Bennie F. Giles III, MAS, founder of Creative Advertising Techniques of New Rochelle, New York, and PPAI’s first African American board member, passed away on September 21 following an illness.

Giles got his start in the promotional products industry serving as director of marketing and program development at his family’s company, EPC. In 1988, he leveraged his experience and background in the industry and founded Creative Advertising Techniques. The company’s clients included Fortune 1000 companies, national associations, educational institutions, unions and government agencies.

Always seeking to improve his skills, Giles attended and graduated from the Dartmouth Amos Tuck Minority Executive Business Program.

During his 30 years in the promotional products industry, Giles was an avid volunteer. He was a trustee of the Promotional Products Education Foundation in 1994-1997 and on the PPAI Board of Directors in 1994-1998. While on the board, he served on several committees, including terms as vice chair for the Marketing Information & Research Committee, the Awards & Recognition Committee and the Public Relations Committee.

“Bennie and I traveled to the PPAI Expo together for 18 years,” says Roy Johnson, CAS, managing director of Newark distributor Royel Marketing. “We would share a hotel in Dallas. He was a people person and a great guy. And he was knowledgeable. I think he had a degree in marketing and knew how to manage finances.

“The best that I can say is that Bennie was gifted with spirit. He had a love for people and was a great communicator.”

As the first African American with a seat on the PPAI board and to serve in leadership positions in many of its committees, Giles was also a trailblazer.

“Bennie became our representative,” says Johnson. “Whenever we came to Dallas, he would host a dinner and talk about the organization and about the advantages of participation in the organization. He did a lot to get more Black involvement. He was a very positive influence for all of us.”

After his term on the PPAI board, Giles continued to volunteer with the Association. He served on the Leadership Advisory Committee in 2002-2005, the Public Relations Committee in 2000-2003 and the Technology, Terminology & Standards Advisory Council in 2002. He was also named a PPAI Distinguished Service Award recipient in 1998 and received PPAI Fellow recognition 2016.

Giles was also an active volunteer in his community. He relocated Creative Advertising Techniques from New York City to New Rochelle in 1996. Starting with the PTA at Ward Elementary and Albert Leonard Middle School, he later served as president of the New Rochelle YMCA Board of Directors, an executive vice president of the New Rochelle Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals, president of the African American Art & Cultural Appreciation Council and a New Rochelle Little League coach, among other roles.

Giles retired from the promotional products industry around the time he was named City Clerk of New Rochelle in 2010. In that role, he worked to meet the needs of city residents and was actively involved in policy making. Westchester County recognized New Rochelle for the records management program he created.

On September 30, Giles’ family will receive his friends and relatives at Shiloh Baptist Church New Rochelle. Viewing will be at 9-10 am, with services immediately after. Giles suffered from Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, a rare neurodegenerative disease. In lieu of flowers, his family asks that donations be made to in his memory.