Few names are as well-known in the promotional products business as Ron Ball. While one of his greatest accomplishments is being responsible for more than $60 million in sales during his more than 40-year tenure at ASI, it is his outgoing and fun-loving personality, his ‘Ron-isms,’ but most importantly his kindness and caring for those in the industry that have made him the legendary “Uncle Ron.”
On Thursday, about 100 of Ron’s closest friends at ASI came to the Buck Hotel, near ASI’s headquarters in Trevose, PA, to celebrate the senior vice president of supplier sales’ retirement. Photos of Ron from throughout his illustrious career were set up around the room, as his colleagues and friends shared their favorite moments with Ron and saying how much they would miss him.
“ASI is Ron Ball,” ASI vice chairman Matthew Cohn said.
Other ASI employees shared their own stories of Ron from work and trade shows.
ASI chief operating officer Vince Bucolo shared stories from Ron’s early days at ASI, the only time Ron ever got mad, the days when Ron rocked a ponytail and the time Ron checked into the wrong hotel at a Las Vegas trade show.
Michele Bell, ASI director of editorial operations, who referred to Ball as “my work husband of 18 years” told a story from their trip to a trade show in Europe, with a now-famed stop along the way in Amsterdam to “enjoy the tulips.”
Ron’s knack for always treating people well and like family was mentioned by almost everyone throughout the party. “You just have this innate ability and genuine talent to make people feel like one of your own,” Bell said.
“It didn’t really matter if it was a longtime friend or new supplier, he always treated his customers with respect,” ASI employee of the year Matt Canamucio said.
Tom Shaw did his “dead-on” Ron impersonation, which included what Ron would sound like doing the Nae-Nae dance as well as real Ron Ball sayings.
“You can often be imitated but never duplicated,” Shaw said.
However, it was not only ASI employees that came to celebrate Ron. His closest supplier friends provided gift bags for guests and three of them, Jeanna Abercrombie and Jeff Sliva from Pepco Poms and Kippie Helzel from Keystone/CPS Line, actually traveled from Texas and Connecticut, respectively, to be with him at the party.
Helzel, who is close with Ron and his whole family, has been working with Ron since 1987. “He quickly became a true mentor,” she said. “Of course a friendship blossoms out of that.”
Despite the funny anecdotes and celebrations, the day was still bittersweet, with everyone saying how much they’d miss Ron.
“We miss you at the office as much as you could possibly imagine, probably even more than you could possibly imagine,” ASI CEO Tim Andrews said.
Ball felt incredibly lucky for all of the love and support he received from ASI and others in the industry. “You make it your business to learn the business and make friends with everyone in the business and it will pay back to you 100-fold as it has for me,” he said. “I’m going to miss you tremendously.”
See a slideshow of Ron Ball's retirement party, below!