Shonebarger Steps Down as Hit Promo President; Schmidt Now CEO & President

Shonebarger Steps Down as Hit Promo President; Schmidt Now CEO & President

Eric Shonebarger, a former Counselor Technology Executive of the Year, has called time on his run as president of Top 40 supplier Hit Promotional Products (asi/61125). He’ll continue to serve the Florida-based firm as a board member.

CEO CJ Schmidt, a member of Counselor’s Power 50 list of promo’s most influential people, is taking on the additional title of president.

Eric Shonebarger and CJ Schmidt, Hit Promotional Products (asi/61125)

Shonebarger joined Hit in 2004 as a network administrator and went on to earn promotions to roles including director of information technology, chief information officer and, starting in January 2022, president.

“As I reflect on the last 20 years, I am incredibly grateful for the trust and opportunity that the Schmidt Family has given me,” Shonebarger said. “To the Hit Promotional Products team, you are the most talented and hardworking people I know. I am honored to call you not just coworkers, but friends. I look forward to continuing to serve you in this new role.”

Shonebarger has been an integral part of Hit’s growth and success, the company said. “His strategic vision, strong leadership, and unwavering dedication have helped us achieve many milestones,” Hit said in a statement. “We will always be grateful for his guidance and the impact he has made on our company culture.”

A Promo Tech Leader

Over his decades with Hit, Shonebarger grew into a prominent figure in the promotional products industry, particularly in technology circles.

He was known for his volunteer work with PromoStandards, a non-profit organization committed to improving supply chain and transactional efficiencies in the promo industry through technological advances. Of late, he’d been serving the organization as Standards Committee Chair.

Shonebarger was the recipient of Counselor’s 2017 Technology Executive of the Year Award. Counselor noted at the time that Shonebarger oversaw all IT operations – work that was fundamental to helping the firm double revenue over a five-year span leading up to the award recognition.

“I want to thank our customers – I’ve enjoyed getting to know many of you,” Shonebarger said in a LinkedIn post announcing his departure as president. “Hit would not be who we are without your trust, and I know everyone on the Hit team will continue to work hard to earn that trust every day.”

An ‘Astute & Strategic Operator’

Schmidt ranked second on Counselor’s 2023 Power 50 list – the 13thth time he has appeared on the rankings.

The University of Florida graduate held roles at Hit that included national sales manager and vice president of sales before becoming president in 2014. He left that role to become CEO in 2018, and will now be wearing the dual C-Suite hats of chief executive officer and president.

Under Schmidt’s leadership, Hit Promo increased sales 41% year over year in 2022.

“CJ Schmidt has proven himself over the last few years to be one of the industry’s most skilled and strategic operators, successfully guiding his company through challenges such as facility-damaging hurricanes, the pandemic, supply chain disruptions and market volatility,” wrote Michele Bell, ASI’s vice president of editorial, education and special events, in Schmidt’s 2023 Power 50 profile.

Last year, Hit announced a partnership with fellow Top 40 apparel supplier Stormtech. It has also made a host of respected industry hires of late, including Tiffany Tarr, Kim Brockschmidt and Jon Norris. Schmidt has predicted that Hit’s sales would increase by 10%-12% in 2023.

Based on reported 2022 North American promotional product revenue of $610.9 million, Hit Promo ranked sixth on Counselor’s most recent list of the largest suppliers in the industry.

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