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

With a Little Help From My Friends…

Filed under: Editorial, Fun, Personal

Hi Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well and as am excited as I am about the the start of spring and — more importantly — season four of True Blood (go Team Eric!). ; )

I’ve been off the show tour and office-bound for the past few weeks (so nice!), though some editorial colleagues and I trekked to New York City last week for the prestigious Neal Awards luncheon. The Jesse H. Neal national business journalism awards are given out by American Business Media and are known as “the Pulitzers of Business Journalism.” To even be selected as a finalist is quite an honor, so imagine our delight when three of ASI’s publications — Counselor, Wearables and Supplier Global Resource — were singled out to compete for various awards.

The luncheon itself, commemorating the 57th annual Neal Awards where this year’s winners were announced, was held at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in a stunning room with jaw-dropping views of the city. Midway through the program, the category for which I was up for an award — Best News Coverage for my article on the issues surrounding sourcing product from China (see the cover image for the winning issue, below) — was announced. Much to my shock, I won the award. I’m thrilled, yes, but it bears noting that there are three reasons the article was award-worthy.

1. Melinda Ligos. As the editor-in-chief of all ASI’s publications — in addition to the huge responsibility of running our education initiatives — Melinda has the Herculean task of being my boss. When the time came for us to enter the Neal Awards, I carried on like a lunatic that “I have no time for blah-blah awards,” “Who cares if we win awards,” yap yap yap. Thankfully, Melinda cares if we win. She told me in no uncertain terms that if I didn’t make the time to enter, she’d enter for me. Only because of her persistence, patience and support was my receiving the award even possible.

2. Tim Andrews and Rich Fairfield. Imagine trying to control the wind. Now imagine trying to control the wind and stop the waves from rolling in. Then imagine that the aforementioned wind and waves hate rules and rack up rock star-sized bar bills at trade shows. That’s a little what it’s like, I would imagine, to have me as an employee. Yet these two, ASI’s president/CEO and executive vice president/publisher, do it with grace, loyalty and only intermittent eye-rolls and sporadic sighs of exasperation. I couldn’t do what I do here at ASI — for 14 years now — without their flying buttress-esque support.  

3. My supplier brain trust. Most importantly, I share this award with the nine supplier principals who graciously allowed me to interview and quote them, on a topic that wasn’t the easiest for them to discuss. The impetus of this article was my friend David Nicholson, president of Counselor Top 40 supplier Polyconcept North America, who reached out to me and explained — in painstaking detail — what was going on last year in Asia (factory closings, employment shortages, shipping delays) and the monumental impact it would have on the industry. “Would you be willing to go on the record,” I asked, “and explain how these issues are negatively affecting Leed’s and the industry?” Not something the head of any company would relish. You know what? He didn’t hesitate.

Getting my other supplier friends to dissect the troubling issues was equally as easy. In addition to David, Dard’s Bonni Shevin-Sandy, SanMar’s Marty Lott, Gemline’s Jonathan Isaacson, Impex’s Randy Chen, Logomark’s Trevor Gnesin, Sweda’s Jim Hagan, Ash City’s Garry Hurvitz and Prime Line’s Jeff Lederer took the time to tell me exactly what was happening and how it would impact different aspects of the ad specialty supply chain. It wasn’t pretty, but they didn’t waver and not once did I hear, “This is off the record.” Click here to read the article.

Only because of their openness, forthrightness and trust was I able to tell their story. To them I say a heartfelt thank you.

Some members of the senior management team at ASI (from left): Rich Fairfield, executive vice president/publisher; Melinda Ligos, senior vice president and editor-in-chief of ASI’s publications; and Tim Andrews, president/CEO. It meant the world to me that all three of them attended the Neal Awards luncheon at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in New York City. Here are some of my awesome editorial colleagues who were also nominated for Neal Awards (from left): Andy Cohen, editor of Counselor, who was nominated for Counselor’s 2010 State of the Industry issue; Dave Vagnoni, senior writer for Counselor and editorial Swiss Army knife (he does it all!), who was a critical player in the creation of Counselor’s 2010 State of the Industry issue; and C.J. Mittica (“Chaz,” as we call him here in Trevose), the editor of Wearables magazine, who was nominated for a Neal Award for his awesome article “From Seed to Shirt“, for which he went to Honduras and worked in the cotton fields (seriously!), following the contruction of a T-shirt from start to finish. I’m so proud of these boys!
Shown here with Chaz is Larry Basinait, The Statistics God here at ASI. Larry (the “Basinaitor,” as we call him) oversees all our surveys, statistical data, focus groups and research for articles and market studies. He is our favorite numbers wonk and we’d be lost without him! Rich Fairfield (left) and Tim Andrews, shown here with the Neal Award for Best News Coverage given to ASI’s Supplier Global Resource magazine for my article titled, “Asia’s Seismic Shift,” which deals with the multitude of issues that were happening last year, primarily in China, that affected the ad specialty industry.

Cheers, and more soon!

— M