This year’s Summit features some of the nation’s most recognized speakers in all aspects of business and industry panelists you won’t want to miss:
Summit Emcee: Michael Villani
Michael Villani is an actor/voice over artist in Los Angeles and has been since graduating from the University of Missouri with a Broadcast Journalism degree in 1970. He co-starred with Robert Redford and Michelle Pfeiffer in Up Close and Personal, was featured in Volcano with Tommy Lee Jones and Wag the Dog with Robert DeNiro and Dustin Hoffman. He co-starred as Merv Griffin in the Milos Forman film, Man On The Moon, the Andy Kaufman story, starring Jim Carrey, as well as appearing in Jim’s blockbuster Bruce Almighty. He was also featured in The Girl Next Door and can be seen with Jamie Foxx and Beyoncé Knowles in Dreamgirls.
Mike’s television credits include co-starring roles in hits like Criminal Minds and CSI.
Mike was the announcer for the Hollywood Film Festival for 18 years, and was the Venue announcer for several venues at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, the Winter Olympics, in 2010, the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, 2014 and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. In May, 2016 he was in Orlando, Florida, announcing at the Invictus Games. He also worked the Wounded Warrior Games at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, where he announced the Opening and Closing Ceremony and the Sitting Volleyball competition. He’s the Voice of the Anaheim Police Department, where he’s been a Technical Reserve for the past 38 years. He was honored with the Reserve Officer of the Year Award for 2016. Mike is also the Master of Ceremonies for many charitable events and golf tournaments in and around Southern California.
Laurie Aronson is the President & CEO of Lipsey’s and Haspel, the third generation on both sides of her family, to own and operate two family businesses. Laurie grew up in Baton Rouge and attended Emory University in Atlanta. After working in sales and marketing for several years in Atlanta after the graduated, she moved back to Baton Rouge in 1993 to become the Credit Manager of Lipsey’s. In 1999 she became Chief Operating Officer. In 2002 she became President of both Lipsey’s and Haspel. Laurie has been an active member of Entrepreneur’s Organization since 2000. She is also an executive board member of the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center and Crime Stoppers of Baton Rouge. She serves on several national industry boards in a variety of positions including the Congressional Sportsman’s Foundation, the American Suppressor Association and the National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers (NASGW). Laurie just became the first female Chairperson of the NASGW and has served on its board since 2012.
Barbara Baird publishes Women’s Outdoor News, an online publication, and writes for several firearms, travel and outdoor publications. She is a contributing editor at SHOT Business and SHOT Daily. Baird chairs the board of Freedom Hunters, a non-profit organization that reflects the outdoor community's appreciation to our troops by taking select active duty and combat veterans, families of fallen heroes, children of the deployed, as well as those wounded or injured, on outdoor adventures. She lives in the Missouri Ozarks with her husband, Jason.
Chris Barrett is son to rifle pioneer, Ronnie Barrett. After Chris graduated high school in 1996 he started working full time for the company. Chris and his father then worked intuitively to improve the Barrett products and also began modernizing the company. He introduced innovative product ideas, brought new equipment to the production process, and instituted software like CAD to replace hand drawn rifle designs. From 2000 to 2014 he served as Barrett’s Lead Designer. During that time he led development of several ground breaking products such as the Model 98B®, MRAD®, and REC7®. Thus far, the Model 98B and MRAD have been the highlight of Chris’ designs. Both rifles received the prestigious Golden Bullseye award as Rifle of the Year from NRA Publications, with the Model 98B in 2010 and MRAD in 2012. In 2015, Chris took the opportunity to lead Barrett as its new President. He has since expanded the Barrett portfolio of products to broaden the offering of innovative, quality rifle solutions in the shooting and hunting space.
Maj. Gen. (retired) Vincent Boles has served in a variety of assignments over a 33-year career, to include command at every possible level and a number of combat deployments. His final Army assignment was as the Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, G4 on the Army Staff in the Pentagon, where he oversaw logistics operations and readiness for the 1.1 million soldier force to include the surges into Iraq and Afghanistan. Retiring in 2009, he established Vincent E. Boles Inc., a leadership and logistics consulting practice, speaking and working with corporate and association groups around the nation and overseas. He is the author of 4-3-2-1 Leadership…What America’s Sons and Daughters Taught Me on the Road from 2d Lieutenant to 2 Star General.
