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2011 Supplier Woman of Distinction: Kim Newell, World Wide Lines
By Joan Chaykin
June 2011

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One might expect that a person who is promoted to president at a well-established company (in business since 1942), who is not only its first woman president but also its youngest, would be somewhat intimidating – not so in the case of Kim Newell.

Newell’s charming laid-back manner has been the spark for World Wide Lines’ (asi/98290) success for the last four years that she has been at the helm. The Covington, TN-based supplier enjoyed a 12% increase in sales in 2010 and has diversified from being mainly a drinkware supplier to introducing a new line of fabric and metal products, all with full-color printing. World Wide was also able to maintain its staff of over 100 employees during the downturn and, Newell says, maintain its service and quality levels.

“One of the key factors for us is how we took care of our customers during a down economy,” Newell says. “In the past, it was unheard of to offer lower minimums on our products, but we made that happen. Now that the economy is turning around, they remember us and how we took care of them when they were struggling.”

So what did Newell do before she became the head of a large, successful company? “I managed temporary staffing agencies and World Wide was one of my customers. Since the staffing industry was not something I wanted to do for the rest of my life, I took a position at World Wide as executive assistant to the president. I knew I was starting over, because I was at the top level at the staffing company and was actually in line to own those companies. But I walked away from it.”

Newell is forward-thinking and a proponent of social media, saying that it has forced the industry to become more progressive. Plus, she’s giving her time to industry-wide efforts as well. One of Newell’s roles is as a member on ASI’s Safety & Legislative Board. “There are safety measures that we have implemented that have been beneficial,” she says. “We all need to look at the products that we sell and be compliant.”

Newell also sees the value of participating in the community outside of work, sitting on various committees for her son’s school. “I think it’s very important to stay involved, not just in this industry, but in life,” Newell says. “You have to contribute and give back – you also get back when you give. This industry has been very good to me and it’s something that I’m committed to.” – JC

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