Obituary: Janelle Nevins, Summit Group

Nevins Was The 1999 Counselor Person Of The Year

Janelle NevinsJanelle Nevins, senior vice president of Top 40 distributor Summit Group (asi/339116) and 1999 Counselor Person of the Year, has died.

Nevins – one of the most influential women in the history of the ad specialty industry – started her career working part-time, in a family business, with her husband and father-in-law in 1978. An elementary school teacher, Nevins was on leave caring for her newborn son, when she closed her first deal – 50 lighters for a local Coca-Cola office in the Atlanta area. When Nevins became a full-time salesperson, Coca-Cola would become her most prestigious customer, as she effectively became a marketing liaison between the field and the company's corporate headquarters.

"I guess the best thing I had going for me was an attitude that I had nothing to lose and everything to gain," Nevins once said, in an interview with Counselor. "I began with zero – I didn't know anyone or anything, but I had a gut feeling about what would work and what wouldn't. I can truly say that I'm an example of someone who's built a business on their gut feelings."

Having grown her firm, Nevins Marketing Group, into an elite distributorship throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Nevins eventually sold her company to St. Louis-based Summit Marketing Group. In 2011, Summit amassed sales of $87 million, ranking as the 17th largest distributor in the industry.

Among her many accolades, Nevins was only the third woman ever named as Counselor's Person of the Year. She was also a former member of PPAI's board of directors and one of the founders of industry group, PeerNet.

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