In Memoriam: Sidney Siegel
Sidney Siegel, a pioneer in the promotional products industry and founder of distributor Industrial Contacts in Westbury, New York, passed away on March 29 from complications due to coronavirus. He passed just days before his 93rd birthday.
Siegel started Industrial Contacts more than 60 years ago in New York City, even though he lacked funding and experience at the time, and quickly gained a reputation for being one of the most creative minds in the promotional products industry.
“His ingenious and clever thinking was one of the reasons for his great success, but it was his charismatic personality combined with his sense of humor that truly made a lasting impression,” says his son, company president Steve Siegel, who has managed the day-to-day company operations for nearly 20 years. His sister, Mindy Siegel-Mevorah, senior vice president, is active in sales and Steve’s son, Daniel, joined the company five years ago.
Siegel’s decades-long journey in the promo industry began in emblematic jewelry and segued into promotional products and custom manufacturing, accomplishing many firsts along the way. His company was one of the first to work with suppliers in Japan, before China became a player, where he produced custom-shaped radios depicting NFL football helmets, top-shelf liquor bottles, Brut cologne bottles and Pepsi vending machines.
The liquor industry soon became Siegel’s niche and some of his most prominent work included ceramic figurines, metal signs, Lucite bottle embedments and the ubiquitous metal restaurant table crumber. He was also responsible for creating and producing the trophy for the Clio Award, the highest honor for TV commercials. His design is still awarded today. Siegel was also one of the first to start the concept of company store catalogs and he produced them for mega brands including Pepsi and Met Life. His creativity, along with his out-of-the-box thinking, earned him prominent coverage in a 1974 issue of Counselor magazine.
Although Siegel officially retired around age 75, he never stopped working in the business or sharing his advice. “Up until his death my dad would go on his iPad and connect to my business email every evening. Then, he would call me to discuss the day’s activities. My dad would give his opinion but mostly listen proudly to what we were accomplishing,” Steve remembers fondly.
Today, the company continues to thrive on the foundation Siegel built with a focus on serving clients in the beverage industry.
Although Siegel cherished his business, his family came first. He and his late wife, Joyce, who worked for many years in customer service at Industrial Contacts, were married for 65 years. They enjoyed traveling and spending time with their four grandchildren. Siegel was also an avid tennis player and golfer for many years.
“Nothing brought him more joy than spending time with family and watching the successes and achievements of his kids and grandchildren,” says Steve, pictured with his father and son at Expo East in 2017. “He will be missed not only by his family and friends but anyone who had the pleasure to meet him.”