PennWell celebrates its 100th year!

June 1, 2010
This year DE’s parent company, PennWell Corporation, is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Its founder, Patrick C. Boyle, was a bold risk-taker ...

This year DE’s parent company, PennWell Corporation, is celebrating its 100th anniversary. Its founder, Patrick C. Boyle, was a bold risk-taker from the 19th century western Pennsylvania oil fields who started the company and the Oil & Gas Journal in Tulsa, Okla., in 1910. Only a few family-owned publishing companies remain, and PennWell is the largest of those still in business.

The last 100 years has brought great change to the company, formally called Petroleum Publishing Company. Starting from small-town roots as publisher of a single journal, PennWell has evolved into a worldwide media company reaching more than 1.5 million professionals with 75 print and online magazines and newsletters, 60 global conferences and exhibitions, and an unrivaled line of books, maps, Web sites, research, and database services.

During the late ’60s and early ’70s, PennWell began to look for business-to-business publications outside of the petroleum industry to provide some diversity. I find it interesting that the first magazine that was purchased in 1971 was Dental Economics®, a practice-management magazine that began as Oral Hygiene® in 1911. I can remember receiving this publication while I was in dental school and for a few years afterward. I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall of the PennWell board room when the negotiations to purchase that property were going on, just to understand why they chose a publication in dentistry as the first one not connected to oil and gas. It was a good choice and remains one of the top three publications in the dental world, according to readership surveys.

It has been my good fortune to be the editor for the last 15 years. In addition to PennWell’s headquarters in Tulsa, the company has major offices in Nashua, N.H.; Houston, Texas; London, England; Fairlawn, N.J.; Moscow, Russia; and Hong Kong, China. For additional information about PennWell, visit

Recently, I attended the annual meeting of the AACD in Dallas at the Gaylord Texan Hotel. The meeting focused on the way people learn. A number of courses were taught in different ways to take advantage of this approach. As always, I saw many old friends and made some new ones. I sat in on a number of courses that were extremely well done. Many more workshops were in evidence this year. Because of prior commitments, I was unable to stay for the entire meeting, and was disappointed that I missed out on some very interesting courses. This is a meeting to be experienced and I urge you to mark next year’s dates — May 18 to 21 — on your calendar. The meeting will be held in Boston.

The week before the AACD meeting, I was in Indianapolis attending the FDIC (Fire Department Instructors Conference) — the world’s largest fire show. So what does the FDIC have to do with dentistry? Well, not much. But my publisher, Lyle Hoyt, is the guy responsible for the show. I have always wanted to see the show, and this year was my chance. The conference draws almost 30,000 fire service professionals from around the world each year. These dedicated people come to spend a week in rigorous training in real fire situations. They learn how to access the fire, how to form a strategy to fight the fire, how to handle the hose, the ladders, and the trucks. They learn to break down doors, cut holes in roofs, and get through drywall. They do this back-breaking work with all of their equipment on. Most of these fire professionals pay their way because 80% of the firefighters in the United States are volunteers.

Lyle told me not to miss the opening ceremony on Wednesday morning. It was one of the most moving opening ceremonies I have ever seen. As we waited for the session to begin, we watched DVDs of fires. The colors were then brought into the room to begin the ceremony, followed by the Indianapolis Firefighters Emerald Society Bagpipe Band. After the singing of the U.S. and Canadian national anthems, an invocation was given by Father Edward Byrne from Ossining, N.Y. It was one of the most inspiring messages I have ever heard. Next was the commemoration of the 2009 line-of-duty deaths. The names of those who had died (more than 200) were scrolled on the screens in the front of the room while the Bagpipe Band played “Amazing Grace.” There was hardly a dry eye in the room.

Robert Biolchini, President and CEO of PennWell, presented the Ray Downey Courage and Valor Award to Captain Eric J. Hankins, Yuba City (Calif.) Fire Department. In January 2009, Capt. Hankins single-handedly saved two children from a burning home while off duty. The children, both toddlers, were in the home alone when the fire broke out. Hankins noticed the smoke and flames as he was driving by, and immediately returned to help. He encountered the toddlers’ frantic mother in the street, who was screaming for someone to save her children. Despite heavy smoke and increasingly deteriorating conditions, and without personal protective equipment and at risk to his life, Hankins entered the home and successfully located one child and pulled her to safety. At that point, he learned there was another child still inside, so he re-entered the burning structure and made the second rescue. Once the children were turned over to ambulance crews, he returned to help battle the fire. Only after the fire was extinguished did Capt. Hankins seek medical attention for himself. For his actions, Capt. Hankins was also awarded the California State Firefighters Association Medal of Valor.

A standing-room only crowd was on hand as Capt. Hankins was presented the award.

“This morning, we gather to honor a true American hero, Yuba City Fire Department Captain Eric Hankins. His remarkable act of bravery under life-threatening conditions resulted in saving the lives of two young children who, without his intervention, would have succumbed to a tragic fate,” PennWell President and CEO Robert F. Biolchini said.

“Captain Hankins’ actions reflect on the fire service’s true values. So today, we recognize him individually; but in a greater sense, his actions are a mirror of the outstanding actions that firefighters perform each day,” Biolchini continued.

The Courage & Valor Foundation, created by PennWell to ensure that the world forever remembers the sacrifices made by heroic FDNY members on Sept. 11, 2001, annually presents the Ray Downey Courage & Valor Award at FDIC. The award is a medal, as well as a check for $35,000. FDIC, owned and produced by PennWell, is the world’s largest annual fire rescue conference and exhibition.

I came away with a new respect for what these dedicated individuals do. God bless them all!

Joe Blaes, DDS, Editor — e-mail: [email protected]
Toll-free phone number: (866) 274-4500

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