For the second time, the North American Office Products Awards (NAOPA) were hosted by OPI in association with Independent Suppliers Group (ISG) as part of Industry Week ’22, held at the fabulous Caesars Palace in Las Vegas from 6-11 November (read the Industry Week review).
Nine awards were up for grabs, acknowledging both product innovation in our sector as well as the people who sell those products and make a considerable contribution to our industry in one way or another.
There were some familiar names among the winning companies, testament to the continued drive and innovation in these organisations which are clearly paying off. We had two double winners this year, so a special shout-out goes to 3M and The HON Company for impressing in two categories.
As for the individual awards, emotions ran high as three worthy winners from the independent dealer community (IDC) were announced. They took to the stage to address a highly appreciative – and entertained – Industry Week audience with tales of their professional journeys.
A very big congratulations from the OPI team – for outstanding innovation, dedication to our sector and a relentless pursuit to learn, adapt and succeed.
The NAOPA 2022 winners
Best product – Core Business Product & Innovation of the Year
Winner: 3M – Scotch Cushion Lock Protective Wrap
The first NAOPA was given to the best Core Business Product. Despite all the talk of the decline of this segment, it was in fact a somewhat traditional office product which not only won this, but also another, category – Innovation of the Year – announced later on in the award proceedings.
3M’s Scotch Cushion Lock Protective Wrap ticked all the boxes for the NAOPA judges and was the clear winner in both categories. It addresses the need for safe packaging and offers a sustainable alternative to plastic.
The durable, all-in-one expanding paper wrap cushions, immobilises and conforms to items for protection during shipping, moving or storage. With a pull, it expands up to 60x its original volume, providing stabilised cushioning while eliminating the requirement for additional void fill.
Cushion Lock also uses an Advanced Self-Locking Technology to remove the need for tape, making it – in line with current customer expectations – 100% recyclable.
Speaking to OPI, a delighted Emily Hiner, 3M Stationery Office Channel Marketing Leader, said: “Thank you for this wonderful recognition. We are honoured to receive both the Core Business Product and Innovation of the Year awards. They mean so much to the Scotch brand and 3M.
“We are excited to bring an alternative to bubble wrap as our Scotch Cushion Lock is made with 100% recycled paper and is 100% recyclable. We are proud of our team’s dedication to lead with innovation while making the world a better place.”
Best Product – Facilities, Breakroom, Safety & Infection Control
Winner: Fellowes Brands – AeraMax Pro AM4 FLEX
There’s no doubt that the Facilities, Breakroom, Safety & Infection Control category has captured the innovation imagination – thanks to COVID-19.
It was Fellowes Brands who scooped the award for the second year running, this time with the AeraMax Pro AM4 FLEX. The judges appreciated the ‘plug-in and purify’ concept and thought it offered inventiveness and great market timing.
This air purifier is the vendor’s first unit on casters for ease of mobility throughout larger spaces.
It has dual 4-Stage H13 True HEPA Filtration and features active air quality monitoring using EnviroSmart Technology. PureView Technology, Fellowes’ patented sensor technology and display, provides real time status updates as the air is cleaned.
Always seeking to really own and lead its product categories, Beth Wright, Chief Commercial Officer at Fellowes Brands, commented: “We are thrilled to be recognised with this award as Fellowes continues to demonstrate market leadership in localised air quality management systems for shared environments. We look forward to our launches and reseller sales opportunities in this category in 2023 and beyond.”
Best Product – Furniture & Design
Winner: The HON Company – Workwall
Winner: The HON Company – Cofi
A category which has seen somewhat of a renaissance – partly pandemic-induced with changing work environments in mind – is that of furniture. The HON Company has risen to the challenge and won two awards for different products.
The Workwall proved hugely popular with the NAOPA judges and triumphed in the Furniture & Design category while the Cofi chair was the firm favourite with OPI readers and attendees of Industry Week, comprehensively winning the People’s Choice award.
Workwall – described by the judges as functional, personalised and attractive – is a dynamic and easy-to-install, cohesively engineered tile system which mixes and matches fabric, metal, glass and laminate materials with smart tools and accessories.
Hon’s Cofi executive chair, meanwhile, is equally customisable with three control mechanisms that support different positions and postures.
