Succession, and success

Thomas Jefferson came to France in 1785 to take over as ambassador from Benjamin Franklin. No minor statesman himself, Jefferson knew Franklin's reputation with the French when he assumed his new duties. At a reception, the French Foreign Minister asked Jefferson, "It is you who replace Dr. Franklin?" "No one can replace him, Sir," Jefferson replied.
By Bob Vavra, Chief Editor February 10, 2005

Thomas Jefferson came to France in 1785 to take over as ambassador from Benjamin Franklin. No minor statesman himself, Jefferson knew Franklin’s reputation with the French when he assumed his new duties. At a reception, the French Foreign Minister asked Jefferson, “It is you who replace Dr. Franklin?”

“No one can replace him, Sir,” Jefferson replied. “I am only his successor.”

I know how Jefferson felt.

Rick Dunn’s service to this magazine and this industry is the stuff of legend, and my arrival as editor of Plant Engineering helps bring that into sharp focus. I come here merely as Rick’s successor. Fortunately for me, for us at PLANT ENGINEERING and for the thousands of people served by his wit and wisdom, Rick will continue to appear in our pages and be a part of what we do going forward.

The biggest difference between Rick and I will be apparent the first time you meet me; I am much, much younger. For those of you who know Rick, you understand this is not a very bold statement. It’s also the first time in many years I’ve been able to make such a claim myself, so I’m taking full advantage.

To paraphrase Jefferson, I hold a few truths to be self-evident after 31 years in the publishing business. At PLANT ENGINEERING, we are the link between all the knowledge in our industry and the people who need it. It is in that sharing that we all gain.

The truly successful engineer does not find new ways to solve problems and them keep those ideas a secret. This is a community of thinkers and problem-solvers. We at PLANT ENGINEERING offer the conduit through which those ideas can flow effectively.

Our personal success in our jobs is lifted because our profession succeeds, and the willingness for the profession to share ideas helps each individual succeed. Much of that success is driven by the quantum leaps in equipment innovation. Still more is driven by the skill of the engineer to implement that technology effectively.

The most unique aspect of what I do is that I sign my name to my work. There are few professions in which the worker and the work are so intrinsically tied. It is because of that simple truth that we take such care to make sure that the work we sign our name to meets your needs and expectations.

This is an interactive process — far more so now with the explosion of electronic information delivery. We have many tools in place now to get you what you need to know quickly and effectively. We look forward to hearing from you on new ways we can better serve you with information — in print, on the Internet, in Webcasts and with other special projects.

I look forward to talking to as many of you as possible at National Manufacturing Week in my home town of Chicago. Rick Dunn will be there as well to present our annual Product of the Year awards on Monday, March 7 at the Ritz-Carlton.

Jefferson understood that with age comes wisdom. He also knew that longevity is not enough. As it was throughout his life, what Franklin achieved in France and elsewhere was based on the quality of his work and the respect he engendered among those with whom he worked. In publishing, we hope to do no less than that.

My predecessor left a long history of such achievement. If I do half as well as Rick Dunn, I will have succeeded.

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