Over the years, there have been plenty of occasions where I have been overwhelmed/flooded with material provided to me on subjects I have written about.
This is a good thing because it tends to reinforce that person’s already known prominence/level of reverence in their particular vocation/walk of life. The bad part is a lot of it gets left on the cutting-room floor due to space/time constraints.
Such has been the case with Mid-City Supply Chairman Jeff New and Hajoca Eastern Division Pricing and Vendor Relations Manager Gary Jones, the recipients of the 2022 Fred V. Keenan Lifetime Achievement Award. Both will be honored during the InSinkErator ASA Member Lunch on Thursday, Nov. 10 at NETWORK2022 in Chicago.
New and Jones both have been longtime ASA supporters and volunteer leaders within the association, with New serving as ASA president and also having a longtime key presence with ASA’s government affairs office, while Jones has been a fixture with what now is known as the ASA Plumbing Division Advisory Group where he served as that unit’s president. Jones is believed to have been part of that group since it’s inception.
To say the least, when I put out the word that New and Jones both were going to be the newest Keenan award recipients (the 13th and 14th honorees), I was flooded with responses.
“I have never had more opportunities to educate, enlighten and improve myself,” Mid-City Supply Executive Vice President Joe Velleman says, when talking about Jeff New.
“From when I first started 12 years ago to this day, I am encouraged to find ways to better myself and my skill sets. Jeff instills a philosophy of education in the company that has been picked up and continued to be carried by Jordan and Dan (New’s sons who are now co-presidents of the Elkhart, Indiana-based distributor). If there is interest from an associate to take a class or attend a conference that would improve our ability to serve our customers, Jeff is on board.”
Velleman adds New’s presence as an elite leader starts at the personal level. “It’s not his quote originally, but Jeff likes to make sure everyone is aware that others may not remember what you said or what you did, but they will remember how you made them feel,” he says. “From end users who call Mid-City for advice, to our customers, vendors and industry peers, and especially to our associates, Jeff makes everyone feel they are important and valued, and that is something very special Jeff possesses. Effort and effectiveness start at the top, and Jeff is a fantastic example of how to lead by these examples.”
In a congratulatory video, Dan New, who is finishing up his run as the chairman of ASA’s Emerging Leaders Advisory Group, says his dad always has emphasized giving back to the industry. “You have always been a great example of how to be a good industry citizen, whether it’s attending a conference, filling out an industry survey or serving in a leadership role with ASA, NCWA or with the buying group,” he said. “You always told us you need to make the industry better and not just focus on Mid-City. The industry today is better because of you. Grandpa would be so proud to see your tremendous accomplishments and contributions to this industry.”
Jordan New added this in his video: “Jeff’s father, Sam, said if you want to have a career in something, you better be an active participant in that industry. Jeff has done just that from being NCWA president to ASA president to having an active role even when he didn’t have a title. Jeff has always taken the opportunity to put himself in a position to help raise the level of our industry. Whether it’s treating somebody who didn’t have a title with respect or showing respect to somebody he sees in the hallway with a big hug to show how much he cares for them, Jeff is always someone who is making things better. He makes everything, everyone and every experience better. Jeff, you are an example of someone who has taken advantage of the life they have been given and I am so proud to be part of it.”
InSinkErator Director of Wholesale Sales Rebecca Falish was equally effusive in her praise of New’s contributions to the industry.
“You have been a leader to so many of us,” she said in her congratulatory video. “You have been a trailblazer down roads we needed to take — tough ones and easy ones. With all those you led us with great leadership. We all thank you for that. Thank-you for being you. You are one of the best people I have known in this industry.”
Jones, in his 46th year in the PHCP-PVF industry with Eastern Penn Supply and now Hajoca (which acquired Eastern Penn), has been omnipresent at ASA events over the years, and has also been a big supporter of the ASA Northeast group, formerly known as Wholesalers Association of the North East (WANE). Jones is a former ASA Plumbing Division chairman and past WANE chairman.
“Throughout my career I have been fortunate to work with you through not only ASA, but professionally because of the strong working relationship that has existed with Legend, Eastern Penn and Hajoca, Legend Valve Northeast Regional Sales Manager Todd Cleary said in a congratulatory video for Jones. “You have always gone about your business in a trustworthy and integrity-oriented fashion. We know you are a Penn State Nittany Lion. We won’t hold that against you. Kudos.”
This is the second year in a row ASA has honored two industry greats with the Keenan Award. Last year, First Supply’s Joe Poehling and InSinkErator’s Joe Maiale joined the elite Keenan fraternity.
“Your dedication to our industry is inspirational to me as well as the many other people you have touched in your journey,” Hajoca Division Manager Jock Castoldi said in his congratulatory video. “You embody our core values, trust and respect, fairness and caring, and generous listening. If anyone has experienced the wrath of Jones—straight talk. I will add one other—grit. I am honored to have you as my colleague and friend.”