JOHN A. SCHWEIZER
FORMER CHIEF EDITOR CONTRACTOR MAGAZINE
BARRINGTON, ILL. — Plumbing-heat-ing-cooling contractors lost one of their most respected and ardent champions with the passing in July of CONTRACTOR magazine's longtime editor-in-chief and columnist Seth Shepard.
A newsman by trade, Seth entered the PHC industry in 1949 when he went to work for the house organ of the National Association of Plumbing Contractors (now the Plumbing-Heat-ing-Cooling Contractors - National Association). Its editor and publisher was Herb Walther, who left the association in 1954 to set up his own, independent "newsmagazine" for the trade, CONTRACTOR. Seth had just one year to fill Walther's shoes at NAPC before Walther lured him over to his fledgling journal.
With Seth at the editor's helm, CONTRACTOR soon became and remained the best-read trade news publication in the PHC industry. I joined CONTRACTOR's editorial staff in 1972 and, being fresh from newspaper reporting myself, I was invigorated by Seth's focus on industry news gathering and reporting.
Thanks to his direction and leader-ship, each issue of CONTRACTOR (twice a month in those days) consistently — and seemingly exclusively — published in-depth stories on this industry's news, trends and developments. He made sure CONTRACTOR was the authoritative source regarding model codes and labor relations. It was avidly read by manufacturers and wholesalers as well as contractors and engineers.
First and foremost, Seth was a newsman. "When in doubt, go after the story," he advised me. His hunger to "get the story" led him to overcome any shy and modest demeanor in querying anyone even slightly involved with whatever he happened to be sniffing for.
At the same time, Seth was an extremely friendly and sincerely warm individual. He had dozens of good friends in this industry, especially among contractors, union officials and trade association executives. He spent lots of "face time" with industry people; he loved talking with them.
Seth announced his retirement as CONTRACTOR editor-in-chief in 1983. He stayed on another year to groom me for the chief editor slot.
Shortly before his departure in 1984, Bob Mader joined CONTRACTOR's staff. I left the magazine in 1994, succeeded by Bob Miodonski.
Seth Shepard was a constant, loyal advocate for PHC contractors and an energetic reporter and editor. As a man of great integrity, he also was one of the nicest fellows I ever worked for.