Ashton Edwards

Profile Updated: February 5, 2014
Ashton Edwards
Residing In Madison, CT USA
Spouse/Partner Mary Jon
Occupation Marketing Management Consultant
Children Dana Christian, born 1963 (while at Williams)
Heather Brooke, born 1966 (while at Harvard)
Ashton More…Shields Jr., born 1967
Military Service USMC  
Yes! Attending Reunion
Attending 50th Reunion, June 11-15, 2014

Yes

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THE WORKPLACE (1966-86)

During my final three summers at Williams and Harvard, I’d been fortunate to have marketing/sales training positions with Time-Life, The Pillsbury Company, and Procter & Gamble in New York City, Minneapolis, and Cincinnati As a result, I was able to pursue jobs just slightly above entry level positions, landing a New Products Marketing Manager position at Pillsbury in Minneapolis.

As one of five Marketing Managers our mission was to create products from concepts and/or technology bases, I was fortunate enough to develop and market a snack product we named “Space Food Sticks”. Adapted from a contingency food developed for NASA, the original product sustained the Astronaut’s life should the space capsule environs ever be penetrated.

After three years of focus groups, market tests, lab studies, and endless concept boards, I moved in grocery products where I learned my initial computer skills in the course of managing cake, pie crust, gingerbread, and brownie product lines. When not courting the retailer’s endless aisles and facings, I became a dedicated Minnesota Vikings fan (and season ticket holder) as well as fathering my namesake in November 1967.

After the first Vikings’ Super Bowl loss, and a really tough winter, I answered the phone one day when it was 15 below, and subsequently decided it was time to go elsewhere in my pursuit of endless warmth and happiness. As a result, we took off back east to Massachusetts where I worked for six years as the head of the Golf Division for Spalding.

In addition to taking the Golf Division from a loss position and restructuring how and with what products we did business, I had the challenge and excitement of introducing the Top-Flite Golf Ball. Introduced on the Masters Golf Tournament TV coverage in April 1972, the Top-Flite took off after Titleist while yielding major profits during all the remaining years at Spalding. It was a fabulous experience!

From sporting goods marketing, I got the itch to be “the real Boss-man”, and held two CEO jobs for smaller companies, one in the high end children’s lamp business followed by the American division of an English leather-bound stationery firm based in Wimbledon.

Although both tasks involved interesting travel to the Far East and England, respectfully, neither company surged in terms of profitability like I tried to make them. Of all the brilliant memories I have over that seven year period, I have to admit the most outstanding one was working with Carl Yastrzemski (Yaz) on a new product introduction, and as a result was sent 16 free tickets to the Red Sox-Cincinnati Reds World Series in 1975…one of the best ever!

MY OWN BUSINSS (1987-present)

As much fun as I was having in other people’s “backyards”, I decided that entrepreneurial pursuits were what I really should be doing. But before I delved into any totally unknown world, I should try working and learning for/from the most creative Company in an industry I really wanted to pursue – Corporate Incentive Travel. Therefore, I contacted the owner and chief of The JourneyMasters, struck a deal figuring that if it didn’t work out we’d call it an on-the-job training trial effort.

But just when that was about to happened, the most devastating thing in our lives happened. We lost our 19-year-old son, and my namesake, in a horrific car accident on July 4th right here in our Town. It took a long time to try and get through the pain, shake off the effects of the shock that overwhelms you, and be able to concentrate on anything else. But it happens, it comes around, and you go forward.

Forward to three years of learning, earning good profits and world-wide travel, endless hours of computer training on a Mac, and I working with a wonderful tyrant with whom three years tenure seemed to be just enough. So Marketing Horizons, Ltd was born, set in Guilford CT (daily commutation of 1 gallon of gas for a 15 min drive through the woods viewing deer and rabbits), and a shared office with a friend. The final step was getting a partner to run the operations side of the business. That person turned out to be a young lady who gravitated over 10 years from a wonderful and smart single girl in Boston through 5 years of tormenting times in Los Angeles, and ended up a married woman partying in Honolulu…and we were done.

Fortuitously, the business cycle was an expanding one, beginning with Avia out of Portland, OR and growing a ten year “romance” with my favorite former employer – Spalding Golf – and 7 pieces of great business with Sears. Along the way we added 4 annual pieces of business including the forerunners of SBC, PriceWaterhouse, an important food service Company in Kansas called Doskocil/FoodBrands, and a combination of wonderful clients including Sony, Labatt’s, and Diageo.

We entered the new century as a $5MM growing entity with lots of good business, decent profits, a little too much debt, and a heart full of joy and a stable of super clients totally dedicated to the concept of offering high end travel rewards to their major achievers – sales and buyers, alike. And then two bad things happened…9/11 and an economic downturn somewhere in the first three years of “this great new century”. And there went our Clients…SBC downsized 30K people and stopped all sales incentive plans for its 6 divisions, Spalding filed for bankruptcy, and Sears was bought out by a CT financier who thinks rewarding retail working persons is no longer necessary to achieve high profit gains.

The Company was reformed in its own image in 2006 built around Ventura Foods where the management from Doskocil had gravitated to Brea, CA. Renamed Marketing Ventures World-Wide, we started rebuilding and recovered to almost $3MM. And then came the fall (pun is definitely intentional) of 2008. Everything stopped, and no one knows when and if it will ever start again. Life is still good with a wonderful wife, Jonnie, of 46 years, two beautiful daughters with 5 grandchildren (tightly knit squad of 8-12 year olds), and enjoying our 33rd year of living in a California Contemporary home in Madison, CT. We still have the same 28’ fichus tree growing in our house, good friends and 8 months on the golf course, and we’re looking forward to at least 20 more years on the globe.

Jonnie has started her own LLC called Fox River Riders, has worked now for 25 years for High Hopes Therapeutic Riding teaching the handicap to ride horses, and has made demonstrations and a video culminating 6 years of having taught a now wonderful 10 year old blind girl how to go over jumps aboard a horse. Amazing! My business is still trying to revive itself, but Obama has to do a very effective job for that to happen let alone make sense. We’ll see, and we’ll see all of you in five months at the finest secondary school I’ve ever known! Happy 50th to all!