Thinking about Crain Communications Inc.'s 100th anniversary this year as a family business, it occurred to me that I, too, am a product of a family business.
Back in 1971, my Dad, Ernie Zielasko, left his job as editor and publisher of Modern Tire Dealer, a magazine written for tire dealers and retreaders, and co-founded a news publication for the rubber industry called Rubber & Plastics News.
At the time I was still in high school and didn't think much about what Dad had done other than being excited and proud of him for fulfilling one of his life's goals. He had wanted to start and own his own newspaper for as long as I could remember. And he did it, in spite of a bunch of naysayers.
He worked hard to make this happen. I still can picture him sitting at our dining room table on Sunday afternoons writing and editing stories and laying out pages for each issue of RPN, forgoing watching his beloved Cincinnati Bengals on television. I also don't recall his taking any days off in those hardscrabble years as he strove to make RPN a success.
My Mom was a part of RPN's founding, too. She worked in the office and handled classified advertising, using the alias “Sally Johnson,” a name any woman in the office could use if Mom wasn't available and someone called about taking out an ad.
Knowing what I do now, after following in my Dad's footsteps, I think his passion, drive, work ethic and confidence in an idea are similar to that of many entrepreneurs and founders of family owned businesses, including many of the readers of RPN and Tire Business.
Starting a business and making a go of it requires sacrifice and a huge heart—that and fearlessness, bullheadedness and, yes, a healthy dose of luck.
You have to have guts and an “I am going to make this business a success, no matter what” attitude to jump into the unknown and start a venture. Like my Dad, who at age 51 abandoned a secure job, with three sons high-school age and under and a stay-at-home wife, to take a leap of faith and fulfill a dream.
This issue of RPN celebrates the spirit of those individuals who had the vision and unbridled confidence to start their own businesses.
And it celebrates another family business, Crain Communications Inc., where I have worked for nearly 32 years and to which my Dad sold RPN in 1976.
Now into its third generation of family leadership, Crain was founded in 1916 in Louisville, Ky., by G.D. Crain Jr., who took an idea and started two publications, Hospital Management and Class.
From that beginning Crain Communications has grown into one of the largest privately held media companies in the U.S.