The Awarding You team is poised to make life easier for the admins and the organizers of the corporate world, and we've been doing just that since 1993.
Tell us about your award needs, and we’ll do everything in our power to help make your gift planning easy and your award presentations run smoothly. It's written throughout our daily goals; we will always put you first. Read about us and our goals here.
Customer Service, Art & Management
Brenda leads the sales team on handling both new and existing customer orders. Prior to selling recognition awards, Brenda was in the bridal industry for many years and has tons of great memories from those days but is happy to not be working nights and weekends any longer. Brenda's favorite pastimes include photography, reading, and spending time with her grandchildren. Her favorite quote is from the infamous Scarlet O'Hara in Gone with the Wind, "After all, tomorrow is another day." Brenda's main goal is to take on every challenge and use it as an opportunity to learn so that she can best serve her customers.
Jan Lescher is both resident baker at Awarding You and an Account Manager for the Northeast and Southeast regions. She sums up her work history by stating every position has always been in customer service of some type. Before coming onboard, she worked in the same territories, selling steel to be used in tools and casting molds. Jan's favorite pastimes include baking (of which we are all huge fans!) and spending time with her husband, kids, beautiful grandkids and (just a little surprisingly) playing the trombone in a 20-piece big band. Jan's favorite quote is, "Well-behaved women rarely make history", by the great Eleanor Roosevelt. Jan feels her day is complete when she has helped a customer solve a problem or helped them to find the perfect award for a special event.
As a Major Account Manager with Awarding You, Annette finds assisting companies in finding the perfect employee reward is exciting. She wants to make sure each award is well received! Since 2007, Annette has been in the promotional products and awards industry. She feels her greatest achievements in life are raising children and receiving her culinary degree. A favorite pastime of Annette's is being in Lake Geneva, WI with family and friends, and says there is nothing that brings her more peace than looking out across the lake water. She also enjoys cooking for her large Italian family, exercising, and reading. Annette's favorite quote is from Fred Rogers, "We all have different gifts, so we all have different ways of saying to the world who we are." Her goal is to live each day to its fullest.
Katie Totheroh has been an Account Manager for the Southwest and West Coast regions since 2018. Prior to that, Katie, worked in both Logistics and Customer Service and as an elementary school Administrative Assistant in Indiana for 11 years. Katie enjoys being outdoors as much as possible in the spring, summer and fall months. During the winter, she loves watching Hallmark Christmas movies while snuggled under a blanket (she doesn't enjoy Illinois winters!). Katie's favorite quote is from Mahatma Gandhi, "Be the change that you wish to see in the world." Her goal at Awarding You is to go above and beyond customer expectations by providing creative award solutions and by meeting or exceeding deadlines.
Bob manages key accounts and dealer relationships for Awarding You, and lends his experience to new product and company store development. His team has also put him in charge of changing out water bottles in the water cooler. Bob has been in sales since his college days and feels fortunate to have been trained and certified by industry greats, such as Google. Bob's favorite pastime is keeping up with his two children in Los Angeles and Iowa and having fun with friends and family. Always the humorist, Bob's favorite quote is "You'll be ok, just rub some dirt on it." Bob's goal at Awarding You is to assist in continual growth and make people laugh and smile occasionally while he learns from his very smart peers and shares some of his own experiences.
Michelle wears many hats at Awarding You. She is an Account Manager, who also helps with website administration, special order processing, and designs for custom donor wall projects. Before coming to Awarding You, Michelle held office jobs and spent time as a retail associate and manager at a fabric shop, her first job was as a swim instructor and lifeguard for the YMCA. Michelle's favorite hobbies include sewing, reading, gardening (although not always a green thumb!), watching and learning from renovation shows so that she can apply what she's learned to her own house, and most especially raising her two sons. A favorite quote is, "The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all", from the Disney movie, Mulan. Michelle's daily goal is to deliver her best contribution each day by providing great customer service and learning about new products, new processes, and ways to enhance her knowledge.
