Winner: Jim O’Brien
Usually the last NAOPA to be announced, this year’s Industry Achievement trophy was the first one to be handed out during the opening General Session of the ABC. And there was a good reason for that, since it went to none other than SP Richards’ (SPR) very own Jim O’Brien who retired at the end of last year.
The award was introduced by SPR SVP of Sales Don Mikolasy, who paid tribute to O’Brien’s life-long career in the office products industry and specifically to his past 30 years at SPR, where he started in 1987 as General Manager of the company’s Hartford, Connecticut, branch.
Mikolasy began working with O’Brien in 2002 when the latter relocated to Atlanta to accept a promotion to VP of Dealer Development. In that role, said Mikolasy, he built a team that was solely focused on creating a variety of sales and marketing tools to enable independent dealer customers to effectively compete and win in the marketplace. That team was able to capitalise on O’Brien’s extensive knowledge and field experience. The results were evolutionary and included innovative new tools, such as the consumer-priced matrix catalogue for dealers.
O’Brien’s commitment to the independent dealer channel (IDC) was legendary and his passion for the IDC was never more evident than during the ABCs which he was instrumental in first launching and then spearheading for 19 years.
Indeed, as emcee of the ABCs, O’Brien further strengthened his reputation for being hugely engaged with the dealer community. Just how much dealers appreciate that passion and engagement was evident when he walked onto the stage to accept the award to a standing ovation and rapturous applause from a packed auditorium of delegates and SPR staff.
Modest and humble, O’Brien spoke of his time at SPR and support of independents as a “labour of love”. His advice to dealers? “Stay focused and find a way to grow your business.”
Young Executive of the Year
Winner: Myers Jordan, Herald Office Solutions
The Young Executive of the Year award is fast becoming an established feature of the NAOPA. This year honours a person who has only been in the OP industry for five years, having first graduated from The Citadel in 2013 and then receiving an MBA from the University of South Carolina in 2015.
But in that time he has shown a huge amount of initiative, both inside and outside of the family business, as his father Thomas Jordan, President of Herald Office Solutions, pointed out. He tackles any projects put in front of him, is heavily involved with the industry’s millennial generation through SPR’s YES! as well as TriMega’s NEXT committees, and has been instrumental in moving forward Herald’s breakroom and jan/san categories. He’s a true potential leader of the future – congratulations to Herald Office Solutions’ Myers Jordan.
Professional of the Year
Winner: Yancey Jones Jr, The Supply Room
The Professional of the Year award also went to a personality in a family business in our industry which, incidentally, is one of the biggest independent dealers in the US. This is a person who has become a real “go-to” executive in our sector, somebody who is engaged and progressive, who drives the business forward and thinks outside the box.
He’s also exceptional at running the company on a day-to-day basis with his brother
and his father. Indeed, it was his brother Dutch Jones, who presented this award, culminating in a heartfelt and emotional embrace by the two. The Professional of the Year trophy went to Yancey Jones Jr, COO of acquisitive independent, The Supply Room in Virginia, US.
“Shocked and honoured” to be receiving the award and in typical positive fashion, Yancey Jr acknowledged all the challenges of the industry – much talked about over the course of the ABC – but prefers to adopt a resilient attitude, instead viewing them as opportunities. Very warm congratulations and a hearty well done go to this year’s Professional of the Year.
Innovation of the Year
Winner: 3M – Post-it Extreme Notes
Nothing determines the success of an industry more than innovation. This particular award seeks to discover truly groundbreaking products and ensure they receive the recognition they deserve. Functionality, design, originality, potential to generate revenue, and excellent supporting marketing material and content, especially video, are core criteria that have to be met.
The winner was an undisputed frontrunner – 3M Post-it Extreme Notes. These notes are designed to facilitate communication in tough conditions. Made with ultra-strong Dura-Hold paper and adhesive, they stick securely to a range of textured surfaces, including raw wood, bricks, cement, tiles, steel and more. Post-it Extreme Notes are durable and water-resistant, so they can withstand extreme conditions both indoors and outdoors.
Receiving the award, Vonnie Provinzino, Shopper Marketing Manager of 3M’s Stationery & Office Supplies Division, said: “3M is incredibly honoured to receive the Innovation of the Year award from OPI. At 3M, our team is committed to bringing new technologies to new consumers to help improve productivity and communication in their everyday lives.
“Post-it️ Extreme Notes were developed for consumers working outside of traditional office spaces and we’ve been amazed at the positive response we’ve received on the product’s performance. We’ve heard from workers across a wide array of verticals including manufacturing, restaurant/food service and healthcare.”
Business Product of the Year
Winner: MMF Industries –TruVue Verification System
This vendor award recognises simply the best product in any vertical. The judges were looking for a number of criteria to be met: product innovation, design and functionality; if it is an existing product, how has the product improved upon previous incarnations; benefits for the reseller and the consumer; and the level of marketing support, innovation and initiatives in promoting the product to the end-user.
The winner of this category is a company that has become very familiar to the judges, having also been a NAOPA recipient both in 2016 and 2017.
It is MMF Industries and the product is the TruVue Verification System. A delighted Ivelisse Gomez, Senior Manager of New Product Development and Marketing at MMF, told OPI: “The TruVue Verification System is a space-saving, multi-purpose product that helps users minimise loss by identifying counterfeit bills, fake identification cards and cloned credit cards. TruVue helps businesses realise measurable improvements by streamlining verification processes.
The great feedback we’ve received from distributors and dealers in the retail and hospitality industries are testament to the early success of TruVue and the continued evolution and growth of our brand.”
Winner: ACCO Brands – Swingline Stack-and-Shred Auto Feed Shredder, SmarTech-enabled 750X, 600X, 300X
The final vendor award announced at the ABC was the People’s Choice. This is the product that is picked by OPI readers and ABC delegates. And it’s those delegates that tipped the balance in favour of ACCO Brands’ shredder with a SmarTech-enabled app as voting went right down to the wire on the last day of the ABC.
This Swingline shredder takes the Stack-and-Shred’s time-saving and productivity-enriching feature to the next level by sending notifications to the SmarTech app on a user’s phone or tablet, communicating the status of the shred job.
According to Cory Jones, Associate Product Manager at ACCO Brands, initial feedback to the app, which was launched in January, has been overwhelmingly positive, particularly from its existing customer base that is already familiar with the Stack-and-Shred Auto Feed shredders. He said: “This is the world’s first shredder with a mobile app and we’re incredibly proud of this achievement and of winning the award.”
His colleague, National Account Manager Terri Freeman, added: “The app is particularly attractive to facilities managers who take care of a whole range of shredders in a building. It tells them when a job is done or when there’s something wrong, saving them a lot of time and making them much more efficient.”
Congratulations to ACCO Brands for reinvigorating an established category with a brand new contemporary concept.