November 30, 2016

Every industry needs a champion -- actually more than one. Flying under the radar is the quickest way for an industry to get steamrolled by public opinion, governmental interference, and just general disengagement from members of the industry itself. These five individuals have done stellar work to make sure that hasn't happened in the incentive industry.

 Denise Dornfeld, chairperson of AlliedPRA; 2016 president of SITE Foundation
 Dornfeld has helped lead the SITE Foundation's research rebirth, supporting the case for how incentive travel drives business results through SITE's educational opportunities, industry research, and industry advocacy, while collaborating with other strategic industry partners. She has led AlliedPRA to leverage new technology and a more global mindset as it works to provide its clients with "even more exquisite experiences," as she puts it." A borderless, omnipresent, client-driven partnership is, I believe, the future of the industry. This trend would be a direct result of the expediency with which social media, the Internet, and technology as a whole have allowed for information to be shared, concerns to be expressed, and problems to arise and be solved in minutes."

RECENT ACCOMPLISHMENT: Dornfeld has spent much of her career working to cultivate leaders in the industry, and this year Allied-PRA started its own Young Leaders Program and Mentorship Program.

Rick Low and Spencer Toomey are listed together because both are being recognized for their roles in the recent reorganization of the IMA.

Rick Low, vice president of special markets for Citizen Watch Company
 Low did stellar work as the IMA president when the organization faced the need to reorganize and redefine itself, following the retirement (and then passing) of its founder and longtime head, Karen Renk.

 He led an executive team that identified and hired a professional executive director, delivered meaningful research to the industry by partnering with the IRF, restructured the organization to highlight its solution providers, created an innovative international presence by reorganizing IMA Europe, and began the development of a marketing strategy that could successfully advocate the use of incentives to the business community. "It was a team effort that took the energies of many IMA leaders to implement, and I am proud to say the strategy has made the IMA the leading voice in the incentive channel," says Low. At the same time, he was also charged with relaunching and re-establishing Citizen Watch into the incentive channel.


Spencer Toomey, vice president of Revo sunglasses; immediate past president of IMA
 Immediate past president of the IMA and a driving force behind the organization's reorganization and rebirth as an industry leader.

 Aside from helping push the IMA in a stronger and more productive direction, Toomey recently launched a special markets division for the B Robinson Company, maker of Revo sunglasses as well as Izod, London Fog, Halston, and Joe's Jeans sunglasses. "From Millennials to Baby Boomers, the one thing that hasn't changed, is that people like to be recognized. Technology has brought about a variety of ways to deliver recognition, but the human factor still remains. Being recognized by your peers feels great."

Pete Mitchell, director of B-to-B sales for Samsonite and Hartmann
 Long a leader and respected voice in the Incenitve Manufacturers & Representatives Alliance (IMRA), and the merchandise segment of the incentive industry generally, Mitchell is the founder and facilitator (although he missed this year) of the 11-year-old Special Markets Dialogues, an annual event at which manufacturers and reps hold frank and friendly discussions on issues affecting them.

RECENT ACCOMPLISHMENT: With the industry "morphing at an incredible pace" as national marketing companies that hold inventory from many brands in a variety of product categories, Mitchell is proud of recent partnerships with companies like Power Sales and Gemline, as well as helping IMRA refocus on issues like its recent survey of merchandise use.

 Karen Wesloh, executive director of IMA
 The IMA continues to shape the incentive industry and provide essential services to members and end users in ways large and small. This year it launched the Incentive Engagement and Solution Providers strategic industry group to provide insights about the changing business climate (as well as actionable suggestions for what IMA members can do about them). It also created and started implementing a strategic marketing plan to promote the use of non-cash incentives. Wesloh is helping lead the IMA's efforts to expand partnerships with promotional products resellers and members related industries to understand how to incorporate incentive products into their offerings.

RECENT ACCOMPLISHMENT: The IMA recently introduced a framework to recognize regional IMA groups as chapters -- welcoming IMA Europe as its first chapter, responding to the association's growing international activity.

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