Mandy's creativity allows her to play many roles in the company. From art and product development to donor wall designs, to website and graphic images, through to laser engraving and production, her skill is utilized in every area at Awarding You. Mandy obtained her college degree early in life and began with the company working in prepress in 2004. When not wearing her many hats at work, Mandy has fun at home with arts and crafts and DIY projects, chasing her kids around, and "filling her brain with useless facts" as a Wikipedia junkie. Favorite quote is from the character, Michael Scott (The Office), "Sometimes I'll start a sentence and I don't even know where it's going, I just hope I find it along the way." Mandy continues to set a variety of new goals each day and works very hard to reach them.
Rippley works as a Graphic Designer in the Art Department at Awarding You. Her main job is creating something beautiful out of award text. Rippley received her degree in commercial graphics from Southern IL University and then attended the College of DuPage to transition from the "art board" to the computer in the early 90's. Before joining the AY team, Rippley worked for 23 years at a real estate ad agency creating floor and site plans, and maps for use in displaying future homesites, as well as creating ads for the housing section of local newspapers. When not working, Rippley enjoys bowling, hiking, walking her dog, and enjoying special times with family and friends. The words that Rippley tries hard to live by are, "less is more", a quote by a famed furniture designer, Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe. Rippley's goal each day is to work as a whole with her teammates and to create the best designs possible for customers, because she knows how important awards are to the recipients.
Rene works as a graphic artist, helping to layout art for the personalized products at Awarding You. When not developing art, he assists on the production end. At the end of each day, Rene looks forward to going home and hanging with his kids. His favorite saying is "…can't rain all the time." Rene's daily goal is to always do his job well at work and at home with his family. His hope is to always be considered a good coworker and a family man.
Jim Mondek manages all aspects of award production at Awarding You. Before that role, Jim was self-employed for 27 years owning and operating his three bakeries in the western suburbs of Chicago. Currently, Jim enjoys spending his off time in northern Wisconsin, walking, and making wooden furniture. Jim's favorite quote is from the movie The Sandlot, and you can catch him saying it occasionally, "You're killing me, Smalls!" The perpetual problem solver, Jim's goal is to make sure all orders are shipped on time, and that they are coming from a very clean and organized shop.
Eric has worked his way up over the years, taking on additional responsibility and now assists the Production Manager on daily production duties. From shipping and receiving to scheduling and picking/pulling orders, to laser operations, Eric knows what's needed to keep things running smoothly. Eric's favorite pastimes include painting and other artwork, playing the bass guitar, and hiking and fishing when he's able. A favorite quote is, "There is no need to tell someone how to do their job, if you have properly trained your team", Major Richard Winters, 101st Airborne WWII.
Geri handles all the accounting duties at Awarding You, from bill paying to receivables, to journal entries and payroll. The buck pretty much stops with her. Before landing at Awarding You, Geri worked with her husband as co-owner and operator of three bakeries in the Chicago area. Her favorite pastimes are hanging out with her cute grandchildren, spending time at her lake house in NW Wisconsin, and walking or running. She is our only Boston Marathoner, and the team is proud of her for it. Geri's favorite quote is, "When you feel like quitting, remember why you started." Geri's goal at Awarding You is straightforward – to keep the electric and the gas on!
As Purchasing Manager, Jenna is responsible for bringing in materials and products to fulfill customer orders and maintain product database. Since starting with the company, Jenna has held a myriad of roles, including Customer Service, Sales Support, Accounting, and now Purchasing. Prior to working at Awarding You, Jenna taught elementary students. Jenna's favorite pastimes include playing with her son, visiting with family and friends, listening to music (especially live bands), watching true crime shows with her husband, and taking naps. Her favorite quote is from the book/movie, The Help, "You is kind, you is smart, you is important." Jenna's top goals at work are to ensure the team has the most sought-after products on the market, and to build rapport with our vendors to help keep costs down.
