Learn More about the 2018 Conference Experience!

The GHTA Annual Conference was held October 24-26, 2018 in Phoenix, AZ. 


conference speaker details

Learn more about all of our keynote speakers, breakout sessions and presenters, and general session presentations.

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keynote speakers

Jamin Arvig
US Water Filters & aiCommerce

"Lessons Learned on Amazon, Growing US Water Filters from $2M to $52M in Six Years"

Presentation Overview: 
Join Jamin as he walks you through a case study of the birth and growth of US Water Filters, from selling water filters online in his basement, through 10 straight years of doubling his revenue to growth of one segment from $2M to $52M in six years and another segment from $0M to $20M in four years on Amazon.

About Jamin: 
Jamin Arvig is a noted thought leader in the world of Amazon and has presented on Amazon topics at numerous industry conferences around the world. In addition, Mr. Arvig is one of four co-founders of OnlineMerchantsGuild.com, a trade association representing sellers and vendors on Amazon.

Mr. Arvig founded US Water Filters 15 years ago and has grown it into an established leader in online water filters and air filtration products. Under his management, the company has seen explosive growth, including doubling its revenue for 10 straight years.

Mr. Arvig is also the founder of aiCommerce, which combines human and artificial intelligence to power profitable marketplace growth for manufacturers, brands, and large resellers.

Mr. Arvig is a “values driven” entrepreneur with a history of awards (Inc 500, Best place to work, Minnesota Business Builder of the Year, Progress Minnesota Award, Young Presidents Organization Leader, etc.). Educated in engineering and law in Minnesota and in business at Harvard Business School, Mr. Arvig resides in Minnesota and Florida with his wife and four children.

Jamin’s LinkedIn page:

Jamin will present to our group on Thursday, October 25.


Buck Davis
Buck Davis & Company

"The Business of Well-being: Happiness and Positivity in the Workplace"

Presentation Overview: 
Research has proven that happy people perform significantly better than their unhappy counterparts and have a positive contagious effect on those around them. Happiness also builds resilience and happier people hit their goals!

"The Business of Wellbeing: Happiness and Resiliency in the Workplace" taps into findings from leading experts in the field of positive psychology. Participants will explore and dismantle myths and assumptions about happiness, acquire proven happiness-increasing strategies and understand how to avoid attitudes that have the potential for negative impact.

About Buck: 
For over a decade Buck Davis has worked in the field of personal and professional development. A recognized leader in the area of inclusion, diversity and happiness, Buck is a trusted resource for individuals and companies looking to make their lives and businesses better. His background in business consulting, clinical counseling and facilitation is supported by a strong education that includes an MBA and an MS in Professional Counseling.

What started out as a career in diversity training has grown into a consultancy that helps individuals increase the quality of their work life and businesses improve the capacity within their work force. Building on years of experience talking with people around the nation about achievement, Buck combines a unique style, practical perspective and business mindset that people relate to and executives appreciate.

He is a contributor on CNN regarding diversity issues in America and can also be seen on QVC launching new products. His personal interest in happiness has led him to grow a professional practice area now called The Science of Happiness. These workshops and talks are among his most requested speaking engagements.

He has worked with manufacturing and government professionals, sales teams, retail staff, executives, administrative personnel, and union and non-union employees. His clients are among the most recognizable brands in the world and include The Coca-Cola Company, Booz Allen Hamilton, Newell Rubbermaid, Starbucks, Disney Consumer Products, Disney Interactive Media Group, The Home Depot, Volkswagen, General Mills, Pratt & Whitney, DanoneWave, GE Appliances, Novartis, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Yahoo, Microsoft, Kimberly Clark, Kellogg, Showtime Television, The US EPA and Sodexo.

He is certified as a Workplace Disputes Mediator by the Atlanta Justice Center and has served as an instructor at The California Design College and The Art Institute of Atlanta, where he taught classes on career development, professional business practice and ethics in the workplace. He lives in Atlanta, GA.

Buck will present to our group on Thursday, October 25.

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Dave Mitchell
the leadership difference, Inc.

"Creating A High Performing Culture: Inside the Minds of the Best"

Presentation Overview: 
Leadership is hard. Even the best leaders can struggle and there are few resources to help them. For years, Dave Mitchell has worked with companies all over the world to enhance their leadership. This experience is the foundation for this incredible exploration of leadership best practices.

