by Vincent Alonzo | August 06, 2018
At the Incentive Marketing Association's annual IMA Summit, held at the end of July in Newport Beach, Calif., the more than 350 attendees helped celebrate great programs, great accomplishments and great careers. Among the honors bestowed were Circle of Excellence awards, the Karen Renk Fellowship Award and IMA President's Award Recipients and inductions of new members of the industry Hall of Fame. Here's a look at the honorees. 

Circle of Excellence Awards
The IMA Circle of Excellence Awards recognize development and delivery of outstanding non‐cash incentive programs that motivate employees and win customers. 

"The IMA's Circle of Excellence Awards are more important than ever because they recognize the successful programs we all want to learn from," said Mike Landry, CPIM, Circle of Excellence chair and vice president of special markets for Tumi. The winners were:

Employee Incentive Program 
Winner: CILOYALTY with Mercedes‐Benz Australia/Pacific
CILOYALTY worked with Mercedes‐Benz Australia/Pacific to develop a program to recognize and reward service excellence. The "Star Rewards" program incorporates all incentive programs and job roles across Mercedes‐Benz passenger car and van dealerships, including opportunities for incentive travel to Mexico and South Africa.

An innovative technological solution and seamless user experience for over 1,500 users from six business units was achieved with an average of 76 percent of eligible participants enrolled in the program.

Winner: CILOYALTY with Sanofi Consumer Healthcare
CILOYALTY worked with Sanofi Consumer Healthcare to increase engagement with its "Nosy Club" program, an education‐based recognition and reward program for selected Australian and New Zealand pharmacy assistants. 

In 2017, the Nosy Club platform delivered on all business objectives with a 21 percent increase in active users and a 54 percent increase in module completion and an overall improved user experience.

Dealer Distributor, Sales Incentive and A/B Testing 
   Winner: HMI Performance Incentives with Transtar Industries Inc.
HMI Performance Incentives helped Transtar Industries Inc., which serves thousands of resellers worldwide, to create a platform to engage and motivate shop owners with a goal of increasing sales by 10 percent over six months. 

The program exceeded all goals with results of 1) more than twice the original sales goal, 2) accounts on track to hit their goals grew by 37 percent year over year, 3) incremental sales of those who reached goal exceeded expectations and 4) return on investment of 584 percent.

Consumer Offer/Branding Program/Customer Loyalty 
Winner: Motivforce Marketing & Incentives with Celebrity Cruises
Motivforce Marketing & Incentives helped Celebrity Cruises stand out in a highly competitive B2B distribution channel where travel agents are bombarded with incentives to sell alternative holiday or cruise products. 

In 2017, the Celebrity Rewards program exceeded Celebrity Cruises' ambitious targets by engaging 8,976 agents in the USA/Canada and 12,683 in UK/Ireland and is critically driving a new record for revenue growth and bookings for Celebrity Cruises in these markets.     

Karen Renk Fellowship Award
The IMA ion honored Michelle M. Smith, CPIM, CRP, incentive industry author, speaker and strategist, with the Karen Renk Fellowship Award (pictured above receiving the award from Tom Renk). The prestigious award was established in 2014 to honor Renk, who served as the IMA executive director for its first 14 years. 

"Michelle's impact on the IMA to a global audience cannot be understated. No one individual, through her passion for our industry, has spoken to more people and organizations about what the IMA stands for than Michelle," said Cindy Mielke, CPIM, vice president sales and marketing operations, GC Incentives, a division of 

Upon receiving the honor, Smith said that, "I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to Karen Renk and the IMA, who taught me (and so many others) that we could shape the marketplace and our own careers. Karen and my fellow IMA colleagues have given greater meaning and consequence to my work, and I'm grateful and proud to have played a role in the discussions and initiatives that have helped guide this industry's destiny." 

