Sponsored By:
Enter your email for updates:
Counselor Senior Editor Michele Bell's slanted view of the world.

Direct from San Diego: Drinking With the Stars!

Filed under: ASI Shows, Editorial, Fun, Travel

Well, hey there everyone!

Hope you’re all getting ready for a raucous Memorial Day weekend, as I am!

Having just returned from the ASI San Diego Show, I wanted to share my slide show of fun and festivities from all the after-hours events (when I, and my degenerate ilk, really shine!). Did we have fun? You betcha! Did it take me days to recover? Hell to the Yeah! Some may leave their hearts in San Francisco, but I have no doubt my liver’s quivering somewhere in a gutter in San Diego.

Enjoy the photos of some of my favorite industry celebs, all of whom were in fine form at swanky soirees like the Counselor Top 40 banquet (and the subsequent after-party at the Hard Rock Cafe). Now, without further adieu, take a moment or two to gaze upon my prodigiously talented, profoundly insane, chronically eccentric, hurricane-force hell raisers. Love. Them. All.

Cheers and more soon!

– M

ASI San Diego 2011
At every show we attend, my editorial colleagues and I have a great dinner the night before Education Day, courtesy of our boss, Melinda Ligos, ASI’s senior vice president and the editor-in-chief. Here, we’re at The Strip Club in San Diego which — despite its name — did not have writhing women on display (though it did have lots of prints by famed artist Alberto Vargas of his WWII pinup “Varga Girls” on the wall…). Here’s ASI’s Editorial Crew (from left): Managing Editor Joan Chaykin; Managing Editor and star of “The Joe Show,” Joe Haley; Counselor Editor Andy Cohen; Senior Writer Dave Vagnoni; Advantages Editor Kathy Huston; Editor-in-Chief Melinda Ligos and Larry Basinait, the executive director of ASI’s research services.
ASI San Diego 2011
The concept behind The Strip Club restaurant? It’s a steakhouse where you pick out the cut of your meat and cook it yourself. Let me just stop you all right there. I’ve never cooked meat. Ever. Not because I’m ethically opposed to it, mind you; just ’cause I’m lazy. So, our editorial boys stepped up to the plate and cooked steaks for us chicas — and let me tell ya, they are masters behind the grill.
ASI San Diego 2011
Here’s ASI’s marketing manager extraordinaire and an industry favorite, Jake Krolick (left), shown here with his BFF Jeff Anderton, an industry consultant who owns VideoFarm.TV. Want to create the coolest videos ever for your company? Jeff is your guy (plus, he’s just the cat’s meow).
ASI San Diego 2011
Here’s Jakey (as we call him back in the Trevose home office) with The Best Event Planner Ever, Sat Mamuels (that’s his alias, as he hates to be searched out online). Sat does every special event for us here at ASI, including our yearly Power Summit and the Counselor Top 40 banquet, which was just held in San Diego. Triple-snaps and a huge “HOLLA” to him for always kicking it up a notch.
ASI San Diego 2011
While the location and venue of ASI’s annual Counselor banquet change each year, one thing that remains the same is that Damian Want, the senior vice president of Counselor Top 40 supplier Logomark, always brings me a wrist corsage, as we refer to the event as “the industry’s prom.” This year, he bought me orchids from farm that grows them specifically. This is our 2011 prom photo!
ASI San Diego 2011
Each year, I host a table at the Counselor banquet of those nearest and dearest to me. This year, I was lucky enough to have the lovely ladies from Counselor Top 40 supplier Dard Products and my pals from Counselor Top 40 distributor Jack Nadel Int’l (JNI). Here’s Michelle Michelsen, Dard’s director of sales and marketing with one of my all-time favorites, Craig Reese, senior vice president/partner, of JNI. For years I’ve called Craig “The Porkchop” because he’s so yummy. ; )
ASI San Diego 2011
One of my closest girlfriends in the industry, the lovely and talented Bonni Shevin-Sandy — who runs Dard and Dard Design — with one of my new favorite people, Anthans Zafiropoulos, the vice president of new business development and a partner at JNI. He may be one of the most gracious people I’ve met in quite some time.
ASI San Diego 2011
Industry veteran (and quite the hoot!) Stacy Horton shown here with my beloved Craig Nadel, president and scion of JNI.
ASI San Diego 2011
