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2010 Marvin Spike Lifetime Achievement Award: Harry Rosenberg, Ariel Premium Supply
By Betsy Cummings
May 2010

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It was almost too much to believe. Ten million coasters. Who could possibly need that many little round objects on which to rest glasses? And yet, there was the order – a dream request, and it landed on the desk of a rep at Ritepoint Pen Corporation a few years after Harry Rosenberg bought the company in the early 1950s. Yet, he had to turn the order down because Ritepoint’s eight-cavity mold machine couldn’t produce the thousands a day it would need – a tough early lesson for Rosenberg. "Unfortunately," he says, "when we could handle it, the deal was never repeated."
Few have seen as many changes and ups and downs of the ad specialty industry as Rosenberg has, who, at 83, is still a marketing consultant for Ariel Premium Supply Inc. (asi/36730). Another lesson he’s learned along the way: personal touches matter. Early on he made a point of making house calls on the smallest of distributors in the most remote locations, logging as much as 60,000 driving miles a year to do so. "We found out that if you go into some of the little towns where distributors are that nobody ever calls on, and the boss of the company comes in – that’s impressive," he says.

Take the small-distributor’s door he once knocked on in Republic, MI, population 614. The owner wasn’t home, but his wife invited Rosenberg in and offered to make him lunch while he waited. The husband never showed, but was clearly moved by Rosenberg’s personal touch. He got all the pen orders from this distributor for the next 15 years – some $20,000 a year in orders.

By 1976 Rosenberg sold Ritepoint and decided to become an industry consultant, starting Specialty Advertising Consultants in St. Louis, to assist new suppliers entering the industry. He was also elected to the PPAI board of directors in 1972 and named chairman of the organization in 1975. In 1983, he became a member of PPAI’s Hall of Fame, honoring what is now more than 56 years of time in the industry.

Looking back on the industry that he first heard mentioned when his father sold advertising on matchbooks, Rosenberg thinks the ad specialty market is stronger than ever. "There are so many positives," he says. "I don’t think it could do anything but grow." – BC

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