Just about the time I accepted the position of editor ofThe Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration News, an issue of Time magazine came out with a cover image that hit me.

Pictured on the front of the Sept. 6, 1999 issue is a mountain climber hanging precariously over an edge. Even though the climber appears to be strapped (and hopefully safely) to some rope or cable, it still appears that one false move and the guy is a goner. There’s no doubt that the climber is “way up there,” because you can see the trees and earth below him . . . far below him . . . far, far (gulp) below.

I immediately identified with that mountain climber. You see, I leave Engineered Systems, another successful Business News Publishing Co. magazine, to become editor of The News. I was asking myself, “Did I make the right move?” Was I putting myself out on the edge like that mountain climber?

Engineered Systems is not at all like The News. First of all, ?Engineered Systems supplies needed information for the hvacr engineer, not the hvacr contractor. Moreover, Engineered Systems is a monthly magazine, while The News provides valuable information for the hvacr contractor on a weekly basis.

Since the photograph captured my attention (as did the inviting words, “Why we take risks”), I decided to read that Time cover story, “Go for it!” On page 36, third paragraph, I found the answer to my inner questioning:

“Without some expression of risk, we may never know our limits and therefore who we are as individuals. ‘If you don’t assume a certain amount of risk,’ says paraglider pilot Wade Ellet, 51, ‘you’re missing a certain amount of life.’ And it is by taking risks that we may flirt with greatness. ‘We create technologies, we make new discoveries, but in order to do that, we have to push beyond the set of rules that are governing at that time,’ says psychologist [Frank] Farley [of Temple University].”

But of course; the reason The News’ editorial post was so inviting is because this great publication has room for even more growth and greatness. That was the attraction for me, just as the mountain was for the climber pictured on Time’s cover.

Climb every mountain

Yes, even for the newspaper that has been the voice of the industry for 73 years, there is always room for improvement. One must keep climbing. After all, the successful contractor knows he or she cannot stand still, do the “same old, same old” and expect to thrive.

The same applies to The News. Therefore, expect changes (or improvements, as we believe you’ll see) in the not-so-distant future.

Count on improvements in content, coverage, graphic appearance, focus, and much, much more. The News’ new publisher, Taggart Henderson, is dead set on making sure that this publication provides what readers want. Therefore, let us know what you seek and need. Consider the door open again — wide open.

(If you want to suggest improvements, please write to “I suggest you do this,” c/o The News, 755 W. Big Beaver Rd., Suite 1000, Troy, Mich. 48084; 248-362-0317 [fax]; skaerm@bnp.com [e-mail]. Remember, there are no bad ideas.)

The idea here is to build on The News’ strengths. The fact it arrives at your doorstep or office each week is a definite strength. You cannot get important, breaking news in a monthly magazine. You can — and will continue to do so — in The News.

Who is this guy?

So who is this Mark Skaer?

In truth, I’ve gone full circle. I originally was hired as an associate editor for The News six years ago. However, when the editor position opened up at Engineered Systems in 1995, I opted to climb that mountain.

I now return to The News, looking forward to another challenge. Our intentions are to continue to make this publication a “must read” each week for the hvacr contractor.