Editorial: Lessons from a great career
It’s the end of an era here at Canadian Rental Service. Ed Cosman, this magazine’s sales manager for the last 21 years, will be retiring at the end of the year.
By Patrick Flannery
This issue is the last one where he will appear on the masthead. It’s fitting that it’s another strong issue, well-supported by advertisers, with each of whom Ed has cultivated a great working relationship. And it’s a testament to Ed’s hard work and professionalism that I can say this in this era of decline for print media. While other trade publications are getting thinner, going digital or vanishing altogether, Canadian Rental Service has consistently performed at or near the top of our roster of more than 60 magazines here at Canada’s largest trade publisher. Not bad for a magazine about renting stuff.
How did Ed help build a small magazine started at a kitchen table in Exeter, Ont., into such strong media brand? The answer applies across just about any business, so it’s worth discussing here. First of all, it helps to know what you are doing. From my start with the magazine eight years ago, I was immediately impressed with Ed’s grasp of the fundamentals of his job. Advertisers both new and old were given all the information they needed, clearly and well in advance. Their questions were answered promptly and in detail. And all those details were correct, down to the last penny. (Remember those? Ed does.) Every customer of this magazine could set their watches by Ed’s contact, reaching out to renew their contract for the next issue or set of issues without having to chase him down. He knows just about all there is to know about pricing, placing and printing ads. And, as I watched in amazement, he evolved into one of Annex’s best digital salespeople, filling up our inventory of email and web-based messaging with more revenue-generating sales. While many of us who entered the workforce in the mists of pre-internet history have struggled to adapt, Ed showed the flexibility to grasp this new opportunity and outperform many of our younger salespeople who would presumably have been much more comfortable with online lingo and metrics.
Many of you reading this will be familiar with Ed, and that by itself points to another reason for his success. You see, contact with the actual readers of this magazine was not a core part of Ed’s job. His primary concern was reaching the suppliers – the ones who are trying to sell stuff to you. But Ed didn’t stop there. He was all-in on the rental industry, attending CRA meetings and chatting up rental store owners on the floor of the Rental Mart (his other great success).
If I know anything about this industry, it’s thanks to Ed’s comprehensive knowledge and mentoring in my early days with the magazine. Nothing substitutes for knowing your market, and Ed knows this one like few others.
None of this is to diminish the roles of people like Peter Watkins, Peter Darbishire, Bill Branderhorst and others who contributed mightily to this magazine over the years. But considering the growth it’s seen on his watch, I’m sending Ed out on top. Quite simply, this publication would not be what it is today, if it even existed at all, without him.
I’ve probably embarrassed Ed sufficiently for now. So it’s thanks and congratulations to a great salesperson and a great colleague. I know Ed will miss us all terribly as he’s driving his motorcycle, visiting the grandchildren or sipping a beverage on a cruise with Christie. Maybe I’ll be able to lure him back to push the cookie cart at the Rental Mart. Or maybe not. Regardless, all the best for a well-deserved retirement, Ed.