Regan speaks on stage during one of The Vernon Company's National Sales Meetings.


Dave Regan has always believed in volunteering. “It’s in my blood,” he says. Regan is a 33-year industry veteran and is the one of PPAI’s most recent Distinguished Service Award recipients. “As much as I’ve volunteered and given, I think I’ve received more back,” Regan says. 

Nominator Chris Vernon, MAS, president and CEO of The Vernon Company, met Regan in the late 1980s when he first joined the company as a sales manager. “Dave is one of the hardest working, humble and most dependable people I’ve ever met,” Vernon says. “He’s always the first to raise his hand to volunteer for business give-back events or philanthropic initiatives around our business community in central Iowa.” 

In early 2000, Regan and his family moved from Boston to Des Moines as he assumed the role of vice president of sales and marketing. Vernon says, “Dave has been instrumental in our business growth leadership for over 30 years and commits much time to help improve and move our industry (and local community) to a better, more inclusive future.”

Regan says he was very fortunate to have joined The Vernon Company. “At the time, I had no experience in the industry,” Regan says. “I ended up joining a company that offered significant training and support. Here I am 33 years later. I never had a reason to move anywhere else.” 

It was also the industry’s versatility and flexibility that’s kept Vernon throughout his career. “This is the type of industry where you can make what you want of it,” he says. “Every company in your community is a potential customer. There are times when businesses are thriving while others are suffering. Our industry allows us to focus on the businesses that are doing well. You can easily change your focus depending on the economic outlook at the time.”

In 2005, Regan served on the PPAI Leadership committee for a year, helping to identify future board member candidates. He says this one service opportunity had the biggest impact on his career. “I really got a good front row seat to see how PPAI works, what they need and how important volunteers are to them,” he says. 

Regan smiles with his wife, Jan. Above, right: Regan poses with his two daughters, Erin and Katie, at a Boston Red Sox game.

It was also impactful simply because of who he got to meet. “In those meetings, I am sitting to the left and right of industry leaders who I wouldn’t have gotten to know unless I volunteered on that committee,” Regan says. “By asking questions, I got to learn a lot and meet new people.” 

Regan says volunteering has changed the way he thinks. “I’ve always prided myself in thinking outside the box, but after attending PPAI committee meetings and talking to people, I realized the box is always bigger than you think it is,” he says. 

After giving his time, Regan says he never leaves empty-handed. “More people and more ideas—that’s what keeps me coming back for more,” he says. 

Nominator Kelli Denes, MAS, director of business development for The Vernon Company, says, “He is compassionate and diligent about helping anyone and everyone when they need it. He is known for being the first to arrive and the last to leave and the same can be said for his work and volunteering. The part that always amazes me, he does it effortlessly and can do it before most people can even think about it. He takes action like no one I’ve ever seen.” 

If he could start his career over, Regan says he would read more. “I don’t read,” he says. “I can read, but it’s not something I find joy in doing. I don’t advocate that for anybody. I would read more books about selling and managing. I envy people who read to educate themselves in addition to reading for pleasure and relation.”

For those looking to become better industry volunteers, Regan says don’t overcommit. In other words, figure out what you’re good at and do it 100%. “If volunteering is a part of your plan, put it in your schedule so that it doesn’t become an afterthought and you’ll be better at it,” he says. “Know what your mission is. You’ve got to share and contribute. Volunteering is a two-way street. When you give, you get it back.”

Regan also ran for the PPAI board twice. “I lost twice, so I am a two-time loser—is what I used to say,” he says. “But after each defeat, I was the first one raising my hand to do something else. There was a time when I needed to step away from volunteering for a few years.” 

Regan called those years were “terrible.”

“When I was not volunteering for PPAI, I felt a little lost and disconnected,” he says. “If you want to learn, stay connected to the industry and meet new people, raise your hand.”  


Valdez is an associate editor at PPAI.