PPAI Honors Berlekamp, Kaeser And Rosenfeld As 2021 Promotional Products Pioneers

Three legendary individuals have been named PPAI 2021 Promotional Products Pioneers in recognition of their business acumen or technological skills that have played a key role in the advancement of the industry. This year’s honors are presented posthumously to Kenneth Israel Berlekamp, Sr. of Berlekamp Plastics; Richard E. Kaeser of Kaeser & Blair, Inc.; and Carl Rosenfeld of Walter W. Cribbins. Each will be recognized in a video during the PPAI Expo Direct-2-You in January 2021.

Kenneth “The Colonel” Israel Berlekamp, Sr.—Innovation: Berlekamp introduced new technologies and applications to the promotional products industry. In 1948, he first brought glass, imprinted ashtrays to the specialty world and later injection molding, a process invented in the late 1800s. Berlekamp also converted a rubber extruding machine for injection molding. At some point after he became a member of the Society of Plastic Engineers, the organization was looking for all the different ways injection molding was being used, so he sent them a key tag he'd molded for the University of Arkansas in the shape of a razorback hog. The Society declared it was the first time the injection molding process was used to make a novelty item.

Richard “Dick” E. Kaeser—Champion/Game Changer: Kaeser is credited with several original ideas, products and contributions to the promotional products industry. He and his company, Kaeser & Blair, were the first in the U.S. to offer an “advertising matchbook”—K&B printed the cover and Loveland Match Co. produced the striker area. He also developed bumper signs printed on rain-resistant paraffined paper that were attached to automobile bumpers by wires or metal clips, and developed the Pullmatch business card. Working with Continental Specialties, Inc., in the 1940s and 1950s, he produced calendars. In 1947, the company became the original licensee of Disney calendars, featuring Goofy, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Pluto and Pinocchio, and photographed Marilyn Monroe for a calendar sold in the industry. In 1990, Kaeser & Blair developed the “3D Commission” payment method for its dealers with daily direct deposits for booked business.

Carl Rosenfeld—Visionary Business Model: Rosenfeld has several industry firsts to his name, including being the first to hire a woman salesperson and to hire full-time salespeople and let them communicate directly with suppliers. As president of the Advertising Specialty Guild, Rosenfeld saw the futility of an industry with two competing trade associations and took steps to effect its eventual merger with the Advertising Specialty National Association, forming the Specialty Advertising Association, now PPAI, in 1964. He was an early member and an active participant in the World Advertising Gift Exchange (WAGE), a global network comprised of international promotional products companies. The Promotional Products Education Foundation also traces its roots to Rosenfeld. It started with a $10,000 gift from Walter W. Cribbins company employees to honor his birthday.

The PPAI Promotional Products Pioneers recognition program was established several years ago to recognize those that have distinguished themselves in the industry through their vision, drive, innovation, character and leadership, or contributed to the development of technologies that stand out in industry advancement.

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Comments (2)
Cliff Quicksell, MAS+
November 6, 2020
I had the distinct pleasure of meeting and getting to know Carl Rosenfeld, for those that knew him, know he was a gentleman, highly professional - and approachable. I'll never forget the first time, nearly thirty-eight years ago, I mustered the courage to approach Carl at an SAAI (now PPAI) event. When I introduced myself I could tell he was a man of conviction, honorable and passionate. As we chatted, many people would wisk by and call his name (you icons on the industry know this) however he never flinched, never left direct eye contact with me, and listened intently! I so admired Carl and try to emulate those same qualities when I'm approached or am asked for help. Whoever made this decision - WELL DONE, I miss Carl.
Scott Larsen
November 5, 2020
Glad to see Carl Rosenfeld recognized. He was quite a businessman and a wonderful human being. So much could be said about him. I have fond memories of him going back fifty years ago when he brought my father Bill Larsen into this industry.
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