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Pawn Expo Speakers

Keynote Presentation:
"Future-Proof Your Business: Strategies for Growth in an Era of Disruption"

Gene Marks

A past columnist for both The New York Times and The Washington Post, Gene now writes regularly for The Hill, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Forbes, Entrepreneur, The Washington Times, and The Guardian.

 

Gene is a best-selling author and has written 5 books on business management, specifically geared towards small and medium sized companies. His most recent is Want More Cash? 100+ Ideas And Strategies For Increasing Your Company’s Cash Flow This Year.

Nationally, Gene appears regularly on Fox Business, MSNBC, as well as CBS Eye on the World with John Batchelor and SiriusXM’s Wharton Business Channel where he talks about the financial, economic and technology issues that affect business leaders today.

Through his keynotes and breakout sessions, Gene helps business owners, executives and managers understand the political, economic and technological trends that will affect their companies and—most importantly—the actions they can take to continue to grow and profit.Gene owns and operates the Marks Group PC, a highly successful ten-person firm that provides technology and consulting services to small and medium sized businesses.

 

Prior to starting the Marks Group PC Gene, a Certified Public Accountant, spent nine years in the entrepreneurial services arm of the international consulting firm KPMG in Philadelphia where he was a Senior Manager.

LEGENDS UNLEASHED

Nick Fulton

Legends Unleashed
Thursday, July 25TH
12:45 PM - 2:30 PM

A first generation pawnbroker with 32 years pawn industry experience, Fulton is the managing partner of six USA Pawn locations in central Mississippi. Currently he serves as Chairman of the Board for The Mississippi Pawnbrokers Association. While serving as President of the association, he worked with lawmakers on passage of significant legislation and launched the industry’s first online learning portal. Fulton is a former NPA board member and served as the membership chairman. He also was one of the founders of the NPA’s Future Business Leaders Scholarship fund. He has a strong background in marketing and multi-store operations and is always willing to share with others to benefit the industry.

Nick was also honored as the NPA Pawnbroker of the Year in 2023.

 

Michael Mack

Legends Unleashed
Thursday, July 25th
12:45 PM - 2:30 PM

A fourth-generation pawn broker and native Nevadan, Max Pawn Luxury President Michael Mack graduated from the University of Southern California with degrees in finance and marketing before joining the family industry. Mack and his partner founded Super Pawn, growing the brand to a 50-store chain before selling the brand in 2004..  Itching to return to the industry, Mack founded Max Pawn in 2009, bucking the traditional pawn model with an emphasis on authenticity, customer service, and community relationships. Since opening, Max Pawn has been a seven-time Best of Las Vegas winner and National Pawn Association Community Relations Award and Outstanding Pawn Industry Image Award recipient. Mack also served as a Las Vegas City Councilman from 1999 until 2004, a time of tremendous growth for the valley. In addition to customer service, Mack is focused on providing a balanced work environment for his team. Mack is a member of the National Pawn Association, Gemological Institute of America, and International Watch and Jewelry Guild.

Bob Moulton

Legends Unleashed
Thursday, July 25th
12:45 PM - 2:30 PM

Bob Moulton, a North Carolina native founded National Pawn in November 1987 in Durham, North Carolina. Over 30 years later, National Pawn has grown to 19 locations and 165+ team members across the state. Corporate giving has always been at the heart of Moulton’s business model, as they have donated thousands of musical instruments and tens of thousands of dollars to more than 20 public schools in NC. Bob and National Pawn have been recognized many times both Nationally and Locally,notably the 2011 National Pawnbroker of the Year, the 2011 Better Business Bureau Torch Award for Business Honesty and Ethics, 2013 Triangle Business Journal Fast 50 Award and the 2015 National Pawnbrokers Association Outstanding Community Service Award.

