2017 Instructors Bio

Tom Newell
Tom was the founder of Espresso Stop Coffee House and Bakery, co-founder of Baskets To Go and International BasketFanFare® all located in Canton, Ohio. Tom owned Newell's Home Improvements and Newell's Wood Shop both located in Canton, Ohio. He comes from a Contractor background with sales and marketing know how that will not stop! Tom was in charge of sales floor, warehouse, deliveries, and everyday baking in the coffee house for over 2 decades! Tom was CEO Display Manager for Montgomery Wards for 3 states. This career was wonderful for our retail location designs and layouts. His design ideas are amazing and with his construction background made Tom & Pam’s partnership a winning collaboration. He has shared his teaching since 1995 with the gift basket industry. In 2010 he taught at the Fancy Food Show in NY, National Gift Basket Professional Convention, and The World Tea Expo in Las Vegas. Tom has also taught seminars at Atlanta Mart, Columbus Gift Mart, Western New York gift Mart, Minneapolis gift Mart, Kansas City Gift Mart, Pittsburgh Gift Mart, Denver Gift Mart, Nashville, Las Vegas Jubilee, Cincinnati – Jubilee, Chicago- Basket Connection, Aces – New Orleans, Aces – St. Petersburg, Columbus, Tradeshows, Temporary Shows,  Personal Consulting. Tom has been on the advisory board for Gift Basket Review, Columbus Gift Mart, Country Life, ACES, Columbus Retail Association, and more.  He has appeared on TV 8 and TV3 morning show and news for their Design ability. He has been National Design Winners and nominated for designer of the year 5 times. Award winners for Ohio & Stark County Business of the year and nominated for Ernest Young award 3 years in a row. Tom is active in the retail, coffee & tea industry, and gift basket industry and will continue for years to come. Tom has a love for GOD and his family. Our family loves to take time to camp and travel in our RV. 2008-Tom and Pam founded the National Gift Basket Convention and have been sharing helping others grow in this great industry!

Tom Teaches Storefront Design, Corporate lManagement, Coffee House start up, Pre Room Flow,  HIring Staff, Start Up Business Success, and much more.

Tom will be sharing lots of trade secrets in 2017.

Pam Newell
Pam started her relationship with the gift basket industry in 1979 when she opened their home-based business, Baskets-To-Go. Pam previously worked for Roadway Express for over 20 years in Payroll and sold Real estate for over 13 years. Pam has been a big part in train the trainer education group since 1970 and continues today.  In 1982 Tom Joined Pam at Baskets-To-Go and added a warehouse to support her growing commercial accounts. In 1993 they established an additional retail location that included Tom’s Dream of his “Espresso Stop Coffee House & Bakery”. By 1997 these operations, which included the Gift Basket Shop, Coffee Shop, Warehouse, Bakery and Corporate Offices doubled in size. In June of 2001 they opened their new international company, BasketFanFare®. That new company was housed in a 7500 Sq. Ft. Corporate Office, Bakery, and Warehouse location. In 2004 BasketFanfare moved to West Tuscarawas Street, Canton, Ohio to provide a better storefront location closer to Aultman Hospital.  In 2004 they together started Gift Basket School and decided to help the industry by teaching their own style of workshops and seminars! In 2005 they sold their retail location to dedicate their lives to education and helping others in the industry achieve their dreams! 2007 Tom & Pam founded “Wholesale Upscale Products” to help their gift basket friends find the best wholesale products in the industry. 2009 they sold Wholesale Upscale Product to a friend that wanted to continue their work. This allowed Tom & Pam begin a new chapter in their career. They saw a need for an Affordable Convention and are doing this today! Pam has taught seminars at Atlanta Mart, Columbus Gift Mart, Western New York Gift Mart, Minneapolis gift Mart, Kansas City Gift Mart, Pittsburgh Gift Mart, Denver Gift Mart, Nashville, Las Vegas Jubilee, Cincinnati – Jubilee, Chicago- Basket Connection, Aces – New Orleans, Aces – St. Petersburg, Columbus, Tradeshows, Temporary Shows, & Personal Consulting. Tom & Pam joined the teaching staff for 2010 Spring Fancy Food Show, World Tea Expo, and the Ultimate Gift Show. Pam is also on the advisory board for GBA and Gift Marketing Alliance. Pam has written for many Gift Basket and Craft magazines helping others grow their business with marketing tips! Her passion is to see other gift basket professionals achieve their own dreams and she wants to help the industry re-define with professionalism and style. Pam is a mom, grandmother, and wife with a love of GOD and Family! 2008-Tom and Pam founded the National Gift Basket Convention and have been helping others grow in this great industry!

