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

ASI NYC: Getting Our Gotham On…

Filed under: ASI Shows, Fun, Travel

Hi Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well and getting ready for a spectacular Memorial Day weekend. Me? I’ll be in my Happy Place — Avalon, NJ (the sunny place for shady people!) — acting like a libertine heathen with the rest of my beach-going pals. Can. Not. Wait.

With the ASI NYC Show in our rear view, I’ve compiled some of my favorite pics from the festivities surrounding the three-day event. And oh my, were there festivities…  Special shout-outs to: Boundless’ Brad White, who taught me the plausible deniability involved with the use of just one word, “allegedly”; Jetline’s Megan Erber, whose lust for life is infectious; my ASI colleague Jake Krolick, who has all the virtues and vices I admire; and my beloved BFF, Polyconcept’s Michael Bernstein, who just happened to be in town and left an interesting event to come have drinks with me at 11:00 one evening. When he shines the bat light in the sky, I drop what I’m doing and go.

Read on for scads of fun photos, and see you next at Promotions East in Atlantic City from June 4-6.

— M

Here’s me and my pal, Craig Nadel, president of Counselor Top 40 distributor Jack Nadel Int’l. Craig was in town to visit JNI’s New York office and nicely invited me to dinner with him and his team. Craig is one of my oldest and closest friends in the industry. Know the “if you were stuck on a desert island, who are the three people you’d want with you” game? Craig is #2 on my list, after Polyconcept’s Michael Bernstein. Why? He’s whip-smart, hilariously funny and delightfully eccentric. First, he once bought a gorilla suit, “because everyone should have one”; Second, he is obsessed with Roombas, those battery-operated floor cleaners; Third, one year in Vegas, he taught me how to play blackjack and insisted upon using his own money to do so; and lastly, he tells me he likes being my friend because we can talk about “all the fun stuff” — the industry, politics and sex. “If you knew anything at all about sports, Michele, you’d be perfect,” he says.
My BFF, Craig Nadel, account executive David Frank and Jeff Jacobs, vice president and partner at Jack Nadel International.
The lovely Lauren Goldrich and Dan Aronesty, account execs with JNI. There was nothing about the company’s New York team that didn’t impress me. They are fan-tastic!
Lisa Danzinger (sitting), Stephanie Kraut and the fabulous John Batista, who – the next time I’m in NYC – is on my list to spend more time with. He is a hoot!
Ron Ball, ASI’s vice president of sales and my Work Husband, famously takes groups of friends and clients to dinners when he’s at a show. We call these his “Bar-Mitzvah Dinners” because they’re big, raucous and tons of fun. In New York, he took his group to Del Frisco’s. Here he is with Kathryn Cumming, with the innovative Canadian distributor Top of the Line Sportswear.
My pal Scottie Nussinow from Points of Light with Samantha Gotlieb, marketing director for iPROMOTEu.
Larry Abels, chairman of the board for Selco Watch Co.
The guests at Ron Ball’s NYC dinner at Del Frisco’s.
Kathryn Cumming and my pal Melissa Cantor, with Poly-Pak. If you don’t know Melissa, you should. She’s always smiling, always happy and always a delight. Love her!
All in One’s Shantel Strong and the always-awesome Pat Caccamo, iPROMOTEu’s senior director of business development and, as I call him, Ross Silverstein’s consigliere.
(From left): Liqui-Mark’s Josh Goodelman (“Joshy,” to his nearest and dearest) and The Fabulous Tadmor Boys – Taylor and Roee – from Tekweld.
Mary Bostwick from Delta Apparel and the illustrious Ross Silverstein, president/CEO of Counselor Top 40 distributor iPROMOTEu.
Here’s my old friend Eric Johnson, owner of Halls & Co./IDLine, or “E,” as I call him. E is my reality check at trade shows, as he always gets a chair for his booth so I can slink over and we can catch up on industry craziness.
How cool is this? Activate! Promotions & Marketing (formerly Bluegrass Promotions) held a Supplier Appreciation Party at the Hard Rock Café in Times Square, complete with open bar and hors d’oeuvres. I love this, because it’s so rare that suppliers get their due; however, I’m not surprised that the Activate folks held this event – they are class personified.
