As SAAC moves forward in reinventing ourselves to continue supporting the vibrant, new members and organizations in our Southern California area, I love the idea of adding a column to our newsletter that reflects on the incredible people and impactful events that helped shape our organization. As a former SAAC president, I have the pleasure of kicking off this column, and it is my honor to do so.
I first attended a SAAC event back in 1982, the year I joined our industry as the “research boy” at the Walter W. Cribbins Company in Woodland Hills, California, working for Preshia Humecke. I quickly became involved with SAAC, serving on committees, taking photos at SAAC dinners, writing for the SAACTimes and helping with The SAAC Show in San Diego. Throughout the 1990s, I was the photographer for SAAC, taking shots with my trusty Canon SLR camera at every event and handing the film over to Joanne for processing and use in the newsletters. Later, for a year I worked as co-editor of the SAACTimes with Steve Tashman and served on more committees until eventually becoming SAAC President exactly 10 years ago.
When I look back on the many decades of service to SAAC and participation in so many wonderful events, I tried to focus on one memory that might crystalize my SAAC experience in this look-back article… and I came up with nothing. No single dinner, show or event came to mind—but what did come back to me, and what brings me the most personal value, are the many, many friendships that I developed in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s because of SAAC.
My very first week in the industry, back in May of 1982, I met multi-line rep Bob Collins, who took me under his wing, bought me a steak dinner at the White Horse Inn in Encino and introduced me to SAAC just before that summer SAAC show at the Town & Country at Hotel Circle in San Diego. Bob took me to meet Jim Smith, Eric Hirschman, Alex Krever, Neil Olinger, Cal Wofford and Bob Haynes—the great reps of SAAC and All Points West. Sadly, most are gone now, but the “Magic Man” Collins still, as ever, a road warrior.
So many of my closest industry friends ended up serving as SAAC president ahead of me, like Tommy Levin, Mikey Bistocchi, David Messe, Craig Spencer, Les Dorfman, Pattimo Lawrence and the great Steve Tashman and Bob Collins—all dear pals and trusted mentors, and all friendships formed weaved their way through SAAC. In more recent times, amazing people continued to enter my professional life via SAAC—wonderful industry pros like Lori Bolton-Herman, Craig Reese, Sarah DeBoer, Missy Kilpatrick, Steve Parker, Brian Padian and Angela Taylor. (If I seem like I’m name dropping, I am!)
Yes, for me SAAC is all about the people and the relationships, the ideas and the creativity, the connections and the friendships. I can never give back as much as I have received, but I’m trying. No matter where I worked, supplier or distributor, sales or management, the one constant has always been SAAC. I am eternally appreciative for my experiences with SAAC, and heartily encourage those who haven’t been around as long as I have to get involved and experience the camaraderie and support that SAAC brings to the fore.Rick Greene, MAS, is the western regional vice president for HALO Branded Solutions, is on the PPB Editorial Advisory Committee and is a former president of SAAC.