NAOPA 2015: And the gong goes to…

This year's North American Office Products Awards (NAOPA), held again as part of SP Richards' ABC event, saw both familiar and perhaps lesser-known companies scoop trophies for a truly eclectic mix of products


Best Product – Core Office Products

3M- Post-it Dry Erase Surface

While the concept of a whiteboard on a roll has been tried before, the judges felt that 3M’s attention to detail, its marketing prowess and the Post-it name will see this product flying off dealers’ shelves.

The Post-it Dry Erase Surface allows users to easily transform any material – a wall, glass, steel, wood or even old chalk boards – into a pristine, dry-erase board. It requires no tools – just unroll, peel and stick. 

The education vertical is a key market for 3M, said Lawrence Lynott, VP of US Operations (right, with Vonnie Provinzino, middle): “We’ve had great feedback from educators about how the product enhances the classroom environment. This is a great opportunity for us to further increase awareness as, essentially, the product works on any flat surface.”


Best Product – Furniture

Mayline- Keep Modular Wall System

The Keep Modular Wall System from Mayline is a mid-market modular wall solution, competitively priced, attractive and highly functional. The judges loved its flexibility and two-sided access along with multiple component options and unlimited number of freestanding sections. 

Rod Ganiard (second from left), VP of Sales at Mayline, commented: “We knew we had some tough competition, so are very happy to win this award. The system is suitable – and quickly reconfigurable – for any open office environment where people want to divide spaces non-permanently. It also provides storage as well as potential meeting spaces in, say, breakrooms or reception areas.” 


Best Product – Technology

Paris Corporation – Weego Jump Starter Battery+

Starts your car engine, charges your phone and tablet, fits in your pocket – that’s a convincing tagline for a product in today’s fast-paced world. 

And Paris Corporation clearly captured the imagination with the Weego Jump Starter Battery+. It was the standout product in the Technology category in terms of innovation, one of the judges said, while another referred to it as being “cool and innovative”.

Not aimed directly at the office channel, but at all demographics, National Account Manager Randy Garrett (left, with Peter Leon, middle), said: “Our end users are firms with a delivery fleet, car dealers or, of course, first responders like the police, fire and ambulance services.” 

Given our ever-evolving workforce, the product’s audience is only going to get bigger. Well done to Paris!


Best Product – Cleaning & Breakroom

Newell Rubbermaid- Executive Quick Cart

The Executive Quick Cart brings a new element of style and sophistication to the Rubbermaid Commercial family of cart products. The judges felt it was a compelling and contemporary take on the usual unsightly janitorial carts and is a welcome innovation to a mature and neglected category. 

National Account Manager Nate Hohenstein (pictured with Victoria Henderson, right), said: “This award reinforces for us that we are leading through innovation with products like our Executive Quick Cart line. This is another way our end users, dealers and distributors confirm that our strategy is correct for the channel.”

Well done to Newell Rubbermaid for making cleaning sexy as well as executive!


Product Innovation of the Year

ITW Pro Brands – Sertun Rechargeable Sanitizer Indicator Towels

Addressing the threat of cross-contamination, Sertun Rechargeable Sanitizer Indicator Towels work as the towels change colour when saturated in the sanitiser solution. The colour indicates when there’s not sufficient sanitiser in the towel and it needs to be replaced. 

Since its launch about a year ago, Sertun has typically been used in the foodservice industry. Rich Bucher, Director of Strategic Accounts (right, with Andy Brolin, middle), was delighted about the exposure now gained with the NAOPA: “The office channel offers great potential for us. Anyone who has a cafeteria or a breakroom benefits from this brand new and patented technology.”


People’s Choice 

3M- Post-it Dry Erase Surface

3M scooped a second trophy on the day with the much-anticipated People’s Choice award, for its hugely popular Post-it Dry Erase Surface. The award was handed out during the final night evening entertainment programme of the ABC. 

It’s the first time since the inception of the People’s Choice in 2012 that OPI readers and ABC delegates agreed entirely with the NAOPA judges and voted for a product that also won an award in one of the five vendor categories. The initial People’s Choice shortlist of 20 had been narrowed down to six finalists when voting recommenced in the evening and Gala Dinner attendees had the chance to cast their final vote. 

Congratulations to 3M for capturing everybody’s imagination with a truly versatile product.


Professional of the Year

John Givens 

This coveted award was introduced by Michael Morris, EVP of Marketing at TriMega (pictured right), and the prize went to John Givens (middle), CEO of Source Office & Technology (SourceOT). Givens was described by Morris as one of the most energetic ambassadors of our industry and a real trailblazer, always willing to go the extra mile for his business and his family.

Over the past year, he has orchestrated the acquisition of a contract furniture dealer, positioning SourceOT as a full-line commercial and contract source for a wide variety of product and service categories.

An emotional Givens said: “Knowing the calibre and professionalism of so many great leaders in the North American dealer community makes this award all the more meaningful, so I’d like to say a heartfelt ‘thank you’.”


Industry Achievement Award

Jim Hebert

The final and perhaps most eagerly awaited award of the night – Industry Achievement – went to Office Partners owner and CEO Jim Hebert after an emotional tribute given by his son Matthew, who is Marketing Manager and Dealer Development at the buying group. 

Matthew described his father as a “friend of the vendor”. With a long previous career in OP, he started Office Partners 17 years ago. Matthew said: “He had no members/dealers and no promise of sales. But, with the trust and support of the vendor community, he had programmes.” 

Office Partners has grown membership to over 600 locations in the US, including some of the largest dealers in the industry.

For more on Office Partners and Hebert’s reaction to the award, look out for our Big Interview in September OPI.