Sam Shocket

Legends Unleashed
THURSDAY, JULY 25TH
12:45 PM - 2:30 PM

Sam Shocket is the President of King’s Pawn Shop Inc. DBA Jewelry & Loan. In 1970 Sam started working in the Pawn Industry. In 1976, Sam took over the business from his father, who established King’s in 1945. Sam Graduated the GIA in 1978.Since taking the helm at King’s, Sam has guided the company and fostered its growth to its current status as California’s largest volume pawnbroker and North America’s largest jewelry-only pawnbroker. He is recognized as an innovative leader, with a reputation for excellence. Sam serves as a prominent elected leader on the board of directors for the California pawnbrokers association ( CAPA ). Sam has also served as a director and a trustee on the National Pawnbrokers Association. At one time Sam had three large volume stores located in the Los Angeles area, that employed 140 associates. In the last few years, He has consolidated and now has only one large volume store that employees 40 employees.

Jerry Whitehead

Pawnshop Consulting Group, Inc.
Moderator

BREAKOUT SESSION SPEAKERS

Rob Barnett

Retaining Quality Pawn Customers
Tuesday, July 23rd
2:45 PM-3:45 PM

Robert Barnett is a second-generation pawnbroker who grew up in the industry and began working the pawn counter at his family’s shop full time in 1992. During his tenure, his family’s pawn shop became known as one of the highest-volume retailers of firearms and ammunition in the country and received numerous awards, including 2008 SHOT Business Magazine Retailer of the Year, Ruger’s first Retailer of the Year, ATK/Vista – Ammunition Retailer of the Year, Taurus Retailer of the Year, Multi-Time Hornady Ammunition Retailer of the Year, and a Smith & Wesson Million Dollar Club member.
Robert opened his own pawn shop, Elk River Trading Company, in Fayetteville, TN in January 2018 and specializes in firearms, jewelry and pre-owned luxury handbags.

John Bocker

Firearms Panel
Tuesday, July 23rd
2:45 PM - 3:45 PM

John Bocker is the Managing Director and co-founder of FFL Consultants and provides expert guidance to firearms dealers around the country on various topics including ATF & state firearms compliance, physical security, internal operations and sales techniques to maximize profits. FFL Consultants specializes in keeping their clients “ATF Inspection-Ready Everyday”. John has more than 25 years of retail risk management, operations and regulatory compliance is an independent consultant for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. He regularly serves as an FFL subject matter expert, speaker and author at SHOT Show and FFL training events nationwide.

Chad Carter

Retaining Quality Pawn Customers
Tuesday, July 23rd
2:45 PM-3:45 PM

Chad W. Carter is a 34-year pawnbroker who has spent 31 of those years as owner/operator of Chad’s Pawn Shops. He began his career at the age of 15 working as a clerk in a family owned pawn shop in Texas. Chad currently owns 6 pawn shops across southwest Louisiana. Chad served as President of the Louisiana Pawnbrokers Association and has been a board member since 2009. Chad also serves as Secretary for the National Pawnbrokers Association Board of Directors. Additionally, Chad is the founder of the LA EPIC (Every Pawnbroker Involved and Caring) organization. This foundation encourages employees of Chad’s Pawn Shops to become involved in helping the communities they serve. Chad currently resides in Moss Bluff, LA with his wife Dana. He is the father of 2 children.

Jeff Hess

Luxury ITEMS
Tuesday, July 23rd
10:30 AM-11:25 AM

Jeffrey P. Hess is the author of the Schiffer Publishing Best Seller “The Best of Time – Rolex Wristwatches – An Unauthorized History, and a highly sought after lecturer who opened his first fine arts gallery in the 1970s. Mr. Hess is one of the world’s foremost experts on high-end quality timepieces and vintage watches. He has earned his place as a cornerstone in the luxury chronograph market. In recognition of this, Mühle Glashütte created a limited collection exclusively for Hess Fine Arts. Jeff is also the online moderator for the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC) nawcc.org.

