In early 1975, Larry Dobbs, then a
display ad salesman for The Ledger newspaper in Lakeland,
Florida, bought a well-worn 1965 Mustang convertible from a
co-worker. That car would lead Larry down an entrepreneurial path
into the world of automotive publishing.
After refurbishing the Mustang, Larry and his wife, Judy, drove the
convertible to Atlanta, where they visited Stone Mountain Park. By
sheer coincidence, the Mustang Club of America was holding its
first-ever show at Stone Mountain, and Larry became enamored by the
fact that people were making money by selling used but usable
Mustang restoration parts. He returned home to Florida and began
scouring local wrecking yards for Mustang parts. He named his new
venture the Mustang Supply Company and began handing out
mimeographed price lists.
As regular orders started coming in, Larry began looking for other
ways to market his parts, which soon included reproductions of
Mustang decals and owners manuals. Based on his experience with
advertising at the local paper, he envisioned a monthly Mustang
advertising newsletter containing only Mustangs and Mustang parts
for sale or trade. In December 1977, Larry placed a full-page ad in
Hemmings Motor News to announce the Mustang Exchange
Letter. The first issue, published in January 1978, was mailed
to 92 subscribers.
Less than a month later, after hearing a church sermon urging
entrepreneurial young men to go for their dreams, Larry quit his job
at The Ledger, talked a banker into a $5,000 second mortgage,
and jumped into the Mustang world with both feet. A few months
later, Larry heard about a similar publication called Super Ford
Parts Exchange. Fearing confusion, Larry quickly changed the
name of his publication to Mustang Monthly.
Mustang Monthly continued as primarily as an advertising
vehicle until October 1979, when the magazine became a full-size
publication with a color cover and editorial content. In the early
1980s, Mustang Publications was formed to publish both the magazine
and books, including How to Restore Your Mustang, Mustang
Recognition Guide, and Mustang Boss 302: Ford's Trans-Am
Ponycar. Larry didn't realize it at the time, but he had created
the first niche automotive publishing company.
During the 1980s, Mustang Monthly and the Mustang hobby, also
fueled by the efforts of the Mustang Club of America, grew side by
side. Mustang Monthly provided the latest Mustang news and
restoration information, while growing Mustang parts companies were
able to reach thousands of Mustang Monthly readers. Larry's
creation was helping to fuel the hobby.
Mustang Monthly's growth during the decade was tremendous,
helping to fund new magazines like Musclecar Review and
acquisitions of magazines like Car Exchange and Super Ford.
Mustang Publications was eventually renamed Dobbs Publishing Group
and found itself competing against big-name automotive publishers
like Petersen Publishing. In fact, the larger publishers soon
launched Mustang magazines of their own.
In 1999, Larry sold Dobbs Publishing Group to Petersen Publishing in
a multi-million dollar deal. Mustang Monthly continues to
spread the Mustang word as part of Primedia.
Today, Larry is semi-retired, operating a consulting business and
teaching a Life Skills Sunday School class.