The Power Of The Personal Connection

PPAI Hall of Fame inductee Margie Price, MAS, built industry success one interaction at a time.

By Julie Richie

margie-price-headshotYou might think that after receiving virtually every PPAI award, from the 2011 Woman of Achievement Award to the 2012 PPAI Distinguished Service Award to the inaugural H. Ted Olson Humanitarian Award in 2012, Margie Price, MAS, president of St. Louis, Missouri-based distributor Premiums Plus, Inc. (PPAI 107727) might expect to be inducted into the PPAI Hall of Fame. But you’d be wrong.

Price says, “This is the epitome of awards. When I’m long gone, my name is still going to be there, leaving a footprint in PPAI’s history, and our industry’s history for that matter. I’m not sure how I feel about it. I don’t know that I deserve it. When I believe in something and I love something, I participate. I’ve known so many people over the years whom I’ve worked with that I think should be in the Hall of Fame and I wonder why I am there because I think I pale by comparison. I love that I’m going in, but I still don’t quite believe it. It’s all very surreal.”

Shortly after PPAI made its Hall of Fame announcement this past summer, Price received a congratulatory call from her friend and 2009 Hall of Fame inductee Jo-an Lantz, MAS, COO of Geiger. Price asked Lantz when the reality of being inducted into the Hall of Fame sank in, and Lantz told her that it was after the ceremony when she went onstage with former inductees and realized that she was now part of that group. “Maybe then, I’ll get it,” Price says of the upcoming presentation at The PPAI Expo. “But it means so very much to me. Other than my family and my faith, I don’t think anything else can top it.”

Price’s contributions to PPAI and the industry as an active member and devoted volunteer over the past 26 years are legendary. In 2004, she served as chair of the Promotional Products Education Foundation (PPEF) and she was instrumental in the creation of the first Women’s Leadership Conference in 2005, chairing the event in 2008 and 2009 and serving as an advisor in 2010. She worked collaboratively to help develop the Women’s Leadership Conference Grant program that was introduced in 2012.

Margie Price, MAS, is joined by members of her 2009 board class: (from left) Stan Breckenridge, MAS; Darryl Haddox and Paul Miller, MAS, and RAC delegate Mark Fyten, MAS.

Margie Price, MAS, is joined by members of her 2009 board class: (from left) Stan Breckenridge, MAS; Darryl Haddox and Paul Miller, MAS, and RAC delegate Mark Fyten, MAS.

Price also served on the PPAI Board of Directors twice—once as the Regional Association Council (RAC) delegate from 2001-2003 and again as a director from 2005 to 2009. During her time on the board she chaired many board committees, including the End Buyer Task Force in 2006, the Governance Task Force in 2008 and subcommittees of the Leadership Advisory Committee from 2010 to 2011. She currently serves on the PPAI Government Relations Action Council and is a five-time Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.) attendee.


Price, shown with members of the PPAI Board of Directors, served on the board from 2005-2009.

At the regional level, Price has also volunteered in numerous leadership capacities. She served on the Promotional Products Association of the Midwest (PPAM) board from 1995 to 2004 and served as PPAM president from 1997 to 1998.

Price’s nominator, 1994 Hall of Fame inductee Margaret Custer-Ford, MAS, founder of MARCO Ideas Unlimited (PPAI 106680), says, “Margie is a perfectionist. She does all manner of good and helpful things, never beating her own drum, but just quietly making it happen, and happen it does. Not only has she done many, many things for us as an association, but she seems to have unlimited energy for many charitable causes as well.”

In addition to running her company and volunteering with PPAI, Price is heavily involved in many organizations in her community, including the St. Louis Men’s Group Against Cancer, which she has led as executive director since 1985. Every year she plans its spectacular November auction and dinner fundraiser. The most recent event brought together 550 St. Louis-area business leaders to hear legendary football coach and ESPN analyst Lou Holtz speak, and it raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for St. Louis-area cancer patients and their families.

She’s also passionate about her work with the Center for Head Injury Services, a community-based organization that provides services to victims of head injuries and their families. Her son, Dennis, who suffered a severe head injury as a child, benefits from the center’s services. “He’s an amazing person—the strongest person I know,” says Price.

Her identical twin daughters, Melissa and Teresa, both St. Louis prosecutors, will be at The PPAI Expo to watch as Price is inducted into the Hall of Fame. “They are really, really good at what they do,” Price says proudly.

