Jennifer Thoroe

Jennifer Thoroe Headshot

My [Membership] Hero

Jennifer Thoroe Receives
2017 IADD Cutting Edge Award

Besides rocking out to his music, you wouldn’t think AmeriKen Die Supply, Inc.’s self-described introvert Jennifer Thoroe has much in common with musician, singer, songrwriter, producer Dave Grohl of the alternative/post-grunge/hard rock band Foo Fighters (“My Hero,” Everlong”). But on closer look, both are known for striving for excellence, meeting challenges and barriers head on and letting nothing stand in their way.

Grohl has reinvented himself time and again despite broken bones, band deaths and break-ups, achieving the musical milestone of being in the number one spot on the Modern Rock charts for 17 of 18 successive weeks, as a member of three different groups.

Thoroe has consistently used her time and talents to bring greater value to IADD members, whether through chapter activities, managing volunteers, Board service or overseeing myriad membership recruitment and retention activities. For this, Thoroe has received the 2017 IADD Cutting Edge Award. One of the Association’s highest honors, it focuses on the person or team who hane made the most positive impact on our industry within the last 24 months.

One area that has existed since the inception of the IADD is membership. Without membership, there would be no IADD. There have been countless membership drives, great IADD Vice Presidents of membership and membership-centric IADD presidents over the years. Membership, both gaining and retaining members, has always been a focal point of our Association.

When presenting Jennifer’s award, then IADD President Jeremy Guest of Diansuply, Inc. explained, “Our current Vice President of Membership, Jennifer Thoroe, ranks right up there with the best of them. As I sat down to write this award speech, I could not find a way to better describe her service to the IADD than the explanation in the award nomination we received:

Jennifer has been an up and coming star for the IADD ever since she got involved at the chapter level in 2005. Not only was she an outstanding officer with the South Chapter, she has also been an ambassador and outstanding supporter for the South Chapter since moving on to the IADD Board and beyond. She was a key figure in helping the annual South Chapter golf outing get its start back in 2007. As Board Director for the Northeast & South Chapters, she continued to use her enthusiasm and skills to assist in advancing those chapters forward. But over the past couple of years she has been doing some real heavy lifting by leading the Association’s Membership Committee.

Needless to say, membership is the life blood of any association, and the IADD is no different. Jennifer has worked tirelessly to keep the momentum that was built up by previous Committee Chairs and VPs to keep our membership growth and retention on a forward course. Unlike some areas of operation, membership is every day and it involves all members. It never stops or takes a break. It’s perpetual and always a top priority, if not the top priority. Jennifer has kept the IADD on a forward path with our membership.

As we all know, associations are struggling. They are struggling to keep membership, and the constant mergers, acquisitions and downsizing continues to shrink the pool of potential members. As the nominator wrote, “membership is everyday.” It doesn’t stop.

As President, I saw the consistent communication that takes place between Jennifer and Jenny in the IADD office. I have seen the constant communication between Jennifer and her Membership Committee. And her committee never fails to step up and respond to her needs. Jennifer and her Membership Committee also assisted me as I made my presidential calls to our members.

If you recall, one of my goals was to contact every member regarding maximizing their membership. That goal is not quite yet complete (I lost a lot of momentum over the summer), but it will be finished, even as the final calls are made while I am Immediate Past President. But as I made these calls, there was a large percentage that I didn’t reach the first time. Jennifer stepped in and took these follow-up calls on as a project for her committee.

Due to the constant demands for membership calls, earlier this year Jennifer split her Membership Committee into two groups. One group is responsible for recruitment, making calls to new members, and the other group is responsible for retention, or retaining current members.

At that time, there were no Director positions on the IADD Board devoted to membership. Just the VP of Membership. As of now, we have a Director of Recruitment on the Board and just recently solicited nominations for a new Director of Retention position.

My feeling is that anyone who can convince the Board to create or reassign two Board positions for their committee in a matter of three months deserves an award.”

The Cutting Edge was able to congratulate Jennifer and get some inside scoop ...

