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Meet the Founder of Executive Magazine’s 40th Anniversary

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Rachel Smart, Darrel Paterson, Bob Dalgarno and Alison Barron. Photo: Callum Mackay.

It’s 1982. The year the Kessock Bridge was built, the birth of MFR, the launch of Channel 4 and the release of Come on Eileen – still a banger.

However, for us, 1982 is the most significant as it was the year Executive was first published.

Four decades ago, Bob Dalgarno and his business partner Adam Simpson saw a gap in the market for a business-to-business magazine in the north of Scotland. So they started what was then called Moray Firth Executive.

Starting from humble beginnings with their offices in closets in each of their homes, Bob and Adam were the infomercial team, reporter and photographer for the first magazine of its kind in the region.

The current management team (Darrel and Rachel) had the privilege of speaking with the founder, Bob, alongside Alison Barron, who worked in advertising for the publication from 2002 to 2008. Alison still works for Highland News and Media today.

Sitting in the Drumossie Hotel conference room, we quickly began discussing the reason for launching what is still a sought-after magazine today.

PART 1

Starting the conversation, Bob said: “Part of the motivation was to be independent, but also because we decided there was space for a business magazine in the north of Scotland.

“There was Scottish Business Insider at that time, but it was central, so we felt there was an opportunity to serve the business community in the north of Scotland.”

The process of launching Executive was not an easy task and like any other successful business person, they encountered challenges along the way.

“There were hiccups along the way and it wasn’t easy,” Bob said.

“We didn’t have a lot of money and we were both guys with young families.

“We started in a closet in one of our homes, and the ad was in the closet in one of the others. It was humble beginnings, but we were striving to produce a professional magazine for business-to-business advertising.

“We saw this as an opportunity.

“The budget was low, so we were writing it and my colleague Adam was doing photography.

“We would go out together as a joint journalism and photography team – which we weren’t ready to do,” he joked.

“In the meantime, we have sold advertising space.

“We had the support of our families who helped with the writing and so on.”

After encountering financial difficulties, Bob and his team

were grateful when Highland News came along and bought the magazine.

Executive magazines in front
Executive magazines in front of “40” balloons. Pictured: James Mackenzie.

Failing in business isn’t always bad, and it’s often the lessons of this process that propel people into new avenues. It’s how you get up after a fall that matters most.

“We ran out of money with Moray Firth Executive, but Highland News Group came along and we found a way to solve that problem,” Bob said.

“The entrepreneurial spirit took hold again and we said to ourselves, ‘Let’s try again’.”

“If you’re young, self-employed and starting a business, you’ll stumble a few times.

“You just have to keep trying and it works.”

Bob has seen many Highland

and businesses in Moray have grown over the past four decades and fondly remember the construction of the Kessock Bridge.

He said: “I remember when the Goodyear airship came.

“Adam and I took a flight and I still have pictures of the unfinished Kessock Bridge.

A dramatic image showing the south side of the bridge extending towards the black island.
A dramatic image showing the south side of the bridge extending towards the black island.

“There was also a lot of interest in the oil industry at the time.

“Many of the small businesses we visited back then are the big ones here today.”

“The business world has changed, but we have seen many of them set up, grow and build from the beginning.”

Alison Barron, talked about the biggest changes she has seen in the past 20 years as technological developments have changed the way business is done today.

PART 2

She said: “It was a long time ago, but there have been massive changes over the last 20 years, especially with modern technology.

“What I see as the biggest change is finding people’s time.

“Everyone is so busy now. You could go see people before, whereas now there is less time to build relationships.

“Communication is now at your fingertips, with email being the fastest way to do business.

“You have to go through an email process before you can talk to someone now.”

With the changes, Executive Magazine can now produce advertisements for clients and email them for approval. That was not the story 20 years ago.

Alison said: “Back then, when creating ads for a client, we would do ads internally and then get in a car and show it to clients.

“We would have the whole magazine laid out on panels at our printing site on Henderson Road and it would be signed that way.”

Now we can do it digitally and edits can be made until the deadline.

Speaking about the transition to digital, we can now advertise for businesses across our various Highland News and Media platforms, Alison said: “When I talk to customers now, I can offer them the range of our newspaper titles , as well as our websites.

“We’ve been able to expand our geographic reach so companies can elevate their platforms.”

Darrel spoke about Executive Magazine’s latest digital transformation: “You can now subscribe online and receive the magazine straight to your inbox every second Tuesday of the month.

“We’ve also included it in our Highland News and Media app, where you can access all of our headlines.”

Bob commented on what it means to him to see Executive Magazine thriving today, 40 years after its initial launch. He said: “It’s a pleasure to see him now.

“When Darrel got in touch and said it had been 40 years, I had to pinch myself.”

Our plans for Executive Magazine remain the same. Continue to provide a relevant and up-to-date platform for business-to-business communication.

We’re also creating more video content, including sit-down interviews and company insight that will keep people inside the story.

We want to make sure your story is told in a meaningful and relevant way, so others know where to go, when they need you.

The person behind the business is what others invest in and connect with.

So let’s raise a glass to the last 40 years of Executive Magazine, and the next 40 to come!

40 years of management
40 years of management
Executive
Executive
Bob Dalgarno, Alison Barron, Rachel Smart and Darrel Paterson.  Photo: Callum Mackay.
Bob Dalgarno, Alison Barron, Rachel Smart and Darrel Paterson. Photo: Callum Mackay.

If you would like to have your story featured in Executive Magazine and showcase your business across the region, contact Darrel at [email protected] or Rachel at [email protected]

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