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Academy of Achievement William V. Smoke Ballew

William V. (Smoke) Ballew

Inducted 2007

William V. (Smoke) BallewWilliam V. (Smoke) Ballew was a prominent Dallas businessman, and one of the initiators of the National Sales Executives, now known as SMEI.

During regional meeting of Sales Managers held in Dallas in April 1935, Ballew approached one of the speakers at the conference, Saunders Norvell, then president, Ingersoll & Norvell, New York with the idea of forming a national federation of sales managers. Saunders liked the idea and asked Ballew to outline the concept in a letter, to him, so that it might later be discussed with the editors of Sales Management magazine. Ballew, then sales manager of the Dr. Pepper Company, wrote such a letter.

Mr. Norvell followed through and talked the plan over with A.R. Hahn, managing editor of Sales Management (now Sales & Marketing Management). On October 2, 1935, by letter, Raymond Bill, Sales Management Publisher, issued an invitation to all local clubs to send a delegate to New York to a meeting which took place at the Waldorf Astoria on October 17, 1935. This was the founding meeting of the proposed American Federation of Sales Executives, later to be named the National Sales Executives, known today as Sales & Marketing Executives International.

Ballew became a Vice-Chairman on the first board on January 6, 1936 when the charter members held their first meeting.

Highlights of Ballew’s career:
• Sold merchandise to housewives in their living rooms before World War I (five decades before Mary Kay Ash used the concept)
• Introduced Folger’s Coffee to Texas
• 2nd President of NSE (SMEI) 1937-1938
• Created Dr. Pepper’s national sales force
• Hired W.W. Clements at Dr. Pepper who went on to chair the company (inducted to SMEI Academy in 2002)
• Resigned as Vice-President, Dr. Pepper in 1943 to establish Smoke Ballew & Associates, a marketing organization serving the bottling industry
• 1946 was appointed to the US Department of Commerce National Distribution Council, a voluntary group of sales executives advising the Dept. on the economic problems of the distribution of manufactured goods
• 1971 – retired and serves as a volunteer director with SCORE, an organization setup to mentor small business owners and help successful retired business leaders repay their debt to free enterprise
• At age 91 he was still selling (bonds to fellow members of Dallas Country Club)
• Names as Godfather of Sales by Dallas Times Herald in 1983