• How can an organization effectively respond, even anticipate, changes in the marketplace?
• How are high performing organizations structured for success?
• What is horizontal and vertical alignment and why are they so important?
• What are the personal characteristics of the best leaders?
• What are the origins of personal accountability and can they be instilled in people after they reach adulthood?
• How do you create a work environment that inspires all kinds of people to be committed to high performance?
• How do you resolve conflict with colleagues, employees and even customers and keep these relationships healthy?

You will find out the answers to all these questions during "Creating A High Performing Culture." This program is designed as a follow up to Dave’s award-winning seminar and book, The Power of Understanding People and features concepts from his soon-to-be-released third book, Extracting Me – The Power of Understanding Yourself.

About Dave: 
Since founding the Leadership Difference in 1995, over 350,000 people have attended Dave's “enter-TRAIN-ment” seminars on topics that include leadership, customer service, selling skills, and personal performance enhancement. He has a M.Ed. in Global Human Resources Development and has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois. In 2013, Dave was named Best Speaker of the Year at the Meeting Professionals International World Education Congress in Las Vegas. In 2015, Meetings and Conventions Magazine named Dave one of the Best Speakers of t she Year.

Dave is the author of two books, with a third upcoming. Live and Learn or Die Stupid! focuses on personal contentment and performance excellence. His second book, The Power of Understanding People, was released in December 2013 and was immediately named Editor's Choice Best Business Book of the Month by Amazon. His soon-to-be-released third book is Extracting Me – The Power of Understanding Yourself.

Dave will present to our group on Wednesday, October 24.


Neil Stern

"How to Maintain Relevancy in an Uncertain Future"

Presentation Overview: 
While the US economy is fundamentally healthy, retail is being impacted at an unprecedented pace by demographic, societal and technological factors. While physical retail is not dead, retailers must undergo fundamental change to thrive in the next decade. Retailers can win by offering great value, unprecedented levels of convenience, great experiences and by truly engaging with the end consumer. We will provide examples of a wide range of innovative concepts from brick and mortar to pure-play retailers and everything in between, showcasing best practice examples from around the world in the era of frictionless retail. We’ll address opportunity areas and equip wholesalers and manufacturers in the Gift, Garden and Home Industry with ideas and innovations to succeed in today’s everchanging retail environment.

About Neil: 
Neil Z. Stern is a senior partner of McMillan|Doolittle specializing in the area of strategic planning and the development of new retail concepts.  During his career at McMillan|Doolittle, Neil has developed strategies and new concepts for a diverse variety of world class clients across the retail industry.   

Neil is also recognized as a key thought leader in the retail arena, serving as editor of Retail Innovations, an annual global overview on the retail trends and is a regular contributor to publications such as Forbes. 

Neil has been named one of the 40 Rising Stars in Retailing by Chain Store Age and is the author of two books, Winning At Retail  and Greentailing and Other Revolutions in Retailing.  Neil currently serves as Chairman of the Ebeltoft Group, a global alliance of leading retail consultancies.

Neil will present to our group on Friday, October 26.

Brekaout Sessions

The roster of breakout sessions offered at the conference are listed below by day.

Thursday, October 25

Key Strategies for Amazon Success

Presenter: Jamin Arvig, aiCommerce & US Water Filters

In the ever changing "Wild West" of selling on Amazon, what does it take to win? Join Jamin for a thought provoking discussion on key strategies to build a profitable and sustainable marketplace business.

Managing Retailers Expectations: In-Store and at market

Panelists: Amy Carlile, Southwest Gardener; Georganne Bryant, Frances Studio; Kim Saltzstein, Changing Hands Bookstore; Kate Tanner, Kidstop Toys
Moderator: Becky Tyre, retail consultant, owner of Retail Details blog and contributing editor for Gifts & Decorative Accessories magazine

Join a panel of independent retailers as they discuss how sales representatives, sales agencies, vendors and trade show personnel affect how and when they make purchases for their retail stores and what they expect from the process.  Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions of the retailers.

The Responsibility of Business

Moderator: Jonathan Jones, DEMDACO
Panelists: John Keiser, OneCoast; Betsy Harrington, Woodstock Chimes; Scott Vandiver, Dickson’s

Are there responsibilities for a business beyond a financial bottom line?  If so, what are they?  What is the WHY?  How can businesses help shape communities?  GHTA will host a panel discussion on these and other topics related to the reach of business in the community.