Pam Teaches Goals and assessment, Customer Service, Basic Fresh Baked Design, Marketing, Corporate Mega Orders, and Customer Engagement!

Pam will be sharing new ideas, Corporate top secrets (this is her speciality) and advanced designing for 2017.. She will also be the kick off host!


Karen Leonard is the co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Innovative Global Vision, Inc. (IGV), a website design and digital marketing company in Ohio. With over 17 years' of experience in the IT and Marketing field, Karen has a passion for helping small businesses grow. She works closely with her extraordinarily talented team of developers, designers and marketing specialists to help small businesses increase profits through their website and build deeper, more profitable relationships through the use of online marketing tools. Karen is also an Akron / Canton BizTV Show host for an online show: Tips for Turning your Website into a Sales Genie As a Constant Contact Authorized Local Expert, she educates small businesses, nonprofits and organizations in the Ohio area on achiving success through email and social media marketing.

Derek Thielke
Derek Thielke’s 20 years in the specialty food industry comes from working for Mille-Lacs, Drangle Foods, Lactoprot USA, Owl’s Nest Cheese and Swiss Colony.  Derek’s expertise includes developing package designs and product formulation for the gift industry and selling to the specialty food trade. Derek has been part of the GBP staff of instructors since 2008 sharing his expertise in customer service, packaging, data base and QuickBooks ease, Expiration dates, and business laws and much more!

Derek will also show his Holiday Gifts at this years show to help you get ready for the 2017.. You see it 1st so get ready! BIG Pre-Holiday show speials with lots of sampling and surprises this year! 





     LeAnn Fanning Medard
Trademark one of The Basket Case, Candy Baskits, Tampa & Orlando, Fl

 LeAnn opened The Basket Case in November 1991. Previously owning Tip to Toe Nail Salon, LeAnn realized her talents leaned more towards creating beautiful gifts for her clients and family, thus began The Basket Case. 
Earning many awards in the industry over the years including, "Top 100 Gift Basket Companies in the US", "Top 20 Gift Basket Designer", multiple featured photos in Gift Basket Review Magazine and Rave Reviews Magazine.  LeAnn began teaching at multiple industry conventions for Debra Paulk and Cheri Reagor. Tom & Pam worked with LeAnn at Jubilee Convention for Debra Paulk and again with Cheri Reagor.
    After 23 years at The Basket Case, LeAnn wanted to give back to the industry by using her talents and knowledge and began, Candy Baskits, a company which allows new designers and floral shops to add candy designs to their current inventory.  Candy Baskits allows you to purchase a complete kit to create a beautiful candy designs.  No additional inventory left over, no need to buy case amounts.  You are able to create a design and see if it is marketable for you without investing in a lot of inventory. 
LeAnn currently lives in Valrico Florida with her husband Randy, daughter Emma and her pup, Buddy!
            We are so proud to have LeAnn  return for 2017 as our newest instructor with years of experience in our industry. She will amaze you with her candy designing, Pop-in gifts and eye catching designs.

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Sue Monhait

Sue Monhait, also known as the #GiftBizGal, has recently gotten back into the coaching arena focusing on people within the Gifting/Baking/Crafting spaces. This brings her full circle from her corporate days where she spent over 20 years in sales and strategic marketing working with businesses such as McDonalds, Pizza Hut, MainStreet (now Kohl’s), and numerous smaller organizations.  

Her passion is to help creative people start a sustainable and profitable company around doing what they love most.  Listen in as she hosts the Gift Biz Unwrapped Podcast for valuable free information on this topic. Also follow her on Instagram @GiftBizGal and in her Facebook Group Gift Biz Breeze.

Sue is founder of The Ribbon Print Company which provides equipment and consultation to businesses of all sizes. She designed state of the art software and an online training program bringing the industry standard to a new level. 

Sue speaks at various events within the gifting and crafting industries, is Past Chairman of the Highland Park Chamber of Commerce and on the Advisory Board of Shopping for a Change.  




J. Ben Weidner

Ben has been with GBP since the beginning both as an instructor as well as behind the scenes. He shares his expertise with the industry on networking, social media opportunities, elevator speeches, customer service, and standing out in a crowd. No one can do it better!  Ben worked from the beginning at Baskets To Go, Espresso Stop, BasketFanfare, Gift Basket School, and the National Gift Basket Conventions.