(From left): The always-entertaining Paul Kory, director of sales for Counselor Top 40 supplier Vantage; Ira Neaman (the Yoda of Wearables — uber-knowledgeable, he is), owner/president of Vantage; and Mark Johnson, the very charming president of Counselor Top 40 distributor EmbroidMe, at this year’s Counselor banquet, held at the Air & Space Museum in San Diego. In addition to it being a way-cool venue, guests were invited to test-pilot flight simulators and other attractions.
ASI San Diego 2011
(From left): One of my two “work husbands” at ASI (the other is Ron Ball, vice president of supplier sales and legendary industry character…), here’s Christian Brandt, executive director of ASI’s distributor services, with his pal Tipton Shonkwiler — brand director/vice president of Plan Ahead Events and vice president/director of United Franchise Group — and Rebecca Viani, the vice president of operations for Plan Ahead Events.
ASI San Diego 2011
What a fun pair! Jay Deutsch, CEO of Counselor Top 40 distributor BDA with Paula Shulman, the vice president of sales for Counselor Top 40 supplier Prime Line.
ASI San Diego 2011
How much do I adore Craig Nadel, shown here with the Counselor Top 40 award for his company (JNI had double-digit growth in 2010!)? Oh, let me count the ways. Craig is the second person I met in the industry, over 14 years ago, and we’ve stayed close ever since due to the fact — as he’s fond of telling people — that we have spirited discussions on everyone’s top three favorite topics: Politics, sex and the state of our industry. “If you knew anything at all about sports, Michele, you’d be perfect.” There are 10 people I’d walk through fire for in the industry. Craig’s in the top five.
ASI San Diego 2011
(From left): JNI’s Craig Reese, Athans Zafiropoulos, Hit Promotional Products’ CJ Schmidt, Dard’s Bonni Shevin-Sandy, Stacy Horton and Sunrise Identity’s Mitch Mounger, enjoying quality time at the Counselor Top 40 banquet.
ASI San Diego 2011
The one and only Trevor Gnesin, president of Logomark and Craig Nadel, president of Jack Nadel Int’l. — two of my favorite California-based industry celebs!
ASI San Diego 2011
CJ Schmidt, vice president of sales for Counselor Top 40 supplier Hit Promotional Products, and JNI’s Athans Zafiropoulos. A few words about CJ: I’ve just gotten to know him over the past year or so and jus think the world of him. As smart as he is fun, you have to love someone who dressed up for Halloween one year as Will Farrell’s Ron Burgundy character from Anchorman. He’s just fabulous!
ASI San Diego 2011
Have you met the guys from ETS Express? You should! They’re new to the Counselor Top 40 list of suppliers this year (their sales were up 58% from last year — way to go!) and couldn’t be happier! They do an awesome job — stop by their booth the next time you’re at a show with them and say hi! (From left): Sharon Eyal, CEO; Leeton Lee, vice president of compliance and general counsel (seriously, one of the smartest and most knowledgeable people I’ve met on the topic of product safety and compliance!); and the awesome Adam Kovar, ETS’s director of sales.
ASI San Diego 2011
(From left): Benn Chazen, sales manager for BamBams; Hit Promo’s CJ Schmidt; and JNI’s Craig Reese.
ASI San Diego 2011
Vantage Apparel’s Paul Kory and a fabulous new friend, Jerrel Bohac, operations manager of promotional marketing at Counselor Top 40 distributor WorkflowOne.
ASI San Diego 2011
(From left): Vantage’s Paul Kory; WorkflowOne’s Jerrel Bohac; Tekweld’s Roee Tadmor; and Josh (or Joshy, as those of us who love him call him!) Goodelman of Liqui-Mark.
ASI San Diego 2011
Dave Saracino, sales guru at Norwood & BIC Graphic USA, shown here with the lovely Tonia Allen Gould, owner of TAG! The Creative Source.
ASI San Diego 2011
WorkflowOne’s Jerrel Bohac, shown here with my colleague, the vivacious Candace Hershey, ASI’s executive director of supplier advocacy.
ASI San Diego 2011
Do you know Scott Pearson, vice president of product development and marketing for Counselor Top 40 supplier, Sweda? Of course you do. Everyone loves Scott, or as we call him, “Giggles,” due to his infectious laugh and gregariousness.
ASI San Diego 2011
Meet my new favorite person in the industry, Larry Cohen, president/owner of the NY-based Counselor Top 40 distributor Axis Promotions. Not only is Larry HIL-ARIOUS (I told him, with my trademark Kissinger-esque diplomacy, “I always thought you were kinda nerdy, but you’re really funny…”), but his company had 20% growth last year. Why? Due in no small part to the jaw-droppingly creative self-promotion campaigns he and his team consistently craft and send out to clients and prospects. Put Larry on your “get to know” list.
