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Counselor Senior Editor Michele Bell's slanted view of the world.

ASI Orlando: Here Comes the Sun…

Filed under: ASI Shows, Editorial, Fun, Travel

Hi Everyone!

Despite the sketchy weather on the East Coast, I’m back from the ASI Orlando Show, where multiple records (number of distributor attendees, exhibitors, education day participants, etc.) were shattered. This proves to me that the sense of resurgence and recovery I felt at the PSI Dusseldorf Show two weeks ago wasn’t a fluke: The industry’s bad days have passed, and, as they say in NoLa, laissez les bons temps rouler! Trust me — the good times in Orlando were plentiful and memorable.

A special shout-out to my supplier panelists who shared their secrets for success (and mistakes they’ve made along the way) with their supplier peers at a free luncheon on set-up day: World Wide’s Kim Newell; Counselor Top 40 supplier Hit Promotional Products’ C.J. Schmidt (huge congrats to Hit, this year’s ASI Supplier of the Year!); MediaTree’s Rob Watson; and Shepenco’s Dan Townes — all of whom were simply spectacular!

Were you in Orlando? Post a comment below sharing your favorite moment(s)! (You’ll see some of mine in the photos below…). Couldn’t make it to the show? Meet us in two weeks for the ASI Dallas Show, where we’ll keep the good times and optimism for the industry’s success in 2011 rolling!

Cheers, and more next week!

— M

PS: If you will be at the ASI Dallas Show, check out my Education Day session on how to create effective, measurable self-promotion campaigns (Wednesday, 2/16, from 9:45-10:45 a.m.), with my superstar panelists Brad White, vice president of sales for Counselor Top 40 distributor Boundless Network, and Billy Booe, sales & self-promo guru at Bluegrass Promotions, one of Counselor‘s fastest-growing distributor companies.