Retail Distress in 2018 and Beyond: Shielding Your Bottom Line From the Apocalypse

Presenters: Andrew D. Behlmann, Lowenstein Sandler & Bruce S. Nathan, Lowenstein Sandler

Following a flurry of retail chapter 11 bankruptcy filings in 2017 continuing into 2018, the retail sector remains in transition and distress. This program focuses on the reasons for ongoing distress in the retail sector, warning signs of an impending retail bankruptcy, and the importance of the credit department in managing financial exposure to retailers in distress and in bankruptcy. The speakers will discuss the disastrous 2017 Toys ‘R’ Us bankruptcy, and the events leading to it, as a cautionary tale in dealing with troubled retailers both before and after they file for bankruptcy protection, including the risk of extending credit to retailers in chapter 11 and strategies for minimizing risk of non-payment of claims.

Gift Industry 2020

Presenters: Alison Anderson, A. Dodson's [Retail]; Doug Cofiell, Ivystone Group [Sales]; Cole Daugherty, Dallas Market Center [Market/Shows];  Phil Krieger [Outside Investor]
Moderator: Eric Dean, Whereoware 

The Gift and Home Industry has seen considerable change over the last few years.  Still, it feels like even more dramatic transformations are around the corner as factors - both inside and outside of the Industry - exert their influence.  This session’s panelists represent leaders and progressive thinkers from all sides of the industry: vendor, sales, retail, and more. Join them as they present their predictions of where the change will fall, and even some ideas on how to prepare to take advantage of them.

Sales Production: For Sales Agencies & Vendors

Presenters: Tosha Pearson, Road Runners LLC [Agency]; Terry Stewart, OneCoast [Agency]; Donna Moore, Terry Moore & Associates [Agency]; Primitives by Kathy [Vendor]
Moderator: Robin Kert, Southeast Marketing

Sales productivity is relevant to all businesses. This workshop will consist of a vendor sales manager and two rep agency executives. Whether your company has an in-house sales staff or outsources to a rep group, sales matter.  Come join us and learn techniques and strategies that can produce sales increases in your organization. Things to be discussed are: compact territories – doing more with less; compact lines - doing more with less (how many SKU’s is enough and how many is too much); focused account-based selling vs. geography models; compelling selling procedures, materials and strategies that work in today’s world of instantaneous information and data overload; and boosting sales in an electronic world.

Friday, october 26

Can Your Fulfillment Strategy Make or Break Your Business on Amazon?

Presenter: Jamin Arvig, aiCommerce & US Water Filters

FBM, 3PL, FBA, SFP and VFP… Alphabet soup or fulfillment strategies on Amazon? Come and educate yourself on key pros and cons and required capabilities and systems for various Amazon fulfillment strategies for your business.

Positively Resilient

Presenter: Buck Davis, Buck Davis & Company

Overcoming adversity is intertwined in the human experience. Struggles and setbacks can deplete energy, decrease motivation, undermine confidence and lead to procrastination and self-doubt. Our minds play a critical role in managing these threats to our well-being.

In his dynamic keynote, Positively Resilient, Buck Davis draws from evidence-based research on positivity and resiliency, sharing insights about remaining centered and retaining perspective even when anxiety, burnout, cynicism and exhaustion threaten our ability to be at our happiest and healthiest. 

You’ll walk away with immediately useful knowledge, insights and tools to help you handle difficult challenges and be at your best.

Tips and Tricks to innovating in the transformative age of retail

Presenter: Neil Stern, McMillan|Doolittle

E-commerce and digital retail transformation strategies are affecting all categories and company sizes. This session will look at digital retail trends, and how your company can evaluate direct-to-consumer e-commerce and selling via marketplaces—as well as important issues to consider in your digital strategies. Retail is changing at a transformative pace in today’s world and there are many ways and strategies for your company to address.

General session presentations

These specialized presentations are intended for all attendees and will be in General Session.

Tariffs: What Does it All Mean?

Presenters: Expediters International & John Toler, Evergreen Enterprises

Expeditors International (EI) is a Fortune 500 service-based logistics company focused on generating highly optimized and customized supply chain solutions for its clients with unified technology systems integrated through a global network of 322 locations in 103 countries on six continents. As part of its operations, EI is well-versed in the world of tariffs and the major changes that have been occurring as of late. This presentation will provide our attendees, most all of whom are impacted by said changes, a short- and long-term outlook, along with thoughts on navigating the future and off-setting strategies, as they relate to tariffs. This session will also include an extended Q&A.

