SSI Publisher Reaches 50-Year Milestone

Fifty years ago this month in Chicago, as one amazing run was coming to a close, the Windy City witnessed the beginning of another. It was in June 1961 that “Mr. Cub” Ernie Banks saw his 717 consecutive-games-played streak end. At just about the same time, a young man with a great idea and relentless entrepreneurial spirit began to establish a publishing legacy that’s still thriving today.

That man was Edward J. Bobit, presently chairman of Bobit Business Media, the Torrance, Calif.-based B-to-B specialist responsible for SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION along with many other magazines, Web sites and trade shows across a broad spectrum of diversified industries. His is a classic American success story, one that I share and celebrate here this month.
Let’s go back to that fateful early summer day. It’s the height of the Cold War, J.F.K. is in office, “West Side Story” is the top movie and Bobby Lewis’ “Tossin’ and Turnin’” is the year’s biggest hit record — think “Mad Men” era. Ed Bobit has an idea he believes good enough to kick upstairs.

He’s done his research, outlined his concept and is ready to make the pitch. “What if,” he says to his bosses at publishing giant McGraw-Hill, “we created a magazine for those who manage the vehicle fleets at big companies? It would be devoted to the issues they need to know about: running a cost-efficient fleet, safe driving tips, and how to select the best car for your company’s salespeople and executives.”

Although they shot down his idea, Ed felt so strongly about it that he resigned so he could give it a go alone. With that, he launched Bobit Publishing and its flagship publication, Automotive Fleet, out of the garage of his Glenview, Ill. residence. A credenza he bought for $12 and used to lay out the first issue can be seen today in the company’s headquarters.
At the time of the firm’s founding, he had five kids (soon to be six) to feed, which made him what you’d call “motivated to succeed.” And succeed he did. Within a few years, he expanded the company’s footprint in the fleet management field by acquiring School Bus Fleet and Metro magazines. Seeking warmer weather, the company moved to Southern California in 1977 and established an office in Redondo Beach.

Fast-forward to 1989. Ed and his son Ty, who had been appointed as an executive within the company, were approached about entering a brand-new industry for them with the purchase of a 10-year-old magazine. The electronic security industry, they wondered? But they sensed another golden opportunity and pulled the trigger to buy Alarm Installer & Dealer (AID), changing the name soon thereafter to Security Sales (“Integration” was added to the title in 2001). The Bobit intuition once again shined brightly as security proved to be an industry of enormous upside, and SSI would go on to be both a financial and editorial success.

Thirteen years ago it was my good fortune to get a call from a colleague, who at the time was the chief editor of School Bus Fleet, alerting me to an editorial opening with Security Sales. Although I was a complete newbie to the industry, I fully embraced it and found it to be a vibrant, complex and rewarding field. I greatly appreciated the entrepreneurial and familial environment that flowed forth from the Bobits throughout the entire company culture. 

Bobit Business Media represents a model familiar to many in the security industry: a friendly yet driven and successful independent, family run business passing the leadership baton forward through generations. Although Ed still mans his desk daily in the corner office, Ty has taken over as CEO and president, and grandson Blake has begun working his way up through the ranks. The firm calls its 50,000-square-foot Torrance, Calif., location home, but also has 15 regional offices nationwide.
Whether in wedlock or business, golden anniversaries are becoming exceedingly rare. It really is a tremendous accomplishment. So please join me in applauding Ed, the Bobit family and their half-century of publishing excellence. Oh yes, and there is one more important event that took place 50 years ago back in 1961 — I was born. Coincidence?

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About the Author

Contact:

Scott Goldfine is the marketing director for Elite Interactive Solutions. He is the former editor-in-chief and associate publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He can be reached at [email protected].

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