2018 IMA President's Award
Tom Niedbalksi, vice president of global partnerships and sales, First Data Corporation, was honored with the 2018 IMA President's Award, given to individuals who have actively furthered IMA's mission to create a greater awareness of incentives, help incentive suppliers prosper in a changing business environment through education, training, research and marketing; and through their example, promote high standards of professionalism in the incentive field.

During his nearly 30 years in the industry, Niedbalksi served as a resource for many who have relied on his deep knowledge of the world of electronic transactions. He is known for being an innovator, advocate, and expert for all things gift cards. Niedbalksi had the early vision to disrupt stored value and began the conversion process from paper certificates to plastic gift cards. He was also on the forefront of the disruption curve again when he started Transaction Wireless and began digitalizing gift cards for mobile redemption.

IMA Hall of Fame
The IMA recognized 10 longtime industry leaders who created associations, helped bring incentive products to market, educated numerous incentive professionals and contributed in many other significant ways, by inducting them into the IMA Hall of Fame. 

Larry Bell (posthumously), was active in the incentive industry for 35 years as a magazine publisher, author, event‐adviser and association founder. Bell is credited for his foresight in helping to create associations that would lend cohesiveness to the players in the industry. As a consultant he was involved in various aspects of education that helped everyone learn more about the use of incentives. 

Pete Erickson, owner and president, Hall‐Erickson, Inc., is known for his advancement and support of the incentive industry. Hall‐Erickson produced and managed the Motivation Show, the largest exhibition and educational event in the industry. The show encompassed merchandise, travel, gift card, experiential awards and promotional products exhibitors. 

Jon Hanson, CPIM, founder, RepLinkTM/The DataDirect Group, has made a difference in the premium and incentive marketplace for 33 years. RepLink, introduced in 1993 and now on version 8.0, has made it easier for new suppliers to enter the marketplace and for reseller customers to buy their merchandise from qualified incentive suppliers. 

Barb Hendrickson, CPIM, president, Visible Communications LLC, has been active in the incentive industry for over 30 years. Hendrickson has long been the steward of education and curriculums that serve as the knowledge base for the incentive industry. She developed, helped revise, and currently facilitates the study session on the curriculum for the Principles of Results‐Based Incentive Program Design. 

Howard Henry, was a driving force in creating a stronger, unified voice for the incentive industry. For over 40 years he served as executive director of National Premium Sales Executives, later known as the Association of Incentive Marketing, and finally as the Incentive Marketing Association. He also co‐founded the Incentive Federation and served as its executive director for 25 years. 

Norma Jean Knollenberg, CPIM, accomplished many "firsts." From her involvement in National Premium Sales Executives as the first female president of the organization, to her valuable presence on the steering committee to form the IMA, Knollenberg has always been at the forefront of the industry. She was the first manufacturer president of (IMRA) and the first representative of the incentive marketplace to serve on the board of directors of Promotional Products Association International. 

George Meredith (posthumously) was an incentive industry editor, author and association executive for more than 50 years. Meredith began his editorial career with Premium Practice, now Incentive. He wrote a foundational book, Effective Merchandising with Premiums, and co‐authored Incentives in Marketing

Walt Tabor (posthumously) was the publisher for Premium Incentive Business for many years. He was known for his dedication to the incentive industry and his support of industry associations. Tabor mentored many industry professionals. Before he passed away he created an Incentive Manufacturers & Representatives Alliance scholarship for children of IMRA members.

Spencer Toomey, CPIM, has been an industry leader, serving on association boards and leading organizations such as the Premium Marketing Club and Sales Executives Clubs in his home state of New York as well as IMRA and the IMA. While guiding IMRA through the transition of becoming part of the IMA, he served two terms as president. While serving as IMA president, he led the organization through a change to a new association management company. 

Michelle M. Smith, CPIM, CRP, consultant/speaker has worked in every facet of the incentive and recognition industry. She is a president emeritus of the IMA Board of directors and she was active in several IMA Strategic Industry Groups and supported their transition into the current SIG, the Incentive & Engagement Solution Providers and served on the IESP board.