Ric Andersen, VP & General Manager of The HON Company, said: “We are excited to win the NAOPA for innovation in the furniture space and the People’s Choice overall award. Both awards showcase the capabilities and innovation of HON as well as the support of our dealer community.”
Best Product – Technology
Winner: Kensington – Universal 3-in-1 Pro Audio Headset Switch
No other segment impacts the way people work currently as much as technology. And the scope of what ‘technology’ can mean is vast as the shortlist showed, incorporating everything from health and wellness-related tech products to items which facilitate mobility and flexibility.
Kensington is an expert in the field and it was its Universal 3-in-1 Pro Audio Headset Switch taking home the award. “Clever and simple” is how the NAOPA judges referred to this communication tool.
Explaining how it works, Ada Yang, Director of Global Product Management at Kensington, told OPI: “The Universal 3-in-1 Pro Audio Headset Switch addresses the reality that today’s mobile professionals are typically multi-device users.
“It enhances productivity by giving workers the ability to connect a single headset to multiple wired and wireless devices, such as a laptop, tablet and smartphone, and switch between them instantly with the press of a button.”
NAOPA 2022 individual awards
Products aside, the second set of awards recognise individuals who, in some way, are making – or have made – a valuable, outstanding even, contribution to the US business supplies space. They are at varying stages of their careers but are, without question, shining examples among their peer groups.
Young Executive of the Year
Winner: HB Macey IV, Perry Office Plus
If the shortlist of the Young Executive of the Year is anything to go by, there’s plenty of talent coming through the ranks. But the NAOPA judges ultimately settled on one individual who impressed them the most – HB Macey of Perry Office Plus.
Introduced by his father Harry Macey, HB is a hard worker who has always loved getting stuck into this industry – all the way back to elementary school!
Since graduating in 2010, he has helped Perry Office Plus on a full-time basis to grow – organically, in new product categories, expanded geographies and through acquisitions.
A big milestone came in June 2021 when he became President of the Texas-based dealership. Another huge occasion occurred at the beginning of this year when HB, with his wife Lynnsay, bought the company from his parents. And he’s already bought his first firm as owner with the purchase of V-Quest Office Machines & Supplies in October.
HB referred to himself as a “true creature of a succession story”, but pointed out that this was “not an HB award, but one for the whole team”. The future of Perry Office Plus looks safe in the hands of HB Macey.
Professional of the Year
Winner: Charles Kennedy, Kennedy Office
Real leaders see solutions, not problems; they guide rather than direct. They have passion for what they do. Enter Charles Kennedy, CEO of Kennedy Office.
A second-generation leader of the business, Charles started his Kennedy Office career in 1992, early in his tenure facing considerable – and new – competition, while always striving to keep the dealership relevant and on a growth path.
As his sister and business partner Mary Catherine Kennedy Sigmon said when announcing this NAOPA winner: “The IDC and its cast of characters are his passion. He is a natural salesman and has been instrumental in the success of Kennedy Office by networking and winning new customers, many of whom remain loyal to us today.”
In addition to his evident commercial talents, Charles is also an individual with a fantastic sense of humour – and musicality – as he proved when accepting the award and bringing the Industry Week house down by breaking into song several times. Here’s a current leader, who has plenty more to give in the years to come.
Winner: David Guernsey, Guernsey
As always, for the Industry Achievement trophy, the judges look for an inspirational person – someone who may have been instrumental in the success of his own organisation or has helped advance the US business supplies sector as a whole.
The winner has done both and plenty more, and when his name was announced by fellow IDC great Bruce Eaton, nobody was surprised.
There’s no shadow of a doubt that David has dedicated his professional life to supporting the US – the global, in fact – independent dealer channel.In his heartfelt introduction, Eaton referred to David’s 50+ years in business and paid tribute to his friend and, metaphorically speaking, partner in crime.
“This person has redefined the term collaboration. The list of his achievements is endless: from uniting dealers to compete with big box competitors that formed in the 1980s, to spearheading an effort to combine Independent Stationers, TriMega and Pinnacle into a single entity that is now ISG; and finally organising a small group of independents into Supply Chain Investment Group. His boundless energy has made us all more successful.”
There is so much more that could be said about this individual – pages and pages which could be filled (as OPI has over the years with his insight). Picking up his award to rapturous applause, David’s first two words summed it all up: “How special.”