CAF has reached the end of an era. After physically printing the publication consistently for 37 years, this will be the final print edition of the publication. Beginning in 2022 , CAF will be produced and distributed in digital fashion only. We will continue to send our Fleet Week e-newsletter out every Tuesday and our website www.fleetbusiness.com will continue to feature news and views about the people, products, programs, and policies that impact light and medium duty vehicle fleet operations in Canada. If you subscribe to our digital edition now, no worries, it will continue to get delivered to your email. If you are like me, a hardcore print enthusiast and have enjoyed reading the magazine the God intended, on paper, I have little to console you with other than the fact that change is everywhere and always, and things that can’t last forever, never do.
As much as we would have liked to continue to publish on 80lb glossy stock, present circumstances have forced our hand. Unless you have been living under a rock or enjoying some cushy government or academic sinecure, you are probably aware of how, to put it in the most generous terms possible, disruptive the Covid-19 pandemic has been to business, especially small business. We have been caught up in that tumult since the virus first raised its head (spike?) in Canada at least, in early 2020. Along with the lockdowns that have devastated communities and businesses alike, the policy responses that left cities, towns and countries bereft of economic activity, were the catalyst for the supply chain failures and the inflation that is stubbornly refusing to fall in line with economists’ characterization of it as “transitory”. For those involved in the automotive industry in direct or oblique fashion (I’m hoping this includes our readers, because if you are reading CAF and aren’t involved in fleet, automotive or related business, boy, do you need a hobby!) these and other factors have resulted in a significant shortfall of vehicle and parts production. With little or no product to sell and at the outset of the pandemic at least, few customers looking for vehicles, auto manufacturers had to curtail production. The knock-on effect for our publication was a dramatic reduction in the advertising revenue that is our lifeblood. We took some hard body blows but soldiered on as they say, cautiously optimistic about the fleet industry returning to some level of normalcy before too long. We’re still waiting.
It’s certainly not fair to lay all the responsibility for our decision to go digital solely at the feet of the pandemic. We have understood for some time, that our print publication has been riding a demographic wave and that wave, having crested is now in decline. I speak of the average age of our audience. Given the range of titles we send CAF to, along with all the relationships forged over the years in this business, we knew that that average CAF reader was a mid or senior level manager with more than one responsibility at their respective organizations. That tended to align with being on the older side of the scale and were a demographic who valued print as an information medium. As this cohort began to age out as it were, they have been replaced by younger owners, operators and managers, and from a personal perspective it has been delightful to see new faces and energy replenishing the fleet ranks. This current crop are far closer to pure digital natives, adept at and preferring digital communication. Along with the remarkable advances in technology making the production, consumption and sharing of information in digital manner more engaging than ever, have hastened our transition to digital.
As we move forward in 2022 in purely electronic form, I am hoping that Marshall McLuhan’s insight that the medium was the message does not apply completely to CAF. It is my hope that it is the information that will now be conveyed digitally that is the message, and that message helps with managing the increasingly complex and challenging task of operating a vehicle fleet in today’s unceasingly changing physical and virtual environment.