Looking Back And Looking Forward
By Ralph Thomas

Close to 18 years ago, we at NAIS had been very excited about a major article that was to be published In Entrepreneur Magazine about the private investigative industry. This was the first major positive news story about the industry NAIS helped generate. When the article came out, it was a feature story. In the resources section of the article, I noted a listing for a new publication called PI Magazine. I promptly called its owner and publisher, Bob Mackowiak and obtained a review copy of his magazine. Bob Mackowiak and myself started working together in an alliance. We didn't actually call it an alliance back then, because in those days the term business alliance was not a very common term.

Since those early days, there have been many changes to both PI Magazine and the investigative industry. I watched PI Magazine develop from a part fiction, part non-fiction 4-issues-a-year operation to a journal for investigators published every other month. When the publication was started, I had just purchased my first used fax machine for almost one thousand dollars (and I'm not kidding about that!) In those days, not many people knew what a modem was and the only person in the industry that had an awareness of what a CD-Rom was was Leroy Cook. Those who used computers were mainly graphics people and accountants. There was no wide-spread Internet use, no header searches on credit bureaus and no one ever heard of the term information broker. Things seemed much simpler in those days. My television viewing was confined to The Johnny Carson Show and The Rockford Files which many in the private investigative industry half-jokingly referred to as training films. PI's were often called gumshoes because they got the majority of information from going out and beating the streets (and usually came back with gum on the bottom of their shoes). As for PI Magazine itself, I enjoyed watching the number of pages expand, the number of articles get bigger and better and the overall appearance improve greatly as it developed. As new computer techniques for investigators, and other technology and trends developed over the years, it was PI Magazine that reported them in the form of articles to the industry.

It seems everyone these days wants to write a book or a newsletter or start a magazine. But those who have never really done it usually come to the quick realization that writing requires a lot of grinding it out. It's about five percent inspiration and ninety-five percent perspiration. Then, even after that's all done, it still needs to get into the hands of readers and that is generally even more of a task than the development of the words on the paper itself. I would be the first to tell you that is not an easy marketing task. The evidence on that can easily be seen with the many subscription publications for investigators that hit the market then quickly fade away. What usually happens is that the publisher finds that it just takes too long with too much effort to develop such a publication into something successful that actually starts to pay the printing costs, mailing costs and other overhead. But PI Magazine, through the efforts of Bob Mackowiak made it work and emerged as the one shinning star everyone began to see and understand as the national magazine for the investigative industry.

I have not always agreed with everything the magazine did but I do believe that PI Magazine has stood the test of time as the leading journal for investigators outside of the association journals. I think we should all stand up and give Bob Mackowiak a standing ovation for having the perseverance to develop it into what it is today.

I got'a tell you- I'm both sad and happy about the turn-over of PI Magazine to Jimmie Mesis . I have always been one that hated good-byes. You know! I'm the type of guy that holds back tears when you go away on a long journey and have to say so-long to loved ones (both people and pets!) That used to be embarrassing for this big tuff-guy with the ruff speaking voice so I sometimes would hide my face by turning my head. As I have gotten older and hopefully obtained more wisdom through the college of hard knocks (I have a PhD in it!), I have learned that it's ok for other people to see my emotions like that. I have somewhat the same sensation and emotions saying good-bye to Bob Mackowiak as the publisher of PI Magazine. As I get older , I find that time passes quicker and I find it hard to believe that all those years have passed since I first picked up the phone and talked to this man from Ohio that was publishing this new magazine. At the same time I am sad to say good-bye to Bob as publisher, I'm extremely pleased that the new publisher is Jimmie Mesis. He's a man with a great deal of insight and a great deal of prospective into the investigative industry as well as entrepreneurship in general. I look forward to the future years of PI Magazine and what Mr. Mesis will bring to it.
There's a new generation of investigators on the streets now. In a lot of ways, the industry has changed but in a lot of ways it's amazing that after all these years, the volume of things that remain the same. And over those years, PI Magazine has mirrored the reflections of those things that have changed and those things that have remained the same. As PI Magazine moves forward with a new publisher, I look forward to seeing those reflections continue in even bigger and better ways.