Thank you, Don J. Brown

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In this month’s Dealernews, we have a special section commemorating our longtime research editor and all-around industry sage Don J. Brown. It starts on page 32.

Some very prominent figures from motorcycling’s past and present offer up their best memories and warm thoughts about Don, who died March 24. Indeed, these remembrances help paint a compelling picture of a man whose entire adult life was enmeshed with the industry that we call home. And, as Mary Slepicka points out, we all owe Don a sincere thanks for his life’s work.

Reading this section during the editing process made me remember an experience with Don for which I’ll forever be grateful. It happened during a phone call shortly after I started at the magazine. We were deep in a discussion about one thing or another when I mispronounced the name of someone very prominent in the industry (the kind of mistake that makes me redden to remember). I can’t share this slip-up because of what Don said to me next.

He stopped talking, held a moment, and then simply pronounced the name correctly. I paused and asked him what he said. He correctly repeated the name again, explaining how it was supposed to be pronounced. He then calmly and politely told to never let anyone hear me it say it like that again. It wasn’t a lecture or a scolding, just a reminder and a correction. We then carried on our conversation. This was my first lesson of many that talking to Don was the same as getting an education.

With Don you got both historical reference and sage advice for modern times. Let him talk and listen, I learned. Trust me, I’ll never forget that name. Senior editor Arlo Redwine offers up his own very nice words about Don on the Dealernewsblog at dealernewsblog.com/2010/03/25/donjbrown.

Also with this issue, we’ve added some new features to the story lineup and made a few cosmetic tweaks here and there, most notably giving makeovers to our columnists’ pages. One new feature is “5 Questions,” in which we invite two people from the industry to discuss topics relevant to their expertise. For the kickoff, brothers Greg Blackwell and Mark Blackwell quiz each other on the OEM business (Mark’s forte) and the aftermarket (Greg’s specialty).

Another addition is Shop Talk, which is where we compile what folks are saying about DN stories, industry scuttlebutt and the powersports retail world — basically any topic that swirls through our orbit — on the dealernews.com comment’s sections, Facebook (facebook.com/dealernewsfan), Twitter (twitter.com/dealernews) and our e-mail inbox (editors@dealernews.com).

Along with the changes, you’ll probably notice the new look ­­— especially the referrals to extras that can be found on dealernews.com and elsewhere on the Web. We want to give you a chance to dig deeper into the topics our editorial team and our columnists cover. Want to read more Joe Delmont? Care for a special report from Dave Koshollek on converting phone shoppers into buyers? These little tidbits will point you in the right direction.

Of course you’ll also find our profile story on a Top 100 dealer. This month it’s Doug Douglas Motorcycles, a Triumph and Royal Enfield dealership (eh, shop) located in the Southern California city of San Bernardino. It’s the kind of place that recalls motorcycles shops of yore, a small space with grease on the walls and a staff of dedicated enthusiasts. Doug Douglas MC also pays heavy attention to customer service — so much so that it’s a Platinum dealer in the Triumph Premiere Group program. The dealership was awarded the Editor’s Choice award in the 2010 Top 100 contest.

And don’t forget checking in with Todd Shafer about Selling Online and with Mike Vaughan to see what’s coming out of his mind this month.

To say that the past couple years have sucked is an understatement, but 2010 is already looking stronger. Based on feedback from our Editorial Advisory Board and reflecting on what’s been happening in the economy, we’re honing our editorial focus, to give dealers the news, retail counsel and sales information they can use to help strengthen and expand their businesses every day.

Dennis Johnson

Editor in Chief

dennis.johnson@dealernews.com

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