Joe Eberz, owner of multi-line rep Joe Eberz & Associates and former president of the Ohio Promotional Professionals Association (OPPA), has died. He was 67.

Kara Keister, MAS, delegate of the Regional Relations Committee (RRC), informed PPAI Media that Eberz passed away on February 19 after struggling with an intense cancer diagnosis for just over a year.

“Anyone who met Joe will never forget him,” says Keister, owner of Social Good Promotions. “His charming personality and unmatchable wit were one of a kind. Always showing up in full force with a smile, hug and definitely a joke, Joe was a great example of supplier and distributor collaboration and how multi-line reps create relationships.”

It’s been a rough couple of years for the Eberz family. In 2022, Joe’s daughter Jennie, a multi-line rep at her father’s firm, needed a liver transplant.

  • Joe established a GoFundMe campaign to help her navigate the months of expenses as she waited for the transplant, which she received in August 2022.

Road Warrior

A lifelong Akron, Ohio, resident, Eberz began his promotional products career at The Anchor Line in the early 1980s.

“Joe Eberz was a bright light that will be missed,” says Kent Getsee, CEO of fellow multi-line rep Preferred Lines Marketing.

“His humor will forever go unmatched as he could bring products to life in his presentations. He was a true friend to all. A good example of that is when I needed a bunk bed picked up for my son’s dormitory. He put it in his van in Ohio and drove it all the way to Indiana with parts of it sticking out of his windows for hundreds of miles. He’d do those things for all his friends.”

Kurt McGovern, owner of fellow multi-line rep McGovern Marketing Group, has fond memories of his fellow road warrior, including one time when he was in Detroit and Eberz was in Dayton.

“It was summer, and he wanted to go to Put-in-Bay for a drink to celebrate the work week,” McGovern says. “I said, ‘You’re in Dayton and it’s too far to drive and out of the way!’ Joe said, “It’s on the way,” and thus, he met me! He was always up for a get together. He made me laugh and enjoy life more than I could ever imagine.”

When Jeff Colley, regional account manager at Koozie Groupranked the No. 10 supplier in the inaugural PPAI 100 – switched from the distributor side to the supplier side, he says Eberz was right there offering to help in any way.

“He didn’t know a stranger and was a master at his craft,” Colley says. “The word ‘legend’ has been used to describe Joe, but he was more than that in this industry. He was a friend, mentor, and most of all, he was family.”

Leadership Material

In the 1990s, Eberz served as vice president of OPPA, alongside then-president Bruce Felber, MAS, senior account executive at The Image Group.

“Joe's dedication to the industry was second to none,” says Felber, who also relied upon Eberz as his supplier/multi-line rep. “He was professional, attentive and always there with a smile, joke and hearty handshake. Everyone he touched is better off having just known him. Joe knew his clients, their customers, the industry and his products and services. We will all miss his lifeforce, humor and friendship.”

A natural leader, Eberz became president of OPPA in 1995.

“Joe will forever be an inspiration in my life,” says Kyle McGovern, vice president of sales at McGovern Marketing Group and former president of OPPA. “The way he seemed to be able to brighten up the lives of all he knew each day is remarkable. Even when he got sick, he never failed to try and make all of us laugh. I’m forever grateful for the wisdom he shared, the laughs he gave and that he saw it fit to have me as a friend.”

A strong supporter of regional associations, Eberz was also a longtime member of the Michigan Promotional Professionals Association (MiPPA) and the Tri State Promotional Professionals Association (TSPPA).

“Joe Eberz always brought humor and good will to every gathering,” says Paul Kiewiet, MAS+, executive director of MiPPA. “As friends, we could have serious discussions, but I never saw him get down or negative. He brought a lot of laughter wherever he was. Even when he received the diagnosis, he stayed upbeat and focused on living and enjoying himself despite the treatments and the prognosis. We could always count on Joe to participate in our events and brighten up any occasion.”

Let The Good Times Roll

After the annual OPPA Golf Outing, Eberz would serve as one of the “lakers” who would take their pontoon boat out to pick up OPPA members and guests for a “cruise” of Portage Lakes, Ohio.

It was tradition: music blaring, a beautiful sunset and Eberz entertaining his guests with jokes, showing points of interest and making sure everyone enjoyed themselves, according to Dawn Browne, MAS, regional sales manager at CPS/Keystone and immediate past president of OPPA.

“Joe Eberz was a promotional products industry icon, one of the first people to befriend me when I joined the industry,” Browne says. “Joe was a giver, as he liked to remind everyone, and he did give! He was an integral part of the OPPA community and many of us from the OPPA board were saddened when he became seriously ill, knowing that losing Joe would change our OPPA family forever.”

Shawna Tromczynski, MAS, partner at Avalon Image Group, says Eberz loved funny T-shirts. “One of his favorites said, “I bring nothing to the table,” but ironically, that couldn't be further from the truth,” He brought everything to his family, friends, colleagues and this industry. Joe's giving, fun, kind spirit will be forever missed.”

In Memoriam

Eberz is survived by his daughters Jackie and Jennie; grandson Robert; granddaughter Jessica; and brother George.

Family and friends will be received Sunday, March 3 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Hopkins Lawver Funeral Home on 547 Canton Road in Akron, OH. A memorial service will begin at 3 p.m.