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

“Up Close & Promotional” at Shumsky’s Client Show

Filed under: Fun, Personal, Travel

Hi Everyone!

I know, I know. One week I’m in New Orleans, the next in London, the next Dayton, OH. For sure, my travel schedule can get crazy but one of my favorite things as an editor in the industry is getting out to meet new people and spending time with old friends. (Aside: My colleague Joe Haley, ASI’s managing editor and star of The Joe Show, doesn’t think I travel enough. “It’s so blissfully quiet when you’re not here,” he says.) I got to do both at the “Up Close and Promotional” client event hosted by the distributor Shumsky, held last week in Dayton.

Believe it or not, after 15+ years covering the industry for ASI’s magazines, I had never been to a distributor event before. Supplier events? Tons of them. But this is the one of the few invitations one of our editors has received to cover an event like this, so I jumped at the chance. My take? It was phenomenal, on a multitude of levels. From the top-notch supplier participation, to the level of engagement from the clients, to the Shumsky team’s attention to detail, creativity and organizational skills, I loved it. And to take a page from the event’s theme, “Add Some Color to Your Brand,” color me wowed.

“I am so impressed with our team with the execution of this very unique event — the amount of work involved and the detail around it is immense,” says Mike Emoff, owner of Shumsky. “Over the past three years, this event format has been fine-tuned and will continue to be so. Proudly, our supplier partners overwhelmingly feel this is the premier client-facing event in the country today. Our format could not be effective without the trust that we’ve built with our preferred partner suppliers. They were truly superstars and an extra heartfelt thank you goes out to them for their hard work and dedication to our organization.”

Scroll below for lots of great photos from the event, and descriptions of the cast of characters and bon vivants.

Finally, a big thanks to the fine folks at Shumsky for making me feel so welcome, and to all the great people I met in Dayton. Some may think “Cleveland Rocks,” but my money’s on you guys.


