Top Brands Announces Ownership Change
Oshkosh, Wisconsin, supplier Top Brands (UPIC: topbrand) has announced a change of ownership. Owner Norma Jean Knollenberg, C.I.P., CPIM, and her husband, Gus, are retiring and have sold the company to Gary and Pam Slavonic, who will take the reins at the beginning of November. The Knollenbergs will stay on with the company through the end of 2015 to assist with the transition.
“Top Brands will be 55 years old next year, and its success has primarily been because of the commitment and hard work of our employees and that will not change,” says Knollenberg. “The foundations of this company aren’t changing. Gary and I share the same philosophies in business and he brings years of experience and knowledge in the channel, so I feel strongly that with Gary at the helm and with the staff to support him, Top Brands will continue to flourish and grow.”
The Slavonics have been in the promotional products industry for a number of years and Gary Slavonic, MAS, was most recently PPAI’s business development director. Prior to joining to PPAI he served as regional sales manager at Alliance Laundry Systems and was a managing partner at Premier Incentives for 19 years. Pam Slavonic has been a sales executive at Premier Incentives for 25 years.
“Norma Jean and Gus have done an excellent job of building Top Brands into one of the industry’s leading suppliers,” says Slavonic. “Pam and I are very excited to be writing the next chapter in Top Brands history. We have a good understanding of the market and want to build on the success Top Brand has had. Our first order of business is to better learn the company, meet people and get to know the staff. We know that any time there’s a change of ownership, staff have a lot of questions and we want to be sure that everyone is comfortable.”
Knollenberg has been supplying merchandise to the incentive and promotional products industry for 37 years. She began her industry career as premium sales manager for Omaha Steaks International and in 1982 joined Top Brands, Inc. The company joined PPAI in 1991 but sold imprinted products to distributors for several years prior to that. Knollenberg became owner of Top Brands, which has been in operation for 54 years, in 1993.
A member of the PPAI Board of Directors, Knollenberg will fulfill her board term at The PPAI Expo 2016 in January. She has been an active industry volunteer for many years serving on the Board of National Premium Sales Executives (NPSE) and as president in 1990. She also served on the board of Incentive Manufacturers and Representatives Association (IMRA) and was president in 1999-2000. In addition, she was on the Steering Committee to develop the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA), served on the board and was president in 2009. In her community, Knollenberg served for three years on the Fox Valley Technical School Board and six years on the board for Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services, Inc., for which she also was president in 2001.
She earned her Certified Incentive Professional (C.I.P.) designation in 1986 and in 1994 was honored as the C.I.P. Person of the Year. In 2005 she earned her CPIM (Certified Professional of Incentive Management) designation and in 2012 received the IMA President’s award.