When we began to plan for our 35th Anniversary Awards & Charities Gala at the beginning of the year pre-COVID 19, we knew we wanted to do things a little different from years past, add a few new twists, and mix in a few surprises.
And then everything changed, and business became unusual.
But the show must go on, and it did in spectacular fashion, thanks to doing things a little different, adding a few twists, and mixing in a few surprises.
What a kick to have our 35th Anniversary Awards & Charities Gala, sponsored by Hytec Dealer Services and ConnectWise, be re-imagined as an awards show with a “premiere” on YouTube for everyone in the industry to watch simultaneously and “Unite & Conquer.” To date the video has nearly 1,000 views.
While things were done differently this year, there were some constants. Hats off to Bob Goldberg, chief counsel of the Business Technology Association, who kicked off the gala as he always does, by making us laugh. Goldberg replaced his trademark tuxedo for a more creative take on black-tie and looked sharp in his #BusinessAsUnusual T-shirt before “handing over the screen” to our President and CEO CJ Cannata who opened the gala on the up-beat with remarks about the dealership community’s tenacious spirit and the message behind the gala’s theme of “Unite & Conquer.”
Another constant was the outpouring of support for this year’s charity, Hackensack Meridian Health’s Circle of Compassion program, which provides compassionate, timely, and equitable financial assistance to team members affected by a disaster or personal monetary hardship. Our fundraising for these frontline heroes began earlier in the year with our #BusinessAsUnusual T-shirt promotion. The response inspired us to continue to support the organization at the 35th Anniversary Awards & Charities gala. We’re thrilled to confirm that more than $130,000 was pledged and donated, and the checks are still coming in! The Circle of Compassion program is one of several of Hackensack University’s COVID-19 Response Funds created to aid front line workers.
There are so many moments to remember from the gala, but none bigger than when dealership and industry notables stepped up to the mic and opened the envelope to announce the Frank Award winners. Who doesn’t want to say, “and the winner of the Frank Award is…” Kudos to our presenters for their standout performances:
- Dawn Abbuhl, Repeat Business Systems
- Eric Auman, Jennifer Amatucci, Emily Rodriguez, and Ramona Rodriguez, Hytec Dealer Services
- AJ Baggott, RJ Young
- Brantly Fowler, Zeno Office Solutions
- Casey Lowery, Applied Imaging
- Doug Pitassi, Pacific Office Automation
- John Schweizer, ConnectWise
- Edmund Sumner, SumnerOne
- Dean Swenson, The Swenson Group
- Preston Woolfolk and Hunter Woolfolk, DOCUmation
- Adam Weiss and Luis Villa, Atlantic Tomorrow’s Office
Another standout performer was our own Editor-in-Chief Scott Cullen, who introduced the gala’s biggest surprise guests. Throughout the pandemic shutdown this spring, Cullen curated a host of #BusinessAsUnusal posts on our website spotlighting industry executives who shared what they were listening to, binge-watching, and reading. The #BusinessAsUnusual posts were some of our most popular ever and inspired us to reach for the stars and feature video appearances from some of our audience’s favorites. Rachel Brosnahan of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel delighted us with her character’s signature pre-show mantra, and musical artist Shaggy’s lyrical pronunciation of The Cannata Report gave us a toe-tapping thrill. Of course, we had to include one of our audience’s binge-watching favorites in The Office’s “Oscar” as in actor Oscar Nunez. Finally, it was the melodic Mary Wilson of The Supremes who brought the house down by singing a few lines from everyone’s Motown favorite, “Stop in the Name of Love.”
Topping the list of Frank Award winners is Sharp, who was recognized with the Best Manufacturer and Best-in-Class honors. Sharp’s president and CEO, Mike Marusic, was honored as Best Male Executive for the second year in a row.
Ricoh shares the top spot with Sharp, winning Frank Awards for Best Production Print Manufacturer and Best Marketing Strategy. Its wholly owned subsidiary, DocuWare, took home the Best ECM/Document Management award, marking its first time in the Frank Award winner’s circle.
For the third consecutive year, Kyocera was named Best A4 Manufacturer. And in the new category of Best Technical Service Provider introduced this year, Toshiba was the winner.
