In July of 2005, I’d decided to step down from my position as promotion manager in the creative services department of our parent company (F&W Publications at the time, now F+W Media). I was returning to graduate school in the fall; after seven years of writing advertising, direct mail, renewal notices, book club promotions and more for Popular Woodworking Magazine (PWM) and a handful of other F+W properties, I was ready to dive back into academia. Or so I thought.
For at least five years, I’d handled all the advertising and marketing for PWM, so I’d regularly pop in and out of the magazine’s office to drop off proofs for Publisher and Editor Steve Shanesy’s approval…then stop back by days later to harangue him about my deadlines. Then stop by again and impatiently stand over him while he looked at the pieces. At the time, I usually wore heels; I’m sure the clicking of said heels on the hallway tile elicited an instant headache whenever Steve heard me approaching. (I have this thing about deadlines, you see…and I didn’t at the time fully appreciate the constant deadline pressure the magazine staff was already under just to get their work done – much less to comment on mine. Now I know. Steve, I’m sorry.)
I’d already turned in my resignation when Steve and then-Executive Editor Christopher Schwarz asked if I’d be interested in the job of managing editor for Popular Woodworking Magazine. Given my propensity for inducing headaches, I was flabbergasted at the offer. And because Steve and Chris kindly agreed to a schedule that allowed me to take classes as needed, I immediately accepted. (Turns out haranguing folks about deadlines is a major part of the ME job.)
I can say – with no hyperbole – that the managing editor job changed my life. While I still find my academic pursuits edifying and valuable, learning how to actually make stuff that I use and look at every day has been a constant and enduring joy. And Steve has been a part of my woodworking (and publishing) education. He taught me to turn my first furniture leg, has always been willing to jump in with machinery advice and showed me how to make sense (sort of) of newsstand sales.
But far more important – and important to many more people: Were it not for Steve’s support and leadership as publisher, this magazine (and everything else we do) might not be here. He guided the magazine through major changes in focus (from crafty projects – and many of them – to what we publish today), through transitions in company ownership and through game-changing developments in publishing. He championed the first online store F+W started (ours), launched the now-annual Woodworking in America conference and made us into a profitable and stable title with far more to offer than simply a print magazine.
Two years ago (almost to the day), Steve stepped down as publisher and was planning to retire, but because we were in a period of staff transition, he generously agreed to forestall his retirement and stay on as senior editor, and to help our then-new publisher, Kevin Ireland, learn the ropes. For the most part, Steve was able to trade spreadsheets and budget meetings for tool tests, editorial meetings, project articles and time in the PWM shop.
On May 2, after 19 years with Popular Woodworking and F+W (and previous work as a furniture shop foreman then promotion manager for a riverboat), Steve is retiring to spend well-earned time in his own shop (a large space with nice wooden floors and big windows that’s chock-full of restored vintage machinery). His plans include getting back into turning in a big way (that’s his piece pictured at left), working with his son, Hayes (who builds custom furniture), pursuing volunteer opportunities, traveling with his wife, Kit, and spending more time working on and riding his two vintage motorcycles (and I suspect he might acquire another project bike or two).
Please join me in thanking Steve for everything he’s done for PWM and for F+W Media, and in wishing him a long, happy and fruitful retirement. I invite you to leave comments below, or send him an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Megan Fitzpatrick
p.s. Lest the lead picture engender concern, rest assured that Steve always wears a helmet when the engine is running (and he always wears a face shield when turning).
It was Steve who hired me at Popular Woodworking in 1996. So if it weren’t for him, I’d still be a miserable newspaperman building furniture on my back porch. He was, in many ways, a lifesaver for me and my career.
During the 15 years we worked together, he allowed me to explore all areas of the craft I was interested in and did his best to protect us from some greedy and short-sighted executives above us.
And, quite honestly, if it weren’t for Steve, the magazine probably wouldn’t have survived its early days at F+W. He kept the lights on and the wolves at the door.
So thanks Steve; we couldn’t have done this without you.
— Christopher Schwarz
Steve taught me the importance of building a product, whether it be a piece of furniture or a magazine, with integrity. He practically coined “do first and ask permission later.” He created a more cohesive staff by holding editorial meetings on the large front porch of his Victorian, cold Sierra Nevadas on hand. It was because of him I had some of my first fine dining experiences while on business trips – while away to interview Norm Abram in Boston he introduced me to raw oysters (still not a fan). Whenever I drink out of one of my antique tea cups, or see someone wearing an L.L. Bean field coat, or prepare a salad in the handmade wooden bowl he gave to me on my wedding day, I think of him. Thank you, Steve, for being such a positive influence during my early professional years. I wish you much happiness in your retirement.
— Kara Gebhardt Uhl, PWM .
Steve built an incredible program at Popular Woodworking, with success in everything from the magazine, books and videos, to web sites and Woodworking in America. He’s also been a great resource for me since I took over as publisher. I admire his accomplishments and wish him the best.
Happy riding, Steve.
I had the privilege of starting at PW within two weeks of Steve, and for quite a while it was he and I figuring out how to make a woodworking magazine. We both had occasion to stop over the years and marvel that someone was willing to pay us to do something we enjoyed so much. In those same years, Steve proved to be a terrific boss, great team member and always a positive influence to me. I wish him the best in the next chapter, and know his influence will never be far away, even if only through what he’s taught. Thanks, Steve!
— David Thiel
I first met Steve in 1993. He was the business manager for a local cabinetmaking/furniture making shop here in Cincinnati. I was asked by one of the owners of the company to fabricate some tapered, veneered legs for a conference table; they needed this small job done quickly. I had it done in a couple of days. Steve was amazed at how quickly I had completed the job and asked if I’d come in for an interview (I was working at another company at the time). He hired me on the spot. I came to respect Steve for his ability to find clients that wanted high-end cabinetry, his forward thinking and the fact that he always kept the big picture in mind. He kept us all busy at the shop!
— Jim Stack