Janelle Nevins, senior vice president of Silver Springs, Maryland’s Summit Group (UPIC: summit) and member of the PPAI Board of Director’s Class of 2007, passed away August 9 after a long illness. She was 62.
After earning a master’s degree in early childhood education at the University of Tennessee, Nevins joined the faculty of Fernbank Elementary School in Atlanta, Georgia. However, it was while on maternity leave following the birth of her son that she discovered the promotional products industry. Looking for a focus for her energy, she started working part-time at her husband and father-in-law’s basement-run business. A cold-call landed Coca-Cola as a client, and her love for the industry began. Coca-Cola became her most prestigious and largest account, with Nevins serving as a liaison between its field and corporate offices. In the following decades, Nevins Marketing Group grew into a prominent Atlanta-area presence in the promotional products industry, and later became a part of Summit Group.
Her friends at Coca-Cola remember Nevine well; saying in a statement: “It is a sad time for our Coca-Cola family with the loss of Janelle Nevins. Janelle has supported The Coca-Cola Company’s promotional merchandise business as a supplier, partner and friend for the past 35 years, first through Nevins Marketing and then as part of Summit Group. She delivered many great merchandise programs to support the promotion of our company’s brands as if they were her own. Janelle truly acted as if she were an extension of the Coca-Cola family. She will be missed by many in our system and the industry both personally and professionally. We have lost a good friend to the company and a remarkable person.”
Nevins was also an active volunteer in the promotional products industry. She served on the PPAI Board of Directors from 2003 to 2006 as well as on a number of the Association’s committees and councils, including the Public Relations Committee, the PPAI Centennial Committee, the Conventions Advisory Council, the Public Relations Advisory Council and the Distributors Advisory Council. She was also named the Counselor Person of the Year in 1999 and was a founder of the PeerNet Group, an alliance of promotional products and marketing distributors that collaborate to offer clients the best in service, creative ideas, competitive pricing and delivery.
As an active member of the PPAI Board, Nevins made strong impressions on her fellow board members and on the board chairs she served under. Carol Aastad, MAS, PPAI Board Chair in 2004, says: “Janelle had a quiet elegance that people admired and respected. She was the ultimate professional, and I was honored to serve on the PPAI board with her. Janelle gave so much of herself and served as an important role model to many. When I commented on her beautiful and colorful wardrobe, she responded she most often wore red since that was the color of her largest client, Coca Cola. Janelle Nevins has left an indelible mark on our industry, and she will be deeply missed.”
Paul Lage, MAS, served as chair of the PPAI board in 2003. Of Nevins, he says: “Janelle was a pioneer in our industry in so many ways. She mentored a lot of us and brought a new level of class and professionalism to our industry. She truly was a giver and the world is a better place because of all she has done.”
Also serving as a PPAI board chair during Nevins’ term was Carl Gerlach, MAS. He says: “Janelle and I served on the PPAI Board of Directors together. I would describe Janelle as the most creative, independent, influential women in our industry. She came onto the PPAI Board with our class in 2002 and from the first day she was a leader among our class and a supporter of whatever our class decided. Janelle was wonderful to work with on any project because she always brought an incredible creativity and the energy to get it done. This industry will miss Janelle Nevins and her Board classmates have lost a best friend.”
During her career, Nevins was awarded the Orville Smith Community Service Award in 1995, was named one of the 15 Most Outstanding Women in the Promotional Products Industry in 1996 and was named one of the 30 Most Influential Women Business Leaders in Atlanta in 1998. Nevins was also a member of the Atlanta UT Alumni Board from 1975 to the present, serving as its president from 1980 to 1984.
Nevins is survived by her husband, Art; daughter, Whitney; son, Preston, and his wife, Dallas, and two grandchildren, Cole and Sears. She is also survived by her brother, Kenneth Cutshaw, and his family as well as many aunts, uncles, cousins and dear friends.
The family will be receiving visitors at the Cherokee Town Club in Atlanta, Georgia, at 6:30 pm on Thursday, August 16. A memorial service will be held at 11 am August 17 at the Peachtree Presbyterian Church, 3434 Roswell Road Northwest, Atlanta, Georgia. Guests are encouraged to wear bright colors in honor of Nevins’s bright spirit. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in Nevins’s name either to the Orbit Village or the National Alzheimer’s Association in remembrance of her mother.