Upfront: OPE industry loses a legend

By Steve Noe

William H. “Bill” Quinn Jr. — who founded this magazine as Lawn Equipment Journal (LEJ) in September 1959, had the foresight to rename it Outdoor Power Equipment (OPE) in September 1969, and served as its publisher for 30 years before selling the magazine — passed away on Sept. 6, 2014, in Fort Worth, Texas. He was 102.

All of us at OPE are deeply indebted to Bill for his countless contributions not only to the magazine, but also to the entire industry (see story starting on page 18). Most recently, he graciously wrote an article on OPE’s 55th anniversary for our June 2014 issue and was interviewed about the origin of the magazine for a Green Media Podcast, which can be heard at www.outdoorpowerequipment.com.

“At Ariens Company, we were all saddened to hear of Bill’s passing,” said Dan Ariens, chairman and CEO, Ariens Company. “Bill was an icon of the OPE industry and simply put, a wonderful man and tremendous voice for all. From dealers to distributors to the manufacturers, Bill understood the relationships which were so important in making the industry what we are today. Knowing all the personalities at every level made Bill the unique leading authority of his day.”

In February 2001, I had the great honor and privilege of meeting Bill, his wife Lynn (“Lennie”) and their son Rix at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport en route to a distributor association meeting in Cancun, Mexico. Although we just met briefly for a pre-planned lunch between flights, it quickly became apparent to me as to why he was so well liked by people in this industry and was able to develop OPE into what many readers referred to as “the bible of the industry.” He treated me with the utmost kindness and respect, as if I was the one who founded and published the magazine for three decades, not someone who at that time had served as its editor for slightly more than three years. Bill was highly attentive and inquisitive, asking me one question after another about the state of the magazine and the industry, and soaking in everything that I had to say like a sponge. He also had a terrific sense of humor, making me laugh several times with his back-in-the-day stories.

I wound up keeping in touch and becoming friends with Bill over the years, and I found him to be one of the most honest, genuine, sincere, caring, humble and humorous individuals that I’ve ever met. He was truly a one-of-a-kind person who knew how to treat people the right way while living life to its absolute fullest. If the world was filled with more people like Bill, it would be a much happier and better place to live.

In his final article for OPE in the June 2014 issue, Bill said, “That $300 I paid down to Tom Murray for the rights to publish the Bicycle Journal — which later led to the creation of Outdoor Power Equipment — just has to be one of the best investments any publisher ever made for any magazine,” he said. “What a helluva ride we’ve had for that $300!”

On behalf of everyone at OPE, I would like to extend our sincerest and most heartfelt condolences to the Quinn family.

OPE Editor Steve Noe


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *