about how bad a job they’re doing. But the Muglers understood—that was the risk that they ran if they were going to be the magazine they say they are on the cover: The Voice of the Independent Paint and Sundries Dealer.

And the magazine DID give independents that voice. In addition to their pages here, this company started Paint_Talk, a Yahoo based chat room for paint dealers. It was the first, and for many years the only chat room for independent paint retailers. Through Paint_Talk they allowed dealers’ voices to be heard directly! The paint manufacturers were listening; almost a third of that group was employees of paint and sundry companies that wanted to know what dealers were saying and thinking.

The issue of The Paint Dealer in your hands is the penultimate issue that Mugler Publications will send out. The dramatic changes in the publishing landscape are literally stopping the presses. The world changes, but I find myself saddened by this particular change. This magazine and column has been a huge part of my professional life and I’ll mourn its passing. I’ll keep writing and I suspect keep publishing, but it won’t feel the same: at least not right away.

On behalf of dealers whom I know have been well served by this magazine, I thank the Mugler family for all it has done for independent paint retailers. I believe that contribution to be immeasurable! I’d also like to thank the editor of the last 13 years (and associate editor for the 14 before that), Jerry Rabushka. Jerry is an outstanding advocate for dealers to whom we also owe our thanks.

Writers write, and so I did. I brought my own voice, but these pages amplified it! For all these years, The Paint Dealer was my microphone; thank you for keeping it on.

Mark Lipton is the 4th generation owner of Tremont Paint in New York City as well as a consultant to the coatings industry.