ASI San Diego 2011
Two of my absolute favorite rock stars in the industry, as graciously charming as they are take-your-breath-away fun! Memo Kahan (left), owner of Counselor Top 40 distributor PromoShop and Jim Hagan, president of Sweda. ADORE them!
ASI San Diego 2011
The first time I met Memo Kahan, owner of PromoShop, I was coming back from the beach at 6:00 a.m. in Long Beach, CA, during the SAAC Show, sandy and missing a stiletto. Four hours later, I was conducting a podcast interview with him on industry trends and he refrained from snickering at me. That was seven years ago and we’ve been friends ever since. He is, quite simply, the best.
ASI San Diego 2011
Here’s Memo, me and Chris Clark, vice president of sales for Counselor Top 40 supplier Ash City. Chris is a delight, and I am fascinated with his enigmatic boss, the apparel oracle, Garry Hurvitz. I haven’t met Garry yet, but he is on my list of “People I’m Dying to Meet.” Can. Not. Wait.
ASI San Diego 2011
Memo Kahan and CJ Schmidt, giving each other the “bromance” gaze. These boys crack me up!
ASI San Diego 2011
Vantage’s Paul Kory and industry bon vivant, Dan Townes, owner of Shepenco/Shelbyville Pencil.
ASI San Diego 2011
Shlomo Cohen, sales manager at ETS Express. Shlomo and I have known each other for years, having first met on the party circuit at the SAAC Show.
ASI San Diego 2011
(From left): The always-stunning and charming Lori Bauer, trade marketing manager with Counselor Top 40 supplier Norwood & BIC USA; Memo Kahan and Chuck (or “Chuckles,” as we call him) Fandos, CEO of Counselor Top 40 distributor Gateway/CDI — someone who always makes me giggle with delight when I see him. I’m at the bottom of the photo, looking like a little drunken Muppet.
ASI San Diego 2011
Norwood/BIC’s lovely Lori Bauer, PromoShop’s Memo Kahan and Gateway/CDI’s Chuck Fandos.
ASI San Diego 2011
Here’s me, with Lori Bauer and Memo Kahan. I look at this photo and think, “this is exactly the moment when I should have put myself to bed.” But, of course, no…
ASI San Diego 2011
Axis Promotions’ Larry Cohen (in the foreground), with Kris Robinson, vice president of PromoShop behind him. Note that something is amiss with K-Rob’s finger. If I was a betting girl (and I am) I would guess that he was doing his famed “Flaming Statue of Liberty” trick, where he dips his fingers in a shot of Sambuca, lights them on fire and raises his arm in a majestic fashion, as if to say, “Worship me, bitches.” And of course, we do. ; )
ASI San Diego 2011
(From left): Chuck Fandos, Memo Kahan and Dave Saracino. Seriously, if this industry had mayors, it would be these three. They might not make it past the confirmation hearings due to their legendary, Stones-esque reveling, but I’d vote for them.
ASI San Diego 2011
WorkflowOne’s Jerrel Bohac (left) and Hit Promo’s CJ Schmidt.
ASI San Diego 2011
My favorite publisher in the world is my boss, Rich Fairfield, ASI’s executive vice president (’cause he puts up with me like he has the patience of Job!). But my second favorite publisher is my pal, Matty Barnes (left), the publisher of Promo Marketing magazine. Matty and I talk once a week and have some laugh-out-loud conversations about the industry — he’s awesome. Here he is, with one of my oldest industry pals, Eric Johnson, owner of Halls & Co./IDLine. When I need someone to talk me off the ledge, E is a voice of reason amongst my chorus of crazy.
ASI San Diego 2011
Here’s my colleague and pal Joe Haley, ASI’s managing editor and star of The Joe Show. On this particular day, he was demonstrating a light-up glove he found on the show floor and was about to demo on The Joe Show. He moonwalked for me because I harangued him. And, after working together for 14+ years, he knows better than anyone that no one harangues like I do.
ASI San Diego 2011
Jeff Grippando, the awesome guy at the helm of Counselor Top 40 distributor WorkflowOne, shown here with my colleague Joan Chaykin, managing editor of Counselor and Advantages magazines.
ASI San Diego 2011
Some back story: After three days in stilettos, I whined like a toddler about walking anywhere. So, I made Counselor editor Andy Cohen take a rickshaw with me, from the Hilton Bayfront hotel to Petco Park (which is all of a 10 minute walk, if that), where we were seeing the Padres game with some supplier pals. As Andy correctly pointed out, as he sighed and rolled his eyes, people were walking faster than our rickshaw was moving. Meh. I loved it.
ASI San Diego 2011