How did you get started in the industry?
I got involved when the opportunity to join AmeriKen presented itself. I had no idea what the industry was all about but had a unique opportunity to begin in a company that I felt I could really learn and grow with on many levels.

Describe your career path.
My career really started off at Dairy Queen. (Cool treats, no hot eats!) I was asked to manage and close the shop before I could even drive! In high school and after, I worked in the banking industry with a focus in the trust and brokerage department. When Ken Specialties acquired American Die Supplies, my mom moved down to Georgia, USA with my stepfather, Randy Kengott. During a visit, he and I discussed the opportunity for me to join the company. This sounded exciting to me and I hopped on board. I began in customer service, then branched out into sales and other areas. I continue to keep my main focus on account management and relations.

What about role models?
Definitely my parents. They lead by example and have instilled in both my brother and me that you have to work hard to succeed; the need to be kind; the value of a dollar…I could go on and on. I also would say my brother. I have always looked up to him! He’s one of those guys who are just naturally good at most everything they do. Even though I find this infuriating at times, I am lucky. He always had the kindness and patience to teach me. Next, the owners of AmeriKen, the Kengotts. They have taught me a ton and helped me in more ways than I can count. It’s a pleasure to work for such a great group of people. There are so many others that I could name. I try to surround myself with people whom I admire. It helps me push myself!

What are your greatest accomplishments?
I have run half marathons which I never thought I’d be capable of (I walked the mile and a half during gym class). I have learned that I can be successful in sales and management while still being the introvert I am at heart. But I’d have to say, hands down, the biggest accomplishment of all is the relationships I maintain with those who are important to me. Any other accomplishment I might get to enjoy is so much more special because I am able to share it with the people I love.

What have been some of your ambitions?
This may seem cliché to some, but it isn’t for me: my ambition is to live a happy and fulfilled life. I want to feel like I’ve made a difference, feel like I have helped and contributed somehow. I strive to make other peoples’ lives easier and more enjoyable, and by default, I’m rewarded in kind. This is truly what drives me.

What advice would you give to someone who is just considering entering the industry?
To listen! Actively participate and ask questions. Stay open minded—there are multiple ways to achieve the same goal.

What is your vision for the future of our industry?
I feel that technology will continue to advance and be a major driving force in the changes that will come. In some way, it will affect all of us, regardless of what role we are currently in. I don’t have a crystal ball and don’t know how it all plays out. But I feel like trying to stay on top of what is out there and learning how it might affect you is the best bet to prepare and adapt to help stay relevant.

How did you get involved in IADD?
Joining AmeriKen with no prior exposure to this industry, I was seeking a way to educate myself. The Kengotts have been involved in the Association for many years and encouraged me to look into it. Once I was settled down in Georgia, USA, I attended my first chapter meeting. I quickly saw the value and became further involved.

What has your IADD participation meant to you?
The IADD has been invaluable to me on both a professional and personal level. I have attended technical meetings and social networking events alike, but regardless of the function, I’m always learning! To go from attending meetings, to volunteering as a chapter officer, then moving up to the Board and now being part of the Executive Committee has been such a great journey for me. I obviously believe in the Association! To be involved on a level where I get to work with others on ideas of how to bring people and knowledge together has been truly meaningful. The Association is made up of many volunteers who understand the importance of that and are passionate about it. I have become friends with many colleagues in this industry. A lot of them have been involved at some level with the Association. I find it all to be a very rewarding thing to be part of!

What should we know about your family, personal hobbies, likes/dislikes?
My family—they make me happy, they make me laugh, they make me mad, they drive me crazy…as I do to them!! They are good people! I love my family to pieces. I am very close to them and have always had their support, and I will always support them. I realize how fortunate I am to be able to say that. In general, I try to lead an active lifestyle. I try to run, but whether it falls under the like or a dislike column depends on the day! I like to go on a hike or a walk while listening to my music way too loudly! I attempt to play sports but am consistently inconsistent with my skills in this; so, much like running, this can fall under either column!!

Are you involved in other associations/organizations?
I do attend some events on occasion but I am not involved in any others to the level I am with the IADD.

See past Cutting Edge Award recipients—and other IADD honorees—here