Norma Jean Knollenberg, CIP, CPIM, was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award and a lifetime membership by the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA) at a reception in her honor on Tuesday evening during The PPAI Expo in Las Vegas. Knollenberg, former president and owner of Top Brands, Inc., recently sold the business and announced her retirement to spend more time with her husband, Gus, and family.

Knollenberg was one of the original founders of IMA in 1999. A year later she became president of Incentive Manufacturers and Representatives Alliance, one of IMA’s special interest groups. A decade later she served as president of IMA, and was honored with its President’s Award in 2012.

“Norma Jean does not stand very tall, but do not let that fool you. She has been a giant in our industry for many years and a mentor to many, including myself,” says Spencer Toomey, CPIM, senior vice president of Luxury Lines by MMSC, who has worked with Knollenberg through IMA. “Norma Jean has been involved in virtually every alphabet soup association, alliance and federation in our industry. Her long-time involvement and dedication to IMA has helped make it the success it is today. She truly is a superstar.”


Sean Roark, CPIM, owner of PromoPros/IncenPros, has also been an IMA volunteer with Knollenberg. “Years ago, I was attending my first IMA annual Summit meeting, and had signed up to take a certification test. Wandering through the lobby, a nice lady asked me if she could assist me—clearly I looked like a lost puppy. She got me to the correct room, and when she saw me after my exam, she started introducing me to everyone in the room. It turns out this lady was the chairman of that year’s Summit, and the incoming president of IMA, Norma Jean Knollenberg.

“Since then, over and over again, Norma Jean has been an essential part of my success in making the transition from strictly promotional products into the incentive industry.  In fact, my suggestion to offer Norma Jean a lifetime membership in IMA (which our board of directors unanimously endorsed), was purely selfish. As incoming president of IMA, I absolutely want N-J as a member, confidant and source of wisdom during my tenure. She is one of the great influences in my life, and as much as I miss her, I am delighted that she will have more time at the lake and doing all the other things that she put on the backburner all these years so that she could contribute to the promotional product and incentive marketplace in such a significant way.  I am completely comfortable saying that I am a better person, and certainly a better incentive solution provider, as a direct result of Norma Jean Knollenberg.”