Margie with her husband, Herschel.

But to Price, family doesn’t just include her children and her husband, Herschel. It also includes everyone in her company and her friends in the industry. “So many people in our trade association are part of my family. I belong to The Partnering Group and I consider them my family. I have Diva sisters [a group of industry women] and they’re part of my family. That’s what this industry is all about. We meet people who become lifelong friends.”

Price is generous about sharing her friendship and knowledge with newcomers. “I love to see new people at the Expo, sitting in classes. I love to sit at a table and not know anybody there and introduce myself. They say it’s their first year or second year and I ask, ‘Did you volunteer for anything? Have you gotten involved? Are you part of your regional [association]?’”

She has this advice for newcomers on how to be successful in the industry: “Sit up front in general sessions and classes, and never leave an empty seat next to you. Sit next to somebody, introduce yourself and find out what they do. You could be talking to someone who has been in the industry for 40 years, who’s a Hall of Famer and has won every other award, and has so much to share with you in just five or 10 minutes. Spread your wings and meet more people. Don’t stay with your group of friends.”

And, Price says, be sure to volunteer with your regional association and PPAI because it pays off in your career. “Being involved with PPAI has made me better at what I do,” she says.

Julie Richie is associate editor for PPB.


Legacy Of A Lifetime 

PPAI Hall of Fame inductee Joel Schaffer, MAS, is an icon of the industry.

By James Khattak

The PPAI Hall of Fame has, since 1977, honored leaders in the promotional products industry who have made a lasting impact on the field and their communities. And through his advocacy and support at both the regional and national levels, in areas as diverse as professional education and government relations, Joel Schaffer, MAS, president of Soundline, LLC, in Randolph, New Jersey, has left an indelible mark on the promotional products industry and the companies and organizations that serve it. hof-joel-schaffer-mas

“When you enjoy the work you do for others and then get recognized for it, that’s fulfillment,” says Schaffer. “I am so very proud and thankful to join so many marvelous people who are in the Hall of Fame. It is even better when the award is pre-posthumous.”

Schaffer has worked in the promotional products industry for 47 years, beginning his career with positions at companies including Jostens and Leathersmith of London. In 1986 he started his own business, publishing an audio magazine for the promotional products industry, which ultimately became Soundline in 1991.

With almost half a century in the industry under his belt, Schaffer has an extensive history of involvement in its regional and national organizations. And his contributions have been recognized. The Specialty Advertising Association of Greater New York (SAAGNY) inducted Schaffer into its Hall of Fame in 2002 and he was inducted into the SAAGNY Foundation Hall of Fame in 2005. ASI presented him with its Marvin Spike Professional Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002 and PPAI recognized his accomplishments with the Distinguished Service Award in 2011.

“Joel is the most passionately creative advocate for promotional products, for the industry and for our Association that I have ever known,” says Paul A. Kiewiet, MAS+, executive director of the Michigan Promotional Professionals Association and Schaffer’s nominator for the PPAI Hall of Fame. “I have learned so much from this man from his educational sessions. I had the privilege of serving with Joel on the board of PPAI and witnessed his leadership and work ethic.”

Schaffer’s volunteerism in the industry began in the ’70s, with the Association of Metropolitan Advertising Specialty Suppliers (AMASS)—he served on the merger committee that brought it together with SAAGNY in 1976—and he knows first-hand the value of dedicating time and energy to causes and organizations that one believes in.

“Volunteer service has done more for my professional and business life than any ad, any email, trade show or online posting,” says Schaffer. “Soundline has benefited from my exposure to thousands of industry professionals throughout the world. This serendipitous exposure has built new and loyal clients. People want to do business with those of us who understand what they do for a living and who reflect a high level of professionalism. They gain trust in you and your company.”

This is a group photo of the 2005 PPAI Board of Directors.

Joel Schaffer, MAS, pictured on the back row, was an engaged and outspoken volunteer during his service on the PPAI Board of Directors from 2004 to 2008.

His volunteer service has included a term on the PPAI Board of Directors from 2004 to 2008 and he has participated in several of the Association’s committees, taskforces and work groups, most recently the Certification Committee from 2014 to 2015. He served on the SAAGNY board from 1992 to 2000, including a term as its president, and as a SAAGNY Foundation trustee from 1995 to 2007.

