Lasting Legacy

This month marks the approach of the holiday gift-giving season. Most of the gifts received this time of year are not long-lived.

Columns From: 12/1/2002 Modern Machine Shop, ,

This month marks the approach of the holiday gift-giving season. Most of the gifts received this time of year are not long-lived. They will be consumed—eaten, used up, worn out or spent rather quickly. In any season, gifts with a lasting, even transcendent, value are rare indeed and to be cherished. Such a gift comes to my mind this month also.

For December 2002 marks 10 years since the passing of Ken M. Gettelman, leading editor of this magazine from 1961 to 1991. Long-time readers surely will remember Ken as a prolific writer and an outspoken proponent of CNC technology. Those who do not remember Ken, or never knew him, can still behold his legacy in these pages.

Ken gave this magazine an outlook and a philosophy that guide it to this day. His ideas shaped its editorial content, but they were—and still are—instructive precepts for anyone engaged in this industry. They are his lasting gift. I've put a few of them in my own words:

  • Believe in manufacturing, especially metalworking. Machine tools in particular are important because ultimately they enable every other industry to exist and to move ahead.
  • Beware of selfish interests that seek to constrain access to manufacturing technology. When top corporate and government leaders disregard manufacturing, companies and the country are weakened.
  • Be positive. Focus on opportunities and champion those who embrace change with optimism and hope.
  • We can learn from the whole world. Good ideas, new techniques and improved processes can come from anywhere.
  • Some of the best ideas may come from your own shop floor. Respect the people who make the shop floor productive and pay attention to them. Yet new concepts and new techniques must be understood and endorsed by top management.
  • Never stop learning. Never stop teaching.

Likewise, Ken believed that a magazine has to offer value to its subscribers above all else. Otherwise, it has little to offer to advertisers and other supporters. Yet he never scoffed at their interests. He cultivated the magazine's role as a conduit between buyers and sellers of technology. To be trusted on all sides was his constant aim.

In 1978, Ken was on hand to help mark Modern Machine Shop's 50th year. It appears that he did so not with fanfare but with steadfast faithfulness to its ideals, ideals that he did much to refine and reinforce. In a fittingly similar manner, in 2003, we will mark our 75th year not with fanfare but with the same faithfulness.

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