Richard Lynch, Wiley Retiree

(Back to All Stories)

BACKGROUND- getting started! After working my way through college in the bookstore; I started in the field with the College Division of Addison-Wesley. That was 1970. My first territory was New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania (except for the Philadelphia area) Brooklyn, Staten Island and Lower Manhattan. I first met Debbie Wiley at Lehigh University (Halliday vs. Sears and Zemansky). She won!

A good hotel room was $15.00 a martini cost $1.00. There were no women in the field. They came a year or two later. In 1970 my starting salary at Addison-Wesley was $8,500. There were no company cars. They were not available until 1973. I was paid .08/mile to drive my own car. I think gas retailed for about .40/gallon. My business car was a 1967 Rambler Rebel. After a year on the road it had no reverse. A few years after that there were no Ramblers. In 1973 Addison Wesley had their fall meeting in Bermuda. Eighteen people went from the sales force. That included sales management. There were calculators in 1970. I got my first one in 1972. It had six digits. Everything, including expenses and sampling was done by hand. There were lots of mistakes. Communication was conducted via a weekly mail package sent to and from the home office.

THE TRANSITION- In 1974 I was promoted to Addison-Wesley’ Mid-West Manager. There was one snag. For the first year the mid-west was defined as everything from New York to Nebraska; from Minnesota to Kentucky. I lived in New Jersey and flew everywhere. Eventually I moved to Indianapolis. In 1978 I was Addison-Wesley’s first District Manager of the Year. Unfortunately I left just before the sales meeting and never received the award. Supposedly, it was sent?? I joined Holt, Rinehart & Winston in January of 1979. I was the marketing manager for the Dryden Press, HR&W’s business press. The whole operation, along with Praeger, and W.B. Saunders was owned by CBS…not a good fit!

THE WILEY YEARS- I joined Wiley as the Professional Division’s Accounting, Tax and Law editor on May 5, 1980. I was hired by Mike Harris ( PRT director) and Walter Matham (business publisher). Walter had trouble making a decision so he asked Mr. Harris to interview me. I met with him for three hours (what a messy office). At the end of our discussion Mr. Harris walked me over to Walter Matham’s office and said, “hire the boy!” I was thirty-seven years old and Mr. Harris called me, “boy.” Coming from him that was fine.

This publishing group had its origins in the 1977 Ronald Press acquisition. I don’t recall the alphabet designation of the publishing line (I think it was H) but the group included: Steve Kippur (Finance), Mike Hamilton (Management and Marketing), John Mahany (Management and the Harvard program) and Herb Reich (Psychology). We did a lot of good books. Someday we should discuss why Psychology was mixed in with the business disciplines. Because I published law books (non-profit tax law) in 1980; I have never been selected for jury duty. I guess I cannot be trusted.

My job was to keep the accounting pipeline flowing by publishing 20 books, signing 20 books and putting 20 books into production. The bulk of first editorial job involved publishing books that were written by the (Big Eight) major accounting firms. I would then sell them back to them. The accounting firms would then use the books to attract customers in retailing, oil and gas, real estate whatever…The job had an unusual synergy.

Some of the major publications in program were: Montgomery’s Auditing by Coopers and Lybrand (which we published in both professional and college editions, The Accounts Handbook by Lee Seidler and, Doug Carmichael The Accounts Cost Handbook by Jim Bullock and Don Keller, Retail Accounting by Price Waterhouse, International Tax Summaries (annual) by Coopers & Lyband, Doing Business with the Federal Government by Price-Waterhouse. In addition to working with the major accounting firms we also formed co-publishing and marketing alliances with the Institute of Internal Auditors and the National Association of Accounts. These agreements helped us find more authors and gave us a collaborative partner for marketing.

When I started at Wiley were at 605 Third Ave. There were only 6 outside (WATTS) lines. If you were the seventh person making a long distance call you needed to have the operator call you back when a line became available. God forbid if you mis-dialed your number. If that occurred you had to go to the back of the line.

In 1980 there were lots of typewriters but no personal computers. There were no assistants; just secretaries. The secretaries typed, took dictation and answered phones… it was a much different culture. Record keeping was done (manually) by Betty Finkelstein. If you signed a book, published a book or put one into production you better make sure that Betty recorded it. She kept her ledger in ink.

In the early 80’s we also had summer hours. During the summer months, in exchange for working longer days, the staff was given Friday afternoons off. In the early 1980s there were also lots of different entrepreneurial enterprises. There was a special computer initiative that was managed by Gary Carlson. There was Wilson Learning and later trips to the Pecos River Ranch. There were attempts to deal more thoroughly with corporate customers.

In 1985 Wayne Anderson asked me to manage the CPA Review operation. This involved transferring from the Professional Division to the College Division. Wayne made me an executive editor (I think the first) and I took over the program from Don Ford. The publishing operation was located in DeKalb, Illinois. The principle contributors were Pat Delaney (the author) and Irv Gleim (the original author of the works). The CPA books were written, edited and composed in DeKalb.