— M

So on the ball is the Shumsky team that a gift basket, filled with gourmet candy and wine from Ohio-based manufacturers, was in my room waiting for me and other out-of-town guests. Love the colored ribbon that tied in with their event theme, and the fact that each key staffer personally signed the card in colored ink.  
Lorie Woods (left), Shumsky’s off-the-charts talented director of marketing, shown here at the Dublin Pub in the trendy Oregon District of Dayton with Jill Albers, Shumsky’s business development executive. Jilly Albers and Cory Schroepfer, president of Bridge Marketing Services (the St. Louis-based multiline rep firm that handles Mid-Nite Snax, Gordon Sinclair, Spector and Co., ProTowels, Visions/Awardcraft, Jetline and Pioneer Balloon), outside one bar in Dayton’s Oregon District,where they had fire pits for smoked barbecue snacks. Consequently, my hair and fur coat smelled like a pulled pork sandwich for the next eight hours.
One of the stops on our bar crawl featured a band with one of the best lead singers — the charming chanteuseshown here with Jilly and Cory — I’ve heard in quite some time. Unfortunately, because it was a Tuesday night, there were only three people in the bar to hear her. She was sensational and belted out a version of Guns N Roses “Paradise City” that would have shamed Axl Rose himself. Here’s Cory and Jilly doing shots of Cherry Bombs from plastic syringes at a place called the Tumbleweed Connection. A word about Cory: Sometimes, when Jilly, me and our pals (sadly MIA on this trip) Sharon Biernat and Natalie Townes tear up the town like the wrecking crew we are, we have a habit of kidnapping an unsuspecting victim to join our mayhem (I know… Try to suppress your shock). At the ASI Chicago Show last July, it was Boundless’s Brad White; this time around, Cory’s number was up. Let me state unequivocally: He was a trooper.
Let me ‘fess up: My name is Michele and I’m a dive bar-aholic. Love, love, LOVE them. In this particular one in Dayton, which had all the cosmopolitan panache of your great-grandpop’s VFW Hall, Cory took it upon himself to prevent the low-hanging fiberglass insulation from collapsing on our heads. And, more critically, in our drinks. Jilly and I, out on the town in Dayton. Jilly and I have been friends now for over eight years, having first met at a piano bar in Dallas during an industry show. We’ve been besties ever since. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t have a sister, but if I did, it’d be Jilly.
Our promotional souvenir from the Tumbleweed (or, as one friendly local shared with me, the “Stumbleweed”) Connection bar in the trendy Oregon District of downtown Dayton, OH. The next morning, I checked my BlackBerry and saw I had sent myself a message — no doubt to remind me of the festivities — that simply said, “Cherry Bombs at the Tumbleweed.” All together now: “Oy.” Jilly, ever the Dancing Queen.
Bright and early next morning, the first day of Shumsky’s “Up Close & Promotional” client event, Jilly took me to the Shumsky offices in Dayton. Here she is with the lovely and talented Anita Emoff, president of Shumsky and a member of the 2011 Counselor Hot List. Anita is a huge supporter of the Pay It Forward movement (www.shumsky.com/pay-it-forward/), and told me a story of a random act of kindness she felt compelled to do that made my eyes fill up. She is really something special. (Side note: Though it appears otherwise, Jilly and Anita did not plan to dress alike that day!) Shumsky held its third annual client event at the Dayton Dragons’ stadium, which is the home of the local Triple A team that often sends players to the Cincinnati Reds. It’s a fantastic facility and an awesome place to have an industry event because, as you all know, sports teams totally get the power of promotional products. Here, attendees were greeted by a table of prizes — donated by the generous suppliers who participated — offered to those clients who filled out surveys of the event.
Welcome gifts for attendees, all bearing the logos and playing off the “Add Some Color to Your Brand” theme of the event: brightly-hued pens, neon Post-Its and imprinted paint mixing sticks. (I’m tellin’ ya — when it comes to creative promos expertly tied to a theme, these Shumsky folks do not miss a trick!) You know how every well-run event has one person, running around behind the scenes who obsesses over every detail and totally sweats the small stuff to make sure everything turns out just right? Well, that’s Lorie Woods, Shumsky’s director of marketing. So adroitly does she juggle tasks and so many hats does she wear, she should be on the main stage at Ringling Brothers.
Meet Sue Smith (left) and Angie Gibbons, two clients of Jilly’s. Each supplier who participated in the event, all PeerNet preferred vendors as Shumsky is a founding member of that distributor group, set up their displays in VIP rooms overlooking the baseball field at the Dragons’ stadium. Jilly, Sue, Angie and I were grouped together all day (so fun!) and went from room to room so the suppliers could present directly to Angie and Sue, who then explained their company’s promo needs as Jill took notes on which samples they were interested in getting, marketing ideas and campaign planning. I’ve seen, of course, suppliers present to distributors before, but it was fascinating to watch them act as creative promotional consultants for end buyers. I was so proud of them, as they were all really awesome. A great shot of the Dayton Dragons’ stadium, complete with Shumsky signage on the Jumbotron touting its event.
Shumsky reps and their clients at the lunch Shumsky hosted prior to the start of the supplier presentations. Another reason I was such a fan of having the event at a baseball stadium? The food choices were fabulous: burgers, mac & cheese, pretzels with melted cheese, popcorn, chips and salsa, cookies… Wowza, was it decadent. Geoff Vejsicky from Sweda/Cutter & Buck, shown here presenting to some Shumsky clients.
The hosts with the most. Here’s Anita and Mike Emoff, who’s at the helm of Shumsky, this third-generation Dayton-based distributorship started in 1953 by his grandparents. So gracious and welcoming are they that they invited suppliers who participated in the event to their home for a thank you cocktail party and reception. So classy. And socreative — as Halloween is right around the corner, the Emoffs’ party had a spooky theme, complete with catered food like “Terrifying Tuna Sliders” and “Booberry Salad.” I love that they went all out for their suppliers, which was clearly appreciated by those in attendance. One of the catering staff, in full Halloween regalia, at Mike & Anita’s house party. Far from being as menacing as he looks in costume, this guy was hysterical!
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s SuperAdam! This is Mike & Anita’s adorable and precociously gregarious six-year-old son. Not only did Adam greet every guest at the door in costume, but he took time to strike Avenger-style poses and do some dance moves. Clearly, he inherited his parents’ extroverted personalities! Some of the stellar suppliers in attendance at Chez Emoff for the party. Clockwise from left: ETS Express’ Mike Williams, Cap America’s Rich Corvalan; Ash City’s Tom Spoltman; ETS’ Derek Hansen; and the adorable and delightful Brittany David from SnugZ.
(Clockwise): Magnet’s David Glasner; BIC/Norwood’s Harold Wood; Apollo’s Joseph Lee; Logomark’s Skip O’Kelly and my good friend Dan Jellinek, vice president of sales for Magnet. Geoff Vejsicky from Sweda/Cutter & Buck, shown here with Gemline’s Kim Brockschmidt.
Here’s Mike Emoff and Jilly, celebrating at the Emoff’s Halloween-themed supplier appreciation party in their home. Little known fact about Mike: An avid bike rider, he was an extra in the movie Breaking Away, which just happens to be one of my favorites. The lovely ladies of Shumsky — they look like they could be in the Rockettes! (From left): Jill Albers; Vendor Relations Manager Barb Hazen; Business Development Account Manager Kim Sawyer; Anita Emoff; and Lorie Woods. A word about Barb Hazen: As any savvy distributor knows, having someone with the skill set to deftly and effectively interact with many differently personalities is critical in a vendor relations liaison. Barb has that talent in spades as she’s key to continually developing and growing Shumsky’s supplier relationships.
After leaving Mike & Anita’s fabulous fete, Jilly and I met up with one of her favorite people, Eric Deutsch (right), one of Dayton’s wittiest characters. Here he is with his pal, Paul, as they entertained Jilly and I at a sports bar for the next few hours. Hil-arious.