Mike Carney has invested his entire career in the outdoor industry, beginning in print, digital and television content creation roles, to currently overseeing the industry’s largest consumer media portfolio as COO of Outdoor Sportsman Group’s Publishing and Branded Media division. Early in his career Carney was a writer, magazine editor and then part of the production house that conceived and produced ESPN Outdoors, serving in both sales and on-air hosting roles. As director of marketing for Lowrance Electronics and later as director of sales for its GPS division, he earned valuable experience in understanding how multi-brand, multi-market manufacturers concept, design, launch and sell products through all channels of distribution, from the traditional to the emerging digital and consumer-direct opportunities. Mike developed an intimate understanding of what types of media campaigns resonated most deeply with consumers – and made products move at retail, most cost effectively. Carney has driven the successful transformation of legacy print products into full-spectrum multimedia brands, launched multiple branded and custom-produced TV series, developed numerous integrated and digital-only destinations, plus scores of new-audience multimedia products. Mike is a huge advocate of 360-degree marketing campaigns that intelligently integrate results-proven traditional with new-market media opportunities to provide total audience marketing solutions. A hardcore hunter, shooter and land-manager, Mike resides in the deer-rich lands of Central, IL with his wife, daughter and Chesapeake Bay retriever.
With 30 years of industry sales and marketing experience, Dolnack leads NSSF’s marketing and sales operations, branding, partnership marketing, customer recruitment and retention, and the industry’s largest trade show, the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show. As the leader of marketing operations, he is responsible for the company’s media and industry relations, marketing communications and has been named among the Top 100 CMOs by Social Media Marketing and CEO World magazines. His experience includes iconic brands such as Colt, Smith & Wesson, Fenwick, Woodstream and Berkley. A lifelong hunter and shooter, he is a Life Benefactor Member of the National Rifle Association, certified NRA Instructor and serves on the Board of Directors of Honored American Veterans Afield, National Deer Alliance and Sportsmen’s Alliance.
With NSSF since 2005, Bill oversees the association’s communications efforts, including digital media, public relations, creative services, editorial content and video/multimedia production. Since his arrival at NSSF, Bill has served the association in a variety of roles, including public relations manager, emerging media director and currently as managing director of marketing communications. A recipient of PR News’ national Digital Communicator of the Year Award, Bill is also a former daily newspaper editor and reporter and a graduate of Fairfield University. Outside of work, he enjoys spending time with his wife and kids and is an avid target shooter and hunter.
Derek currently serves as the director of outdoors for Carbon Media, the industry leading digital media company with 285 fishing, hunting, and shooting properties reaching 60 million monthly unique visitors. Derek co-founded Second Media in 2010 and helped lead them to the INC 5000 in 2014 and 2015 as one of the fastest growing privately held companies in the country. In 2015 Second Media was acquired, and recently Carbon Media was acquired in 2018. This consolidation has created a true industry leading endemic digital media company with an impressive advertising product stack and content creation team. Carbon Media is heavily focused on providing trackable, scalable, and cost-effective digital media for the industry.
Ryan Gresham grew up in front of the camera, being pressed into service for photography for magazine articles. He worked in radio, cable TV, and was an advertising representative for the Fox affiliate in New Orleans, right up until Hurricane Katrina blew in. Not long after his home washed away, he teamed up with his dad, Tom Gresham, to help grow Gun Talk Media, creating videos about guns, shooting and hunting, distributing the videos through what may have been the first online video site dedicated to those subjects. Before long, cable TV called, and the two of them produced and hosted shows on NBC Sports, Outdoor Life TV, Versus, Outdoor Channel, Pursuit, Sportsman Channel, and Wild TV (Canada). The list of "firsts" from the Gun Talk team includes: first national radio talk show about guns and gun rights, first television series about armed self-defense, first television series about the newest guns on the market, first web series featuring force-on-force defensive training, first smartphone app using geolocation technology to place directed messages before firearms consumers at the right time and place.
Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert and the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. He is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and has been inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement in the speaking profession. Shep works with companies and organizations who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. His articles have been read in hundreds of publications, and he is the author of Moments of Magic®, The Loyal Customer, The Cult of the Customer, The Amazement Revolution and Amaze Every Customer Every Time. He is also the creator of The Customer Focus™, a customer service training program which helps clients develop a customer service culture and loyalty mindset.
