Byline: Eston Ellis
NEWPORT BEACH — Teresa Ybarra McIntosh, co-publisher of Boating World Magazine, Sea Magazine, The Log Newspaper and Editor & Publisher Magazine, and co-producer of the Newport Boat Show and the Lido Yacht Expo, died Oct. 11 at her home in Newport Beach, after a short but tough battle with cancer. She was 69.
Teresa was half of a remarkably successful and long-lasting business partnership and marriage. Teresa and Duncan McIntosh were business partners for 32 years — founding the Irvine-based Duncan McIntosh Co. — and husband and wife for 26 years. They worked together, lived together and built a business together that grew far beyond anyone’s expectations, except possibly their own.
“We worked 24/7 the first couple of years — and although we were starting a brand-new publication (Waterfront Magazine, in 1979), we never had any doubt that we would succeed,” Teresa said in a 2007 interview.
She was born Feb. 8, 1942 to Frances Marchan and Jesus Cruz “Joe” Ybarra, and grew up in Chino. Her mother remarried when Teresa was about 5 years old — however, her new stepfather was not interested in raising a stepchild. Teresa was raised by her grandmother, Frosina Leal, from age 5 until her grandmother died, when Teresa was 18.
“Her grandma spoke only Spanish, and Teri translated for her wherever they went,” Duncan said. “Grandma picked strawberries for a living in the Inland Empire and took Teri into the fields with her when she wasn’t in school.
“Grandma was a very strong and powerful influence on how Teri would turn out,” Duncan said. “When the pickers were organizing, Grandma complained that those lazy good-for-nothings would now make as much as she did (she was paid by the flat) while they sat around on their butts.”
Teresa developed a strong entrepreneurial spirit as a youngster. She had a wide variety of early careers — including a job as a singing waitress at age 16, and as a bilingual ambassador guide for VIP guests at Disneyland.
She later worked for a year on a Hopi Indian reservation in the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) program, where she taught a group of second graders and instructed Hopi women about nutrition and health.
Teresa graduated from Chaffey High School in Ontario, and went on to attend Pasadena City College. After leaving the Ontario area, she lived at the YWCA while attending PCC.
She later attended Long Beach State University and the University of California, San Diego, where she earned her degree.
After college, Teresa moved to Balboa Island and worked at the Jolly Roger restaurant. She and her friend Jenny Burgess were roommates. “If you ever saw the sitcom ‘Laverne and Shirley,’ we were very much like that — two single girls on our own, having fun.
“She had a lot of struggles, but she always enjoyed the fun part of life,” Jenny recalled. “And she was very proud of her Mexican heritage.”
Teresa married Tom Trozi in 1965, and his job soon took them to Sacramento.
While there, Teresa joined Cesar Chavez in 1966 during the famous 25-day, 340-mile march from Delano to Sacramento, in support of what would become the United Farm Workers. That march to the capital generated a groundswell of national support for the rights of farm workers, and it resulted in Schenley Vineyards signing the first contract for farm workers in U.S. history.
“Her then-husband Tom had to restrain her a few times, so that she wouldn’t become part of the daily lockup,” Duncan said.
The cause was important to Teresa, because she knew from past experience what it was like to live in poverty and work hard, without having much to show for it. “She once said, ‘I really didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up — but I knew what I didn’t want to be,’” Jenny recalled.
Her memories of those impoverished surroundings and her grandmother’s example would ultimately lead Teresa to become a determined, self-reliant businesswoman.
When her first marriage ended, Teresa went into business for herself, opening a beauty shop located in a successful boutique.
“She had worked as a hairdresser at the Balboa Bay Club, before her divorce,” Jenny said.
Later, Teresa worked as a manager at Mione’s restaurant in Newport Beach. That’s where she first met Duncan, during the setup of one of the first Newport Boat Shows in the 1970s.
Duncan — who had been a sailboat dealer in Newport Beach when he decided the area needed its own boat show to promote sales for local yacht brokers and dealers — was looking for boat show office space, and restaurateur Carlo Mione offered to let the show use the office above his restaurant. “He said, ‘I’ll have my manager talk to you,’” Duncan recalled. “The manager was Teri — and she tried to talk him out of it.”