Jeff Lederer (left), president of Counselor Top 40 supplier Prime Line, with the one and only Billy Booe, vice president of business development at Activate! Billy (who puts the “Boo” in “booze”!) is like a human disco ball – add him to any party and it becomes that much more fun.
Social media guru Dana Zezzo and the perpetually-sardonic Joe Hoffman, with Jetline. Dana recently joined the company, which is lucky to have him – he is a marketing phenom!
ETS Express’ president, Sharon Eyal (left) and Fred Parker, president of Activate! At the Counselor Awards banquet, held at the famed Cipriani Midtown, Sharon was presented with the Supplier Family Business of the Year award for ETS’s phenomenal growth and stellar reputation with distributors (see his award presentation and acceptance speech here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njlKCzIH30w), and my old friend Fred Parker was lauded with the prestigious Distributor Entrepreneur of the Year award. Fred was one of the very first people I ever profiled for Counselor magazine some 15 years ago, and since we’ve met, he has always been hyper-prolific in the areas of innovation and creativity. I just adore him, his lovely wife, Amy, and his whole team at Activate! Click here to see Fred’s award presentation and acceptance speech at the Distributor Entreprenuer of the Year at this year’s Counselor banquet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sj1vBA4GInc.
Look at this group! Industry bon vivant, BIC/Norwood’s Dave Saracino, with his colleagues: the beautiful Lori Bauer (center) and respected industry veteran Eileen Lynch (what a nice surprise to see her!) at the Activate! party.
Industry legend and vice president of sales at J. Charles Crystal, Fran Ford (left), and the incredibly charming Alfred Brand, the Wizard of Oz behind the curtains at Activate! At the Counselor Awards, Fran was presented with this year’s Marvin Spike Lifetime Achievement Award. Upon the award’s announcement, Fran was greeted with a standing ovation from everyone in the place. Why? I maintain that Fran single-handedly mentored half the people in the room full of heavy-hitters. Click here to see his award presentation and acceptance speech at the Counselor banquet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCF4Y46Cgxs.
Fran Ford and CJ Schmidt, vice president of sales for Counselor Top 40 supplier Hit Promotional Products. Equal parts smart and crazy fun, CJ is one of my favorites.
CJ Schmidt and the gorgeous Jennifer Grigorian, vice president of marketing for Hit. Jenn and I marvel that we have known each other for 15 years and maintain that we were about 16 when we started in the industry. ; )
Ash City’s vice president of sales, Chris Clark (left), and Logomark’s vice president of sales, Brian Padian. I have the utmost respect for these two, because their respective bosses – Garry Hurvitz and Trevor Gnesin – are as wicked brilliant as they are characters.
Photographer extraordinaire Lyall Ashton (left), and one of my favorite ASI colleagues, Jake (“Jakey” to his pals) Krolick, creative director of our marketing department. Jake herded me out of the Activate! party and took me to a dive bar in Brooklyn, to see an awesome live band with some select industry pals (photos ahead). Spoiler Alert: There Will Be Booze.
(From left): Jetline’s Dana Zezzo and Joe Hoffman, shown here with ASI’s managing editor Joe Haley and editor-in-chief and senior vice president of professional development, Melinda Ligos.
ASI’s Joe Haley (left) and Activate’s Billy Booe. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone more extroverted than these two…
Joe Haley and Prime Line’s beloved Paula Shulman, vice president of sales.
The gregarious Fran Ford (left) and Billy Booe.
ASI’s Melinda Ligos and Counselor editor Andy Cohen. I love Andy because his sarcastic smirks and snarky comments may even exceed my own.
Activate! president Fred Parker, shown here with ASI’s Melinda Ligos and Andy Cohen.
No sleep til Brooklyn! Here’s the group Jakey Krolick put together for his foray into Brooklyn to see some live music at dive bars. Our merry little band of revelers (clockwise): Raffi Najarian with Bey-Berk International, Boundless Network’s Brad White, ASI’s Jake Krolick, Jetline’s Megan Erber, ASI’s Barry Melito and World Wide Line’s Steve Rone.