Julia Landauer is a NASCAR racer and 2-time champion from New York City. With dozens of wins across different series, Julia has set records since she was 10 years old, including becoming the highest finishing female in NASCAR K&N Pro Series’ history in 2016. She currently races in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series. Away from the track, Julia graduated from Stanford University in 2014 with a bachelor of science degree. While at school she was also a contestant on the TV show SURVIVOR. Julia gave her first talk at TEDxStanford and has since shared her stories with many audiences. Julia is an honoree of the Forbes 30 Under 30 list and has spoken at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women’s Conference. Julia also serves as an external advisor to various companies. In developing her brand and business, Julia has collaborated with companies and organizations such as Spotify, Disney, and the One Love Foundation. As Julia continues to develop her career and brand on and off the track, she uses her platform to advocate for STEM education and women’s empowerment.
Hunter & Lindsey Simmons
Lindsey and Hunter Simmons’ paths were forged well before they were introduced to the world. They were born in Northeast Louisiana and into their family’s business, Simmons Sporting Goods. Lindsey is currently the CFO of the company and handles many of the operational duties daily as well as being the lead clothing buyer. Hunter is currently the COO and his duties include managing the day to day operations of various departments, new business development, and online sales. Having grown up as employees and transitioning into their leadership roles as owners has been challenging yet rewarding. It has prepared them to lead their family business through the tumultuous times we have faced over the last several years. According to Lindsey, “Times change, Businesses change, and customer mindsets change. We are always adapting to stay in front of the trends.”
Raised in the shooting sports business, Richard Sprague has been owner since 1984 of his family’s 63-year-old business. In 2005, they moved their 23,500 square foot facility with 10-position, 25-yard, rifle rated range and classroom. Sprague is also the owner of a sister company called Truck Mates/Line X of Yuma that features truck accessories of all kinds, including camper shells, tonneau covers, tool boxes and more. These businesses are operated side by side on the same property with (36) employees. Richard co-founded the shooting sports industry’s 1st Performance Dealer Group in 2007 and his group’s (11-stores) continue to meet and learn from each other twice a year. Richard has been active with NSSF’s retail advisory council for over 15 years and currently sits on the NSSF Board of Governors.
As the ultimate sales and marketing truth slayer, Scott helps organizations see their business through a new lens with his unconventional “unmarketing” views and vanguard approach to building and maintaining real customer relationships. As the president of Un-Marketing, he has transformed how corporations like PepsiCo, Century 21, Fidelity and Microsoft do business with radical insights on how to engage better with customers through social and viral marketing. Named a top 5 social media power influencer by Forbes.com, Scott elevates the conversation by putting the focus back on what matters most to current and potential buyers, values like trust, authenticity, relationships and service. In 2018, Scott was inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame. Drawing from his experience as a marketing industry innovator and the author of four best-selling business books, he convinces audiences to look at the big picture, which is about creating loyal, repeat customers who become brand evangelists because they genuinely love the goods or services you provide. With humor, passion and candor, Scott blends real world strategies with memorable stories that will completely change the way you market and sell, for the better.
Jason Vanderbrink is the President of Ammunition for Vista Outdoor Inc., which is a leading global designer, manufacturer and marketer in the outdoor sports and recreation markets. The company operates in two segments, Outdoor Products and Shooting Sports, and has well-recognized brands that provide consumers with a range of performance-driven, high-quality and innovative products. Jason previously served as Senior Vice President of Sales for all of the company’s brands. He joined Vista Outdoor’s sales organization in 2005, and has held roles with increasing responsibility. Jason has more than 17 years of increasing leadership experience in the outdoor industry, including five years with The Cullerton Company. Jason earned his bachelor’s degree from Saginaw Valley State University and his master’s degree from Missouri State University. He completed the University of Oxford Advanced Management and Leadership Programme in 2013. Jason serves on the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s (NSSF) Board of Governors.
Michael Veltri is a leadership expert, battle-hardened business executive, and national bestselling author. Recognizing that success in business and life is created by the daily decisions we make, Michael elevates teams, fuel-injects leadership, and improves business performance through better decision-making practices. From ancient Japanese warriors to brain science, from business titans to academic research, Michael tapped wide-ranging resources to develop a groundbreaking model for better decision making that leads to exponential leadership growth and peak performance with balance — not burnout. Simple, elegant, and effective, Michael's approach has positively impacted some of the world’s most successful organizations, brands, and leaders.
Hank Yacek began his retail experience in the firearm industry in 1987 working in various retail focused roles, later moving to Lexington Kentucky and worked in a retail capacity at a prestigious antique and collectible focused firearm retail store for five years. Yacek ran his own retail store from 2004-2011, sold his ownership (the store still exists today) and graduated in 2011 into the Distribution level of the firearm industry working with a focus to help retailers improve their business skill set. In 2018 he started Point of Impact Range and Retail consulting which is a firm that continues to work with and help retailers start new businesses and grow existing ones.