In Memoriam: PPAI Hall Of Fame Inductee Bob Davis, CAS
Bob Davis, CAS, owner of Denver, Colorado, distributor Specialty Incentives (PPAI 104275, D8), passed away on December 24 after a short illness. He was 76. Davis’ passing was first reported Friday in a PPB Newslink Breaking News alert.
Throughout his life, Davis was passionate about volunteering for the promotional products industry. He served on the PPAI Education Committee, Conventions Committee, Strategic Planning Committee and Leadership Advisory Committee and was an industry speaker and ambassador at colleges and at industry shows. In 1997 he was elected to the PPAI Board of Directors and served from 1998-2002 and was board chair in 2001. Davis was inducted into the PPAI Hall of Fame in 2012 and was recognized as a PPAI Fellow in 2016.
In addition, Davis served on the board of the Rocky Mountain Region Promotional Products Association (RMRPPA) from 1985-1988, including a year as president. He also chaired the RMRPPA Supplier Forum, developed and implemented the regional association's first Fall Show and co-chaired it for two years, and chaired the RMRPPA/PPEF Golf Tournament for three years.
Davis earned a BBA degree in economics from Ohio University in 1966 and went on to earn his MBA in 1970. Despite receiving multiple job offers in Ohio, Davis and his wife, Barbara, decided they wanted to live in Denver. In 1972, shortly after moving to the city, Davis bought his first company—a commercial silk-screen printing business.
He later closed that company and entered the promotional products industry. From 1978 to 1981, he worked in sales at distributor Western Advertising Products and, in 1981, he founded Specialty Incentives with his business partner, Don Lujan. Over the years, the company thrived and in 2010 it acquired two distributor companies, L.W. Barrett and DeWitt with additional acquisitions of Somethin' Sweet Custom Promotions (Glenwood Springs, Colorado) in 2013, and Bottom Line Marketing (Rock Springs, Wyoming) in 2019.
In 2009, Davis and Lujan retired from daily involvement with the company; however, Davis remained the majority owner. Since 2014, his son, Drew Davis, MAS, who joined the company in 2000, has been responsible for day-to-day operations.
Davis was serving on PPAI's board of directors when the board made the decision to relocate The PPAI Expo from its longtime home in Dallas to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. The first show there took place in January 2003. But the accomplishment Davis later said he was most proud of during his time on the PPAI board was his work with the Regional Association Council (RAC). In a January 2012 PPB article, Davis said, "I was the first PPAI board member to serve as the liaison to RAC. We put together the structure and brought it together for that first year. It's very satisfying to see that RAC didn't just survive, it's thriving. It's making the contribution to the industry that we envisioned."
Davis' passion for volunteering and encouraging educational achievement carried through to his community. He mentored at-risk youth in the Denver Public School system and was a teacher's assistant. In recent years, he was instrumental in establishing a playground for underserved children at an elementary school in Denver.
Fellow PPAI volunteer leader Wayne Greenberg, MAS, president of Swag Krewe, a division of Geiger, remembers Davis as a friend and mentor to everyone he met. "Soft spoken, big-hearted and sincere, if you had the privilege to get to know Bob, your life and career was made better," he says. "Those of us who had the pleasure of serving with him on the PPAI board watched his decision-making and census-building skills in action. He made us all excel for the benefit of our Association and our industry."
Longtime friend Paul Lage, MAS, president of Vitronic/IMAGEN Brands, who was inducted into the PPAI Hall of Fame the same year as Davis, says, "Bob was that gentle and respectful leader that we will all miss," he says. "He always made everyone feel special and loved. You just felt better after being with Bob. His laugh was infectious, his smile was endless, and his golf game was boring and right down the middle. He lived for his family and the rest of us just enjoyed the journey with him."
Another longtime industry friend and colleague, Gene Geiger, MAS+, chairman of Geiger, says, "Bob's accomplishments as a business owner and industry leader are well documented and impressive. What I embrace was his grace, kindness and caring humanity. There was a sense of peace about how he lived his life and how he approached the end he knew was coming. Beyond the sadness is the joy of appreciating a life very well lived, loved and left, an example I will carry to my end."
Davis is survived by his wife of 51 years, Barbara; a son, Drew; daughter-in-law, Yvonne; two grandsons, Jaxon and Cole; and two sisters, Jacky Hendricks and Harriet Davis.
In 2012, the PPAI Board of Directors voted to create a Hall of Fame Recognition Program utilizing the Promotional Products Education Foundation's Named Scholarships to honor HOF members for their lifetime contributions to the Association and industry. The PPAI Board will match industry donations up to $2,500 to fulfill the $5,000 commitment needed to create a Named Scholarship through the PPEF. To make a gift to establish a scholarship in Bob Davis's name, send a check payable to PPEF mentioning Davis Memorial in the memo line and mail it to PPEF, 3125 Skyway Circle North, Irving, TX 75038. Gifts can also be made online at www.ppef.us. Click on Donate and enter Bob Davis Memorial in the Comments Section.
A memorial service for Davis will be held on January 29, 2020, at 2 pm at the Wellshire Presbyterian Church in Denver, Colorado. A reception will follow at the Lakewood Country Club in Lakewood.