11/20/2018 | 3 MINUTE READ

A Toast to a Metalworking Icon

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Chris Koepfer has been a great contributor to the precision machined parts industry; his retirement will leave a void that will be difficult to fill.


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A mentor, a teacher, is like an editor. I absolutely value my editor, who is my teacher.
— David Bergen

While I have many thoughts to include in this month’s column, it will be difficult for me to write. With a heavy heart I bid farewell, at least in the professional sense, to my close colleague and good friend, Chris Koepfer. As his column this month makes clear, Chris will be retiring at the end of this month. A large void will be left in my world and that of the precision machined parts industry.

I recall when Chris started at Gardner Business Media almost 27 years ago. We were both with Modern Machine Shop (MMS) at the time, and he was set up in the office directly across the hall from me. I was just a kid, only a few years into my career. While I had those years of magazine experience on him, it was obvious he had a wealth more metalworking knowledge. I looked up to him like a big brother, and we connected both professionally and as friends. We’d toss football back and forth between our offices. I’d play pranks on him (the fake arm hanging out of the ceiling tiles is the stuff of Gardner legend). And, even then, he was there for me to answer questions about the industry or, really, anything.

We worked together in that capacity for three years before I took my career in a different direction and left the company. While I was away, I maintained contact with several of my Gardner friends; I liked to keep tabs on what was going on with the company. And it was growing...fast.

In 2000, Chris began floating the idea of branching a new publication off of the MMS brand. It was a brilliant concept—a vertical publication that focused on one segment of the industry: the precision turned parts market. Working with the right internal team and developing a partnership with the PMPA, he was instrumental in bringing the first issue of Production Machining (PM) to press in January 2001. It was his “baby.” A new project like this required a transition period, so he maintained his responsibilities with MMS for two more years, doing double-duty while he established the new brand. It was quite a feat.

I was excited to learn of Chris’s successes, but one of the true highlights of my career was when he called me in 2005 to ask if I would be interested in joining him as the magazine’s associate editor. It was an opportunity to return to the company I love and once again work with one of the great minds of the industry.

I’m tempted to say the man has forgotten more about metalworking than I’ll ever know, but that could make me look pretty bad as I’m not sure he’s ever forgotten anything. As anyone who has had a conversation with Chris can attest, he seems to know something about everything. But he shares his knowledge in an interesting, unpretentious way rather than presenting himself as a know-it-all, even if, perhaps, he actually does know it all. It’s this style of presentation that has made him such a great storyteller as a writer.

Chris’s articles and columns in this magazine, as well as his contributions in MMS, have always been well received by his audience because they address real issues and present useful and interesting solutions that he’s been able to gather through his worldwide experiences. His large number of metalworking contacts and his inquisitive nature have opened the door for him to provide thorough coverage of the industry. He’s just plain good at his job.

I know I will miss Chris at the office. He’s been an amazing mentor for me and has instilled in me the confidence to continue PM’s contributions to our industry. But in the bigger picture, he will be dearly missed by our readers, who have gotten to know him and take in the wisdom that he delivers.

I hope you will take the time to wish Chris luck in his future endeavors, and I hope I’m able to help continue his legacy in a way that does his baby, Production Machining, justice.