A Seven Year Study of the Shifting Retail Landscape of the Gift, Garden & Home Industry

Presenter: Michael Meyers, ABC-Amega/GAIN

Join the leadership team of ABC-Amega to learn more about how the independent, national account and e-commerce retail landscape has changed over the last seven years. ABC-Amega through their partnership of the industry's premier credit interchange (GAIN) has developed unique insight into what is really happening in terms of number of retailers, financial health, and shifts in distribution within these three core channels (independent, national, and e-com). Come learn how many active retailers there really are in the US, when Amazon took over from Wal-Mart as the largest consumer of Gift, Garden and Home products, and the current financial health of our independent retailers.

2018 Gift and Home Accessory Industry Spotlight Report

Presenter: Craig M. Gibson, TM Capital

TM Capital will be providing an early release of its 2018 Gift and Home Accessory Industry Spotlight Report exclusively to attendees of this year’s GHTA Annual Conference. The report provides proprietary market insight into: the health of the independent retailer; the continued development of the online marketplace; opportunities in international markets; the continued wave of institutional investment and acquisitions; industry growth drivers; and, the current state of market valuations.

americasMart Atlanta & IMC Merger Update

Presenters: Dorothy Belshaw, Las Vegas Market/International Market Centers

Dorothy Belshaw, President, Gift, at International Market Centers, will provide attendees with an update on the status of the AmericasMart Atlanta and IMC merger as of October 2018.

Speaker Presentations

Want to review presentations provided by our speakers? The presentations that have been made available, can be found by logging into the GHTA Members Only portion of the website. If you attend the conference, but are not a GHTA member, please email the GHTA office for the resources at info@giftandhome.org.

hotel accommodations

Slideshow photo credit: 
Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass

The 2018 GHTA Annual Conference was held at the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass in Phoenix, AZ. 

Find yourself a world away at Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass, Arizona’s premier Native American-owned luxury Phoenix resort. Designed to be an authentic representation of the Gila River Indian Community's heritage and culture, the architecture, design, art and legends of the Pima (Akimel O'otham) and Maricopa (Pee Posh) tribes are celebrated in every detail at the Phoenix resort. The AAA Four Diamond resort includes Aji Spa with private pool and cafe, Whirlwind Golf Club with two 18-hole Troon-managed golf courses and the only AAA Five-Diamond and Forbes Five Star award restaurant in Arizona as well as one of Open Table's 10 Best Restaurants in America for 2015, Kai.

Thinking about bringing your family to stay the weekend, post-conference? Great news -- there’s something for every member of the family at the Sheraton Grand Resort at Wild Horse Pass. Splash around in one of their four pools with waterfalls and 111-foot waterslide. Discover horseback riding at the Koli Equestrian Center with lessons, trail rides, and outdoor events. For younger guests, the Sheraton Adventure Club offers daily activities including exclusive Native American cultural programming. For a more active adventure, experience the tennis courts and extensive jogging/walking trails. Or enjoy a boat ride to Rawhide Ranch or Whirlwind Golf Club on the 2 ½ mile river that surrounds the resort.

2018 Conference Attendee Roster

This section features a roster of those registered for the 2018 GHTA Annual Conference. Have questions? Email the GHTA office at info@giftandhome.org.

A. Dodson’s
Alison Anderson
Amy Wheeler

About Face Designs
Steve Ulrich

Adams & Co.
DJ Adams
Devanie Adams
Robyn Dunn

Jen Heamer

AmericasMart Atlanta
Jill Ford
Sue Gallimore [GUEST]
Cindy Henry
George Kacic
Cindy Spain-Green
Mary Sullivan

Jeanne Claire
Nicholas Vafakas

Anne McGilvray & Co.
Meg Gilmore
Liesl Ludwig
Anne McGilvray
Laurie McGilvray
Barb Moss
Cindy Persing

Appelman Schauben
Louise Appelman
Diana Blackburn
Mary Crist
Peter Schauben

Peter Grube
Randy Reddick
Kenneth Weygand

Beatriz Ball
David Rive
Kelly Wenzel

Boston International
Lori Kelly

Jannetta Litzman
Todd Litzman
Ron Petroff

The Butler Group
Greg Butler
Paula Butler

C.R. Gibson
Penny Black

C&F Enterprises
Jimmy Fang

Cambridge Sales
Michelle Mueller

Candle Warmers Etc.
Spencer Beesley
Brett Heyland
Bart Kennington

Carnevale Jones Group
Diane Carnevale Jones

Collective Home
Susan Thoen
Tenaya Thoen

Core Elements
Dan Barclay
Donald McCoy

Andy Cykman [GUEST]
Julia Higgins

Creative Co-Op
Janette Huff
Andrew Daevel
Deb Swisher

Dallas Market Center
Cole Daugherty
Jim Lugannani
Alexandra Marianos
Helen Smith
Joan Ulrich
Richard Wisnieski

