As I write this, the short Thanksgiving break has ended and my son, Gabe, left this morning to return to Pitzer College to finish the first semester of his freshman year. After we said our usual goodbyes, and I returned to the car, I called out his name. We walked toward each other, hugged again, and I told him I was proud of him. His reply was unexpected. “I’m proud of you too, Dad,” he said.
Those words lingered with me as I sat down to write my final column as PPAI chair. What he said helped me focus and reflect on my year as your chairman of the board and as president and owner of R.S. Owens. There are many things for which I am proud and thankful.
Like many of you, I am thankful that my business has survived this über recession. I am proud of my co-workers who have worked long hours, fought off fear and truly cared about the products and services we provide to our customers.
I am very proud of PPAI staff. Over the past year, I have come to the conclusion that PPAI is one of the most effective organizations I have ever encountered in my work life. Staff is talented and engaged, and when anyone leaves, the position is filled with someone even more effective—not an easy accomplishment.
I am proud of the PPAI board. Early this year the board made some tough decisions. In addition, the board approved two task forces to ensure that our Association is looking ahead and planning strategically to create optimal opportunity for our members. The board has also chosen two outstanding leaders—Eric Ekstrand, MAS, as incoming chair and Steven Meyer, MAS, as chair-elect—to ensure continuity in running an effective and responsive board.
I am proud of the PPAI members who elected a woman to the board for the first time in three years. Half of our members are women. We need that constituent on the board. I strongly encourage more of our highly qualified female leaders to step forward to run for the board in 2011.
I am thankful and proud that the Committee Governance Task Force started its work in June 2009 in order to implement changes in the committee structure this year. The members of this task force worked feverishly for six months culminating in the creation of action groups, which are more flexible than committees and more responsive to the limited amount of volunteer time many members have to offer during these tough economic times. The task force, with the invaluable support of staff, also initiated the website, Volunteer Central, where members can register as volunteers and choose any level of commitment from simply answering surveys or giving feedback to serving on committees, action groups or task forces.
Lastly, I am thankful for the opportunity to serve as your chair this past year. It was a tough year to run a business and chair an organization, but I feel good about the current state of affairs. We are on the offense legislatively. Our membership is ahead of goal with the number of members surpassing the 8,000 mark for the first time. Expo booths sales are significantly ahead of last year and we have a balanced budget.
This does not infer we have no challenges. Product safety is a complex issue that will be confronting us for many years to come. Our traditional supply chain will continue to evolve. There will be an ongoing need to educate legislators, advocacy groups and end users about our advertising medium, and our country will have to grapple with serious fiscal challenges that will certainly affect our industry. I am confident, however, that practitioners in our unique industry led by dedicated, intelligent volunteer leaders will navigate through future shoals and continue to prove and improve the value and effectiveness of our diverse promotional products and services.
Embraços to my board classmates, Roni Wright, MAS, Tina Montgomery, MAS, Steve Woodburn, MAS, and David Woods, MAS. I couldn’t and wouldn’t have done it without you. Your altruism, intelligence, encouragement and collaboration are worthy of an award.