SME History

Sales and Marketing Executives, Inc. of Sioux Falls (SME) has an established and rich history. SME began in 1959-1960 (calendar year runs July – June) as the Sioux Falls Sales Executives Club, Incorporated, with Orrin Melton leading the group as the first President.

The original constitution and by-laws of the organization included articles pertaining to affiliation with national organizations, the object of the organization, membership, and organizational structure, duties of members, and dues to be paid by members. At the time of the formation, the dues were $48 per year and included membership in the National Sales Executives, membership in the Sioux Falls Sales Executives Club, Inc., and meals for nine regular monthly meetings.

After almost three years, on July 16th, 1963, the State of South Dakota declared Sales and Marketing Executives, Incorporated of Sioux Falls officially incorporated. At this point in time, the organization united with Sales and Marketing Executives International (SMEI), and became an integral piece of a broader spectrum, consistently winning the Annual SMEI President’s Award, Retention Award, Raymond Bill All State Award, Membership Growth Award and Operation Excellence Awards.

The group experienced both hard times and times of growth and development in the years that followed. The original mission statement was as follows: “The object of the Club shall be the advancement of the science of sales management, including sales procedures, planning and training, the exchange of ideas on current problems to increase the business capacity of each member, and discussions of business methods to achieve effective and ethical selling plans.” The organization provided its members with opportunities for both professional and personal growth, much like today.

Through the years, the group went from being a predominantly male membership to incorporating more female members. The roles women held in the organization evolved with the changing times. In 1980, SME, Inc. of Sioux Falls began the acclaimed SME Women In Business® event (Trademarked in 2006). The event was organized to honor area women who were leaving their mark on the business world. The event has evolved to include a trade fair, style show, evening meal, raffle, Women of Excellence Awards (1997), and a remarkable banquet featuring keynote speakers including Erin Brokovich, Jane Seymour, Mary Lou Retton, Lisa Ling, Betty Ann Waters, Elizabeth Smart and many others.

One of the greatest accomplishments for women in the organization was the election of the first female president, Karen Dunham, in 1987. Her leadership and expertise paved the way for women not only in the organization, but also in the business world of the eighties.

In 1987, SME, Inc. of Sioux Falls began honoring outstanding business men and women with the Distinguished Sales Awards. This event, usually held in February, was a celebration of National Sales Month and honored local individuals who were outstanding in the sales and marketing field. Receiving a DSMA award was like the Grammy of sales and marketing. As time went on, the awards adopted several names, such as the Distinguished Sales and Marketing Awards, the Champion Awards, and currently, the SME Excellence Awards® (today’s title), along with many changes. Today it is a yearly event, but honors the South Dakota Sales and Marketing Executive of the Year™.

In 1987 SME began recognizing an outstanding business person or noted national figure from South Dakota as the South Dakota Sales and Marketing Executive of the Year™. The first recipient of the award was Joe Robbie of the Miami Dolphins. Throughout the years, this honor has been awarded to individuals who have shown outstanding business skills, contributions to their communities, and marketing abilities. Other notable recipients have included Paul Christen, Jerome Lohr, Bill Hustead, Marvin Schwan, Oscar Austad, Dr. Aelred Kurtenbach, Pat O’Brien, Al Neuharth, Joe Foss, Tom Everist, Terry Redlin, Al Schock, Sylvia Henkin, Bernie Hunhoff, Joe Floyd, Henry Carlson, Jr., Arnold “Pete” Pederson, Elmer Karl, Craig Lloyd, Tony Bour, Don Dunham, Jr., Dana Dykhouse, Jeff Scherschligt and T. Denny Sanford (2014). In 2000, Ruth Ziolkowski of the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation was the first female recipient of the award.

As time continued, SME, Inc. of Sioux Falls came to realize their extraordinary potential and ability to stand on their own. In 2006, the group adopted the trademarked name Sales and Marketing Executives (SME), Inc. of Sioux Falls® and was officially independent of Sales and Marketing Executives International. At that time, they also earned the rights to the SME Women in Business® brand name.

Today, SME, Inc. of Sioux Falls is a flourishing, non-profit organization that is the premier organization for developing and sustaining a driven and influential force of leaders in the community, and continuously provides their elite membership with networking opportunities and world-class education, giving the member “An Edge To Your Success®”. They give back to their community. Additionally, members are encouraged to donate food items or money to a local cause at the SME Holiday Gala. They still live by the Mission: “To advance the personal and professional growth of executives in Sales and Marketing Management through the interchange of ideas, educational opportunities and the fostering of fellowship among members”.

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