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The Michigan Snowmobile Association,Michigan Snowmobiler magazine

How the Magazine Got Started

As most of our readers know by now, over the summer the magazine was sold. I wanted to give a little insite on the beginning of the magazine and the 3 couples that have ran it over the 53 years. Marshall and Wilma Sayles, Lyle and Nancy Shipe and Patti and Bill Tisron.

This article was written by Wilma Sayles in 1990.

How Michigan Snowmobiler Started

It was a cold mid-winter day, January or February 1967, when the idea for Michigan Snowmobiler magazine was born. The Michigan Snowmobile Association (MSA) at the time was about a year old and was holding a safari in the Jordan Valley very near East Jordan, where we published a weekly town newspaper. My husband, Marshall Sayles, was an excellent newspaperman with a “nose” for news. This “new” sport of snowmobiling excited him.

He attended the safari with Tom Galmore, a member of the association and a Ski-Doo dealer in East Jordan, Ken and Myra Crawford, both avid snowmobilers, and Basil Crawford, Ken’s dad. There was a big bonfire, food, drinks and conversation.

At one point, Marshall was talking to John Fulbright, state distributor for Sno-Jet snowmobiles out of Rockford, Michigan. John was lamenting the fact that there was no statewide medium for advertising and the idea clicked into place in Marshall’s mind.

The Michigan Snowmobile Association,Michigan Snowmobiler magazine
Marshall and Wilma Sayles

He started to talk to MSA people and attend their meetings. There were Jean and Jerry Payne of Traverse City, John Apfel of Bellaire, Ray Frieberg of Marquette and many, many others.

He came into the office one evening when he was dead tired, explained the whole idea and asked, “What do you think?” I said, “Go,” without hesitation. And off he went.

We had a building, the equipment and the staff. Nancy Shipe was in this from the word go. She was working with us at the town newspaper and agreed to stay on. Lyle Shipe joined the staff later. We made up a sample copy and Marshall spent the summer going from dealer to dealer, meeting to meeting. Leslie “Red” Sheridan joined us for a while and was a stockholder.

We sold the weekly, East Jordan News Herald, to Gregg Smith of Boyne City in late summer and the first issue of the Michigan Snowmobiler was published in October 1967.

Marshall and I were both active in the business until his heart attack in 1971 slowed us down. Lyle and Nancy Shipe were then carrying the ball. Their daughter, Patti, joined them, and they have been doing an excellent job ever since.

The Michigan Snowmobile Association,Michigan Snowmobiler magazine
Lyle and Nancy shipe Grand Marshall of the Sno-Blast parade in East Jordan.
The Michigan Snowmobile Association,Michigan Snowmobiler magazine
Lyle Shipe covering the I-500 back in the day.
The Michigan Snowmobile Association,Michigan Snowmobiler magazine
Nancy Shipe riding over the Big Mack.

It is rare in the publishing business for a new publication to last more than a year or two. We are now in our 22nd year and looking forward to the 23rd.

Marshall has been always interested, always involved. At the time of his fourth and last heart attack on Jan. 9, 1990, he was still president of Michigan Snowmobiler magazine, and he had had a lengthy and avid conversation with Lyle the previous evening. He was so proud of that magazine. He had every right to be.

So, that was the start of the magazine. Marshall and Wilma Sayles began this great magazine more than 53 years ago. I believe he hoped for it to continue for this long, but I bet he never believed it would last and still be going strong.

Marshall knew he could get stories for the magazine because East Jordan was right in the middle of snow country. Covering racing, riding and snow events, which wasn’t as many as today, but starting out his first issue in November 1967 with only 28 pages. The magazine has been as small as 20 pages and as big as 108 pages.

Lyle Shipe, Nancy’s husband, was in between jobs and was asked to travel around the state selling advertising for the new magazine. As Lyle tells it, he was given $5 a day for meals and mileage was determined by the ad sales. He would sell ads and make them up on a napkin, if that was all he had, and bring it back to the office. He did most of the ad sales for the next few years until 1974, when Marshall had his first heart attack. Lyle took on more of the day-to-day duties after that. In 1977, Lyle became editor. In 1980, Lyle became editor and publisher and then, along with his wife Nancy, took over ownership. Marshall passed away in 1990, and Wilma stayed in touch with the magazine from her home.

Things stayed the same, for the most part, by staying with the logo and ideas Marshall had for the magazine, covering snowmobiling in the great state of Michigan. More writers and ad salespeople were brought on to help with the growing magazine.

The Michigan Snowmobile Association,Michigan Snowmobiler magazine
Patti and Bill Tisron
The Michigan Snowmobile Association,Michigan Snowmobiler magazine
Patti riding in 2012.
The Michigan Snowmobile Association,Michigan Snowmobiler magazine
Patti and Bill riding out west

In 1975, Patti Shipe, Lyle and Nancy’s daughter, joined the staff as part-time office help. Learning about the magazine and the ever-changing technology that happened in the next 30 years, Patti stayed on to learn how to do the layout and design when computers were brought into the office and things really started to change. Some things were easier and some things not so much.

The office moved from its Main Street location to the basement of Lyle and Nancy house, where they ran it until 2006, when it moved back downtown to a location off Main Street.

In 2003, Bill Tisron, Patti’s husband, joined the staff and became an ad salesman to help out Lyle. He started writing stories and learning about the snowmobile magazine business, which he had been involved with over the years because he was family. Lyle and Nancy started to step back and enjoy the golden years, but came into the office at least a couple of times a week.

Patti and Bill took over all the responsibilities of running the magazine the past few years after the passing of both Nancy and Lyle in 2017. From going to festivals and some kiddy races, going to snow shows and meetings, we did it all. With help from our writers and supporters, we were able to keep the magazine going, as Marshall always dreamed.

As a new season begins, we look forward to seeing the magazine grow under the new leadership of Farago & Associates and Scott Drzewiecki. Farago is also a family-owned business and they have some wonderful ideas to keep this magazine going, hopefully for another 53 years.

Thanks for all the great years. Snowmobiling is a great sport that has changed in so many ways over the years and that has been wonderful to see.

Patti and Bill Tisron

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