Lifetime Achievement

Lifetime Achievement

24/7 availability and customer service. The term gets tossed around quite a bit nowadays.

But if there’s one thing to be said about the recipient of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award – Rich Bassett, president of Toronto-based direct marketing service provider, Symcor Direct Response – it’s that he truly delivers on that promise.

‘He has this motto, which to many people may sound corny, but he lives by it, and it is to serve customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week,’ says Symcor president Jon Hantho.

His reputation for dedication and commitment has been the foundation for his successes – from president of corporate marketing and sales for a group of graphic arts companies owned by a leading Canadian publisher, and president of a major Canadian printing and direct marketing service provider, to the formation of his own printing and direct marketing services business in 1994, Bassett Direct (which was subsequently acquired by MDC Corp.’s business and technology unit, Optus – later acquired by Symcor).

‘The appeal of Rich’s business then and still today, was that it had a phenomenal [reputation], anchored by Rich personally and by his passion for the business and dedication to customers,’ adds Hantho, who was president of Optus, when it acquired Bassett Direct.

‘His name is synonymous with this industry [direct marketing]. He was always generous with his time, his knowledge – he was always more than just a supplier. That’s the one thing I can say – he was a partner. And he never let us down,’ says Fransi Weinstein, chief creative officer at Toronto-based tattoo direct + digital, and longtime customer.

‘Rich has created a huge reputation for customer service within our business,’ agrees John Gustavson, president of the Canadian Marketing Association. ‘He is always available and never complains – even when an agency or client has a last-minute change at 4 p.m. on Friday afternoon.’

‘The committee was overwhelmingly, unanimously in favour of him getting this award,’ says Gustavson, adding that Bassett has been involved with the CMA on a number of boards and initiatives over the past two decades – in addition to his extensive volunteer service in other areas.

Bassett has served on many community-based boards, including Big Brothers and Sisters of Canada and the Campaign Cabinet of the United Way of Metropolitan Toronto. The Direct Marketing Association’s Toronto Chapter named Bassett, a graduate of Ryerson Polytechnic Institute, Direct Marketer of the Year in 1997.

‘The whole industry has had a tough year, and through it all Rich has been steadfast positive and kept a phenomenal attitude,’ says Hantho. ‘He’s seen it, he knows the cycles, and he’s got the patience and a great instinct for it. He is a statesman for the business, and for the industry.’