April 4, 2017
Thank you for more than 30 fascinating, exciting years

I don’t know how many times I’ve written about change in this column. It’s the one constant in trucking, whether it’s driven by new technology, new regulation, new business structures and even new demographic forces. Well, I want to write about change one more time, but this time it’s a personal change, not an industry one.

Beginning with the next issue, I’ll be stepping away from my daily involvement in everything involving Fleet Owner’s content as its editor-in-chief and moving on to a new role as editor emeritus. I’ll still be on hand for some special projects, but I’ll also have time to pursue many more personal interests.

Stepping up to chief editor is Sean Kilcarr, known by anyone with even a passing interest in Fleet Owner as our knowledgeable, prolific and insightful executive editor for the last 17 years. Sean was my first hire as editor, a decision I’ve patted myself on the back for almost every single day since. But I’ll let Sean introduce himself as I turn over this space to him starting next month.

I came to Fleet Owner in 1985 after a decade as a reporter on daily and weekly newspapers covering the maritime industry and merchant seaman. It was interesting, and at times colorful, but nothing could have prepared me for the vibrant, dynamic trucking world and the people who never cease questioning and innovating. I was hooked from day one.

I was also lucky. I came to trucking just as a wave of new technologies and new business models began to appear. The implications of deregulation were just beginning to be fully felt as agile newcomers invented the truckload business and old-line regulated carriers struggled to make sense of a new order.

“It doesn’t get much more exciting than having this direct connection with your readers.”

- Jim Mele, Fleet Owner Editor-in-chief

The first telematics systems also began demonstrating to the rest of the business world the power of wireless communications, and electronics started fostering the path to advanced safety systems with capabilities unimagined even a decade earlier, capabilities that will soon deliver practical autonomous trucks.

And while it’s often been painful and something many would prefer not to relive, diesel emissions began an evolution that now has trucks with near-zero emissions and fleets leading a green revolution in transportation.

Actually, I’ve been doubly lucky. Not only have I been able to cover these enormous changes in trucking from the ground floor, but I’ve also gotten to directly participate in the complete upheaval in media caused by the digital revolution.  And living in the midst of it, or some may say trying to survive the whirlwind, it’s sometimes hard to appreciate just how completely and quickly our media world has changed.

When I started at Fleet Owner, our first on-line conference in 1986 involved green-screen terminals, Telnet connections, and text interaction. When we launched our first live web site from a truck show in 1995, it required multiple phone lines and dial-up modems for a team of coders. And now, after 18 years as Fleet Owner’s editor-in-chief, we’ve already begun the transformation to our third-generation digital platform, supported by real-time engagement tools and metrics that allow us to better understand what you,  the audience, need and how to best deliver on our promise to serve you.

As a writer and editor, it doesn’t get much more exciting than having this direct, immediate connection with your readers.

In the end, that’s what I’ve really loved about my time at Fleet Owner—you. Those of you in trucking and those who serve it are so deeply immersed in your daily challenges that you sometimes lose sight of just how remarkable, how vital and how exciting this industry is. My daily challenge was to never lose sight of that big picture. And the truth is, that was never hard, never boring, never anything less than thrilling.

Thank you all.  

About the Author

Jim Mele

Nationally recognized journalist, author and editor, Jim Mele joined Fleet Owner in 1986 with over a dozen years’ experience covering transportation as a newspaper reporter and magazine staff writer. Fleet Owner Magazine has won over 45 national editorial awards since his appointment as editor-in-chief in 1999.

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