It's hard sometimes for trade-magazine editors to find out what's working or not working in their magazines.

Unlike our counterparts in the mainstream media, many trade magazines don't get a lot of letters or phone calls from readers.

That's not always a bad thing. A quiet phone means more time to get other work done. Back when I was a newspaper reporter, I remember spending half of my morning taking calls from readers regarding a controversial story I had written in the previous day's paper. As much as I enjoyed hearing from readers, the phone calls ate a major part of my workday.

But as nice as the silence can be, it also makes you wonder if readers like the job you're doing or what else they would like to see in your publication. Maybe there's an issue we're not covering or a sheet metal shop with a great story to tell.

About a year ago, I asked visitors to our online bulletin board what they would like to see in SNIPS. I got a computer screen full of ideas from New York state contractor Dan Harden. In particular, he said our annual feature on new trucks was not particularly useful (ouch).

"SNIPS' truck issue is full of fancy 1/2-ton pickups with aluminum rims and shiny ladder racks called ‘weekender' or something similar," he wrote. "Give me a break already. Show me some 3/4-ton plain pickups and some rack trucks, and how about some interesting readers' trucks ... I would love to see how others get duct from shop to the jobsite."

An excellent idea, Dan. But I'll need some help for that one. Readers, why don't you tell me about your trucks? What do you use to get around? It doesn't matter if it's a brand-new Ford F-150 or a beat-up old Chevy. I've discovered that many contractors are very enterprising (and fiercely proud) when it comes to their service vehicles.

I'd like to feature some of them in our September issue. Take some high-quality photos of your trucks, at the jobsite or shop, and send them to me. We need images that we can run at least 4 inches by 4 inches in size. For those of you with digital cameras, we need them at high resolution: at least 300 dots per inch, commonly called "dpi." We prefer jpegs. Anything less does not reproduce well. The higher resolution you use, the more flexibility it gives us in using the image.

When taking the photos, please focus in on the trucks. Don't shoot the truck from so far away that your shop in the background dwarfs it. Get up close. Again, these types of images will have a better chance of running in the magazine.

Send the images to me at SNIPS magazine, BNP Media, 2401 W. Big Beaver Road, Suite 700, Troy, MI 48084. If they're digital photos, you can also e-mail them to me at

Be sure to include the name of your company, how long it's been in business and what's so great or unusual about your truck. Also, be sure to give me your phone number.