Eric Moore

Enhancing Security and Compliance in the Pawn Industry: FBI Insights
Thursday, July 25th
9:00 AM - 10:00 PM

Johnny and his wife, Tara, own and operate Kendale Pawn Shop in Sanford, NC. The store was opened by Tara’s father, Jimmy Johnson, in 1980, and Johnny has been running the store full time since 1986. A member of the North Carolina Pawnbroker Association for many years, he has served on the board in many capacities, including President multiple times. Johnny and Tara have been married for 33 years and have twin daughters, Rebecca and Katie, and five grandchildren. 

Joel Levinson

Retaining Quality Pawn Customers
Tuesday, July 23rd
2:45 PM-3:45 PM

Joel Levinson is a 5th Generation Pawnbroker. He has a degree in business Management, Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations from the University of South Carolina. He also has his Graduate Diamond Degree from GIA in Carlsbad, CA. He runs his store, Dynasty Jewelry and Loan, with his father, Ben Levinson, where they specialize in higher value items such as jewelry and designer handbags, footwear and more.

Jeremy Powell

Firearms Panel
Tuesday, July 23rd
2:45 PM - 3:45 PM

Jeremy is a third generation pawnbroker from Louisiana. He owns and operates a single store, taking over the business in 2013 after his father’s passing. He has been working in the store since he was old enough to talk to customers. He does not believe there is any other job he would rather do, he enjoys the challenges we face every day as pawnbrokers.

Anthony Vanegas

Store Layout & Merchandising
Tuesday, July 23rd
10:30 AM-11:25 AM

Anthony Vanegas, a lifelong pawnbroker, entered the pawn industry at the young age of 13 and hasn’t stopped since. He ultimately opened his own chain of shops (Sunbelt Jewelry & Loan) in the Houston and DFW areas of Texas. In addition to his involvement in NPA, he has also served with the Texas Association of Pawnbrokers. Anthony has been very blessed to work with his wife, Nena, and nephew, William since opening the stores. Outside of pawn, you’ll find them spending time with their children, granddaughter, and new puppy.
 

Stacy Vanegas

Store Layout & Merchandising
Tuesday, July 23rd
10:30 AM - 11:25 AM

From corporate America to the pawn industry, Stacy Vazquez took a leap of faith in 2020 when she left consulting to join her family’s business. Since joining Sunbelt Pawn, Stacy has worked to grow Sunbelt’s online presence, luxury collection and community impact. Some of Stacy’s most proud accomplishments since joining Sunbelt is starting the Seguir Adelante Scholarship awarding $10,000+ in scholarships and starting Premier Luxury Goods – a luxury line of preloved authentic purses, accessories, etc. Outside of pawn, you’ll find Stacy enjoying time with her husband, friends or serving at their local church.

Johnny Whiteside

Firearms Panel
Tuesday, July 23rd
2:45 PM - 3:45 PM

Johnny and his wife, Tara, own and operate Kendale Pawn Shop in Sanford, NC. The store was opened by Tara’s father, Jimmy Johnson, in 1980, and Johnny has been running the store full time since 1986. A member of the North Carolina Pawnbroker Association for many years, he has served on the board in many capacities, including President multiple times. Johnny and Tara have been married for 33 years and have twin daughters, Rebecca and Katie, and five grandchildren. 

Tyler Wilson

Marketing through Community Engagement
Tuesday, July 23rd
1:30 PM-2:30 PM

Tyler Wilson is a first generation pawnbroker from Alabama with over 10 years’ experience in the pawn industry. He has owned and operated Pocket Pawn in Ozark, Alabama since 2016 – and prides himself on being able to create a successful pawn business in even the smallest of markets. Throughout his pawn career he has become an expert in marketing pawnshops, speaking at multiple state and regional pawn conferences and sharing how he’s able to find success through very non-traditional marketing methods.

