People News: April 2019
eXtendTech (PPAI 678500)—Dino Bangiorno, MAS, director of distributor applications and services
Fully Promoted (PPAI 240143)—Michelle Longueira, promoted to vice president of operations in the business retail division, and Monica Markulin, promoted to corporate trainer
Geiger (PPAI 105182)—Kerry Worden, promoted to regional sales vice president for the Southeast
HALO Branded Solutions (PPAI 106462)—Heather Bridges, chief financial officer, and Sherry Gantt, regional vice president of sales for the Southeast region
Harland Clarke (PPAI 651507)—Jana Schmidt, promoted to CEO
Image Source (PPAI 195953)—Ray Decker, senior account executive
Proforma (PPAI 196835)—Michele Cardello, promoted to vice president of strategic partner development
Scoby Bros., LLC (PPAI 437221)—Amy Wright, sales coordinator and for program management, and Nelly Kruglyak, sales coordinator
Superior Group of Companies, parent company of BAMKO, LLC (PPAI 242148), Tangerine Promotions, Ltd. (PPAI 439779) and Public Identity, Inc. (PPAI 230372)—Venita Fields, appointed to board of directors
Reciprocity Road—Perry Wehrle, MAS, executive director
Boxercraft (PPAI 159420)—Eric Bradle, vice president of operations
IMAGEN Brands, parent company of Crown Products (PPAI 113430) and Vitronic (PPAI 114197)—Derek Rose, category manager – plush, business, calendars and Andrew Philips Leather
Orbus Exhibit & Display Group (PPAI 428128)—Cassandra Chiodo, promotional services manager; Joe Douglas, client relations manager; and Damen Garcia, business development manager
Polyconcept, parent of suppliers Polyconcept North America (PCNA) and PF Concept—Neil Ringel, chief executive officer
SanMar Corporation (PPAI 110788)—Rob Crowley, promoted to senior director of basic brands; Teak Hernandez, director for SanMar’s athletic brands; and Janine Oates, design director
Spector & Co. (PPAI 168328)—Tanya Abitbol, promoted to director of business development and customer service, and Robert Payne, promoted to customer service manager
Mike Bowen, CEO of distributor Champion Awards, Inc. (PPAI 103877) in Memphis, Tennessee, was involved in a car accident on February 7 while on vacation with his wife in Costa Rica. He passed away on February 9 at age 61.
Bowen co-founded Custom Print Apparel in 1979, which merged with Champion Trophy and later became Champion Awards and Apparel. He had led the company since 2000.
Bowen attended Lambuth University and was a 1979 graduate of then-Memphis State University where he studied marketing and management. Bowen was a lifetime member of the University of Memphis Alumni Association, a graduate of Leadership Memphis and was serving on the organization’s board of directors for the 2018-2019 class.
He was also a member of the Tiger Scholarship Fund, Memphis Convention Bureau, Memphis Chamber of Commerce and the Beale Street Merchants Association. He was formerly involved in the Memphis Jaycees Foundation and served on the board of directors for Special Olympics. In 2017 and 2018, his company was named one of PPB’s 60 Greatest Companies To Work For.
Bowen is survived by his wife of 29 years, Suzie, and two sons, Colby and Michael. His family has released this statement: “My father was a true trailblazer for recidivism reform and succeeded in changing the conversation on how we treat one another in our community. His wife and family give heartfelt thanks for the outpouring of support we have received at this very difficult time.”
In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to Kindred Place, 2180 Union Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 38104.
Karen Kravitz, an account executive for HALO Branded Solutions, passed away February 11 after a three-year battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 60.
A 35-year industry veteran, Kravitz founded Phoenix, Arizona-based distributor Commotion Promotions in 1984 with her husband, Ken Kravitz, a HALO regional vice president of sales. HALO acquired Commotion Promotions in 2014. Kravitz was an active volunteer to many charitable, civic and industry organizations throughout her career.
“Karen bravely fought pancreatic cancer while maintaining a physical exercise regimen and enjoying sales success that few could approach,” says Marc Simon, HALO CEO. “She beat a different form of cancer several years ago and approached life with a remarkable level of vigor, empathy and passion. Karen established herself as one of our top-performing account executives as well as a giving and thoughtful leader within our community. We were privileged to have been witness to and beneficiary of the wonderful contributions she made to HALO.”
Kravitz’s Rabbi described her as “a force of nature, filled with energy and positive thoughts, whose good deeds set an example for all.” One of her customers noted that Kravitz was “a wonderful, strong, classy, determined, understanding lady and I am so happy to have had her in my life.”
