Board Of Directors
Joe Harris (Chairman)
Joe Harris is a Partner and Vice President of Web Development of Whereoware, a web development and digital marketing firm located in Northern Virginia. Joe joined Whereoware in 2004 and currently manages the department responsible for developing e-commerce, website and technical-based projects for over 150 Whereoware customers. Prior to joining Whereoware, Joe was a Founder and Vice President at SmartPants Media, a multimedia, software design firm specializing in the creation of interactive CD-ROMS, websites, and kiosks for marketing and educational purposes. He worked directly with a wide assortment of clients including non-profit organizations, small to medium-sized business, and federal and state governments. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Joe is also a certified Project Manager (PMP).
Allison Barrows (President)
Allison Barrows is the National Director of Sales and Marketing with the Ganz Gift Company, established by Samuel Ganz and sons Jack and Sam in 1950. This privately-held, family company is now headed by the founder's grandson, Howard Ganz, at the corporate headquarters, located in Woodbridge, ON, Canada. Allison has worked for Ganz for the last 14 years and has served on the GHTA Board of Directors for the last two years. Prior to Ganz, Allison worked for The Limited Corporation, as a Store Director and Regional Trainer for five years, after graduating from Appalachian State University, where she was an All-American soccer player.
George Kacic (Vice President)
George Kacic, the gift and home furnishings industry leader widely acknowledged as a visionary force in the U.S. wholesale and retail communities, is Executive Vice President of Retail Services at AmericasMart Atlanta.
Kacic previously served as the President of U.S. operations for Giftcraft, Ltd, the Toronto-based lifestyle home decor and giftware industry leader serving a diverse network of specialty retailers around the world. In his new role, Kacic directs AmericasMart's large and growing retail services operations with a major focus on sustaining and expanding domestic and international retailer and designer presence and enhancing their experience while attending AmericasMart's 14 annual markets and shows.
Kacic's career spans more than 36 years within the home and gift community, including senior sales and business development roles at GANZ and Russ Berrie. His career also reflects long service to the industry through leadership of the Gift & Home Trade Association (GHTA) and other prominent trade organizations. Prior to his Giftcraft presidency, Kacic enjoyed a long tenure at GANZ USA, where he served as Vice President for 20 years. Previous positions also include a seven-year engagement with Russ Berrie; five years as President of an independent sales representative firm; and a Vice Presidency with Takara USA, during which he helped establish the Japan-based firm within the U.S. market.
His industry activities are as deep-rooted as his corporate leadership. He is vice-chairman of the Gift for Life Board, on which he has served since 2011, and has served for nine years on the GHTA Board, during which time he has held the offices of President, Chairman Emeritus and ICON HONORS founding partner. Kacic has received numerous awards from GHTA, including the prestigious Luminary Scholarship Award, which is devoted to the enhancement of leadership and business development skills in young students. His most recent industry honor was conferred in January 2012, when he received Gift for Life's highly respected Chuck Yancy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Kacic's extensive knowledge of the retail industry gained through his year of experience will be invaluable to his achieving success as he assumes his responsibilities within AmericasMart.
Dylan Schauben (Secretary)
Dylan is the Vice President JGROB Associates, a sales and marketing representative agency serving the mid-Atlantic and Ohio Valley region. Dylan is the co-founder and Chairman of the Board for the Young Gift Executives, an organization in the gift and home industry that focuses on furthering the development of the gift trade, addressing key challenges facing the sustainability of the industry and engaging new audiences to ensure a vibrant future. Through education, collaboration, industry dialogue, and philanthropic opportunities, the YGE is committed to redefining the gift trade for the next generation. In addition, he volunteers as the Music Director and Children's Group Leader for Caminar Latino, Georgia's first and only comprehensive domestic violence intervention program for Latino families.
Lance Hart (Treasurer)
Lance Hart is the president of DEMDACO, a wholesale gift company. DEMDACO’s headquarters are in Leawood, Kansas and their distribution center is in Edgerton, KS. The company has corporate showrooms in Atlanta, Dallas, Denver and Las Vegas and a sourcing office in Hong Kong.
Prior to coming to DEMDACO, Lance worked for 18 years in the commercial banking industry at Commerce Bank, including five years as Community Bank President. Lance is a member of YPO (Young Presidents Organization). He currently serves on the board of Heartland Business Capitol.
Lance has a MBA from the University of Kansas and a Bachelor of Science in Management from Trinity University in San Antonio, TX.
Lance and his wife Diane have two children and live in Lenexa, KS.