Two big Frank Award streaks continued in 2020. GreatAmerica Financial Services was named Best Leasing Company for the 6th year in a row. GreatAmerica is the only company to win the award since its introduction. Another company on a winning streak of five years is ACDI for PaperCut, who was awarded Best Print Management Provider.
ConnectWise won the Frank Award for Best IT Services Provider (Continuum won in this category in 2019. The company was acquired by ConnectWise and re-branded earlier this year).
And for the longest streak of all, we tip our hats and congratulate Laura Blackmer, senior vice president of dealer services, Konica Minolta, for winning Best Female Executive for the 6th consecutive year. Blackmer is the only executive to win the award since its introduction in 2015. Blackmer won her first four Frank Awards during her tenure at Sharp.
The winners of the 2020 Frank Awards are based on dealer voting in our 35th Annual Survey. This year’s Survey, sponsored by TIAA Bank for the past seven years, yielded the second largest number of participants in the history of the Survey with 342 dealers participating, resulting in a competitive field of nominees across the 12 Frank Award categories.
In addition to the #BusinessAsUnusual celebrity appearances, we were happy to welcome a Super Bowl Champion to the gala. The Cannata Report’s Founder and Editor-at-Large Frank G. Cannata took the mic to introduce the gala’s featured guest, Super Bowl XLII Champion Shaun O’Hara of the New York Giants. O’Hara spoke on behalf of Hackensack Meridian Health and the Circle of Compassion program, and it was our honor to include him in this year’s festivities.
A particular highlight of the gala was The Cannata Report’s Humanitarian Award presentation to Keith Allison, president and CEO of Systel Business Equipment. Frank G. Cannata and CJ Cannata shared the honors to bestow Allison—who was recognized for his charitable works in his community, within the dealer channel, and on behalf of veterans—with his Frank Award trophy. Allison accepted the award surrounded by his daughters, Janene Aul, Jacqueline Smith, and Cara Spencer, and entertained us with warm and witty remarks.
Following the gala’s premiere on YouTube, we welcomed winners and well-wishers on a Zoom After Party call hosted by CJ Cannata, Frank G. Cannata, and Carol C. Cannata along with Scott Cullen and our emcee, Bob
Goldberg. The party started as it has in recent years with musical entertainment from Skyline Drive Orchestra who kicked things off with a performance of “Raise Your Glass.” Following a toast to the nominees and winners, CJ Cannata and Cullen called out to winners and shared the screen with Mike Marusic, Sharp; Jim Corridi, vice president, dealer division, Ricoh, Oscar Sanchez, president and CEO, Kyocera Document Solutions; Larry White, COO, Toshiba; Jim Roberts, president, DocuWare, Jennie Fisher, senior vice president, general manager, office equipment group, GreatAmerica; Josh Lane, president, ACDI; John Schweizer, vice president, channel sales, ConnectWise, and after a few more toasts, we ended the After Party with more music from Skyline Drive Orchestra, the band’s rousing cover of Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer,” always a favorite at our after parties.
The After Party was by far the most enjoyable video call we’ve ever hosted or attended. We were so glad to see the winners of the Frank Awards and our many industry friends and colleagues who joined the celebration. We’re taking Larry White’s suggestion that we add a new Frank Award to the mix for the best male executive with the best hair, however we don’t have a decision as of press time.
As always, there isn’t enough space to adequately convey just how much we appreciate the support from so many individuals and organizations who helped make our gala possible this year. We thank all the dealers who served as our Frank Award presenters. We asked a lot from them, and they delivered, and we are grateful for their participation. We are so thankful to Sharp, and especially to the team of James Campion and Jordan Kaprielian, who served as producer and director for the gala. Their countless contributions made our “video” gala a hit.
Thanks to Eric Auman, president and CEO, Hytec Dealer Services, and John Schweizer, vice president of channel sales, ConnectWise for serving as official sponsors of The Cannata Report’s 35th Anniversary Awards & Charities Gala. Their generous sponsorship overwhelms us.
We hope that this is the only time our Annual Awards & Charities Gala is held virtually. At the same time, we are elated to share this year’s event on YouTube and host the largest group of “guests” we’ve ever had.