Kravitz is survived by her husband Ken; twin daughters Jordan Kravitz and Aliza Cooper and her husband Chad; mother Alice Condulis and sister Dana Manross. Both Manross and Chad Cooper are also HALO account executives.
Ed Johnson, MAS, who served as PPAI board chair in 1995 and was previously a regional vice president at Geiger, passed away on February 15 after a long illness. He was 77.
“Ed was the chairman of the PPAI board who hired me as president in late 1995,” says Steve Slagle, CAE, past president and CEO of PPAI. “In fact, Ed called to offer me the job following a weekend of interviews with the search committee. During my first year as president in 1996, Ed finished his board tenure as immediate past chair and I got a firsthand view of Ed’s leadership style. I recall that Ed was so easily approachable, and I found that I liked him immediately. Ed was a gentleman, very generous and gracious, and truly interested in what was happening in others’ lives.”
Johnson joined the U.S. Army after high school and served in Vietnam. After his time in the military, he went to college on the GI Bill and earned a degree in industrial design from the University of Illinois-Chicago. He began his career in the industry as a graphic designer working with promotional products companies in the Chicago area. In 1973 he moved to Seattle, Washington, and joined distributor Walter W. Cribbins Company in a sales role. He rose within sales management and in 1987 purchased the San Francisco division of the company from Carl Rosenfeld. He later sold the Walter W. Cribbins Company to Geiger where he and his wife remained active. Johnson became a regional vice president at Geiger and oversaw its in-house education program until his retirement, then he continued on with Geiger in a sales capacity.
“Ed was one of the great characters—of great character—that I’ve come across in my work life,” says Gene Geiger, MAS+, co-owner and CEO of Geiger. “His interests and accomplishments were as varied as a Renaissance man. He had sensibility of an artist and the grit of a fighter. He helped elevate our industry and all those he worked with. And when I think of him, I am so appreciative I was able to know and enjoy him.”
A longtime industry volunteer, Johnson was elected to the PPAI board of directors in 1991, when the organization was operating as Specialty Advertising Association International. During his term, he was instrumental in the Association’s name change to Promotional Products Association International.
“Ed was a great friend both as a distributor customer and as a colleague on the board,” says Barry Chase, CAS, former PPAI board chair. “But above all he was a visionary who knew the future would be better than the past if we would only look ahead, not backwards, in our lives and careers.”
Prior to serving on the board of directors, Johnson also served on the PPAI Technology, Terminology & Standards Task Force, Leadership Advisory Committee, Membership Services Committee, Strategic Planning Committee and as a PPAI Ambassador. A tireless supporter of education, in 1980 Johnson and his employees donated $10,000 to the Association in Rosenfeld’s name as a birthday gift for its industry education certification program.
Slagle adds, “Ed was a very effective leader, in his quiet and typically reserved manner, because those around him had such respect for his integrity and his experience. Ed exhibited love, loyalty and dedication to the promotional products industry, which was only surpassed by his love and affection for his lovely wife Tanya and his daughters. Among Ed’s amazing gifts were his infectious sense of humor, his wry smile and twinkling eyes, and his willingness to have fun. Ed’s leadership by example, his professionalism and his respect for his colleagues will be sorely missed by all those who knew him. He truly was one of the really good guys.”
Outside of the industry, Johnson’s passion was restoring vintage automobiles. He installed a grease pit in his garage and spent countless hours rebuilding cars. In addition, he built the first pickleball court on Bainbridge Island and hosted many competitive pickleball tournaments.
“Ed was my friend and mentor,” says Cliff Quicksell, MAS+, iPROMOTEu’s director of affiliate marketing. “I had spent a few times at his home with him and his wife Tanya. I loved Ed’s calm disposition and his willingness to always share. Ed was kind enough to write the forward in my first book, I will cherish that, always remembering what an amazing guy he was. I remember sitting with him and prejudging Geiger’s Pyramid entries several years back. We had such a good time. I remember being at his home, walking through his amazing garage, looking at his amazing antique car collection, pickleball tournaments and having a glass of wine, eating wood-planked grilled salmon overlooking Puget Sound and the great conversations that would just blend into the night.”
Johnson is survived by his wife Tanya, his five children—Ericka Frink, Paula Burke, Carla Johnson, Grant Johnson and Laura Yu—eight grandchildren and one great granddaughter, and his brother Bill and family.
For anyone wanting to make a contribution in his memory, the family requests donations to Holt International, the adoption agency through which his daughter Carla joined the family and an organization he supported. Holt International, 250 Country Club Road, Eugene, Oregon 97401, www.holtinternational.org.
James Khattak is news editor of PPB.