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Lee Rector's career has always encompassed entertainment and publishing. In college he was active in theatre, and wrote plays and songs that were performed throughout the state of Missouri for the Midwest Council of Dramatic Arts. His senior year in college he worked as a cub reporter for The Kansas City Star.
In 1970, after graduating from college, Rector decided to move to "Music City USA." On his first trip to Nashville he drove into town with about $20.00 in his pocket, slept in the car and the following day he walked down Music Row (16th and 17th Avenues South) with a guitar in his hand. He showed his material to numerous publishers and kept hearing the same words of advice, "If you want to make it in this town as a songwriter, you've got to come here, live here and pay your dues."
That being what he wanted to do, he took their advice and moved to Nashville in the fall of 1970. Rector began making contacts and started working aggressively on his songwriting. At the urging of his parents, he returned to Kansas City, where in 1971 he took a job with the American Polled Hereford Association as a writer/reporter for their magazines Polled Hereford World and The Winner's Way, a magazine for 4-H and FFA youths, which he edited.
At every opportunity he returned to Nashville, and in late 1972, Rector made contact with Bob Woltering who was the general manager of Music City News(tm), a country music publication founded by entertainer Faron Young. Woltering offered Rector a job and in early 1973 he moved to Nashville to take his new position.
At MCN, Rector began writing about country music, its history, the entertainers, and the executives who ran the industry. His contacts grew wide and broad. In 1975, working with a truck driver's magazine Open Road, Rector along with Phillip Bottfeld - the original executive director of the Miss Universe Pageant - created a country music awards program "The Truck Driver's Country Music Awards." From the seeds of this program, which ran for six years, Rector, along with the then general manager of Music City News, Betty Cox, decided to take the fan-voted awards "The Music City News Popularity Poll Awards," and try to get them televised. In June of 1977, Music City News produced its first awards show with the assistance of country entertainer Vic Willis and the Association of Country Entertainers. Wills and Rector co-wrote the script for the show that Rector directed. A crude one-inch videotape was made of the performance for reference purposes only.
Later that year while walking down the hallway in the office building where MCN was located, Rector ran into a friend at the water fountain. His name was Gus Barba. Barba, a former drummer with Tom T. Hall's band, informed Rector that he was working for a television production company, Jim Owens Productions. Rector informed Barba that MCN was trying to get their awards show on television and Barba set up a meeting with Rector and Jim Owens.
Owens looked at the scratch videos of the 1977 production and said,"Yeah! I'd like to do the show."
Within days it was underway. Contracts were being drawn up and Owens staff began to work on what was renamed "The Music City News Country Awards."
The show had a successful run from 1978-2000. The affiliation with MCN was terminated in 2000 and in 2001 the show continued but in association with another publication. Subsequently, Music City News that was owned by the media conglomerate Gannett was closed, and after more than 40 years of publication, a tradition in country music had died.
In 1974, Rector wrote a book entitled The Songwriter's Handbook. He wrote the book to help individuals who came into Nashville with hopes and dreams but no direction. That same year he started ISI Publications, his company, which published the book and sold the book and other products related to helping songwriters. The company continued to operate until 1990 when it was incorporated as LM Rector Corporation. (LM Rector Corp. was dissolved in 1998.)
Rector married Mary Elizabeth Vuylsteke in January of 1984 and later that year decided to embark on a new adventure with his bride. In July of 1984 he resigned as general manager of Music City News and took a job in Monterey California with a business magazine, Small Business Report. It turned out to be a blessing and a curse. After a short time with the publication, Rector decided he was not cut out for working in this new corporate environment and he resigned.
He took a job with KOCN radio in Monterey, and about the same time started publishing a newsletter for songwriters called The Songwriter's Newsletter. It was another product of ISI Publications, which Rector operated, now with his wife, Mary.
At KOCN, Rector and the station's owner, Roger Powers, affiliated with Wrangler(r) Jeans and produced Country Music Monterey, which was produced at the same location as the Monterey Pop Festival, in conjunction with the Great Monterey Squid Festival.
In 1986 Rector and his wife moved to Los Angeles and opened an office for ISI Publications in Hollywood, as he continued to publish The Songwriter's Newsletter an began working with Longhorn Records, a mail-order record company.
Around Easter time of that year, Rector came in contact with a fellow publisher, Robert F. Welch who put out construction magazines. Welch, who was 70 years old at the time, was looking for a successor. In April of 1986, Rector began working with Welch and by December of that year, Rector and Welch had executed a purchase agreement whereby Rector bought Welch's Walls & Ceilings(tm) magazine. Although it was a trade magazine targeting the construction industry, Rector felt as though he could build the magazine and make it a great success, but his wife was about to bring their first child into the world, and he did not want to raise his children in Los Angeles. In July of 1986, Lee and Mary moved to Tampa, Florida where they set up the headquarters for their business.
In 1987 the revenues of the 50-year-old Walls & Ceilings magazine doubled and it grew exponentially in the years that followed becoming the leading publication in that industry. Also in 1987, Rector sold The Songwriter's Newsletter to Roy Haws, a man in Tyler, Texas who published the country music trade magazine Indie Bullet.
By 1989, ISI Publications was doing so well Rector decided to add another publication to the stable, and negotiated the purchase of, Design Cost Data(tm) (DCD(tm)) 32-year-old publication that was targeted to architects. Shortly after purchasing the magazine, Rector started working on developing a proprietary cost estimating software for the construction industry. In 1991 a new corporation was formed, DC&D Technologies, Inc., and the first version of D4COST(tm) software was released. D4COST became a standard in the construction industry for preliminary cost estimating in the ensuing years.
In 1993 the Rectors moved to and opened a branch office in Reno, Nevada, still headquartering operations out of Tampa.
Rector decided to sell Walls & Ceilings magazine and in July of 1996, Walls & Ceilings was taken over by Business News Publishing Co., LLC, in Michigan. Rector continued to publish DCD and to develop D4COST software.
In January of 2000, Rector sold DCD and D4COST to Barbara Castelli, who had worked for the company for almost 10 years.
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