His accomplishments during that time were extensive, including helping set the foundation for today’s Regional Association Council (RAC), at a 1998 summit of regional associations in Chicago.

Looking back at them, Schaffer says, “I have been (rightfully) accused by those I served with of being too creative, too much an agent of change and great at starting projects, but letting others complete them. Guilty, your Honor.

“There are many things I am proud of in my service. Having helped raise the bar on professionalism for thousands of suppliers and distributors over the years may be my proudest accomplishment. It is followed closely by having a significant role in reshaping what is RAC today. Beyond that, there are little things that have endured—the ‘invention’ of the first Valet Express at trade shows, being the first to donate my speaker honorarium to PPEF. However, every step of the way there were fantastic volunteers with me. Indeed, it takes a team.”

Beyond the business advantages and professional milestones, volunteerism has brought Schaffer strong bonds and turned colleagues and acquaintances into friends. He notes, “I have rubbed elbows with the best of the best. Their knowledge was willingly shared. Their viewpoints helped me understand areas I had little or no expertise in. The takeaway transcends business. Volunteerism builds lifelong personal friendships with those who serve with you. I have many, many personal friendships lasting decades with people with whom I served. It is a priceless benefit you simply know is coming when you first raise your hand to volunteer.”

“Volunteerism must be inherited as both my children, Allison and Brett, have and continue to volunteer for this industry,” Schaffer adds. “Without the endless support of your family, volunteerism is more difficult. The number one enabler in my life is my wife and partner, Elyse. In turn, all of my family has satisfaction in knowing it was a job well done by us all.”

Kiewiet adds, “Joel has challenged and changed many people and has made the industry a stronger one and the Association more engaged and alive. His influence on this Association will continue for many, many years and I can think of no one more deserving than him to receive our highest honor.”

Reflecting on his induction into the PPAI Hall of Fame, Schaffer concludes, “Above all, being inducted into the Hall of Fame means … ‘Thank you, job well done.’ That is the ultimate paycheck one can get from volunteer service. I am honored to take my place next to an impressive list of people who have built this fantastic industry.”

James Khattak is news editor for PPB.


Giving Back Comes Full Circle

Joe Scott’s selfless contributions earn him the 2017 PPAI Distinguished Service Award

by Tina Berres Filipski

Joe Scott is the kind of guy you’d want as your business partner, your trusted confidant, your mentor, your colleague, your neighbor, your friend. His easygoing manner and quiet confidence draw people to him, but his dedication to giving back to help others and his industry make him a standout volunteer on many levels.dsa-joe-scott

Scott, vice president of distributor Scott & Associates, Inc. in Chanhassen, Minnesota, will be recognized with PPAI’s highest honor for volunteerism, the Distinguished Service Award, this month at The PPAI Expo.

Volunteerism is something Scott learned as a boy by watching his mom and dad who were active volunteers in their community. He saw the impact of his parents’ involvement on the lives of others, and he and his brothers benefitted from being included in his parents’ local network. So when Scott was asked to contribute an article to this magazine in 1996, he jumped in with both feet. “I had never done such a thing,” he admits, adding that he accepted the challenge but stressed out about the article. He says he was surprised to see that his article was only lightly edited and published. Since then, he’s gone on to write a number of articles for PPB as well as for other industry and business publications.

Once he discovered how good it felt to contribute, he looked for other ways to get involved. And there were plenty of opportunities for the smart, unflappable Scott, who always kept his promises. He began to share his industry expertise from the podium as an in-demand industry speaker at PPAI, SAGE and regional association shows, and through PPAI webinars. Over the years, he’s also spoken about promotional marketing to high school and college students as a PPAI Advocate presenter.

In 2005 he took his volunteerism to the next level when he was elected to the board of directors for the Upper Midwest Association of Promotional Professionals (UMAPP), an organization for which he served as president in 2010. That year was a busy one for Scott, who runs his full-service promotional agency along with his wife, Katie, and four others, and who was also serving his second of a four-year term on the PPAI board.

Joe with soccer teammates at dinner.

Joe Scott, second from right, enjoys some down time with his soccer team, Nations United, for which he plays goalie.

