Here's to the next 15 years
28 February 2008
Euan Youdale: How long have you been in involved with the construction industry?
James King: Since 1984 when I joined Thomas Telford Ltd, the publishing company owned by the Institute of Civil Engineers, to launch a new international construction magazine.
EY: When and why did you start KHL?
JK: December 7th, 1989, to launch Construction Europe magazine. Europe was becoming a single market. Readers had no independent source of pan-European information and advertisers had nowhere to promote a European image. Construction Europe is now one of the most successful monthly business to business magazines in Europe.
EY: How has KHL grown?
JK: Focusing on a sector we specialise in, global construction information; an unswerving dedication to editorial quality and independence from commercial pressures; working as an essential part of the industry not as a supplier; strategic launches or acquisitions in fast-growing markets; employing talented people – and keeping them; constant innovation; working hard; taking risks; and a little sprinkling of luck along the way.
EY: Regarding IC, when and why did you launch the magazine?
JK: October 1992. This huge and influential market was not being properly served by existing media. There were no truly global magazines, either with their circulation or editorial profile. We saw a gap in a major niche and aimed to bring professional publishing practices to the crane industry.
EY: What have been the defining moments so far?
JK: There have been many but being the first crane magazine in the world to be accredited with the sought-after BPA International independent circulation audit was certainly important. KHL was the first publisher in Europe to introduce digital magazines and have the circulation of those magazines audited.
Being chosen by the world's largest and most influential trade association, the US's Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association (SC&RA), as its official magazine was a very proud moment and strategically very important for the magazine. The SC&RA embodies professionalism.
We have also recently been chosen by ESTA, the European Crane & Transportation Association, to work with them as exclusive partners. Acceptance from the world's two most prominent trade bodies for our industry is a massive seal of approval. It gives readers and advertisers alike confidence that they are dealing with the industry's choice.
EY: What does our link with the associations mean for us and our readers?
JK: Peer group endorsement of quality; access to exclusive news, site reports and other stories.
EY: What are the benefits of IC?
JK: We provide readers with information to do their jobs more safely and more profitably. We offer advertisers a magazine that is received and read by its key existing and potential customers around the world. Our innovative league tables, for example, the IC 50 list of top lifting companies create much-needed benchmarks of achievement.
The addition of a specialized transport section was a natural extension for the magazine. If you lift heavy items you generally also need to transport them, and more often than not, it's the same company that does both.
EY: IC has increased its market share, is that trend set to continue?
JK: Yes. KHL's continuing investment and focus on high quality editorial, design, circulation, customer service, digital information, internet services and events, along with the support of the world's two biggest associations means that we should keep ahead of the game for a few years to come.
EY: How is the construction industry doing at the moment and where do you see it going in the next five years?
JK: The global construction sector has not been this strong for over 30 years. Every geographic region of the world is growing at unprecedented levels and companies supplying it are publishing record profits. This level of growth cannot continue forever but we should see sustained growth for at least the next two years barring any unforeseeable disaster.
We all hope for a soft landing when the slow-down finally comes but let's see what the longer-term effects are from the recent financial crisis and tightening of the credit market.
EY: How is IC placed to take on any future market shift for the benefit of its readers and advertisers?
JK: We are investing heavily in revolutionary new electronic means of information distribution and archiving. Paper magazines are here to stay and their strong brand will act as a 'Trojan horse' to unleash many new electronic forms of distribution along with global events supported by the industry. IC is creating a global crane and specialized transport community.
EY: Are there any plans in the pipeline?
JK: We have many new plans to keep the magazine and related information services moving forward and serving our readers' and advertisers' needs. One that I can mention is the launch of the inaugural World Crane & Transportation Summit. This has the support of the worldšs most influential associations and will be the first time that this industry gets together in one place. We see important results on global harmonisation of standards, safety, insurance, equipment regulations, etc. coming from this.
EY: Any final thoughts?
JK: I think the difference over the years between KHL magazines and its competitors is that we live and breathe this industry and our company. IC has a talented, knowledgeable and above all stable team behind it, from the editor to the circulation manager, from the advertisement manager to the marketing manager. In the last 15 years the magazine has benefited from having just three editors (Tim Whiteman, Ben Shaw and Alex Dahm) and two advertisement managers (Trevor Pease, who now runs KHL Inc USA, and John Austin). I think that gives the market the confidence to invest in the magazine.