My colleague Colin Graf, supplier marketing manager at ASI, put together an event in the Picnic Area at Petco Park for ASI clients. The venue was so awesome (and included barbeque and beer!) that we were literally this-close to the Padres’ pitchers in their bullpen. So nice were they that they even came over and signed autographs.
ASI San Diego 2011
Eric Johnson from Halls & Co./IDLine with Counselor editor Andy Cohen at the Padres game at Petco Park in San Diego.
ASI San Diego 2011
Andy Cohen with Jeff Sliva and Jeanna Abercrombie from Pepco Poms, who graciously sponsored the outing. It was an awesome event and big shout-out to Jeff, Jeanna and all the fine folks at Pepco!
ASI San Diego 2011
I’ve been told that when Dan Townes, owner of Shepenco, and I start drinking together, people run for cover. As I looked at this photo, taken by my friend Karen Cohen, owner of the awesome San Diego-based supplier All In One, I was reminded of that scene from Jaws where Quint and Hooper compare their aquatic injuries. If there were cartoon thought bubbles over our heads, the conversation would go something like this. Michele: “Remember that time I broke my ankle when we fell out the front door of Dick’s Last Resort in Dallas?” Dan: “Yes, m’am. Remember that time I woke up on the bathroom floor of my room in the Adam’s Mark and had tile marks on my face for half a day?” Good stuff.
ASI San Diego 2011
Here’s my other work husband (yes, I have two — what good is having one of anything?), Ron Ball, ASI’s vice president of supplier sales. He is a lunatic, and I mean that in the best possible way.
ASI San Diego 2011
This is Dan Taylor, owner of BamBams and one of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet, with Phyllis Mutnick, one of my favorite sales reps at ASI.
ASI San Diego 2011
Another industry fan favorite, Worldwide Line’s Steve Rone (left), with ASI’s Candace Hershey and Jake Krolick.
ASI San Diego 2011
Counselor editor Andy Cohen and ASI’s research superhero, Larry Basinait.
ASI San Diego 2011
(From left): Worldwide Line’s Steve Rone, Shepenco’s adorable Natalie Townes and ASI’s Jake Krolick.
ASI San Diego 2011
My Sweda BFFs! (From left): Jamie Berridy, marketing manager; a friend of Scott Pearson’s & Jim Hagan’s, who was so much fun to party with and so delightfully mischievous that he shall henceforth be known as “the Gremlin”; Scott and Jim. Love, love, love them.
ASI San Diego 2011
Graphcoline owner Jim Humphrey, me and my pal Jason Grindall from Graphco. Jason and I once spent a week traveling through the Midwest on a bus together, on an Advantages road show. I made sure the bus was stocked with beer and cocktails at the end of every show day, so we had quite the rollicking time.
ASI San Diego 2011
Here’s a new friend, Chris Barrett of ModernLine, with ASI’s associate publisher, Ed Koehler.
ASI San Diego 2011
Chris Lovell, ASI’s senior vice president, makes friends with The Padre.
ASI San Diego 2011
Dan “The Man” Townes, ASI’s Joan Chaykin and Andy Cohen.
ASI San Diego 2011
BamBams’ Ryan Person and my favorite Dans: Townes and Taylor.
ASI San Diego 2011
After the Padres game on Thursday night, my colleagues Jakey Krolick (left) and Colin Graf (a.k.a. “El Diablo”), both from ASI’s marketing department, took a bunch of suppliers and distributors with us “off the grid” to Pacific Beach. This is still fairly early in the evening…
ASI San Diego 2011
Every so often, you see a photo that absolutely captures the personality of its subject. This photo of Jakey, who — in addition to being one of ASI’s star marketers — is an awesome music critic for online publications, is him to a T… the latter-day version of Lester Bangs.
ASI San Diego 2011
My pal Colin is usually the calm and measured yin to Jake’s yang and the epitome of stoicism at work. Here, we see his alter-ego, Kyle, tearing it up on the dance floor as though he was a contestant for the Mirror Ball trophy.
ASI San Diego 2011
ASI’s sassy distributor sales rep, Meghan Bogarde, and our executive consultant for the Canadian marketplace, the legendary Freddie Oesen (or “The Prime Minister of Canada,” as I call him…).
ASI San Diego 2011
As with every good story, this one ends with someone in recovery mode on the plane ride home. Here’s one of ASI’s favorite staffers, Gene Rahill, our director of digital advertising, trying not to wince as my camera flash goes off. Gene, good boy that he is, waited until the end of the show to rage like a rock star. I tell you, he kept those sunglasses on for 10 hours straight to dull the pain. We love him here at ASI!
   