Connie's role is to seek out new products for the Awarding You mix and to assist with managing the inventory in stock. Before coming to the company, she worked in the same capacity for appliance and electrical parts companies. When not at work, Connie enjoys spending time with her grandchildren and friends and other family members. She also likes to quilt and spend time outdoors running or hiking. A favorite quote of Connie's is, "Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant", by Robert Louis Stevenson. Connie's goal at work is to help find new products to fit customers' needs and to continue keeping good relationships with our many vendors.
As the official "wearer of many hats", Steve provides daily leadership and management to the team and is responsible for maintaining the infrastructure of our systems, in both production and in IT. Steve is an expert in data analysis and enterprise implementations, whose background includes strategic planning, process improvements, cost reduction, and team leadership across multiple industries. When not running things at work, Steve has enjoyed watching his kids grow while participating in their sports and in family vacations. Now that they are grown, Steve enjoys time with his wife and friends, including in the Caribbean exploring beautiful open spaces and reading great books. Steve's favorite quotes include this from Henry Ford, "Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right." And this from Charles Swindoll, "Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it."
Kathy manages the marketing initiatives and website for the Awarding You team. Before joining AY, she worked as General Manager for a major bronze sculptor and foundry owner, taking his work to the national level. When not wordsmithing or marketing, Kathy enjoys hiking and playing in the great outdoors, cooking in her gourmet kitchen, sharing fine wine with friends, and indulging every whim of her grandchildren. Although she loves most Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes, this line sums things up best for her, "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." Kathy's goal at Awarding You is to help build enthusiasm within her work family and with Awarding You customers who are looking for the best way to honor their own achievers.
Marco came to Awarding You after spending years in the retail food world, as well as in the restaurant industry as a chef. With the strict standards of the culinary world as his foundation, Marco's exacting skills have transferred smoothly to his new position in Quality Control. When Marco isn't at work keeping quality and customer experience in check, he's performing and playing his guitar. A favorite quote is from the famous "The Man in the Arena" speech by Teddy Roosevelt, which begins, "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…" Marco says it's his daily goal to create a better workflow for his team as well as for any project in which he participates.
As a Key Account Manager with Awarding You, Greg brings a wealth of experience and a passion for helping companies find the perfect employee reward. With a background in the restaurant industry, Greg has honed his customer service skills and understands the importance of providing personalized and tailored solutions to each client's unique needs. He takes great pride in his work and strives to go above and beyond to exceed his clients' expectations. When he's not working, Greg enjoys spending time outdoors, pursuing his hobbies of fishing and gardening, and cooking up a storm in the kitchen. He also cherishes spending quality time with his son and creating lasting memories together. Greg's diverse interests and experiences make him a well-rounded and valuable member of the Awarding You team. Greg's favorite quote stems from his culinary background, "Good service can save a bad meal, but there is no level of food that can save bad service." – Alton Brown
Erin is working on obtaining her master's degree in art education, while she manages her customers' needs. When she's not spending free time creating works in colored pencil and digital painting, Erin (who spent years competitively riding horses) loves being with animals and also honing her skills in both Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and in the popular game, Dungeons & Dragons. A favorite quote is a few lines from Tolkien, "Wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo. "So do I," said Gandalf, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." Erin thinks this all makes her a nerd – but we think she's pretty multi-faceted and amazing. Her goals each day are to practice gratitude and contentment, to do everything to the best of her ability, and to grow each day into a better person than she was the day before.
Gary's top responsibility as company CEO is keeping the organization focused on solving problems for customers. With experienced operations, sales, and administrative teams in place to manage the day-to-day operations of the company, he knows he can put his focus on continually improving the business. Gary generally assists with custom product designs for the custom team and investigates new technologies to continue driving the business forward, while he makes sure the staff is trained in the best systems available in providing a quality product to over 15,000 regular corporate customers worldwide.