Nicholas is the Director of Marketing & Sales with AND! Sales Inc. in Chicago, IL. He grew up in the Gift & Home industry, but after obtaining a degree in Marketing Management & Business Entrepreneurship from Northwood University in Michigan, he started in sales with Pacific Rim.
His business experiences include advertising, recruiting, management and B2B sales, allowing him to have a unique perspective of business and operations and team development.
He is an advocate for streamlining process and modernization and above all strategic service. He is advocate of developing the industry beyond his business and is always searching for open lines of honest communications as we all gear up for another level of growth and success.
John started his career in the gift industry, by working for his family’s Midwest based sales agency – Toler Marketing - in 1996. Early on in his career, John moved to the vendor side of the business, working with New Creative Enterprises & Cape Craftsmen, before becoming the Vice President of Sales at Evergreen Enterprises in 2005. In addition to running the sales efforts at Evergreen, John also ran the operations for the company (2010 – 2015) before assuming the presidency in 2015. John has a Bachelor of Science from St. Norbert College and an MBA from St. Louis University.
Next Step Reps
Jackie has been in the gift industry for more than three decades and is the co-owner of Next Step Reps with her daughter, Kelsey Moon. Opening nearly five years ago, Jackie's was one of the first multi-line showrooms at the World Market Center - Las Vegas, where Next Step Reps focuses on the 3 G's - Garden, Gourmet Entertaining, and General Gift, with fashion/jewelry mixed in for on-trend looks. Jackie believes in the motto "dedicated to your success," and her sales team of 22 spans six western states [CA/NV/AZ/NM/HI/UT]. As a member of the GHTA Board, Jackie hopes to contribute to the ongoing success, achievements, and partnering of vendors, reps and retailers in our industry.
Gretchen Kroll is Vice President of Tripar International, Inc, a privately held company established in 1969 by Siegfried Claussner. Today, the business is family-run and led by Gretchen and her sister, Marta Duffy. Through the years, Tripar has evolved as a leader in visual display and decorative accessories for the wholesale market. Tripar provides unique display solutions for independent retailers, mass merchants, manufacturers and consumers. Tripar's products range from commodity display items to designed or branded alternatives. Gretchen's expertise in visual display and design has her collaborating with leading industry designers, retailers, and business owners to develop display options that convey powerful stories, enhance brand identity, and induce sales!
Peter is based in Atlanta and works with key accounts and the Sales Vice Presidents as a Principal at Appelman Schauben. He has thirty years of experience in the gift industry in regional and national sales management, as well as management and operation of a successful retail store in California. Peter is the founder of Gift for Life, a unified voice for the Gift Industry in the fight against AIDS. He is currently the National Co-Chairperson for Gift for Life.
Robin Kert is President of Southeast Marketing, a 32-year-old rep agency, with a 14,000 sq. ft. showroom in Atlanta and an administrative office in southern Florida. Born in Toronto, Robin graduated with an MBA from the Schulich School of Business, York University, Ontario Canada. Recruited by General Foods Canada as a product manager in the coffee division [she managed Sanka ground coffee and Brim. Remember the advertising campaign“fill it to the brim”? If any of this makes sense we know how old you are!] After several years in the corporate world, the entrepreneurial spirit took over. In 1983, through a friend of a friend, she was offered a major line in the Southeast of the US. She jumped at the opportunity to manage her own business, relocated, and blindly entered the wonderful world of repping and the gift industry.
In her spare time, Robin is an outdoor athlete. Cycling is her current passion, with skiing and hiking filling in the gaps. She has two sons, a lovely husband and a high strung, golden doodle that is an outdoor athlete like her mom.
Michael Nieves is vice president of Paladone USA. He joined the London-based company in 2014 to establish a U.S. division. In this short time period, Paladone has developed a strong U.S. presence as a result of his leadership. Paladone Products is the UK’s leading gift supply company with established licensor partnerships and exclusive brands. Michael’s career in the gift industry began in 2006 and he was formerly the director of sales at DCI. Prior to entering the gift industry, he worked in advertising sales at radio stations in Charlotte, North Carolina and Jacksonville, Florida. He has been a GHTA member since 2011. Michael received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism & Mass Communications from St. Bonaventure University.
Kelly Shiley is the CEO of Mary Square. She lives in Raleigh, NC with her husband and three children. She started Mary Square in her kitchen, while battling severe post-partum depression. In just five short years, she has grown the company into a multi-million dollar business. Kelly’s favorite hobbies are running, yoga, and watching movies with her family.