GOVERMENT RELATIONS SPEAKERS

Cliff Andrews

Team GRC: State of the Nation
Tuesday, July 23rd
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Cliff Andrews has 20 years of experience serving as a chief advocate and advisor to association clients on public policy, public relations, and mission-focused association management in an ever-changing political and economic landscape.  Cliff works in a bipartisan manner before Congress, regulators, and private sector stakeholder groups on a variety of policy issues, including small-dollar lending regulation. Cliff works tirelessly to make sure that key lawmakers are educated on the vital role pawn plays in the communities of America. His work is key to shaping the perception of pawn at the highest levels. Throughout his career, one of Cliff’s greatest strengths has been his ability to engage constructively with diverse people in building productive, lasting relationships. Paramount to his success is a focus on accountability, diplomacy, consistently demonstrating competency on pertinent issues, and establishing trust. He is a true “Washingtonian,” born and raised in the nation’s capital. Cliff lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, daughter, son, and Alaskan Malamute.  

Bill Dawson

Team GRC: State of the Nation
Tuesday, July 23rd
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

As CEO of LDPM, Inc, Bill developed the Picasso Pawn brand consolidating 10 individually named pawn stores and seven different companies into one cohesive unit. He started in the pawn business almost 30 years ago as something to do “in between opportunities” and never left. Bill and his wife, Heidi, love to travel and a have a cat named Kiki. Bill is a graduate of East Carolina University and the GIA Diamonds and Diamond Grading program. He is also an avid Carolina Hurricanes fan. In his free time, Bill can be found either on the golf course or practicing his game.

Kathy Pierce

Team GRC: State of the Nation
Thursday, July 25th
4:00 PM - 4:00 PM

I have been a pawnbroker since 2001, when we opened our first store, Monster Pawn, in Bloomington, IL. We now own four pawnshops in Central Illinois. My favorite thing about the pawn industry is that every day is different. The day goes by fast. I could never have a sit-down job! I am most proud of my family. Two of my three children work for our company, and the third is a Marine.

The Government Relations Liaison is the connection between the States and Federal government and pawnbrokers. I take our customers’ stories and needs seriously. For some customers, pawnbrokers are witnesses to their lives. It is the GRC Team’s job to make sure our elected officials understand who we are and how we serve our customers.

It is an honor to serve my fellow pawnbrokers across the country as the Government Relations Liaison and to be working with the GRC Team. It’s great to be back and working with the NPA.

INDUSTRY INSIGHT SPEAKERS

Rafael Amador

United PMR

Testing Precious Metals at the Pawn Counter
Monday, July 22nd
3:20 pm - 4:10 pm

Rafael Amador is considered to be an expert in the field of buying and selling precious metals. He currently works at United Precious Metal Refining and travels all over the world to visit customers and attend trade shows for the pawn and jewelry industries. Prior to joining United’s team, Rafael managed one of the largest gold buying operations in the country. It was his success in growing that company that caught the attention of United who brought him onboard to work with their team at the refinery.

Rafael released a book on Amazon titled “Gold & Silver Buying Tips: Understanding and Mastering the Art of Precious Metal Buying” in November 2023 and has had positive reviews from pawnbrokers across the country who have purchased the book and implemented the tips outlined therein. This seminar will focus on those and other testing methods for improving your team’s overall knowledge and performance at the counter.

Ritchie Grammp

Bluestone Trading Company, Inc.

Current Trends & State of the Jewelry Industry
Monday, July 22nd
1:00 pm - 1:50 pm

Experienced business leader with a demonstrated history of working in the luxury goods, diamond wholesale and estate jewelry industry. I am second generation buyer and seller of diamonds, modern and estate jewelry from all eras, as well as family estates. As a top graduate from my class at the Gemological Institute of America, I learned to put my skills to use and grow our company. Our company Bluestone Trading was founded in 1978 as primarily being a diamond importer. Over the years I transitioned the company into being a major contender of buying second hand goods from auctions, store closing sales, and family estates/trusts.

