The Year Was 1954…

Jan. 8, 2024
When it first started publishing CONTRACTOR came out twice a month and cost 50 cents an issue.

It was the year Marilyn Monroe wed Joe DiMaggio. Bill Haley & His Comets recorded and released Rock Around the Clock (although it wouldn’t hit #1 on the charts until 1955). That year the Supreme Court decided Brown vs. Board of Education. Joseph N. Welch, special counsel for the United States Army, in a hearing asked Senator Joseph McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” It was the year of the first Burger King hamburger, and the first hydrogen bomb test.

It was also the year that saw the very first issue of CONTRACTOR Magazine. Actually, in the beginning it was The CONTRACTOR Magazine, but the definite article was dropped at some point in the 1950s.

The magazine was a new venture that grew out of another publication, Plumbing & Heating Business, with a new publisher, Herbert Walther. The idea was to do something different. It would be independent, not attached to any special interest or association. It would be news-oriented with a format to reflect that: instead of a typical magazine cover readers discovered something that looked like a newspaper front page. “The inside is outside,” that first editorial from Editor-in-Chief John Carlson proclaimed. Dive right in and get reading. It had a large-sized tabloid format to make the news easier to scan.

When it first started publishing CONTRACTOR came out twice a month and cost 50 cents an issue. Looking back at that first issue it’s interesting to see how much the industry has changed and how much is still the same. One of the lead news items in 1954 was about federal infrastructure investment (of course, this was coming from the Eisenhower Administration). Another story predicted that year the supply of journeymen plumbers would exceed the demand—wouldn’t that be a problem we’d like to have!

This year marks our 70th year in publication, and whether you’re a regular reader or whether this is the first issue you’ve ever picked up, we are grateful to have you along for this year-long celebration.

Over the decades CONTRACTOR has seen several changes of ownership, numerous changes in leadership (I’m not sure if I’m the 5th or 6th person to hold the title of Editor-in-Chief) and has even flirted with changes in format. What hasn’t changed is our independence, and our commitment to our readers—plumbing and heating professionals from all aspects of the industry—and to delivering the news, insights and information they need to be more successful.

A part of that mission is, from time to time, singling out the people we feel are doing excellent work, who are examples of the best this industry has to offer. Individuals who elevate the profession, advance their employees, and give back to their communities in ways large and small.

This year we are proud to name Mike Prencavage, Jr., owner of The Family Plumber in Los Alamitos, CA, as our Contractor of the Year

Prevencage has built a culture that lives up to the company motto, “Just Like Having a Plumber in the Family.” He has grown his business by putting an emphasis on processes and procedures, and by paying strict attention to his KPIs. He has given back to his community by supporting a variety of charities and youth organizations and has given back to the industry through his service in the PHCC. He is currently Director of Business Development for PHCC-National.

We congratulate Mike on his many accomplishments. At the same time, we’d like to thank our readers, who’s support over the past 70 years has given us the opportunity to tell stories like his. We wish you all a happy and prosperous 2024.

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