The business publishing group, at that time was lead by Wayne Anderson. The other people in the group were Don Ford (Intermediate Accounting), Lucille Sutton (all other Accounting) Dick Lynch (CPA Review and GAAP), Gene Davenport (Management/Marketing), Nina Lewis (Information Systems), Joe Doherty (Information Systems), Susan Saltrick (Computer Science). Later Cheryl Mehalik replaced Gene Davenport.

During this period we actually had three successful Principles of Accounting texts. The first was Helmkamp. Later the Weygandt text was published and finally we bought the Solomon texts from Harper and Row. In order to accommodate all the supplements Terry Ann Kremer was added as the first supplements editor.

Also, in 1985 I was part of the College Management Team. Serje Seminoff was the Director of the College Division. Other members of the management team were Carl Beers (sales), Susan Kantrowitz (finance), Susan Saltrick (technology), Rich Leyh, Don Ford and myself (editorial). That group remained, largely in tact, until the great transition in 1989-90.

The office in DeKalb set its own type using primitive word processors and old IBM “mag card” technology. There were six full time employees and sixty part-time. In 1985 there were no computers. We thinned out the 60 part timers. We also cleaned up the budget by eliminating numerous budget lines that were labeled “Dr. Delaney’s Account.” Accountability was improved and some profits were turned.

By 1987 the CPA Review published two major (1800-2000 pp) multi-volume works. They were published each year in June and December. In addition we published a dozen or more “special cover” titles that were purchased by the major accounting firms for their new employees. There was also CPA Review software and a GAAP Guide plus supplements done for NASBA. All of these works were annuals and the revenue was about $3 million. Ultimately, it became very profitable.

Managing the CPA Review required that I spend half my time in DeKalb and half in Manhattan. By the way, nothing is colder than DeKalb, Illinois in January. That assignment lasted for nine years. During that period my wife became known as “The Widow Lynch” and my children called me “Uncle Daddy.” To this day they claim I had another family in Illinois.

As part of the (1985) transition I helped (the new business publisher, Steve Kippur) recruit Jeff Brown as my replacement in Professional Accounting. I had worked with Jeff at the AICPA. I think this was his first job in a commercial enterprise.

By 1988 we had moved the DeKalb offices to a more secure building. We installed computers, streamlined the operation and we moved CPA customer support from DeKalb to Manhattan. The 800 number that supported the program received 24,000 calls each year.

In the late 1980s corporate management was not in tune with the goals and needs of the college marketplace. There was a lot of turnover in the editorial staff and it was not until 1989, when Will Pesce arrived, that we finally got consistent leadership. Jim Nye and Bonnie Lieberman came shortly after Will.

Lots of things changed in the late 80s and early 90s The CPA Review (despite a couple law suits) flourished. We published books, audio tape lectures, software, the GAAP Manual and dozens of custom covers. In 1994, the last year I was involved with the program, every major accounting firm, plus about 200 colleges and proprietary courses were using our CPA Review manuals for their employees and students. I would estimate that 80% of the people who sat for the CPA exam used our materials to prepare.

Eventually the program was moved from the College Division to the Professional Division. A new publisher was hired and the program was administered by Jeff Brown. In 1994, when the transfer occurred, I stayed in the College Division and went into the field as a representative. It was like 1970 all over again. I reported to Jay Beck (“A Great American”) and relearned the field reps’ job. In 1995 I was made the Metropolitan District Manager. I was responsible the schools and reps from Long Island to Philadelphia.

I am a “maker of Vice Presidents.” There’s a title you don’t hear very often. As time passed the district expanded and morphed. I reported to: Jim Nye, Libbly Prebble (she was here for one cup of coffee), Patty Stark, Petra Sellers and Howard Weiner. I can add that all of these people were, while I was reporting to them, promoted Vice President. Some geography was added sand some was eliminated. Things grew, we were always in engaged and productive.

Eventually (by 2004) we had thirteen people in the district. We were responsible for everything from Blacksburg, Virginia to Cleveland to Long Island. The group became productive very quickly. Many of the key players, most of whom I recruited, are still with Wiley: Frank Yelenic, Tiziana Aime, Tracey Clarke, John Swift, Ronde Bradley, Dennis Laynor, Chris Fisher and some others who have moved on. They were all productive, reliable and loyal.

In the period between 1994 and 2004 lots of initiatives were set in place. You can find the roots of WileyPLUS. Custom publishing grew incrementally. Big sales almost always relied on elaborate multi-media presentations. The concept of the “War Room” for key products evolved. Publishing and Technology consults became and integral part of strategy and sales development. You could not survive, or succeed without applying a collaborative model. It became very important all resources, working in concert, be involved in everything from signing and development to presentation sales and now customer support.

(Back to All Stories)