Ido Itskovitch

Yehuda

Lab Grown Diamonds: Facts & Fears
monday, july 22nd
1:00 pm - 1:50 pm

After obtaining a Business school degree, Ido Itskovich has spent the last 39 years in the diamond and jewelry business. He is currently completing his 35th year with the Yehuda Company.  In 1993 he obtained a diamond grading and evaluation degree from the Israel diamond exchange, spending eight and a half years on the wheel cutting diamonds in Israel.  He is licensed to cut and export diamonds from the Israel diamond exchange burse and has a second-hand license to buy from the public. Since the year 2000, he has operated a custom diamond and jewelry design studio in Las Vegas called The Perfect Princess Cut (owning a proprietary cut with 73 facets developed with AGS lab in 2002).

Larry Johnson

Box Brokers group

How To Increase Jewelry Sales Through Better Display Techniques
monday, july 22nd
2:10 pm - 3:00 pm

Larry Johnson is the CEO of Larry Johnson Consulting Services, a visual merchandising advisory firm based in Colleyville, Texas. His firm works with independent retailers around the world to increase profits by improving the presentation of their merchandise. The firm has consulted with scores of retail jewelry stores around the world since its inception in 2014. Larry is the author of “The complete guide to effective jewelry display” the most widely known book on jewelry merchandising in existence. His book was used as the primary textbook in the GIA visual merchandising classes. He has written years of monthly columns for INSTORE, Retail Jeweler and Canadian Jeweller magazines. He holds 3 US patents for display applications. He is a frequent speaker on the subject of visual merchandising at industry events around the world. In the past, Larry served as CEO of Chippenhook and Coastal Display Group. He was a Senior VP at International Packaging and Pacific Northern.

Tally Mack

CEO of Bravo Store Systems

The Future of Pawnbroking: Mobile, Ecommerce, and AI in Action
Monday, july 22nd
3:20 pm - 4:10 pm &
4:30 pm - 5:20 pm

Tally Mack is the CEO of Bravo Store Systems. She’s a fifth-generation pawnbroker and began working for Bravo while she was pursuing her law degree. Prior to taking the reins as CEO, Tally served as Bravo’s Vice President of Business Development, leading the company’s sales and marketing organization. She’s been instrumental in leading and executing many of the company’s strategic shifts, including the acquisition of PawnMaster and CompuPawn. Tally is a pawnshop lover and eCommerce enthusiast. Tally earned her Doctorate of Law (J.D.) from DePaul University College of Law in 2013 after attending the University of Colorado at Boulder where she earned her B.A. in Communication Studies. Tally also completed the Key Executives Program from Harvard Business School in 2013 and 2023. 

Alan Nelson

PawnTRain

Pawn Shop Popular Training Topics
Monday, july 22nd
2:10 pm - 3:00 pm

Alan Nelson has been in the cash and credit constrained industry since 1987. Alan managed 223 pawn shops with a major brand, and also owned and operated his own shops. He’s actively a consultant for his company, PawnTrain. Alan can provide valuable processes to take back to your shop and implement.

Richard Pesqueira

Vice President - Global Market Development
GIA (Gemological Institute of America)

Solutions to Industry Challenges
Monday, july,22nd
2:10 pm - 3:00 pm

Richard Pesqueira, GIA VP of Global Market Development, collaborates with industry stakeholders across global jewelry markets by utilizing modern solutions and educational offerings to support the trade and further GIA’s consumer protection mission. With more than 30 years of industry experience, Pesqueira has worked with a variety of brands, from family-owned jewelry stores to Fortune 500 companies, to transform their retail experience.

A GIA Graduate Gemologist (GG), Pesqueira has held senior-level positions at Tiffany & Co. and Hearts On Fire. Pesqueira started his career at Rogers Jewelry, a family-owned jewelry company.

