Event Review: NAOPA 2019

For the 2019 NAOPA, there were six recipients in total. Coming from a diverse range of award categories, they all thoroughly deserve industry recognition.

The first North American Office Products Awards (NAOPA) handed out during the S.P. Richards Advantage Business Conference (ABC) this year in sunny San Diego, California, were the three dealer awards. These recognise individuals within the OP sector who have gone beyond expectations in their everyday business dealings.

Young Executive of the Year

Winner: Beth Freeman, EVP, FSIoffice

Presented by industry veteran and founder of InterBizGroup Tom Buxton, Beth Freeman became part of FSIoffice as a baby when her parents, Kim and Mark Leazer, created a nursery at work for her and her sister. After graduating from the University of North Carolina, she joined FSI full time. 

Buxton summed up Beth’s worthiness for this award in three words: precise, poised and passionate. He added that she exemplified everything that is good about the younger generation. In reference to ‘precise’, Buxton said that Beth had participated in numerous large winning bids, and “she gets it”.

She is “poised” with a calm and confident demeanour that everyone pays attention to. Finally, Beth is “passionate” about the business, is a hard worker, doesn’t miss deadlines, and responds quickly to all forms of communication.

Commenting on receiving the award, Beth said: “I am very honoured to have received the NAOPA Young Executive of the Year award. I have always wanted to be in the OP industry and am thrilled to get the chance to work with so many great people in our sector today.

“I am incredibly grateful to my grandfather, Jimmy Godwin, for starting FSI, and to the rest of my family for allowing me to be a part of this business and all that they have taught and continue to teach me each day. While there are many challenges that we face, I believe that they should instead be viewed as opportunities. I hope to work with the leaders of today and tomorrow to bring about changes that move FSIoffice and the independent dealer channel ahead.”

Congratulations to Beth Freeman, a well-deserved recipient of the award.

Professional of the Year

Winner: Jon Rossman, President, Chuckals office products

The purpose of the Professional of the Year award is to find the finest, already established, talent in the industry who is influencing the future of the independent dealer channel (IDC).

Last year’s Young Executive of the Year Myers Jordan of Herald Office Solutions presented the trophy to Chuckals President Jon Rossman. Jordan praised Jon for seeing opportunity in the industry when many outsiders did not, and for being an incredible success story and mentor.

Jon first arrived in the business supplies sector in 2010 as VP of Chuckals, a local OP company based in Tacoma, Washington. Over the past decade, he has completely immersed himself in the industry, and in 2017 proved to be a strong successor to Chuckals co-founder Al Lynden when he took over the business as owner and President.

Talking to OPI, Jon said: “It is truly a shock and incredible honour to be recognised for the 2019 NAOPA Professional of the Year award. The industry and its people are remarkable and have taught me so much. I am lucky to say that I have found work that I can truly be passionate about, and everyone has been incredibly willing to share and help with any problems or successes they have encountered. I owe this accolade to those who have allowed me to learn and grow from each one of their experiences.

“As an industry, we have the chance to make a difference in our communities and to build our businesses. I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to continue that mission alongside some of my best friends.”

Congratulations to Chuckals’ Jon Rossman for your contributions to the OP sector, as well as your own community.

Industry Achievement

Winner: Simon de Groot

Industry Achievement recognises individuals who have made a truly outstanding contribution to the OP industry over the course of their career and helped advance the IDC. According to the presenter of the trophy, NOPA President Mike Tucker, Simon ‘Scoop’ de Groot is the epitome of integrity, kindness, generosity and humour – a constant professional who has dedicated his career to independent dealers.

Employed by NOPA in the 1970s as its Managing Editor, Simon chronicled the industry as the association changed from NOPA to BPIA to OFDA and finally to IOPFDA, before eventually founding Independent Dealer magazine.

On receiving the award, Simon praised the IDC for its competitive nature, particularly against businesses that have more money, marketing muscle, people and technology. He also pointed out the generous nature of dealers in both contributing to industry charities as well as for caring deeply about their own communities.

“It’s been my pleasure and my very great privilege to try and tell the unique story of the IDC for the past 40 years. This award is really special, but whatever contribution I may have made to the business pales in comparison to what it’s given me.”

Vendor awards

The remaining three NAOPA trophies – the vendor awards – were handed out at the end of the ABC Business Solutions Expo.

Innovation of the Year

Winner: 3M – Scotch Flex & Seal Shipping Roll

Innovation is the key to driving the business supplies industry forward. 3M – a perennial award contender – has created a packaging solution to that saves time, money and waste. The Flex & Seal Shipping Roll requires users to simply cut, fold and press. It doesn’t need filler, is water and tear-resistant, and comes with a built-in cushion sheet to protect items.

Vonnie Provinzino, Shopper Marketing Manager of 3M’s Stationery & Office Supplies Division, said: “There are so many steps to preparing an item for shipment, and we saw the struggle that many individuals and SMBs were facing with the process. The Scotch brand Flex & Seal Shipping Roll is designed to save time, materials and space – some of the key challenges that businesses face in their effort to compete in the fast-paced e-commerce environment. 3M is tremendously proud to receive the Innovation of the Year award from OPI and strives to continue to bring this type of innovation to the market for years to come.”

Business Product of the Year

Winner: ChargeTech – 8 Bay Pin Code Video Charging Locker

Although a relative newcomer to the OP industry, ChargeTech is already making a name for itself by offering a new category for dealers to enter. The winning Business Product of the Year was the company’s video charging locker, which not only powers up mobile phones, but also provides a safe storage unit for valuables.

ChargeTech VP of Sales Mike Netter commented: “ChargeTech is grateful and thrilled to win Business Product of the Year for our video charging locker. Just as exciting is that now the OP industry can charge up sales in a whole new category with a product that can provide dealers the opportunity for deep penetration in their current customer base. It can also open whole new markets with prospects they may not have approached before.”

People’s Choice

Winner: ACCO Brands – GBC Foton 30 Automated Pouch-Free Laminator

The final NAOPA award was voted for by delegates at the ABC and OPI readers based in North America. And for the third consecutive time, ACCO Brands took home the trophy.

This year, ACCO displayed its ability to boost the traditional office products category with the launch of the GBC Foton 30 Automated Pouch-Free Laminator. Designed to improve productivity, the laminator automates the entire process, making it both time-efficient and cost-effective. Users can drop up to 30 documents at the time and save over 30 minutes that would have previously been spent dealing with the lamination process.

Ryan Pattee, Senior Director of Product Marketing at ACCO Brands, told OPI: “We are thrilled that the GBC Foton 30 was voted as the 2019 People’s Choice award winner. ACCO Brands has always prided itself on innovative and quality products and has continued that tradition with the GBC Foton 30, the first fully-automated desktop laminator.”