By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
As you probably know by now, Marcia Grand, publisher/ VP of TWICE who has been here since the beginning, is retiring as of April 30.
I never thought I would read the words “retiring” and “Marcia” in the same sentence. If you have ever met Marcia, you know she is one of a kind. She never likes to look back, only ahead, but I think this is one of those times you have to reflect upon a life in publishing and in the consumer electronics business.
My first full conversation with Marcia had to be on a bright, warm day in the early 1990s when the now-departed Aiwa America opened a new headquarters in northern New Jersey. I was the editor of the electronics section of a major competitor of TWICE at the time and was there with local and business media.
Of course, I knew Marcia by reputation and we had met before, at some industry event or two, with a mumbled hello or a nod, but that was about it.
We asked each other why we were there, and we had time to talk since the ribbon cutting was running late because since Aiwa, then a subsidiary of Sony, was waiting for one of its parent company’s execs to show up for the event. Marcia said she was there, in her words, because the Aiwa execs were “friends” and she “wanted to show my support.”
What other publisher goes to an office opening from Manhattan to New Jersey in the middle of the day? She was the only one.
I found out first hand when I joined TWICE around two years later that the Aiwa visit was typical. Her loyalty to friends in this industry and the passion for the consumer electronics business has been part of her DNA.
Marcia was hired by legendary publisher Richard Ekstract answering as she put it, his “girl Friday” ad, back in the late 1960s when he owned TWICE’s precursor, the Consumer Electronics monthly, along with several other trade and consumer publications.
Over the years she learned the arts of sales and promotion, and the many facets of publishing, as well as the unique world of the electronics/appliance industry, going up the ladder from assistant, to proofreader, ad salesman, sales director and eventually to TWICE’s publisher.
Back in the mid-1980s Ekstract sold Consumer Electronics magazine, but was still publisher, and came up with the idea to make it a weekly publication because the industry was becoming more news driven.
But the company that owned the magazine rejected the notion, especially since it was the top publication in the industry at time.
Well, Ekstract decided to leave to form his own company – again – and Marcia, never one to look back, jumped at the chance to start TWICE in 1986. He hired Bob Gerson as editor and the rest, as they say, is history.
I came on board as editor in 1993, hired by and reported to then-group publisher George Hundley, when TWICE was owned by Cahners Publishing. Cahners bought TWICE from Ekstract back in 1991, and he left. But Marcia stayed on as publisher/VP, along with Gerson, who became editor in chief when I joined the team.
|Clockwise from left: Marcia Grand with her husband Richie at the Anti-Defamation League's national electronics and appliance industries division gala in 2007; accepting her Legacy Award from Women In CE earlier this year; flanked with long-time colleague, the late Bruce Alpert (left) and then group publisher Larry Oliver in 2005.|
By that time, TWICE was already No. 1 in the field and Marcia was like a mother hen, asking questions and reviewing decisions just to make sure the publication would not only maintain its position but grow and thrive.
Well, like a mother hen born and bred in the Bronx.
For instance, shortly after I joined TWICE, I witnessed the culture shock when Marcia, and a few of us New Yorkers, went to the annual divisional meeting Greensboro, N.C. Cahners had us in a division of mostly home-furnishings publications that were based down there.
I observed the reactions from our Greensboro colleagues with amusement when Marcia gave her presentation about TWICE and the CE business in her full, unvarnished Bronx view.
I quickly learned there is never a mystery about where Marcia stands on any subject. She has often expressed her views on the industry with that same passion and candor with readers or top executives over the years.
Marcia was and is unique. She told me early on that we’d work well together, not only because I knew many of the same top retail and manufacturing execs, but that, truth be told, I am half-Italian (and she loves Italy) and always wanted to learn how to tap dance. (In a moment of weakness, I admitted I did too.)
Over the years as editor, and later editor-in-chief, at TWICE, I have had a firsthand look at how Marcia worked as we became publisher of the Official Daily of CES; created TWICE.com, its daily newsletter and weekly retail newsletter; hosted webinars and live events; and covered up-and-coming technologies and companies, all the time crisscrossing the nation, and sometimes overseas, to monitor the comings and goings of the CE business.
Along the way she received two awards from the industry: the Torch of Liberty award from the Anti-Defamation League’s national electronics and appliance industries division in 1999 and, during International CES this January, a Legacy Award from the Women In CE organization.
That last award is especially significant since Marcia, for at least half of her career, was one of few women in the CE industry and one of its most visible executives – man or woman.
As I wrote earlier, Marcia has never liked to look back. But I should point out that she leaned on her experience in the publishing business and the CE industry, as well as her gut and street smarts, as TWICE became presented with opportunities and challenges along the way.
So I don’t think this is goodbye because I don’t believe Marcia is the retiring type. Oh, she is turning a page and will probably take on another challenge she is just as passionate about. As usual, she will have the love and support of her husband Richie, her daughter Alison, granddaughter Sage, and her family and friends.
So Marcia, from all of your colleagues and friends here at TWICE, and all of your friends in the industry, we wish you health and happiness … and I know we’ll be hearing from you when some major story about one of your industry friends occurs.
The original version of this column appeared in the April 22, 2013 print issue of TWICE.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.