Some of my fabulous ASI colleagues (from left to right): Managing Editor and star of The Joe Show, Joe Haley; Computer Support Specialist Jason Cissorsky; Manager of ESP’s Data Processing department, Sharon Pullins; Advantages‘ editor, Kathy Huston; and one of my two “work husbands” (the other is vice president of supplier sales Ron Ball!), Christian Brandt (aka, “Tigerbeat”), executive director of ASI’s Distributor Services. My second-favorite publisher (after ASI’s executive vice president and publisher, Rich Fairfield, my boss), Matty Barnes, publisher of Promo Marketing (left) and his industry BFF, Jeff Lederer, president of Counselor Top 40 supplier Prime Line.
My colleagues Phyllis Mutnick and Suzanne Rozick, ASI supplier sales reps, hosted an awesome dinner at the Palm restaurant in Orlando for their clients who were the winners and finalists of the prestigious Counselor Distributor Choice Awards. I was honored to host a table, and imagine my delight when I discovered it was me and six gregarious and hilarious men. Here, meet the very charming Tim Hanson (left), president of Ball Pro, and Kent Davis, the regional sales rep for Counselor Top 40 supplier Vantage. I couldn’t have asked for more wonderful and entertaining dinner companions. To say we were raucous is putting it mildly… ; )
After 14 years, it’s a rarity that I meet someone new in the industry whose quirky hilarity and Dionysian excess makes me giggle with delight. Pleased to meet you, Michael Moore (national sales manager for supplier Bay State Specialty Co.), hope you guess my name. Partying with you is like dancing with the devil — sinfully fun. Michael and I drank martinis and wine like it was our job.
My pal Jason Grindall (left) of Graphco Line, with whom I once did a legendary week on an Advantages roadshow (complete with a fully-stocked bar on the bus and $200 worth of fireworks… Oy. Don’t ask…), and his colleague, David Byrne — equally as cool and lots more fun, I suspect, than the Talking Heads frontman of the same name. ; )
My ASI colleague, the always-effervescent Candace Hershey, executive director of the ESP Information Team and my pal Paul Kory, director of sales for Counselor Top 40 supplier Vantage, the winner of a Distributor Choice Award for Best Decorated Apparel. Mucho kudos to Paul and his team!
As I decided to drink my dinner at the Palm, Graphco’s Jason Grindall kindly stepped in and ate my filet like Fred Flintstone with a slab of brontosaurus. Bay State Specialties’ Michael Moore, my new favorite person in the industry. Witness the sea of empties at our dinner at the Palm… From that moment on, I was entranced, intrigued and utterly enthralled by his love of excess, second only to my own. If you haven’t met Michael, take my advice: Search him out at the next show and invite him to your dinner party. His entertainment value does not disappoint and he reminds me of how Lady Caroline Lamb once described Lord Byron: “Mad, bad and dangerous to know… .” In all the good ways. ; )
Here’s my pal Paul Kory from Vantage, with the thing that used to be me — before a demon overtook my body and made my eyes look like that — downright frightening. I think I was inhabited by the ghost of Hunter S. Thompson that evening in Orlando… Ah, Mr. Bistocchi. Michael Bistocchi (left), the senior vice president of sales & marketing for Clegg Promo, and I go wayback, to the old days when we carried on like Keith & Mick. But we’re so much more mellow now. Really. We are. Swear to God. Michael’s the driving force behind Clegg’s success and its win of the Counselor Distributor Choice Award for Best Glow/Light-Up Products. Next to him is his new employee, Chris Gohl, Clegg’s southeast account manager. Isn’t he the cutest thing (asks the creepy cougar…)?
Billy Booe, sales expert and self-promotion aficionado extraordinaire with one of my favorite distributor companies, Bluegrass Promotional Marketing in Charlotte, NC, and the hilarious Kent Davis of Vantage. Some of my ASI editorial crew (from left): Andy “Captain Killjoy” Cohen, editor of Counselor; Kathy “Give me wine or give me death” Huston, editor of Advantages; and Nicole “Don’t make me impale you with my 5″ stilettos” Rollender, editor of Stitches and director of education. I couldn’t ask for better — or more delightfully kooky — colleagues.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Joe Haley, ASI’s managing editor, star of The Joe Show, and my editorial “handler.” Next time you see Joe at a trade show, buy him a drink — as his office is next to mine, he needs it! The Joe Show is now so popular, Mr. Haley was asked for autographs at the Orlando Show! Seriously. It’s a bag, it’s a pen, it’s PromoMan, ASI’s new mascot for the industry! Fans couldn’t get enough of PromoMan’s spongy muscles and sense of truth, justice and the ad specialty way.
At the Peppermint Twist event, starring music legend Joey Dee of the Starlighters, this festive couple began dancing the minute they entered the room. Love it!
Here’s my editorial girls doing the Peppermint Twist (from left): Nicole Rollender; Senior Vice President and Editor-In-Chief Melinda Ligos; and Kathy Huston.
One of my favorite people in the industry, Tim O’Boyle (“Ringo” to you and I…), who runs the Polyconcept North America company JournalBooks, which his family founded, took me, Jamie Raynor, JournalBooks’ director of sales and operations, and Scott Anderson, national sales manager of Counselor Top 40 supplier Polyconcept North America, to Christini’s, an Italian restaurant that’s an institution in Orlando. Between the amazing food and company, that meal ranks in my top five of all time.
Scott Anderson and the lovely and talented Jamie Raynor, enjoying the exquisite wine ordered by Ringo during our sumptuous dinner at Christini’s.
You had to hear it to believe how great it was, but this accordion player at Christini’s did a dead-on version of Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven. Kid. You. Not.
Scott Anderson, looking quite fetching with one of the roses the waiter at Christini’s gave Jamie Raynor and I.


The fantastic Rick French, sales manager at Polyconcept North America, upon returning from the Universal Orlando Harry Potter theme park, where the ASI Show had its gala. He loved it…