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5 Sales Representatives Named Best in the Country | 2024 Retailer Excellence Awards

The Sales Representative of the Year award was divided among five regional winners.

As part of the 73rd annual Retailer Excellence Awards, hosted each year by Gifts & Decorative Accessories, five sales reps were tapped for a 2024 Sales Representative of the Year award at a live ceremony Wednesday, June 19 in Dallas. For the second time in REA history, winners were broken down by region, aiming to recognize the best of the best in five distinct geographical areas.

“I was blown away by the praise these sales reps received,” said Lenise Willis, editor-in-chief of Gifts & Decorative Accessories. “It filled me with so much joy to hear all of these stories of partnership and friendship, of how these sales reps went above and beyond and were truly a part of a store’s team.”

Held at Union Station Hall in Dallas, the event was filled with networking, celebration and plenty of good eats and drink. This year also marked the return of cocktail attire for the event, which had gone more casual for the first two years in its new Texas home. Before the awards were announced, a strolling dinner and cocktail hour kicked off the night, and after the ceremony and a seated dessert, industry members had time to come together again to celebrate both the winners and finalists once more before closing time.

This year’s Sales Representative of the Year awards winners included the following five industry sales reps:

Northeast: Sydney Woern of OneCoast

Northeast winner Sydney Woern of OneCoast

Sydney Woern of OneCoast won Sales Representative of the Year in the Northeast. She posed with Lenise Willis on the far left and Richard Freeman of GSMA and Angela Schmook of Road Runners on the right. Photo by Ariel Perez.

Woern is “more than just a sales rep … she’s a vital part of [the] retail family.” She blends professionalism with kindness and genuine care to tend to her retailers’ needs. She has a knack for remembering even the smallest of details, has developed trusting relationships with her buyers, and is always available to answer retailers’ questions and concerns.

Southeast: Shilpa Hill of Southeast Marketplace

Southeast winner Shilpa Hill of Southeast Marketplace

Shilpa Hill of SE Marketplace won Sales Representative of the Year in the Southeast. She posed with Lenise Willis on the far left and Richard Freeman of GSMA and Angela Schmook of Road Runners on the right. Photo by Ariel Perez.

Hill consistently keeps her retailers informed of emerging trends, bestsellers and items she thinks will do well for her stores. She makes reordering product easy for retailers, who said they trust her to craft an order for them based on previous orders and gaps in their product mix. She’s also responsive and always available to her retailers.

Central/Midwest: Lisa Deiss of DNA Sales

CentralMidwest winner Lisa Deiss of DNA Sales

Lisa Deiss of DNA Sales won Sales Representative of the Year in the Midwest. She posed with Lenise Willis on the far left and Richard Freeman of GSMA and Angela Schmook of Road Runners on the right. Photo by Ariel Perez.

Deiss regularly visits her retailers even if it’s a long commute; is extremely communicative, informative and responsive; and always makes sure her retailers get the best deals available. Retailers sing her praises for the quality of her customer service.

West: Annie Nichols of OneCoast

West winner Annie Nichols of OneCoast

Annie Nichols of OneCoast won Sales Representative of the Year in the West. She posed with Lenise Willis on the far left and Angela Schmook of Road Runners and Richard Freeman of GSMA on the right. Photo by Ariel Perez.

Nichols visits her buyers’ stores regularly and has long-term relationships with many of them. Not only does she make wonderful product recommendations for retailers, but she also volunteers to help at special store events, like art walks and street fairs.

Southwest: Tara Navin of Portico Collection

Southwest Tara Navin of Portico Collection

Tara Navin of Portico Collection won Sales Representative of the Year in the Southwest. She posed with Lenise Willis on the far left and Richard Freeman of GSMA and Angela Schmook of Road Runners on the right. Photo by Ariel Perez.

Navin not only has mastered the basics of being a sales rep — placing orders, helping with damages and checking store inventory for gaps — but she also goes above and beyond, especially with her in-store presence. She volunteers to host trunk shows for her products at her buyers’ stores and even helps her retailers make social media videos. Navin even volunteered to work at one of her stores, offering an extra set of hands for several weeks during the holidays while one of the store’s employees was in the intensive care unit.

In addition to Sales Representative of the Year awards, chosen from 15 finalists announced earlier this year, the winners of eight retail award categories and the 2024 Manufacturer of the Year were named. New this year, the Gifts & Decorative Accessories team also hosted a video interview series highlighting winning retail moments as told by award winners from the night. The awards program closed with the honoring of Dorothy Belshaw, the 2024 Gift for Life Industry Achievement Award recipient.