When that didn’t work, Teresa decided to prepare a detailed contract for Duncan to sign to protect the business — just in case the boat show staff caused any trouble, Duncan remembered.
That boat show was a success, Mione’s survived the show — and Teresa eventually found herself working with Duncan again.
Teresa became general manager of a local newspaper Duncan had published since 1977 — the Newporter-Mesa News. Teresa worked hard to help build the business, and one of her major accomplishments was bringing the paper’s circulation department in-house, fostering an enthusiastic team of young newspaper carriers.
Teresa and Duncan became business partners in 1979, when they created a new magazine called Waterfront, to serve the unmet needs of Southern California boating enthusiasts for in-depth local coverage. At the time, most boating publications focused on East Coast boating activities — and there was very little local coverage of powerboating and sailing, even in regional publications.
Waterfront Magazine quickly became popular with Southern California boaters — and advertisers. It became so popular, in fact, that it eventually surpassed the longtime Western boating publication Sea Magazine in popularity.
While the two partners worked tirelessly to make Waterfront a success, Teresa and Duncan soon realized they were destined for more than a working relationship. Teresa, who had long heard the story of how Duncan had owned two 1939 Ford Woodys in high school, using the parts of one to keep the other one running, managed to find and purchase one complete and running Ford Woody as an engagement gift for Duncan.
“When we went to Acapulco to get married in 1985, the plan was that we’d do it in the hotel — one of those tourist traps on the beach,” Duncan recalled. “We had spent the day walking around town and ended up on the far side of the city. Spotting a cab, we jumped in and headed back to the hotel. That fateful event introduced us to Ricardo Nava — the cab driver.
“During the ensuing conversation, we told him of our plans to wed at the hotel,” Duncan said. “He said we couldn’t do that, and we could get married at his house. We told him we couldn’t impose like that, so he said he wanted to show us a few spots that would make a nice setting for our marriage. We liked what we saw and agreed to meet the next morning outside the hotel, when he would take us to the courthouse to obtain a license.
“The next day, sure enough, he was parked out front — and we were guided through the bureaucracy of Mexico and a marriage license,” Duncan said. “The inside staircase of the courthouse was bare concrete that spiraled up several floors with no banisters or rails to keep you from falling, on each step sat two or three people patiently waiting their turn. Following Ricardo, we stepped over one person after another until we’d reached the office of the local judge. We were greeted by a lawyer who did the paperwork, introduced us to the judge and final arrangements were made.”
Their best man was Greg Steverson, who was accounting supervisor at the Duncan McIntosh Co., Duncan remembered. “And later on, the evening of the ceremony, we were joined by the families of the lawyer and the judge, and the Nava family. The entire dinner with drinks was, at most, $150. Our wedding gift from the Navas was free cab rides the next day.”
After the success of the spring Newport Boat Show, Duncan had launched an annual fall boat show — which became the Lido Yacht Expo. Over the years, in addition to the two annual expos, the company produced occasional boat shows in San Diego and Marina del Rey.
While Duncan originated the boat shows, when Teresa got involved in the boat show office, she put her own imprint on the operation of the events. Her ability to tame the chaos of a show office — where hundreds of exhibitors and show-goers seemingly all need assistance at once — with an unflappable can-do attitude and an ability to keep track of endless details proved to be exactly what the shows needed.
“Teri was one of the best problem-solvers I have ever known,” recalled Linda Yuskaitis Wiles, former editor of Waterfront and Sea Magazine, who worked for the company in the 1980s and 1990s and was present at many of the company’s boat shows. “It seemed that no matter what roadblock came up before her, she would think her way through it and come up with a solution — or, if it couldn’t really be solved, the best-case work-around. As co-owner of what was then a small business, she had to be resourceful and pragmatic, and knew how to do the most she could with what little was available as the business was growing. And because of her keen insight into human nature, strong ethics and sense of fairness, she also was able to untangle many a human resource issue, too.”
But running two successful boat shows and one successful publication proved to be just the beginning for Teresa and Duncan.
