David Rowan - David Rowan, magazine pioneer

Passing Date


David Rowan, founder of the industry’s trade publication Ski Area Management (SAM Magazine) died on Wednesday, June 8, 2005 from a rare cancer, mesothelioma.

Rowan joined Ski Magazine in 1949 as associate editor, and over the next dozen years he managed the magazine in a variety of publishing roles, based in Hanover, New Hampshire. When the magazine's owner, Bill Eldred, sold ski to Arnold Abramson's Universal Publishing & Distributing Corp., Rowan left, and with David Judson, started the National Ski Areas Association, serving as its first executive director. In conjunction with organizing the new trade association, Rowan started Ski Area Management magazine.

After the Ziff-Davis company purchased Skiing Magazine in 1964 and hired away most of the staff of Ski, Abramson rehired Rowan as associate publisher of Ski. For the next decade, Rowan ran the day to day operations of the nation's largest magazine for skiers. At the same time, he continued to publish Ski Area Management.

As SAM's publisher, David Rowan was consistently an independent voice. He was skeptical and unafraid to call a spade a spade. He was a strong voice against the huge waste of money entailed in '80s-era marketing programs. He also took a stand against the marriage of SIA and NSAA, and was proved right when the federation fractured after two years.

Rowan was a constant gadfly on the subject of illusory market research. For instance, NSGA, Nielsen and SIA have for many years touted an inflated population of skiers in the U.S. Rowan persistently pointed out that the numbers were not consistent with skier-days and ski shipments. He regularly ridiculed the inflated figures, pointing out that false high numbers attract investors to launch businesses that cannot succeed. Rowan made his magazine the only agency tracking ski area growth in the form of new lift construction through the decades.

Without the creation of SAM as the "glue" to hold its members together, the NSAA might not have grown as strongly in its early years. Rowan and the magazine helped NSAA to maintain its focus when its vendors -- the makers of lifts, snowmaking and grooming equipment -- threatened to break off and form their own trade association.

Rowan was an early founder of the International Skiing History Association, and for the past two years he served as the association's administrator, aided its fund-raising and saw the circulation of Skiing Heritage Magazine grow by 50 percent. His Beardsley Publishing Co. did the subscription fulfillment for Skiing Heritage.

David died at home in Roxbury, Conn., attended by family. He is survived by his wife Ann, who served in the 1960s as NSAA executive director, son Andrew, and by daughters Jennifer and Olivia, who today publish SAM and the equine trade magazine, Stable Management, in Woodbury, Conn.