The PPAI Expo’s elegant Chairman’s Dinner is an annual opportunity for the industry to gather and celebrate its luminaries on a special evening. This year, at PPAI Expo Direct-2-You, that celebration took place online as the Icon Recognition Event, held Monday night. Industry professionals from around the world, joined by recipients’ families, logged on to applaud 2021 PPAI Hall Of Fame inductee Teresa Moisant, MAS; 2021 PPAI Distinguished Service Award recipient Mark Abels, MAS; and 2021 PPAI H. Ted Olson Humanitarian Award recipient Bob Waldorf, CAS, among others.

Ira Neaman, MAS, PPAI’s 2020 Board Chair, hosted the evening’s program. He noted in his opening remarks, “I am thrilled to ‘see’ all of you—our former PPAI chairs, our past and present board members, our tireless volunteers and PPAI staff. While this event isn’t the same, our gratitude tonight is perhaps greater than ever because the last year certainly taught us the value of our promo community. This is a people industry and that’s why this is one of my favorite nights of the year … a night when we can come together and celebrate the best of us. Our trailblazers, our philanthropists, our mentors and our industry icons. These remarkable people have each contributed to making our industry what it is today.”

Named after the late H. Ted Olson, MAS, PPAI president emeritus, the PPAI H. Ted Olson Humanitarian award represents what Olson stood for—volunteerism inside and outside of the promotional products industry. Waldorf was recognized last night for the time and commitment he has dedicated to the promotional products industry during his 60-year career and his commitment to various philanthropic pursuits, including contributions to Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles and its summer camp and Waldorf’s namesake CAMP Bob Waldorf.

Speaking from his home in California, Waldorf encouraged Icon attendees and industry professionals to follow in his footsteps. “I know everyone is doing their very best at this time,” he said. “Reach out and make it happen. Our country needs you now and you will love how it makes you feel to participate.”

He also stepped back from the camera to introduce his wife, Toby, whom he referred to as his co-humanitarian for the past 55 years. “I couldn’t have done it without her,” Waldorf said.

The PPAI Distinguished Service Award celebrates members who consistently contribute their skills and expertise toward the betterment of the Association. Abels is recognized as a servant leader has contributed in numerous PPAI volunteer roles since 1995, leaving an enduring impression on every PPAI committee, task force and work group on which he served, while advancing the work and mission of each. He is also a PPAI Fellow and served on the Promotional Products Association of the Southwest (PPAS) board of directors.

“I want to thank PPAI, for all the recognition and for making volunteering possible and so easy,” Abels said. “Let’s be honest, all we have to do is show up once in a while and let the staff know our thoughts and ideas. I want to thank my team at SELCO, my parents for trusting me with SELCO and my grandfather’s legacy, and my wife and children.”

PPAI’s highest award, recognizing exceptional contributions to PPAI and the promotional products industry, was bestowed on Moisant. She has a distinguished history in the promotional products field as a longtime volunteer, speaker, mentor, advocate and champion of women in the industry. She was the recipient of PPAI’s Woman of Achievement Award in 2017 and the Distinguished Service Award in 2016.
After thanking her family, staff and colleagues in the industry, Moisant shared a bit about what drives her. “Growing up, I had four brothers and I always wanted to play ball with the boys. And being a coach appealed to me. PPAI has allowed me to use those coaching skills, and the part of it I love the most is looking for the new talent out there. One of the greatest moments is to sit in the stands and see the accomplishments of those you coached.”

Citing one of her favorite quotes, “When you help someone up the hill, you get closer to the top yourself," Moisant said, “Life is good when you help others. It’s made me the happiest person in the world. I love you all, this is a great honor.”

The evening’s program also included the recognition of nine member companies as Milestone Award recipients. The Milestone Awards are presented to celebrate a legacy of member support that makes what the Association does every day possible. Among those recognized was Colonial/Redi Record with 75 years as a PPAI member, and Alexander Manufacturing Co., Artina Promotional Products, Bankers Pen, Goldstar, Liberty Playing Card, Norscot Group, Per Pro and WOWLine with 50 years as a member.

Also celebrated last night were PPAI’s Promotional Pioneers. The Pioneers program recognizes the Association’s rich history and serves as an opportunity to honor the vision and innovation that’s responsible for the industry’s growth. Among those honored Monday night were Kenneth “The Colonel” Israel Berlekamp of Berlekamp Plastics, Inc., who was recognized by the Society of Plastic Engineers as the first to create a novelty item using the injection molding process; Richard “Dick” E. Kaeser of Kaeser & Blair, Inc., who is credited with the development of several industry products, revolutionizing its compensation system and expanding the reach of the industry by becoming the original licensee of Disney calendars; and Carl Rosenfeld, CAS, for his visionary business acumen, as one of the first in the industry to hire a woman salesperson and to allow his full-time salespeople to communicate directly with suppliers. Also, while serving as president of the Advertising Specialty Guild, Rosenfeld began the process of merging the industry’s two competing trade associations into the Specialty Advertising Association International, the precursor to today’s PPAI, and the Promotional Products Education Foundation traces its roots to the Carl E. Rosenfeld Education Foundation established in 1978.