Although you may not have known him personally, Ed Bobit likely had an impact on your pupil transportation career in some way.
Ed, who was the founder and chairman of Bobit Business Media, passed away on Sunday at age 86.
Certainly his most well-known contribution to the school bus industry is the trade publication you're reading right now, SCHOOL BUS FLEET, but his efforts went beyond the printed page.
Ed started his company, initially called Bobit Publishing, with an idea: There should be a magazine for vehicle fleet managers at big companies. When his bosses at publishing giant McGraw-Hill turned down his pitch, Ed decided to strike out on his own, launching Automotive Fleet in 1961.
A few years later, Ed bought a publication called School Bus Transportation. The magazine had debuted under another name, School Bus Trends, in 1956. On the cover of the first issue was the Miss America at the time, Sharon Kay Ritchie, perched on a 1956 Wayne Superamic school bus.
After Ed acquired the magazine, he relaunched it in 1965 as SCHOOL BUS FLEET with a new look and vision. In the decades since then, the Bobit company has been distributing SBF to tens of thousands of pupil transportation managers to keep them informed and to help them succeed in their critical mission of safely transporting students.
Beyond his pioneering in trade magazine publishing, what you may not know about Ed is the vital role he played in the National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT).
In fact, Ed was a crucial figure in the survival of NAPT in its early years. In 1977, his financial assistance allowed the association to hold its third annual conference.
That same year, Ed was named executive director of NAPT. In 1999, he was inducted into the NAPT Hall of Fame for his contributions to the industry.
Mike Martin, the longtime executive director of NAPT, emphasizes Ed's importance in the association's history and in the school bus industry in general.
"There would be no NAPT without Ed Bobit. Period," Martin says. "There are thousands of people in our organization and in our industry that owe him an eternal debt of gratitude, including and especially me."
Personally and professionally, I'm also greatly indebted to Ed — or, as many called him, "Coach." I’ve had the privilege of being a part of the Bobit Business Media family for the past 33 years.
Thanks to the opportunities that Ed provided for me (and countless other Bobit staff members over the years), I've had a long, rewarding career in both the publishing business and the bus industry.
Ed's influence reached across multiple industries and touched innumerable transportation professionals, vehicle manufacturers, magazine editors, publishers and many more. He will be greatly missed by all of them, especially me.