Interview with Ty Bobit

Posted on January 1, 2003 by LCT Staff - Also by this author

LCT magazine was started in 1983, and this year, celebrates its 20th anniversary. Recently we asked Ty Bobit, president of Bobit Publishing in Torrance, Calif., to share how the magazine came to be and his thoughts on the industry changes he has seen over the past 20 years.

LCT: How was LCT magazine launched?

Bobit: LCT was launched in 1983 as Limousine & Chauffeur (L&C) by another company. David Scott Heinzman and Anne Stanley actually started the magazine in Orange County, Calif. We had purchased a magazine from them in late 1982, and when I asked them what they would be doing after they sold their magazine, they told me they were starting a magazine for the limousine industry.

Our company was publishing Automotive Fleet at the time, and all I could think of was how good both magazines would be together at the same company since there seemed to be a lot of synergies. I told Heinzman and Stanley that if they ever wanted to sell L&C, they should call me. A few months later, after they had published their third issue, which contained only five ad pages, they called us and our company purchased L&C.

LCT: What changes did you make when it first came under your ownership?

Bobit: From what I could tell, the previous owners didn’t get out of the office much. The first thing I did was get out to see the major players. The fact that we already knew the key people at Cadillac and Lincoln through our experience with Automotive Fleet gave us instant credibility. Coachbuilders liked our story and soon we were producing issues that contained 75 ad pages. Having more ad pages allowed us to write more articles for our readers. One thing we didn’t do as well as the previous owners was produce gorgeous covers. The three they had designed before the sale were exquisite. While the magazine may not have been as beautiful on the outside, our numbers were excellent and we had a lot going for us.

LCT: So now as LCT celebrates its 20th anniversary, in your view how has it changed over the years?

Bobit: The industry is different now, as is the magazine. When L&C came into existence, there were about three or four real coachbuilders and they had their loyal customers pretty buttoned up. L&C offered an opportunity for any coachbuilder, not just the big ones, to present their sales message to a national audience. The magazine immediately changed the way business was conducted in the industry. These days our readers have matured. They are more educated and savvy. The vehicles in the magazine aren’t as unknown as they were 20 years ago. A good number of our readers have been in the industry long enough to have a pretty good idea about what’s going on, but there is still a need for us to show the best practices going on in the industry and explain the business basics to operators. Our graphics have improved dramatically, making our issues look better, and we now conduct important industry research that you see primarily in the Fact Book directory.

LCT: What have been the greatest challenges over the past 20 years in the industry, and how does LCT fit into the picture?

Bobit: Limousine usage tends to parallel the amount of disposable income consumers have. That means the industry is in for tough times when the economy is poor. We’re going through one of those tough times now and we also experienced it in the late 80s/early 90s. Operators and coachbuilders struggle to survive during these difficult periods as does our magazine. LCT’s health is reflective of the industry. We feel the bad times just like our readers. The important thing to remember is that business is cyclical with more prosperous times always returning.

Another challenge has been professionalizing the industry. Through our magazine, the LCT Show, the NLA and local associations, we have seen operators grow in their ability to conduct business in a professional manner.

For the most part, we were pretty comical 20 years ago. There weren’t many sophisticated operators like David Klein (founder of Dav El) running around. I’m happy to see that we are now a part of a bona fide industry.

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