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Edgar T. Coene, founder and chairman of Group C Media Inc., has died at the age of 83.
A self-made publishing entrepreneur, Coene launched two national trade magazines that still lead their fields after decades of publication, Business Facilities and Today’s Facility Manager.
Coene, of Shrewsbury, NJ, died on September 17, 2013 of congestive heart failure at Monmouth Medical Center surrounded by his loving wife of 55 years, Patricia, and their three children, Susan Coene Perl, Ted Coene and Trisha Coene DeStefano, and spouses Eric Perl, Kimberley Corwen Coene and Robert DeStefano.
A U.S. Navy veteran who served during the Korean War, Coene built a thriving family business anchored by what he liked to call “the three-legged stool” of print and online publishing supplemented by unique business-to-business events. Susan Coene and Ted Coene, who rose through the ranks to become co-Presidents of their father’s enterprise, issued a joint statement vowing to continue his legacy of innovation and public service.
“We stand on the shoulders of a giant who taught us through his example that any goal can be achieved if your vision is clear, you are willing to work as hard as you can no matter the obstacles, and you treat people the way you would want them to treat you,” they said.
Throughout his career as a national business publisher focused on economic development, Ed Coene was a leading advocate of the need to rebuild America’s urban centers. He was the first publisher to join the National Council for Urban Economic Development (CUED), formed in 1967. In 1991, CUED gave Ed its top service award, citing his dedication to the revitalization of our nation’s cities. In 1999, he received the organization’s Chairman’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in Economic Development.
CUED’s 1991 citation reads: “Through his influential position as founder of Business Facilities magazine, Edgar T. Coene has played a significant and very active role in bringing the field of urban economic development to the forefront of America’s conscience.”
Ed grew up in Hastings on the Hudson, NY. Ed attended Cornell University in Ithaca, NY on a Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship and earned a degree in mechanical engineering. He was commissioned as an Ensign on June 6, 1952 and rose to the rank of Lieutenant j.g. while serving on the USS Cone, a destroyer that patrolled the coast of Korea during the war.
After he retired from the Navy, Ed took a job as an engineer and sales executive for a wholesale coal company, filling the same positions his father had previously held in the company. In 1963, he set out on his own in what would become a 50-year career as a publishing entrepreneur.
Ed launched 33, a trade publication which took its name from the SIC code for the metals, mining and metalworking industry. The success of the magazine quickly drew the attention of publishing giant McGraw-Hill, which bought 33 in 1966 and offered Ed a top publishing job in midtown Manhattan. Ed chose to be his own boss, starting a publishing company specializing in industrial buyers guides and property listings. In 1968, he launched the American Industrial Properties Report and then transformed it into Business Facilities, which in 2011 notched its 40th anniversary as a leading national monthly covering site selection and economic development.
In 1983, a year before Apple unveiled its first Macintosh, Ed’s publishing company pioneered the introduction of digital workflows for typesetting and graphics and developed proprietary software for computerized telemarketing programs.
In 1986, Susan Coene joined the company, which was rebranded as Group C Communications. The father-and-daughter team created Business Interiors, a product news magazine for corporate facility managers, and Susan became one of the first female publishers in the trade industry. Renamed Today’s Facility Manager in 1991, the magazine quickly established itself as the leading title in the facilities management sector.
The 1990s saw Group C launch a directory division, with Ted Coene joining the family business to develop a portfolio of business-to-business and tourism publications including the NJ Department of Tourism’s New Jersey Travel Guide. Ted launched the TFM trade show in 1998 and became the executive publisher of Business Facilities. He launched BF’s annual business-to-business event, LiveXchange, in 2005.
Ed remained active in the business, renamed Group C Media in 2008 and based in Tinton Falls, NJ, as Chairman Emeritus until his death.
Ed Coene had a lifelong passion for golf. He was a member of the Deal Golf and Country Club and the Orchid Island Golf and Beach Club. Ed had three holes-in-one, the last coming in 2008 at age 78 at Deal Golf Club. He also served on the board of the Red Bank YMCA.
In addition to his wife and children, Ed Coene is survived by six grandchildren: Chris Perl, Robert Coene, Thomas Coene, Carolyn Coene, Chloe DeStefano and Hailey DeStefano. He also leaves a sister, Jackie Stasiak.