Sam Dixon, a longtime editor of Jobber News Magazine and noted personality of the Canadian automotive aftermarket, has died at the age of 78.
Dixon began his publishing career during high school, as a sports writer in British Columbia. Following distinguished service in the Royal Canadian Air Force, he continued to work in the media as a reporter for the Vancouver Sun.
He first began to work in earnest with the automotive aftermarket when, in 1957, the New Westminster, B.C. native helped to form the publishing arm of the Automotive Retailers Association of B.C. to produce Automotive Retailer Magazine. In 1962 he moved to Toronto and joined Wadham Publications Limited in Toronto, publishers of Jobber News Magazine, Bodyshop Magazine and Service Station & Garage Management.
He joined Wadham as editor of Automotive Service in Canada, which was to become Service Station & Garage Management, and became a partner in the company in 1965. He took over as editor of Jobber News Magazine in June 1969 and, after many years at the helm, wrote his last editorial in 1982, when he took over as president.
Dixon retired from the company in 1986 following its sale to Southam Communications, now known as The Business Information Group.
In his years with Wadham, he became a fixture of the automotive aftermarket, being rewarded for his work with the industry and its associations with the presentation of the Automotive Industries Association of Canada’s Distinguished Service Award in 1981.
He was a profound believer in the industry, so much so that he encouraged his family to become in involved in the jobbing trade. Today, Bruce and Bill Dixon and Barry Borovoy are partners in B & B Dixon Automotive, a Uni-Select associate in Newmarket, Ont.
“One thing that he always said was that he had been in business for 40 years and that he had loved every minute,” remembers his son Bruce Dixon. “A lot of that had to do with the quality of the people and the strong character of the jobbers as a whole. He said that strength of the industry was equivalent to the strength of the people in it. He was always a people person; that was his strength.”
Dixon said that his father was as astute with figures and people as he was with words, a fact remembered by longtime colleague Herschel Fenik, currently vice-president, publishing, the Business Information Group, publishers of Jobber News and other automotive publications.
“He always told me to be upfront with people, that it was best to deal with situations immediately and frankly. That advice has served both me and others well over the years.
“He always tried to simplify issues, boil them down to their core. One of his favorite sayings was ‘What’s the bottom line?'”
“It was hard to fill his shoes,” said Bob Blans, who took over as editor of Jobber News following Dixon’s move into the president’s chair. “I worked with him for a number of years. He taught me well.”
“He was very much a man of his times,” says Bruce Dixon. “I think my dad brought an effervescence to the industry. I still think that is something that is missed.”
Sam Dixon was also a spiritual man and practicing deacon in the Roman Catholic church, among other capacities with church and community organizations.
He is survived by wife Mary Pearl, sons and daughters-in-law Bruce and Nancy, Bill and Mark and Karen, and numerous nieces, nephews, grand- and great-grandchildren.