Celebrating 100+ Years of Service to the Scale Equipment Industry
By David Mathieu
As far as milestones go, nothing beats a 100 year birthday celebration like the one we celebrated three years ago. The article below is from that milestone marker issue.
It all started with Joseph A. Schmitz. He was the weighmaster of the world’s largest grain market—the Chicago Board of Trade. He saw the need for an independent publication to speak for all weights and measures—from producer to consumer without bias.
He and a couple of his friends decided to do something about it. The newly formed Scale Journal Publishing Company was the rock upon which Schmitz, along with the Pickell brothers, Mark and Ralph, built the first successful weights and measures publication.
It was named the Scale Journal, and the first number went to press on October 25, 1914. None of the founders were schooled as journalists but they made up for it with enthusiasm and devotion to weights and measures.
Although independently owned, the whole purpose of the Scale Journal was to be an official organ for two scale associations: the National Association of Scale Experts and the American Scale Men’s Association. The first issue of the Scale Journal carried suggestions for the amalgamation of these two organizations. This suggestion came to fruition two years later when the two merged to form National Scale Men’s Association (now called International Society of Weighing & Measurement).
The question for Schmitz was whether or not those who had spent a lifetime in studying the construction of scales would be willing to put that knowledge into the pages of the Scale Journal so that the younger generation might learn and carry on from their experiences.
It was a concern that was laid to rest quickly. Highly technical papers from the most knowledgeable men in the field appeared in the Scale Journal from the very beginning. The publication not only served as the official association organ but also served as an educational tool for the industry. For 100 years, the Scale Journal, and its siblings, has been the sounding board for every legitimate facet of weights and measures.
We wondered how our first editor felt about the Scale Journal after having published it for many years. Did it meet his expectations? For an answer we turned the pages of time back to an editorial which appeared in the 25th Anniversary issue in 1938. Here’s what he wrote:
“Now, the most vital thing about this publication is the fact that it has proved to be a sort of soul to the industry. From its inception, it has gathered together the ideas of many men and has disseminated them to the four-corners of the United States, to Canada, and to foreign countries. Thus, through the alchemic process of pen and ink, it is believed to have been able to do something to make the Weight and Measure business of greater importance to those who are a part of it.”
Early Edit Staff
Joseph A. Schmitz was the first editor of the Scale Journal and is generally conceded to be the founder, for it was his idea that brought the Scale Journal magazine to life. He was also instrumental in founding the National Association of Scale Experts, and was the avid proponent to form a new organization called National Scale Men’s Association.
Mark W. Pickell worked with Schmitz for over 30 years, and served as the magazine’s business manager from 1915 to 1928, at which time Edith Jacobs (Saybolt) took over. In 1954, Pickell purchased Schmitz’s stock in the Scale Journal and appointed his son, Jared K. Pickell, as business manager, while Saybolt began to gradually retire.
Mark Pickell continued as editor of the Scale Journal, in conjunction with his duties as Secretary of NSMA, for another seven years. On May 4, 1961, he died and his son, Jared, took over as owner-editor of the magazine, a position he held until the Scale Journal was sold in the fall of 1971.
New Trade Magazine
In November of 1971, the late Morey DeBo, owner of Midwest Scale Company, Rockford, IL, purchased the Scale Journal Publishing Company from the Pickell family. He hired David M. Mathieu as editor and asked him to reposition the Scale Journal magazine from an association oriented one to an industry trade magazine that also would go to end users of weighing equipment.
During the startup period of the new publication, Debo and Mathieu shared with three major scale manufacturers what the new magazine would include. Those companies were Toledo Scale, Fairbanks and Cardinal Scale. The executives were excited that the industry would have a true trade magazine that would not only include the weights and measures industry, but also its users.
To help us reach the right people, Toledo Scale and Fairbanks each donated a portion of their customer lists to help start the publication on the right foot, by going to the right people. Our first issue went to 12,000 readers—quite a jump from the 1500 member list of NSMA.
In spite of the Scale Journal’s broader readership, since 1972 we continued to have the reputation of being an association magazine. That’s never been true, but it’s an image we haven’t managed to shake.
Tweak the Title
In an attempt to encompass in the name the total spectrum of the growing scale industry, DeBo changed the name of the magazine from Scale Journal to Weighing & Measurement in January 1974. A year later he sold the magazine to Mathieu.
Starting in 1975, Mathieu’s company, Key Markets Publishing Company, Rockford, IL, published Weighing & Measurement for the next 26 years with the same commitment as its former owners: to provide a tool to educate users of weighing scales, and to serve dealers and manufacturers of weighing equipment.
In the early 1970s, there was still distrust in the industry regarding the reliability and accuracy of electronic weighing. Weighing & Measurement became the vehicle in which the experts in the industry could write about the new technology and successful applications. Since the magazine also went to users, it provided a “push-pull” affect in convincing people that electronic weighing was the right way to go. Electronic weighing was a technological breakthrough that was very profitable for scale companies and grew the industry to new heights.
By 1975, approximately 33 percent of scales were electronic and growing about 20 percent per year. The scale industry was rapidly undergoing the most massive technological change since the industrial revolution. From here on, the success of those in the industry depended increasingly on expertise in electronic technology. Weighing & Measurement provided the voice to lead this transformation.
The last sale of the magazine took place June, 1999, when Mathieu's sold it to WAM Publishing, Co., Inc.; owned by their son and daughter-in-law David and Margaret Mathieu. They recently changed the title of the magazine to Industrial Weigh & Measure, and plan to keep that title for many years to come.
Today the voice of scale equipment industry continues
For an entire century the leading U.S. weighing and measuring publication has made it possible for weighing equipment manufacturers and dealers to thrive alongside businesses that use their products.
Today’s magazine is different in countless ways from yesterdays, as even the briefest excursion through recent issues will show. But we remain committed to bringing readers the key trends in industrial weighing and measuring.
Reaching the century mark is a reminder of iWAM’s long and important commitment to the people and events that have shaped the weights and measures community.
As the voice of this industry, we will continue to publish stories that make you think; stories that help your business grow.