Asked how he strikes a balance between volunteering, operating the business, his family and other obligations, Scott says, “It’s easy to get out of whack when you get into a volunteer mode. The best way I found to strike a balance is to, initially, only volunteer for things that have finite start and stop dates, such as events: you show up at 8 pm, do some things, leave at 10 pm. Things get tricky when you volunteer for committees or a board, which is why it is important to sanity-test the actual time commitment with someone who has done the job.” He adds that mature organizations tend to have fewer time-commitment surprises than start-ups. “When I joined the PPAI board, I knew exactly what I was getting myself into, time wise.”

Scott’s service extends beyond the promotional products industry; he’s also served on the board for Buy Chanhassen (a group focused on helping local businesses), the Chanhassen Rotary, the Chanhassen Planning Commission, and as a chief fundraiser and secretary for the house corporation board of Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity. He’s currently on the board, as treasurer, at Island View Golf Club.

“Joe is a great example of leading by example,” says his nominator, Steven Meyer, MAS, president of supplier RiteLine and a former PPAI board chair who worked with Scott during their PPAI and UMAPP board service. “I considered his comments and shared insights, both public and private, as invaluable to my role at both associations.”


Scott, and his wife and business partner, Katie.

Scott says volunteering has taught him that you can’t fix everything and you can’t help everyone, so you should pick one thing at which you can excel. For others who want to get involved, he recommends choosing an organization in which you are interested, asking for their articles of incorporation, bylaws and tax returns and going to a couple of meetings before you commit. “Finding a volunteer culture that meshes with yours is really important,” he advises. “Take on one challenge at a time and don’t take on more responsibility until you fully understand the time commitment.”

From a business standpoint, Scott is pragmatic about the time, talent and effort he generously shares with carefully selected organizations, but when asked what the PPAI Distinguished Service Award means to him personally, he swallows hard and ponders the question as if he hadn’t really thought about it from that perspective before.

Joe Scott playing guitar on stage with his band.

A long-time musician, Scott is shown playing guitar in the 3-Car Garage Band.

“Volunteers are the soul of our Association and those who have come before us still live on via the contributions of their mentees,” he says, carefully. “Every interaction we have with a member in need, no matter how small, has the potential to change a life—both personally and professionally.

“I was surprised—and laughed out loud—when I found out I was nominated. What did I do to be considered?

“It was when I was sent a document showing all of my volunteer activities since 1996 did it dawn on me. I wasn’t aware of how much stuff I had done; it was as natural as breathing. It also dawned on me that none of this would have happened had I not met a certain editor at The PPAI Expo in 1996 who offered me my first volunteer opportunity.”

Tina Berres Filipski is editor of PPB.


Steps Of Service

Wayne Roberts revisits the path of volunteerism that led him to the 2017 PPAI Humanitarian Award

by Jen Alexander

Wayne Roberts’s desire to contribute to the betterment of his community and industry was sparked in his youth by seeing his parents give of their own time to local efforts. That spark ignited a flame in Roberts that led to him to serve as a faithful volunteer for dozens of organizations, including PPAI. This year’s recipient of the PPAI H. Ted Olson Humanitarian Award says it was his community service that led him to the industry in the first place.

“It’s interesting that my volunteer activities led me in a roundabout way to promotional products.  Before my days in the industry I was in the restaurant business. We used a number of promotional products like matches, pens, etc. I really didn’t think that much about it at the time, and of course in those days no one knew what specialty advertising or promotional products meant,” Roberts recalls.wayne-roberts

“Through my involvement in the Jaycees [United States Junior Chamber], we used more promotional products in the promotion of a county beauty pageant where we brought in Miss America. Then, when I ran for mayor of Clarksville [Virginia] I used Gill Line posters, matches and pens, which I really counted on to gain me visibility.

“In talking with my Brown & Bigelow manager, I was intrigued by promotional products,” says Roberts. “One thing led to another and the next thing I knew I was a salesperson for Brown & Bigelow.”

As a young man, Roberts had conducted grassroots work for political campaigns, and after college he joined his local Jaycees chapter in Clarksville. He also saw another opportunity to help improve his hometown—as the mayor.

“When I was young I started working on my dad’s election to the town council. And since he was very well acquainted with elected officials on the county, state and federal level, I had an opportunity to be around some very influential politicians. When I went to college I majored in political science with the hope of getting into politics,” he says.

After college, he returned to Clarksville to run the family restaurant business and saw a lot of things he wanted to change in the town, so he decided to run for mayor.

