The More Things Change, the More They Remain the Same

June 2017, Vol. 244, No. 6

I’m staring at the bare walls of my office, bereft of my autographed photos of Mickey Mantle, Muhammad Ali, Simon & Garfunkel, Ronald & Nancy Reagan, Al Capone, and my most treasured piece, a personally signed photo of Jennifer Aniston.

We’re getting ready for the Big Move. As you know, Ollie Klinger sold the company along with its rich legacy to Gulf Publishing Co. Oildom was a family-owned New Jersey-based energy publishing company begun by his Ollie’s grandfather in 1908.

Through the years the company largely focused on pipeline construction until Ollie III bought Pipeline & Gas Journal in a bankruptcy proceeding in 1991. The Oildom entity that was ultimately sold to Gulf includes P&GJ, Underground Construction and Pipeline News along with two trade events, Pipeline Opportunities Conference and Underground Construction & Technology (UCT).

I was looking for a job in 1995 after The Houston Post folded, and Ollie hired me for P&GJ later that year, about 18 months after our first interview. I’ll always appreciate the opportunity to help build the Journal into the world-class publication it is today. I had the priceless help of my longtime Managing Editor Rita Tubb, Senior Editor Lew Bullion, Jim Donnelly, the best sales rep I’ve ever known, and Sheri Biscardi, our multi-talented art director.

Ollie was a hands-off owner and publisher but he provided the necessary tools and sage counseling that created our winning culture. Advice such as “if you’re ever in doubt, always take the high road. It might cost you now but it’ll save you a lot more in the long run;” or “always try to talk to a client or salesperson when they call. It’s someone just trying to make a living like we are.”

I doubt I could have thrived as well elsewhere because there is an obvious benefit in being privately owned, particularly in years when the utility business is in a down cycle. It’s strange not seeing Ollie visiting our offices, gabbing on the phone to his many industry friends, or watching Fox News in his office.

We weren’t surprised when he sold the company since his only child, Sara, had other interests. We were relieved that he sold to Gulf, a respected energy publishing company which has its own 100-year history, upstream and downstream publications that fit nicely around our pubs along with more people and assets that will help us grow. I’m not sure what new services we’ll be providing, but we will be able to take P&GJ to an even higher level, both via our print publication and through digitization. We’ll be referred to as Pipeline & Utilities Infrastructure Group, a unit of Gulf Publishing Co., and we’ll still have our publisher, Cleve Hogarth.

This is also a big step for Gulf Publishing, which, under the leadership of current president John Royall, was a subsidiary of Euromoney Institutional Investor from 2001 until a 2016 management buyout led by Royall and a group of investors. In fact, one of the first moves the Euromoney people made when buying Gulf was to close its Pipeline & Gas Industry magazine.

Lew Bullion worked for that magazine nine years until it was shut down. The next day he came to our office and we hired him as senior editor for P&GJ. If Rita Tubb, who retired last year, was my right-hand woman, Lew was my right-hand man. A journalism graduate of Texas Tech, he was an expert in almost every phase of the pipeline business. He was reliable, a fine editor and fun to work with. He was also one of the most generous people I’ve ever known. Lew retired at the end of 2012 for health reasons. We stayed in touch periodically. The last time I saw him a couple years ago I thought he looked great.

Lew died May 11 in hospice care after a short illness. He was 75. He’s one of many friends and colleagues I’ve lost this year. Maybe this move is coming at just the right time.

Find articles with similar topics