Consumers Union’s Gold Standard
By Jim Calder
There is the kind of loyalty that keeps an employee at a company for a decade or two, maybe even three. And then there is the kind of loyalty that is exemplified by 2007 Hall of Fame inductee Louis Milani. For 53 years, Milani has worked for one company: Consumers Union (CU)—the Yonkers, N.Y.-based nonprofit organization that publishes Consumer Reports magazine (circulation approximately 4.3 million), two newsletters, books and other special-interest publications.
Today, Milani is senior director, publishing operations and business affairs, overseeing paper, print, fulfillment and logistics partnerships for CU’s information products, mainly Consumer Reports. And after more than half a century with the company, Milani’s optimism and approach to business continue to inspire his colleagues and peers in the industry.
“Lou is one of the wisest people I know,” says Meta Brophy, director of publishing operations, CU. “I learn something valuable from every conversation we have.” Brophy has known Milani since 1985 and has reported to him directly since 1994.
“I think Lou’s genuine, consistent, egalitarian, smart and optimistic approach to business, and toward colleagues and vendors, has been the example to emulate long before companies had to create documents instructing staff on how to behave,” she continues. “He is our gold standard.”
Milani joined the staff of CU in February 1955. It was his first full-time job after completing high school (Milani later went to college at night) and then serving in the U.S. Army, including two years in Korea.
“You know, it doesn’t seem that long, but, of course, when you start thinking about how things were [back then], it seems ancient,” Milani says. He explains that the only product the company had when he came on board was Consumer Reports magazine, which had a circulation of approximately 400,000 at that time.