Have you ever wanted to stand out in a crowd? Ben WEIDNER has, and he does. Whether it’s while training and working with his staff at Showplace Theaters, or while teaching with Gift Basket School, Ben lives each day to the fullest. Ben has a very eclectic past. He started his career working for a family business with a family that he loves very much. He did whatever was asked and in return he gained the knowledge that he needed for life. Ben worked as restaurant managers, corporate trainer for restaurants and retail, and child advocate with the legal system. He has a big heart and an even bigger personality. He has trained his employees to be a Renegade and to get noticed while teaching customer service at one of the largest restaurant chains in the USA. He is now back in College at Kent State to earn his degree in Organizational Communication. Meet him and I think you will agree he is not one you will forget!

Ben was your registration host for 2015 and instructor for customer service. 2016 found Ben doing multiple jobs again from Registration, to sales, instructor of "Is your business naughty or nice''. Come have fun with BEN he has been a great part of our GBP group since it began in 2007! He is the BEST!






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Jan Iiams, CBA

Betallic, LLC – Education Director

Jan has been a popular educator for the balloon, floral and gift industries for more than 20 years. She is an award-winning designer and presents a wide range of expertise in the classroom focusing on sellable, profitable designs, selling skills, and merchandising techniques for?mass market, upscale gift and floral shops, and balloon decorators. She is featured in numerous trade publications, instructional videos and her beautiful work appears on several educational websites. Jan is well known for consistently showcasing a fresh palette of designs and innovative techniques in her entertaining and motivational presentations. Jan not only personally presents seminars but also develops and customizes curriculum for grocery and floral markets. She manages speakers who are experienced in teaching in this field for a perfect fit, every time, for every customer.

Our Balloon demo class will be about  learning new techniques for creating an array of delightful Christmas themed designs packed full of holiday cheer and beautiful Betallic balloon accents.  This class will be taught by a certified Balloon educator Jan our own Santa Baby! Jan will also help in our advanced BASKology workshop to top of your amazing design.

Barbara D. Whitaker is a leadership expert. She has been a speaker, teacher and consultant for over 25 years. She is the founder of the Unicorn Leadership Guild as well as co-founder/owner of Unicorn Wine Guild and Tea Room. She is also a Gift Basket Professional and advanced Designer.

    In addition to assisting with the development of the Leadership Advancement Guide for the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, she has conducted seminars on leadership, parliamentary procedure, etiquette and protocol.

    Ms. Whitaker is a Registered Parliamentarian through the National Association of Parliamentarians and Tea Etiquette Certified from the Charleston School of Protocol and Etiquette in Charleston, SC. She is a graduate of The University of Akron with a BS in Nursing. She then post graduate studies at The St. Joseph’s Hospital School of Anesthesia for Registered Nurses in Parkersburg, WV and has served as clinical and didactic instructor in anesthesia. She is currently a staff anesthetist for United Anesthesia in Parkersburg, WV.

    Ms. Whitaker is active in professional and civic organizations and is a past state and region president of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC), one of the world’s oldest and largest women’s volunteer organizations. She has served as parliamentarian at the state level, protocol chairman at the state and region levels, as well as Leadership Chairman at the district and state levels. She has been a member of the Leadership Committee for GFWC and is a recipient of the Empowered Woman award, a national award granted by GFWC for outstanding leadership. She also co-founded the GFWC/Internet Providers Cyber Club. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Marietta/Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.  

Barbara joined the GBP staff of Instructors in 2013 and we are so glad she did with a great eye for products, wine, design, & customer service Barbara brings a lot to our events!

Barbara will share her Phone - Face - E-mail chats with clients anger at the 2017 GBP Rally! Barbara has a wonderful gift basket business plus wine!




Nick Byers

 With the need for more and more new technology we have added him to help us learn all about new tools to help our business for 2017 holiday season.

Nick has 16 years of retail/customer service experience and 7+ years of experience with mobile technology.  He is a Mobile Solutions Specialist, Small & Medium Business Solutions Specialist and has agreed to work with us this year to help us with our business solutions!

He and his wife own a gift basket business in OHIO and we are proud to have Nick as part of our team!








Visit Tim’s LinkedIn profile at https://www.linkedin.com/in/tim-h-andreotti-bba-a5756546?

Back Office Staff: Katlyn, Pam, Tom, Ben, Anthony, Tia, Joseph, & Samuel