In today’s digital world, Parameter connects with customers and clients in a variety of ways. LinkedIn, Twitter, websites, emails, online advertising—all of these are vital keys to our success. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a successful company today that doesn’t have a digital presence.
But way back in the day, before the Internet and social media were part of our daily conversation, we relied on more analog, shall we say, means of reaching audiences. And that’s where Parameter’s newsletter the “Humordor” came in. Billing itself as “The best in humidity control, the worst in humor,” the Humordor shared service tips, product information and seminar announcements, among other things, in a four-page black and white format.
While the content may have varied a bit in each of those semi-annual publications, one thing remained constant: each installment included a cartoon, and often one that referenced the industry. This company was serious about its humor.
According to company president Clay Hile, his father Jack had always been a fan of humor. “He generally had several jokes to share with his customers and to embarrass his kids with,” Hile said. “Early on, he wanted to establish a newsletter but differentiate it from other less colorful documents.”
During the early days of Parameter, Jack called on his old friend, Al Casino, a graphic artist in Atlanta, and the two came up with the idea of an informative newsletter that would include humor. “My father was a big fan of the cartoons in the New Yorker magazine,” Hile said. Casino based many of the early cartoons in the Humordor on those cartoons, making slight changes in theme to give them relevance to the humidity control industry.
Later, Jack called on Clay’s cousin, Tim Zerkel, to draw cartoons and he hired a local Asheville artist to draw Parameter characters that included Jack, his son Ross, and Jack’s secretary, Anne LeVine. Those characters were utilized in several issues.
Clay began working on the Humordor in 1986, and reached out to David Cohen, the cartoonist for the Asheville Citizen-Times, to keep the tradition going. Cohen is a member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists whose work has been published nationally, often in USA Today.
As with everything, progress brings change. The advent of social media and online marketing ushered the end of the Humordor, and it published its last edition in July 2007. But no doubt, Jack Hile’s love of humor helped achieve his goal of adding a little bit of color to a potentially dry (no pun intended) publication.