2019 Lifetime Achievement Recipients

During the convention, NAUMD recognized those who have made a lasting contribution to the uniform industry.  Each is celebrated for the significant contributions they made through their leadership, service and dedication, and on April 9th, they were awarded the association's highest honor – the Lifetime Achievement Award.  You can read a bit about each below:

Warren, Robert and George Heldman are considered industry pioneers.  Active in NAUMD – all three are former presidents – these trail blazers  helped usher in the modern uniform industry. They opened a mass production plant during a time when uniforms were primarily made to measure garments. Later in the 20th century, they are credited with growing the postal uniform program and were part of a team that saved multi-vendor licensing.Why

Perhaps most significantly, their beloved Fechheimer company became part of Berkshire Hathaway in 1986, when Warren Buffet famously purchased 84 percent of Fechheimer stock without every setting foot in the Cincinnati plant.  Why? In his letter to shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway the following year, Buffet explained his reasoning: “There's nothing magic about the uniform business; the only magic is in the Heldmans. They know the business inside and out, and they have fun running it. We are fortunate to be in partnership with them.”

In the words of Fred Heldman, current Fechheimer VP and George's son, “the industry wouldn't be the same without them.” Warren, Robert and George were honored posthumously. Fred Heldman, along with brother Roger and cousin Gary, accepted the award of their behalf. 

Article: The Magic Behind Fechheimer

Margaret Ramsdale is the first woman – and only Canadian – to make the Lifetime Achievement list. This former board member and small business owner didn't choose the uniform industry; rather, it chose her. Hard working and entrepreneurial, Margaret is known as a team player. 

Margaret didn't really choose the uniform industry. It chose her. In retail first as a buyer and then as a VP of merchandising and design, she found herself out of a job when the company downsized. That's when a friend asked her to look at some proposals for hotel uniforms that were being sent to her. Omega Uniform Systems started with that one account.

In the beginning, she worked out of her house, putting samples in the car and showing them around to customers in the hospitality sector. Margaret says you wear many hats as a small business owner; from bookkeeping to design to sales, you do what it takes. In time, she partnered with another woman, and hired staff along the way. They never advertised; instead, they were selling their reputation. Eventually, word spread and the business grew. 

At its peak, Omega had a customer base of 250. Margaret sold the business to Unisync several years ago and retired shortly thereafter.  

Article: Lifetime Achievement Winner: Margaret Ramsdale 

Bob Gates and Ron Pate are adamant: The key to success involves more than innovative products and competitive pricing, For these men of honor, the secret to a thriving business is people, and that means doing business with a handshake and treating everyone – from the receptionist to the CEO – with respect. 

Whatever the reason, there's no arguing with their success. They spearheaded one of the largest chains of uniform stores of the era and created the first centralized and automated uniform distribution program, which remains the industry standard for civilian agencies of the federal government. 

These lifelong friends and former fraternity brothers have been in business for five decades.  Gates began his career working for his father, becoming a full time outside sales rep after he graduated from college.  Pate, a mechanical engineer by training, was persuaded to move to Nashville to join Bob and his father in starting a uniform company.  That was 1971 - the beginning of the R&R chain of uniform stores.

Since 2001, they have continued with their vision - quality products, great networking, & fantastic relationships with vendors and customers thru the R&R Group.  And while others may opt for retirement, these two have no intention of calling it quits anytime soon.  Why should they? They're having too much fun.

Article: Business With a Handshake

See More: 2019 Lifetime Achievement Awards Night In Pictures

2018 Lifetime Achievement Recipients

Jerry Vereen - Riverside Manufactureing

John Gunzler(posthumously)- Edwards Garment