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Ed Bobit: end of an era

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Ed Bobit: end of an era

I liked Ed Bobit because he was always trying to raise the bar of his company, Bobit Business Media Inc., and its 21 magazine titles, including Modern Tire Dealer.

He died last month at age 86 after a good, long life I'm pretty sure he wanted to last a little longer. Have you ever heard anyone described as "larger than life"? That was Ed. Even his obituary described him as a man "of outsize pleasures."

As publisher of the company's flagship magazine, Automotive Fleet, Ed liked to quote luminaries in his editorials.

 "You can't control the wind, but you can adjust your sails." -- Albert Einstein

The quotes were more than teachable moments. They often gave us a peek into the man who was Ed Bobit. He didn't just go with the flow. He didn't let the wind control him. He used the wind to help push his company in the proper direction.

That included giving up his CEO title to the company’s president (and his son), Ty Bobit, in 2007. A family man, Ed also leaves behind four daughters, 14 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

My first meeting with Ed goes back 14 years.

In 2000, his company bought Modern Tire Dealer. At the annual sales and editorial meeting in Torrance, Calif., the MTD staff met Ed for the first time.

We weren't eligible for any of the company-wide Eddy editorial and graphics awards yet, and Ed made a point of telling me that if we worked hard, MTD could improve and win some of them down the road.

I remember thinking we were pretty good then, and that perhaps Ed hadn't read our magazine closely. Ah, the arrogance of youth (I was 29 years younger than Ed).

Fourteen years later, MTD is superior to the magazine Ed bought, thanks directly and indirectly to his leadership and demanding nature. I'm sure you think so, too.

"Sin has many tools, but a lie is the handle which fits them all well." -- Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

I liked that quote, which he wrote in his last editorial in the April issue of Automotive Fleet. He knew the importance of being straight with people, me included.

MTD is located in a satellite office in Uniontown, Ohio, more than 2,000 miles away from Bobit headquarters in Torrance. As in many long distance relationships, Ed and I didn't see each other very often. That made it hard to get to know him on a more personal basis.

But thanks to his vision and hard work and perseverance, and the highly successful company he leaves behind, I know him well enough. And I know what he would want from me tomorrow.

"Come out into the world about you, be it either wide or limited. Sympathize, not in thought only, but in action, with all about you. Make yourself known and felt for something that would be loved and missed, in twenty thousand little ways, if you were to die; then your life will be a happy one, believe me.” -- Charles Dickens

If you have any questions or comments, please email me at bob.ulrich@bobit.com.

To read more of Bob Ulrich's editorials, see:

Status: single -- Family-owned stores continue to lead the way

'Made in America': That phrase still has meaning to tire dealers

Final words on tire aging

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