Editorial-Opinion December 2018
Steve Buch's penultimate editorial.
This is my penultimate editorial. Next month will be my last one, and this is a perfect moment for me.
This is where one door closes as another opens. But I need to share some context, and some Thank Yous as I go forward. Walk with me on this one.
GON was incorporated in posh law offices, high up in a skyscraper in downtown Atlanta on Dec. 11, 1986. That makes us 32 years old this month, if I can still do math right. We were in the confines of one of the two most powerful law firms in the state because I am lucky.
At the time, I was a member of a breakfast prayer group that met at a restaurant in Lenox Mall. As I was struggling to write a business plan and prospectus to form GON, this guy offered to help, pro bono. I didn’t really know who he was. Turned out, it was like having Nick Saban offer to help you with kid’s rec league football team game plan.
So nine of us gathered there to pile our money and effort together and launch a new magazine. It was time to “Get GON!”
I had made a list of people who I hoped would consider investing in the magazine, and I set up a meeting schedule. There were 12 men on the list. I needed eight to invest. After I had completed the ninth meeting, I had my eight. Eight of them invested $15,000 each; I invested $30,000. What they liked was the fact that I had more skin in the game than any of them did, and that I did not have control.
We started with a total of $150,000 and a very detailed business plan. My plan thought through the first 41 months of our business operations, including every check that would be written, to whom it would be written, and for how much. I still have the plan.
Without question, it was then and remains even to this day one of the longest and most boring pieces of fiction ever written. Almost nothing happened the way I thought it might.
We struggled early and often, but the plan did give us a structure that allowed us to save GON.
Over these past 32 years, each of the eight investors has sold their stock back to the company on terms they set.
The result is that today I own 100 percent of GON. I could not have done it without them and their faith in me. I have always been truly humbled by that faith and support. To each of them, I say a profound Thank You.
But they weren’t the only men who had faith. Across this state, there are people who signed on to the magazine, and to the idea of GON.
The idea of GON was and is to bring timely information and entertainment to Georgia’s sportsmen. Many of you became ambassadors for GON, sharing our story with your family and friends.
We founded the company, but you built it, and to my mind, you built it into one of the best, if not the best, statewide outdoor publication in the country.
There are a number of “first among equals” friends who helped us in so many ways, directly and indirectly. They really are too numerous to name, but I will mention just two here.
Back in the winter of 1987, before we made the first GON, I had to sell advertising. The key retail advertiser then was Clarence Franklin, in Athens. I made one sales call, and he bought a full page. Franklin’s has been on page 3 of GON as long as there has been a GON. Thank you Clarence, and thank you Franklin’s.
In August of 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait, and the world sat down to watch. A recession ensued, and many good companies failed. We should have been one of them. I wrote on the cover “Is GON Gone?” It was that bad.
But men like Charles Walthour—who just a reader, just a guy working 40 hours a week like everyone else. Charles and so many others like him went out and jaw-boned folks into subscribing, and it made all the difference. We survived, and eventually we thrived. To all of you who supported us then and now, thank you and bless you.
Finally, they say the job of a good manager is to work himself out of a job. After many long years of study, I have concluded that my one great talent is hiring the right people. I am not an easy person to work for. But I am fair, most of the time, and I welcome mistakes of enthusiasm. That builds pride of ownership in this staff. And they are the best. I ask that you please continue to thank and support them.
Merry Christmas, and I will see you next month… to look forward.