Publisher of European Rubber Journal and US sister titles Tire Business and Rubber & Plastics News, Dave Zielasko has just retired from this role to take up an exciting new role at the US Tire Industry Association. Dave signed off with this characteristically upbeat and inspiring note about his career spanning four decades within the industry:
Dave Zielasko retires, starts new chapter in industry
I don't feel old and still have the same enthusiasm, joy and wonder I had when I joined the company nearly 35 years ago as chief copy editor of Rubber & Plastics News, moving a few months later to a fledgling tabloid called Tire Business, where I spent a good part of my career.
What a ride it's been, starting the first two years working for my dad, Ernie Zielasko, who co-founded Rubber & Plastics News, founded Tire Business for Crain and acquired European Rubber Journal, the three publications I have had the honor to lead.
Dad was my mentor and an outstanding editor and publisher. He taught me how to write and report, the importance of retaining one's ethics, how hard work pays off and the value of keeping costs to a minimum and quality high. I was blessed to have him as a father.
What I didn't know at the time was Crain Communications had that same journalism philosophy: A focus on news where the reader comes first, solid ethics and care for its employees. This was the foundation established by company founder G.D. Crain. It's why Crain, in my opinion, continues to this day as one of the world's premier publishing and media companies.
Thanks to RPN, Tire Business and ERJ, I've gotten to know and understand two vital and vibrant industries on different continents. I've met more amazing people than I can remember, seen the world and written and reported for publications that I believe our readers truly appreciate.
One of my vivid memories at Tire Business was in 1986 when corporate raider Sir James Goldsmith made an unfriendly attempt to take over Goodyear, a move that captured the attention of the tire industry. Goodyear ultimately agreed to purchase Goldsmith's 11.5% stake in the company, but at a huge cost, forcing the tire maker to depart from its previous diversification course. The story broke just as we were finishing the Nov. 24, 1986, issue.
Recognizing its significance to Tire Business' (and RPN) readers, we ripped up the front page and rewrote several stories. But it was worth the effort and exciting to provide our readers with in-depth news coverage just as quickly as the daily newspapers.
I loved covering the tire industry as editor of Tire Business and especially reporting on independent tire dealerships. I appreciated the tire dealer's entrepreneurial spirit, business acumen and how much dealers cared for their customers, often giving them hugs when they entered the shop.
Over the years I pondered why I enjoyed the tire business so much?
The answer, I came to realize, is that tire dealers are genuinely nice people, who give back to their communities and who keep their customers safe by ensuring the tires on their vehicles are running properly. They are professionals, who have built successful businesses and employed many people, working long hours to survive and serve their customers.
At the same time, I wondered why my dad enjoyed the rubber industry so much. He was a former editor and publisher of a tire dealer magazine, but his real passion was rubber.
I figured it out when I became RPN publisher in 2004. Dad had become intrigued by the chemistry of rubber: How men and women working in labs and with different materials and chemicals could alter natural and synthetic rubber making it do whatever was needed to serve a specific use.
This culminated in a special issue in 1984 called: "In tribute to the chemists who tame rubber." What an aptly named issue, which was published in recognition of the Rubber Division's 75th anniversary.
Like my dad, I came to understand the importance rubber plays in the world and to appreciate the men and women who have worked to make that a reality.
I changed my perception of rubber as something that's found in tires, or basketballs or rubber bands into products in which I view with awe—like the variety of parts on an automobile, silicone gaskets in medical equipment, hoses at gasoline stations, giant conveyor belts at mining operations, rubber rollers used in textile mills and tires that can carry massive loads in quarries.
As I write this, I am reminded that the publications and the companies in the rubber and tire industries are only as good as the people working in them. And it's the people, my colleagues and the many industry friends I have met over the years who are most important to me.
Starting 8 July, I am joining the Tire Industry Association as vice president of marketing and communications. What a blessing that is: A challenging new position in an industry that I love, especially as TIA gets ready to celebrate its 100-year anniversary in 2020, and still working in the tire and rubber industries.
One chapter ends, another begins. The ride continues...