Surf’s Up in San Diego!

Filed under: ASI Shows, Editorial, Fun, Travel

Hi Everyone & Happy May!

Long time, no blog. I know… I’ve been incommunicado, off the grid and under the radar, working on deadlines for ASI’s supplier magazine that I edit, Supplier Global Resource, and writing the Person of the Year cover story for June’s Counselor (stay tuned for this year’s exciting choice). It’s nice to resurface!

So, how’s your spring and summer shaping up? I’ll be heading to San Diego — one of my favorite cities ever (due in no small part to its high concentration of hottie, long-haired surfer boys) — on May 17th for the ASI Show. Will you be there? If so, join me for one or both of the education sessions I’ll be moderating on Wednesday, May 18th.

If you’re a distributor who’s interested in learning how you can immediately increase your sales, get new clients and gain market share, please join me for my session on “The Secrets of Successful Self-Promotion Campaigns.” It’s from 11:00 a.m.-noon in room 26B of the San Diego Convention Center, and features such award-winning industry luminaries as Cliff Quicksell, Bluegrass Promotions’ Billy Booe and Counselor Top 40 distributor Boundless Network’s Brad White — all of whom will be showing examples and discussing techniques for growing your sales and client base with stellar self-promos.

How much do I love self-promo campaigns? Oh, let me count the ways. When they’re done with a modicum of time, planning and creativity, they deliver off-the-charts ROI. Check out these three examples…

Pizza Box
When Leed’s, a member of Counselor Top 40 supplier group Polyconcept North America, wanted to tout its new totes, it used a pizza theme to convey the message. The creativity wowed clients, and the company saw sales of the item skyrocket.
Rudolph Nose
When Counselor Top 40 supplier Bodek and Rhodes sent clients light-up Rudolph the Reindeer noses affixed to holiday cards with its sales reps’ photos, the apparel company saw 25% of recipients follow-up — a striking increase over past years, when only basic cards were sent.
   

Last year’s winner of the ASI Spirit Award for Best Distributor Self-Promotion Campaign was IL-based Edventure Promotions. Click here to read about his promo that garnered the company $50,000 in new business. (Check out June’s Counselor for the winners of this year’s ASI Spirit Awards for Best Self-Promotion campaigns…)

If you’re a supplier, take a break from setting up your booth to join me for my session, “What Distributors Want,” featuring key staffers from four top distributors, all sharing tips and strategies for becoming their industry partners. The session will be held from 1:30-2:30 p.m. in Session Room B, right on the show floor, and my panelists include Craig Reese, senior vice president/partner of Counselor Top 40 distributor Jack Nadel International and Todd Singleton, owner of the third-generation distributor, The Singleton Co. Inc. There’s no need to register, and snacks will be served.

Hope to see you all in San Diego from May 17-21. When I’m not moderating education sessions or walking the show floor, you can find me perched on a bar stool in the nearest surfer bar, getting my shedonism on with my hurricane-force hellraisers (Memo Kahan, Kris Robinson, Chuckles Fandos, Mark Hobbs & Nadine Panetti, Dan Townes and Jakey Krolick, I’m turning a gimlet-eyed gaze in your direction…). Come find me and I’ll buy you a cocktail! ; )

Cheers,

M