In 1985, Teresa and Duncan purchased Sea Magazine, after its publisher announced the Western boating magazine — published since 1908 — would close. They took over immediately, so that Sea readers wouldn’t miss a single issue; and they worked hard to bring the magazine back to prominence. Two years later, Waterfront was incorporated into Sea. Today, Sea Magazine has a monthly circulation estimated at more than 50,000 and is the dominant publication in its market.
In the 1990s, Teresa and Duncan went on to launch a boating industry trade magazine (Sea’s Industry West), two regional boating monthlies (Powerboats Northwest and Waterfront Southern California) and a national trailerboating magazine (Go Boating — which later merged with Boating World when the company acquired the longer-established publication in 2008).
In 2004, Teresa and Duncan purchased The Log Newspaper and refocused its coverage of Southern California boating news. And in 2010, they purchased Editor & Publisher, the 125-year-old journal of the newspaper industry, implementing new strategies to beef up its website and expand its coverage of current industry trends and success stories. From February 2010 to September 2011, Editor & Publisher’s print revenue increased 20 percent and digital revenue went up 200 percent.
As the company grew, Teresa’s own positive experiences with mentoring teachers in her childhood led Teresa to become a mentor herself, for many talented young employees who joined the Duncan McIntosh Co.
“She once told me, ‘If I had a teacher who warmed to me and took interest in me, I worked hard for them,’” said her longtime friend Karen Hagen. “‘But if they didn’t care, I didn’t either.’”
As an employer, she took the time to get to know the people who worked for her, learned what their goals were and found out what they were good at. She gave many young staff members their first big break — and they returned the favor by excelling in those new responsibilities and participating in the company’s growth as long-term employees. As a result, the Duncan McIntosh Co. today has a core staff of intensely loyal personnel — one-fifth of whom have worked for the company 15 years or more.
“I believe it is largely due to Teri’s way of running the office that many of us were willing to work during the early years in a drafty warehouse with bare bulbs, for a publication that most people outside of the boating community had never heard of,” said Linda, who is now supervisor of Internet Communications at the Salt River Project in Phoenix. “She ran a tight ship, but we were clear about what was expected. In return, we had boatloads of responsibility that we might never have been given at young ages in a larger company. The payoff of that was earned professional confidence and a broader set of knowledge, skills and abilities that have served me well in the rest of my career.
“Both Teri and Duncan worked right alongside their staff, shirtsleeves rolled up, demonstrating that we were in it together and everyone had to pull their weight,” Linda added. “This, too, was a great business lesson.”
Over the years, Teresa’s contributions to the company also included many unexpected “gifts” to the staff — including company trips to Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Las Vegas, and many memorable company parties and dinners where she planned every detail of the festivities.
“I think everyone who knew Teri saw that she was a generous soul who loved to treat her employees, friends and loved ones to special things and memorable moments,” Linda said. “Whether it was an afternoon out of the office sailing, a birthday lunch, Easter baskets for the staff, a going-away party or a Christmas lights cruise, she loved to show her appreciation and share a fun outing with the people in her life. Party and event planning was another of Teri’s natural abilities — and it could very well have been another career path for her.”
“She was very, very generous — in a quiet way,” Jenny added. Teresa was involved in supporting a variety of charitable organizations.
“She was a warm, down-to-earth friend,” Karen said. “She really valued honesty. She could be brutally honest — honest in expressing her feelings and how she saw a situation — and she wanted that from others, too.”
“I saw her really mature, from a kid who had nothing to a very gracious woman,” Jenny said. “And one of the things that showed what kind of person she was, was the strength and dignity she showed in the last weeks of her life.”
Teresa is survived by her husband, Duncan; her sisters, Melinda Ybarra Truax and Irene Ochoa; her brothers, Tony Ybarra and Eddie Marchan; 14 nieces and nephews; 18 grandnieces and grandnephews; and Duncan’s children, Scott McIntosh, Michelle Murray and Steve Banta. She is also survived by her godchildren, Melinda’s sons Matthew and Michael Truax.
A Celebration of Life is scheduled at 4 p.m. Nov. 10 at the Balboa Pavilion.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in memory of Teresa Ybarra McIntosh be made to City of Hope, 1500 E. Duarte Road, Duarte, CA 91010; (626) 256-HOPE; cityofhope.org.