2012 Hot List - The Next Wave
Meet Those Committed To The Future Of The Industry
If there's one question that defines this industry it's "What's New?" Suppliers hear it on a constant loop from their clients when they exhibit at industry trade shows, and distributors are forever being grilled by their clients about the latest and greatest product offerings.
But we invite you to contemplate an equally crucial aspect to the "What's New?" query: The people that populate the industry. As with any smart business, a succession plan is key to its success. With that in mind, we present to you people who've shown – through their ability to galvanize others as change-makers – their commitment to the future of our industry.
Jeff Hinds, now only 29, has been with Rainkist since he graduated college at 21. When the industry collectively whines that young people aren't gravitating to our business, he begs to differ. He declares his love for the industry and says he's here to stay.
Josh Goodelman, omnipresent at shows and after-hours events alike, is poised to take the reins of his family's company, Liqui-Mark, and shepherd it into its next incarnation using his formidable social media, networking and marketing skills to cultivate new relationships for the industry overall. Rhea Aslin, with Counselor Top 40 supplier SanMar, is spearheading the company's foray into street-wise, cutting-edge apparel for juniors and young men with its just-launched District line.
A devotee of golf and the movie Old School, that doesn't stop Scott Alterman, owner of distributor The Icebox, from focusing as much on work as play, carving out a portion of his company's resources for civic and charitable causes. Anthony San Martino, son of the owners of Genesis, works in the trenches at his family's business, not content to be handed a titled position without paying his dues. Frenchman Bruce Coustillas, owner of Frenchy Stars, brings his unique brand of savoir faire to his bling-based business and his networking, cutting quite a wake through the industry in a very short amount of time.
And John Hurley? Well, he started his business, Campus Cups, as a freshman in college. With that kind of ambition and drive, he could have gone into any profession, yet he's chosen ours. And for that, as well as the other Gen Nexters on this page, the industry sighs with relief.
Scott Alterman, The IceBox
Scott Alterman, owner of The Icebox (asi/229395), launched the business as a full-service ad specialty company with CEO Jordy Gamson. Alterman merged his ASI company Gagwear with The Icebox, and now heads a charitable and civic-minded organization that produces all kinds of cool promotional products, from tees to cups to totes and tumblers. His favorite movie is Old School, and when not brainstorming his next big idea with his business partner, you'll most likely find him on the golf course.
Rhea Aslin, SanMar
In just over a year, senior brand manager Rhea Aslin at SanMar (asi/84863) has completely relaunched the District Threads brand as District, a line for juniors and young men, and District Made, a casual yet stylish line. Her favorite vacation spot is a small town called Mavro Lithari in southern Greece where she relaxes and spends time with family, and she likes to change it up constantly with her iPod on Shuffle.
Bruce Coustillas, Frenchy Stars
Bruce Coustillas, president and CEO of hip custom sunglasses supplier Frenchy Stars (asi/55465), does it all. His self-proclaimed mission is to "create and develop new marketing products that will reduce production, creation, and management costs for distributors," and he still finds time to keep his line fresh by introducing new designs and frames twice a year. When he needs a break from being the industry's golden child, Coustillas likes to leave his phone and computer at home and vacation on the island of Saint Martin.
Josh Goodelman, LiquiMark
How long have you been in the industry?
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
"I see myself as the trade show bitch, selling markers, pens and crayons ... Spending the summers on the beach in Montauk. Wait, I'm doing that now."
What's the best advice you've gotten since being in the industry?
"Make friends with everyone -- something I love to do. Network with fellow suppliers just as much or more as distributors. This business is very supportive and filled with people making recommendations and great connections."
What would you change about the industry if you could?
"The dynamic of how distributors rely on suppliers to do what we all do best is how this business was built. I would change distributors sourcing direct from overseas factories, eliminating it. As suppliers we expand the creativity level, secure the safety and quality of products and ensure reliability all around."
What song best describes you?
"A friend said I should answer this one with Don't Worry Be Happy. I have to agree."
Who would play you in a movie?
"Seth Rogen. Why not?! He's cool."
Jeff Hinds, Rainkist
Favorite thing about the industry?
"The friendships I've formed with both suppliers and distributors while traveling across the country."
Where does he see himself in 5-10 years?
"As vice president of sales or possibly even go to the other side by owning my own distributorship. Either way I definitely see myself remaining in this industry."
What's the best advice you've received in the industry?
"My boss Richard Meth always told me to be accessible to our customers. If you don't respond quickly they will move onto the next supplier."
What would you change about the industry?
"A greater sense of loyalty. In some rare cases we come down to the price point a customer asks for and they still use another supplier. And in the same respect end users often do the same thing to suppliers by going direct."
What song best describes you?
"Hungry Heart by Bruce Springsteen because I'm always striving to increase sales and be the best possible rep I can. Plus I'm from Jersey so I have to show The Boss some love.
Who would play you in a movie?
"Kerr Smith. He is not a well known actor or even a particularly good one, but I'm just constantly told by even complete strangers how much I look like him.
Favorite TV Show?
"In another nod to Jersey, I would have to say Boardwalk Empire. The writing and characters are amazing plus it is the only show that has filled the void The Sopranos left after going of the air."
John Hurley, Campus Cups
As a freshman in college, John Hurley visited Penn State on a football game weekend and noticed the vast amount of blank plastic cups left over from tailgates. He and a few friends realized there was a largely untapped market at universities: customized, disposable plastic cups with branded logos. He is the founder of Campus Cups (asi/156422) and, as president, has made about $120,000 in revenue so far in 2012. He would like to see Johnny Depp play him in a movie about his life, and his favorite food is Cincinnati Chili.
Anthony SanMartino, Genesis
Customer Service Superstar may not be Anthony SanMartino's official position at emblematic jewelry supplier Genesis (asi/56420), but, judging from his clients' feedback, he's more than earned the honorary title. Genesis has one of the most solid customer satisfaction records in the industry, and it's clear that Vice President SanMartino's motto of "failure is not an option" has played a major role in their success. If he's not busy exceeding the company's goals of exceptional customer service, quality products, competitive pricing, and timely deliveries, SanMartino can be found at football fields and gymnasiums, coaching his three children's sports teams.