Bey-Berk’s Raffi Najarian with the effervescent Megan Erber from Jetline.
Here’s me and my girl, Megan. Backstory: We met for the first time last year at ASI’s Dallas Show, holding court at the bar at The Palm. We became fast friends, as there is nothing about this chica I don’t adore.
The night we were in Brooklyn, it was pouring rain. Did Megan care? Nope. This girl’s joie de vivre knows no bounds. She merely danced in the rain and exclaimed, “I love the taste of rain in my mouth!” Love, love, love her!
Here’s my friend Jeff Hinds from Rainkist. Isn’t he the cat’s meow?
ASI’s Joe Haley, star of The Joe Show, models a blinking fedora he found in an exhibitor’s booth – an item destined to make an appearance on The Joe Show.
Brad White (left), vice president of sales for Counselor Top 40 distributor Boundless Network, shown here with Kris Robinson, chief sustainability officer and executive vice president of Counselor Top 40 distributor PromoShop.
K-Rob & C-Rob! Kris Robinson and his stunning and charming wife, Carolyn.
Chuckles in the house!!! Here’s my pal Chuck Fandos, CEO of Gateway/CDI (left), shown here with BIC/Norwood’s Lori Bauer and my new favorite person, Tom Savio, president of Counselor Top 40 distributor Caliendo-Savio Enterprises (CSE). What. A. Pistol. At the Counselor Awards banquet held at the jaw-droppingly beautiful Cipriani Midtown, I hosted the Best Table Ever with these three, Brad White, Kris & Caroline Robinson and John & Sara Papa with John Michael Associates. Too much fun…
Dave Saracino (left) and Chuck (“Chuckles”) Fandos. If the industry has a Rat Pack, these two are Frank and Dean.
The delightful John & Sara Papa, two new friends I met at the banquet. Seated next to me at dinner, I couldn’t have asked for nicer and more interesting conversationalists.
CSE’s president Tom Savio, who accepted my offer to be a panelist at this year’s ASI Power Summit in Naples, FL (www.asicentral.com/powersummit). Can Not Wait to spend more time with him!
The Meeting of the Loudmouths (says the female loudmouth): Boundless’ Brad White (left) and ASI’s Joe Haley. These two could talk the ears off corn, as my mother would say…
(From left): CSE’s Tom Savio, Boundless’ Brad White and PromoShop’s Kris Robinson, all with their Counselor Top 40 Distributor awards.
One of my all-time favorites, Jim Hagan (left), president of Counselor Top 40 supplier Sweda, here with Gateway/CDI’s Chuck Fandos. Did you ever know someone who, by just seeing them, induces miles of smile? That’s my reaction when I’m with Jim Hagan…
(From left): BIC/Norwood’s Dave Saracino, Hit’s CJ Schmidt and Gateway/CDI’s Chuckles Fandos.
The awesome Mike Riddle, sales director at Counselor Top 40 distributor WorkflowOne, shown here with my colleague Joe Haley.
(From left): Three of the best guys in the industry, PromoShop’s Kris Robinson, Sweda’s Jim Hagan and BDA’s Jay Deutsch. A word, now, about Jay: Every time I see him, he just cracks me up and, while I’m normally the one bestowing nicknames on people, he’s got one for me: Rona Barrett. Love, love, love ya, Captain Invisible. ; )
Have you ever met the Honorable Prime Minister of Canada? Well, here’s the industry’s version, Fred Oesen, with another beloved industry veteran, Mary Sells.
The amazing and famous Cipriani on 42nd Street in Midtown Manhattan, decorated for this year’s Counselor Awards banquet.
One of the coolest and most fun chicas at ASI, Supplier Internet Sales rep Krista Taylor.
My BFF Jakey Krolick, who always looks like a rock star in his photos.
The expression on my colleague Colin Graf’s face just slays me. Colin is the director of supplier marketing at ASI, and more importantly, someone I’ve given the nickname El Diablo.
Activate!’s Fred Parker, this year’s Distributor Entrepreneur of the Year – in the best photo ever – with ASI editor-in-chief Melinda Ligos and Activate!’s Alfred Brand.
ASI’s president/CEO, Tim Andrews, sporting his jaunty ASI hat during the last hour of the show. I recently celebrated my 15th anniversary as an editor with the company and Tim sent a hand-written note to my house that was so touching, it nearly brought me to tears. Seriously.