It was just a matter of time — in this case, it took approximately 50 years to happen.
Construction Equipment Guide (CEG) was founded in 1957. Contractors Equipment Guide was founded in 1961. And on May 1, CEG purchased the longtime New England publication, Contractors Equipment Guide.
The deal was approximately a year in the making between Ed McKeon, founder and CEO of CEG, based in Fort Washington, Pa., and John J. LaCamera, president of Contractors Equipment Guide, headquartered in Needham Heights, Mass.
“A year ago, we began talking about the possibility of joining forces, whether it would a buyout, etc.,” said LaCamera, who will stay with CEG as a consultant. “My son and daughter indicated to me that they didn’t want to stay on with the business, that they wanted to pursue other interests.
“And then I just thought about having to sit on this newspaper in my 70s with no heir apparent. I felt that it was time to really get serious with Ed [McKeon]. There was actually no one else that I wanted to take this paper but him because I know how professional he runs his newspapers.”
“I had begun thinking about purchasing Contractors Equipment Guide about five years ago,” said McKeon. “Eventually earlier this year, I became serious about doing that. I’m always excited to grow our companies and this was just another strategic step to further my mission that I established in 1957, when I founded CEG.”
In March, both McKeon and LaCamera created a schedule of transition goals and set a May 1 settlement date with the short-term plan being that Contractors Equipment Guide would continue operating as it existed until July.
“In that two-month timeframe, our staff could take on the task of publishing Contractors Equipment Guide as a dependent publication to CEG,” said McKeon.
Making a Good Thing Even Better
Beginning with this issue, the New England Supplement of Construction Equipment Guide will accompany each Northeast Edition and circulate to all six states in the region.
Subscribers to Contractors Equipment Guide will see an immediate change in the newspaper’s format. Instead of an all-advertising publication, which Contractors had been since its inception, the New England state supplement will feature, in addition to advertising, editorial coverage of a wide range of the latest project news, contractor profiles, legislation issues, equipment dealer and auction happenings and much more. In other words, the perfect supplement to what CEG has been providing its readership for many years.
“What you will see is a very new style that will be very exciting for our readers and his advertisers,” McKeon said.
About Construction Equipment Guide
In 1955, when Ed McKeon concluded active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps, he was at a crossroads. He had several offers for jobs with various Philadelphia area companies, including a management position with Campbell Soup. A position with a family business won out.
“After much mental gymnastics I decided that to keep peace in the family I should go work for my father-in-law, Joe Gallagher, who ran Roxboro Cinder Company in Philadelphia,” said McKeon.
With the then 35-year-old company, McKeon was general manager, jack-of-all-trades, dozer operator, truck driver and whatever else needed to be done.
One day, McKeon was asked to replace some of equipment in the company’s fleet. That led to some phone calls.
“The only print information available was The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Newark News in New Jersey,” recalled McKeon. “And then I began calling on dealers to see what they had for sale. In the process I found a copy of a sheet out of Tennessee that had listings of equipment for sale. This publication later became Rock and Dirt. That gave the impetus to start a construction equipment publication for the mid-Atlantic states.”
In 1958, McKeon hired a sales representative and a production assistant.
“We rang a lot of doorbells early on and made a lot of sales,” McKeon said. “We were able to grow the publication from a four-page mailer to, within five years, a 32-page publication.”
In 1972, CEG began running press releases on an as-needed basis, an element to the publication that would eventually lead to a traditional newspaper content.
In 1988, CEG launched the Southeast Edition to cover the southern states as well as the Caribbean markets.
In 1994, the company started the Midwest Edition covering 13 states. In 1999, the Southwest Edition began publishing, and in 2005, this edition merged with a new Western Edition, which includes, in addition to the southwestern states, the Pacific Coast states.
In total, 120,000 subscribers receive CEG in all 50 states every other week.
About Contractors Equipment Guide
Starting out, LaCamera worked for his family’s construction business, John LaCamera Construction Company. The Cambridge, Mass.-based firm performed mostly utility work, water, sewage and drainage projects.
In 1960, John LaCamera Sr. asked his son to help him sell some surplus equipment.
“So I started inquiring about how you sell equipment,” LaCamera said. “I heard that you put an ad in The Boston Globe. And I said, well what if you want to sell it in Portland, Maine? Well, then you put in the Portland newspaper, I heard. I wanted to put the ad in one paper that covered the entire region. But there wasn’t one. And that gave me the idea to start up the publication,” he recalled.
With his wife, Ann Marie, LaCamera founded Contractors Equipment Guide in 1961
LaCamera juggled working for his father’s firm and with the fledgling publication for approximately one year. When the Contractors Equipment Guide began to take off, LaCamera left to work full-time with his new newspaper. (A few years later his dad’s company closed shop, and his father went to work for Campanella and Cardi in Rhode Island.)
LaCamera knew of his competition down south, CEG. In fact, he confessed to swiping the name
“Early on, I did see Ed’s [McKeon] paper out there, and said, ’Gee, I like the format; I even liked the name so I copied the name less one word. And we began publishing in early 1961,” he said.
“I absolutely received a phone call from Ed. He called and said, ’My name is Ed McKeon and you stole my name.’ I said, ’No, I changed it by one word,’” said La Camera.
“I felt it copied everything that I was doing, including just a few letters away in name,” McKeon said. “I wasn’t happy about it.”
But the two would go on to work together in some aspects.
“He saw what I was trying to do up in New England and we agreed to meet, which we did in New York,” said LaCamera.
“When I realized he had his business and I had mine, there was no sense in having any animosity over it,” McKeon said. “We decided when we met in New York that if we united in a sales effort we could do much better working together than against each other.”
In the meantime, LaCamera was having trouble with the production of his fledgling newspaper and he asked McKeon if he would be interested in producing and mailing it. He was.
“We produced the publication from stem to stern, except for selling it,” McKeon said. “And we did for quite a few years until he [LaCamera] got the hang of it.”
The two remained friends over the years.
Moving Ahead, Together
LaCamera is proud of his Contractors Equipment Guide’s success.
“Back in 1961, when we put out our first paper, we had a little newsletter on the front page that tried to indicate what our mission was,” LaCamera said. “It was ’to bring buyers and sellers of new and used equipment together and create a common marketplace for the six New England states.’ We think we accomplished that.”
Through the sale of his publication to CEG, LaCamera pledges to continue that mission on even bigger basis.
“Some of the things that Ed’s publications can do, we cannot do. We don’t have staff … we don’t have the technology,” he said. “The things that Construction Equipment Guide can do with four-color is better than what we could do because we were limited to small printers. We’re getting involved with an outfit that really knows its stuff. And the change will be very, very good.”
LaCamera will be staying on for at least three years as an ’ambassador’ to his New England readers and advertisers.
“I still like making new calls, which I do almost on a daily basis,” he said. “I always liked the industry. I like the physical nature of the profession. My parents were Italian immigrants and when they came over the first thing they did was farm. From farming they went into construction — both physical work. Publishing industry newspaper is just a continuation of that.”
McKeon is excited about the future as the two publications join to serve New England.
“With the new editorial format, we will be able to give our readers and advertisers a product that far surpasses anything being currently published,” he said. “This will be a newspaper that our readers and advertisers will anxiously receive because the news content will be exceptional and relevant. The New England edition will be an excellent supplement to CEG, helping it continue to be the best-read construction newspaper, as it has been from the beginning.” CEG