Darrah & Co.
Lindsay DeMyer

Frank Davis
Lance Hart
Jonathan Jones
Marisa Lytle

Design Imports
Amy Johnson

Design Loop
Pam Milbauer

Steve Vandivier

Diverse Marketing
Ben Killberg
Wes Hardin

Dugan Bliss
Verne Bliss
Don Dugan

ELK Group International
James Ashley
Nathen Bliss

Emergent Workshop
Arieh Lowenstein

Tom Ferrara
Michael Griffith
Todd Mavis
Ed McFadden

Evergreen Enterprises
Karolyn Deemer
Adria Kistler
Nicole Linaweaver
John Toler
Christopher Wornom
Ellen Zink

FEM Sales
Farida Kornbluth

Fine Lines Company
Robin Estill
Kelly Patchett
Denise Woltmann

Fringe Studio
Jaime Albert

Robert Carbonell

Allison Barrows

Gib Carson Companies
Dan O'Brien
Heather Schwall

Gift Associates Interchange Network (GAIN)
Paul Grolemund
Michael Meyers

Erica Kirkland

Gift Shop Magazine
Ric Rosenbaum

Gifts & Decorative Accessories
Betsy Malito

Glory Haus
Molly Holm
Leigh Mcafee

Golden Rabbit
Laura Blunt
Peggy Hedgpeth
Patrick Taylor
Kathy Williams

Grace Management Group
Bob Caldwell

Grassland's Road
Diane Spaar
Angela Stroh

Great American Media Services
Nancy Brooks
Matt McCallum
Bob Ziltz

Harper Group
Scott Harper

Lisa McGaughy
Ellen Stathes

International Housewares Assoc.
Nancy Michael

It's Time Consulting
Angela Riess

Ivystone Group
Andy Bjork
Doug Cofiell
Monica Loving

J.GROB Associates
John Grob

Joanne & Company
Joanne Rackow

KBD Sales
Lane Dierke
Taylor Dierke
Brian Sapp
Kelly Sapp

Kitras Art Glass
Anne Collier
Lucy Kitras
Sophie Wilmer

LA Mart
Frank Joens

Las Vegas Market
Dorothy Belshaw
Joy Jansen
Leanna John
Terence Morris

The Link Companies
Fred Ballard
Fred Rosenkampff

Lotus Jewelry Studio
Erik Legenhausen

Will Katz
Selim Nehdi

Maison Chic
Christy Parham

Mary Meyer Corporation
Linda Colson
Kevin Meyer

Meyers Sales
Michael Meyers

Michel Design Works
Bob Harris
Debbie McKeough

Mud Pie
Betsey Eastman
Megan Zavodny

New Era Sales Team
Sande Womack

Next Step Reps
Jackie Moon

Nora Fleming, LLC
Maureen Carpenter
Janice Christensen

Now Designs/Danica
Sushil Arora

John Keiser
Patrick Keiser
Majda Rensberger
John Staley
Terry Stewart
Renee Williams

Jessica Barile

Michael Nieves
Kent Winkler

Peterson Associates
Brad Peterson
Ward Peterson

Pink House Imports
Rina Matai

Present Publishing
Kat Krassner

Primitives by Kathy
Kristin Kropp
Maria Williams

Progressive Business Media
Nancy Wolkow

reALIGN Expansion Sherpas
Benno Duenkelsbuehler

Road Runners
Richard Gilbert
Tosha Pearson
Angela Schmook
RaeLee Walton

Beth Lang
Dan Loughman
Pat Pipp

Social Edge
Crystal Vilkaitis

Southeast Marketing
Deb Donahue
Robin Kert
Austin Marks
Tammi Rampelberg

The Street Brands
Joe Hertig

Studio M
Mike Todd

Chuck Fraelich

Tony Oliverio

Terry Moore & Associates
Marvin Bays
Donna Moore

Total Biz Fulfillment
Mike Davis
Gary Ruddell

Transpac Imports
Tara Dikos

Twist Sales
Anita Anderson
Melissa Bloom

Two's Company
Thomas Zimmerman

Urban Expositions | Clarion UX
Suzanne Pruitt

Vera Bradley
Catherine Broyles
Maryhelene Thurber

Maureen Aloisi
Trip van Roden

Eric Dean
Joe Harris
Teddy Pekalski

the winters group
Pamela Belisle

Woodstock Chimes
Betsy Harrington

Brian Kuszynski