Steve Stallcup

President - Stallcup Group

TEAM GRC: EXIT STRATEGY CONSULTING
MONDAY, JULY 22RD 3:20 PM - 4:10 PM ​

After acquiring and selling a grocery store at 17, Steve Stallcup recognized he had a unique talent for determining a company’s current worth and potential. Prior to founding Stallcup Group in 2009, Steve spent 23 years in the pawn shop industry at Cash America, Inc. the largest operator and acquirer of pawn shops in the world. 

At Cash America, Steve quickly advanced from loan counter to boardroom, holding several positions in operations, corporate training, and mergers and acquisitions. As a senior-level buyer, he learned many of the methods and actions used by buyers to acquire other pawn shop operations. Being privy to countless negotiations with big and small pawn shop owners, Steve learned the strategy modifications buyers use to exploit various seller’s weaknesses, concerns, and assumptions.

More importantly, he listened countlessly to the seller’s concerns, fears, and arguments as they sat across the negotiation table.

With this knowledge and experience, bundled with his ongoing interest in market trends and fluctuations, Steve made the decision to become an advocate and advisor to the owners that he had listened to for so many years. Stallcup Group was born, founded with the idea of making it a fair fight for hard-working entrepreneurs and pawn shop owners to get the money they deserve to support their family, retirement, and in many cases continuing the legacy their hard work had established. 

Stallcup Group developed and applied their exit strategy program using the tools and techniques that Steve knew would balance the scales of negotiation for pawn shop owners. An exit strategy that has successfully put money into the hands of satisfied owners since 2009. 

The passion and drive Steve had in 2009 is stronger than ever today. The leadership skills he uses as CEO of Stallcup Group are the backbone for representation he brings to his clients and to their side of the table for discussion.

Jake Stewart

Authenticity is Everything:
Monday, July 22nd
4:30 PM-5:20 PM

Jake Stewart is the head of Sales and Marketing at Entrupy—the world’s first AI-powered luxury authenticator for resellers and enterprises.

With decades of experience in analyzing consumer behaviors, market trends, and the ever-shifting landscape of luxury, Jake stands at the front lines with pawn shop owners, SMBs, and fashion marketplaces as they guard themselves against inadvertent counterfeit sales.

 

Howard Stone

VP Global Risk Services & Analytics
- Jewelers Mutual

Taking a Deep Dive Into Risk Management Solutions
Monday, july 22nd
4:30 pm - 5:100 pm

Howard has over 30 years of progressive Loss Prevention experience, having held leadership roles at Macy’s, Old Navy, Anchor Blue Stores and The Wet Seal. Just prior to Jewelers Mutual, Howard was the Director, Loss Prevention & Operations at Amazon in Seattle. In this role, Howard was responsible for leading Amazon’s Loss Prevention team of over 2,000 associates that were responsible for theft investigations, risk analytics, physical security, auditing and awareness. Jewelers Mutual long-history within the industry coupled with Howard’s diverse background and understanding of retail shops like yours will have you leaving this sessions armed with the knowledge, tools and resources to help protect your business.

Jerry Whitehead

Industry Best Practices
Monday, july 22nd
1:00 pm - 1:50 pm

Legends Unleashed MODERATOR
Thursday, July 25th
12:45 PM - 2:30 PM

Jerry is the creator and the founder of the Pawnshop Consulting Group. PCG was officially formed in 2001 post selling the remainder of his stores in the Florida market at that time. Mr. Whitehead has an extensive career in the industry as a second-generation pawnbroker. His career started back in the mid 60’s when he would accompany his father to any one of their several stores back in those days to clean, sweep, mop, and even process some of the inventory as he began working full time every summer going forward. He grew up in the family operation which had grown to 12 stores by 1990 in the DFW area. Throughout his career, Jerry has been involved in the acquisition or sell of more than 250+ stores in the last 35 + years. The consulting relationships began back in the late 80’s and flourished as the seeds for the creation of the Pawnshop Consulting Group formally in 2001. To date, PCG has serviced more than 600 clients in more than 40 countries world wide and is the only true, global pawn consultant, and was the first mover in this Pawn Consulting space he created.