When Rick Johnson relocated to Europe from Japan in 1995 to found Automotive News Europe, the European Union was a quickly expanding free trade zone.
At the time, the bloc included 15 countries, which would grow to 28 over time. Back then, Europe had 28 different currencies as the euro would not debut until 2002.
Since the publication would be written in English it was only logical that ANE be established in London -- so that is what Rick did.
Fast forward to last month, when Rick retired after 35 memorable years with the Automotive News Group that took him from Detroit to Frankfurt to Tokyo to London and back to Detroit. ANE is still around, but what about Europe?
Sooner or later the United Kingdom will exit the EU, ending a relationship that has been troubled since the UK joined the bloc in 1973. Brexit will cost the EU its second-largest market for vehicle sales and its third biggest for car manufacturing
I first met Rick in the mid-1980s when he was covering Europe for Automotive News from Frankfurt. I was immediately impressed. He was competent, extremely knowledgeable and straight-forward. Since that meeting we have gotten along extremely well, which is not something many people can say when talking about a boss, which Rick was to me for about half of the 30 years I have been with the Automotive News Group.
We worked hard together -- really hard -- but we also had fun. That fun included trips to Modena to see and drive Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Maseratis.
We also had a great time meeting with design legends such as Giorgetto Giugiaro and Sergio Pininfarina in Turin and bonding with American designers who share our love of Italian style such as Chris Bangle and Mike Robinson.
Rick's No. 1 passion, however, was for news scoops, and I tried to make my boss as happy as I could. To be absolutely honest, he also made me as happy as possible, because he was always able to help me take my stories to the next level. The end result was always a much better story.