Will This CNC Machining Magazine Editor Choose Comfort or Change?

That’s the question I asked myself when presented with the opportunity to become this magazine’s next editor in chief. I chose change.


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Derek Korn-Editor in Chief-Production Machining magazine

The favorite aspect of my job is visiting machine shops and chatting with shopfloor owners, managers and their valued employees. I’ve done this the last 16 years writing for Modern Machine Shop, and will continue that for Production Machining. (I’m in the center, by the way.)

For me, Friday, Jan. 31, was proceeding much like many other days at the office as executive editor of Modern Machine Shop magazine (Production Machining’s sister publication). That is, until late that afternoon.

I had my office door shut because I was on the phone interviewing a machine shop manager for a story I was trying to wrap up. During the chat, I noticed our company president, Rick Kline, walk by my glass-pane wall and peer in a bit. I knew he wanted to speak to me about something.

After my phone interview, he popped into my office to let me know that Chris Felix, Production Machining’s editor-in-chief, had decided to retire. (Learn more at gbm.media/byechrisf.) Chris isn’t an old fogey, so I was surprised to hear that.

Ultimately, Rick told me the company would like me to consider taking his place.

I’ve written for Modern Machine Shop for 16 years (and prior to that for an industrial public relations company for seven years). To be honest, I figured I’d continue doing so for that magazine until I retired. Although many aspects of my job with that brand has changed over the years, I always had a sense of comfort in knowing (for the most part) what to expect day in and day out. My decision came down to choosing comfort with one magazine or change with another.

Not only am I choosing change, I’m embracing it.

So, what will be different for me? For one, Modern Machine Shop covers a range of topics while Production Machining clearly has a narrower scope. But I will enjoy focusing on technology to support precision machining in high volumes. For another, I don’t know as many of you in this niche industry (and vice versa). But what I’ve appreciated most about my job is the ability to interact with shop owners and managers like you. This is not a reality as I write this mid-March given the coronavirus outbreak and our company’s decision to prevent editors from traveling and require all employees to work from home per the Governor of Ohio’s stipulations. But this will pass, hopefully sooner rather than later, enabling me to again visit shops like yours as well as industry events. I want to get to know as many of you as I can.

Not only am I choosing change, I’m embracing it.

Luckily, before coronavirus travel restrictions I was able to attend the Precision Machined Products Association’s (PMPA) Management Update meeting and mingle with representatives from some member companies. What I immediately observed was how so many embraced the opportunity to network. The “community” vibe was clear and present, and I appreciated that.

In fact, there are a number of other reasons why I appreciate the timing of this opportunity that has been presented to me. Next year is our magazine’s 20th anniversary. The associated Precision Machining Technology Show (pmts.com) has grown with each biennial edition, and the next is scheduled for April 2021 in Cleveland. The magazine is supported by the PMPA, which currently has approximately 3,200 member shops and has been serving its industry since 1933. And Gardner Business Media, publisher of this magazine, now manages that association.

Derek Korn-Editor in Chief-Production Machining magazine

Follow me on Twitter at @PM_Derek. Besides tweets about machining technology, it is possible you’ll see random ones from me about my ‘55 Chevy, which I’ve been restoring for many years. 

What won’t change is the support Lori Beckman has provided to this magazine over the past 15 years, although her title has. Lori, now senior editor, will be doing even more writing and traveling for the brand. You’ll be seeing a lot more of her. In addition, I’ll continue my style of tweeting now at the @PM_Derek handle. It’s there where you can get a better sense of my personality as I try to inform while having a bit of cheeky fun at the same time.

As I write this, though, I can’t help but recall my first monthly column for Modern Machine Shop composed many moons ago. I mentioned that during a shop visit, a young employee brought a tricky part he had machined to the attention of the shop’s president as I stood nearby snapping photos of a machine. The employee obviously was proud of the career he had embarked upon and the workpiece he had machined and wanted me to see it. I concluded that column by noting that while I don’t machine parts, my articles are my products, and I am similarly proud to share them with my readers.

The same holds true today.