Wayne Roberts, right, receives the Golden Eagle award from Col. Ricky Rupp at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas.

Wayne Roberts, right, receives the Golden Eagle award from Col. Ricky Rupp at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas.

The election was somewhat of a David versus Goliath event, as the incumbent mayor had been in office for 16 years with little or no opposition, says Roberts.

“The first time I ran, in 1972, I lost by nine votes,” he says. “But that inspired me that it could be done, and I ran again in 1974 and was elected, then re-elected in 1976.”

Roberts counts among his accomplishments in office the improvement of bookkeeping and financial accountability among city employees, traffic and road improvements, fluoridation of the town’s water supply, and a continuing education program for law enforcement officers.

In addition to his roles as president of the Jaycees chapter and mayor of Clarksville, Roberts worked to revitalize the local Chamber of Commerce. “As president I established its first office and secured the area’s first national B.A.S.S. (Bass Anglers Sportsman Society) tournament, which is still today a major economic generator for the area,” he says.

When Roberts relocated to Wichita, Kansas, in the early 1980s, he invested time in more than just his role as vice president of supplier Pioneer Balloon Co. Serving as chairman of the Wichita Metro Chamber’s federal affairs committee led Roberts to the Friends of McConnell (FOM), a civilian group that funded activities held on the nearby McConnell Air Force Base.

“Friends of McConnell funded over $25,000 in activities on the base, and as a member of the group and an honorary commander, I was very involved,” says Roberts. In honor of his service to FOM, Roberts received the Golden Eagle designation from McConnell AFB leadership in 2011; he is one of just seven individuals to receive the Golden Eagle since the base’s establishment.

Throughout his time in Wichita, Roberts remained engaged in the business community as a member of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) and as past chairman of the board for the Wichita Independent Business Association.

Roberts and his wife, Norma, also became impromptu saviors for a colony of feral cats while living in Kansas. Though the two are animal lovers, their constant travel meant keeping pets wasn’t in the cards—but an encounter with a family of cats outside a local Walmart led them to work with Friends of Felines, as well as to adopt three feral cats of their own. The nonprofit group helps care for feral cats by trapping and releasing them into established colonies.

“Friends of Felines estimates that Wichita has 100,000 free-roaming cats,” Roberts explains. “TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) is the only proven method to control the population growth. Euthanization of the cats simply doesn’t work. TNR is a win/win because over time, municipalities spend less money, and the stray and feral cat population is significantly reduced. In some areas, they are being used to help control the rodent population.”

Wayne Roberts and his wife, Norma, enjoy retirement in the great outdoors.

Wayne Roberts and his wife, Norma, enjoy retirement in the great outdoors.

After more than 30 years with Pioneer Balloon, Roberts and his wife entered the next stage of life as residents of Bozeman, Montana. But life in retirement wasn’t going to be a quiet one; Roberts says as soon as he and Norma settled into their new home, they began looking for ways to become involved.


Wayne and Norma plant crops in God’s Garden, which raises produce for the Gallatin Valley Food Bank.

“We volunteered to help maintain trails for the Gallatin Valley Land Trust; we started working at God’s Garden, which supplies produce to the local food bank, and we volunteer through our church at the Community Café, which serves evening meals to the needy,” he says.

Decades of service that continue to unfold have given Roberts a veteran’s perspective on giving back. “I have been fortunate to volunteer for a number of worthy causes,” he says. “It’s been particularly gratifying to witness the impact of volunteers and what their contributions have meant to those organizations.”

Roberts’ nominator, PPAI lifetime member Don Edwards, says his friend is “very deserving of the Ted Olson award [the late Olson was chairman emeritus of PPAI]. Wayne has made endless contributions to society, his fellow man and many worthy causes. The world is a better place because of Wayne.”

Inspired by his own father, who ran a restaurant and still found time to help establish a Veterans of Foreign Wars post and a local rescue squad, among other endeavors, Roberts lives by his father’s words and is ready to pass them on.

“He told me you have to give back to your community. I would encourage young professionals to volunteer the time to help their fellow man,” he says. “It not only feels good to help others, it’s a great way to connect with other individuals who may be out of your normal circle of business or friends.

“There are so many organizations in the community that really do great work and depend on their volunteers,” adds Roberts. “Even an hour or two can be a big help to these organizations, and you can learn a lot through volunteering.”

Jen Alexander is associate editor of PPB.