aiabreakingnews275As reported Monday in a PPB Newslink Breaking News alert, AIA Corporation has appointed Matthew T. Gresge chief executive officer, effective immediately. Gresge replaces CEO David Woods, MAS, who will retire after 14 years of service to Neenah, Wisconsin-based distributor and more than 25 years in the promotional products industry.

“After David announced his retirement, AIA conducted an extensive, nationwide search to find AIA’s next CEO,” says John Rompon, a member of AIA Corporation’s board of directors. “Our board of directors focused on candidates with a strong sales orientation, a deep understanding of independent distributor networks and a history of delivering results for customers, suppliers and stockholders. Matt fits the bill in every regard. We’re very pleased to have Matt join the AIA team and believe AIA’s owners, suppliers and employees will benefit from his strong leadership skills.”

Gresge most recently served as president and chief operating officer for The Highlands Group, a service provider to independent distributors and their supporting manufacturers. Prior to that, he was president of TOPS Products, a $300 million manufacturer of business products that are sold through leading retailers, e-commerce resellers and a nationwide network of over 2,000 independent distributors. Gresge began his career as a commissioned sales representative, leading a large North American sales force, and spent his general management career successfully growing businesses that are driven by independent distributor networks. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University and an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

“David Woods has been a very strong leader for AIA and we are pleased to have found an outstanding candidate to continue moving the company forward,” says Tom Lehr, executive vice president and chief operating officer of AIA Corporation. “AIA is an integral part of the promotional products industry and Matt Gresge has the background and record of success to carry on that tradition of excellence.”

Woods announced his retirement from AIA in June and worked closely with the board of directors to find his successor. During his tenure with AIA, Woods was responsible for increasing sales by 89 percent and oversaw the acquisition of distributor Flagship Promotional Services and AIA’s own acquisition by private investment firm McNally Capital.

“After a very interesting career, the time has come to put the emphasis on family and friends,” says Woods. “I have been CEO of AIA for 13 years and in that time we’ve had a lot of growth and success, but the time has come to turn it over to someone with different ideas. Matt is a very strong sales and marketing executive who will only help us grow and be more successful. We’ve also got a very strong senior management team, including Tom Lehr, our COO, and I believe he and Matt will forge a great partnership to move the company forward.”

Rompon adds, “David has been a pioneer in providing to promotional products distributors the services and support they need to succeed.He’s made a tremendous contribution to the industry and we are grateful for his strong and steady leadership at AIA. We are equally confident in the strengths and experience Matt Gresge is bringing to the table and expect a seamless transition.”