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J.R. "Dick" Beall
Co-founder, Vacuum Dealers Trade Association
1939 - 1996

Note: Only one person was inducted into the Vacuum & Sewing Hall of Fame in 1997 -- Dick Beall

J.R. "Dick" Beall began selling vacuum cleaners in 1959 as a door-to-door salesman for The Hoover Company. He learned the trade well and soon became a top producer. In 1964, Dick began selling vacuums for The Kirby Company, then moved into a district sales manager position. In 1969, he left Kirby and managed various vacuum and sewing dealerships and in-home sales organizations in Kansas and Iowa. By 1974 Dick decided to open his own vacuum and sewing machine store and settled down in Newton, Iowa, his wife's home town.

During his years of selling on the road and in his own dealership, Dick gained a great understanding of the vacuum cleaner and sewing machine industries, while making hundreds of friends in the business. While working for Hoover, Dick began formulating an idea for an organization for independent dealers and came up with the name "Vacuum Dealers Trade Association" as early as 1963. Over the years Dick would occasionally approach a friend or colleague with his idea for an association of vacuum and sewing dealers. Many thought it was a good idea, but were reluctant to jump into unknown territory, so Dick's idea remained a dream -- until 1980.

In 1980 Dick made his best sales call ever. Charles Dunham, a successful businessowner in Des Moines, wanted a high quality vacuum cleaner. A friend suggested that he talk to Dick Beall. During the sales call, Dick menbtioned his idea about an association and found that Charley was interested. In early 1981 the two formed a partnership and began laying the groundwork for the Vacuum Dealers Trade Association (VDTA). Dick now began making sales calls quite different from those he had made in the past. He was now calling on manufacturers, distributors and related suppliers to announce the new association and persuade them to advertise in the association's newspaper VDTA News. Within a few months Dick was ready to publish issue number 1, August, 1981. That first issue, with 28 black and white newsprint pages, was a far cry from todays glossy four-color magazine. But to thousands of vacuum and sewing dealers throuhgout the U.S. and Canada, the first issue of VDTA News was a dream come true. Finally they had an organization and a publication they could turn to for help and information.

Dick knew that communication between dealers, manufacturers and suppliers would help strengthen the industry. To further this communication another important part of the new association began in 1982 when Dick promoted the first annual VDTA Convention & Show. That too became a reality with 20 educational seminars and 50 exhibit boohts. From that small start, Dick built the Winter Convention up to an impressive 400 booth show where thousands of dealers, distributors and manufacturers could exchange information and ideas while attending over 70 educational seminars.

That was Dick -- a builder and promoter. Every promotion had just one focal point -- independent dealers. What Dick wanted most from himself and the Association was to improve the business of floor care and sewing dealers everywhere. Dick worked hard for the betterment of the industry that he loved, but took little credit for it. In the 174 issues of VDTA News that he produced, Dick's picture appears only a few times. Even in the first issue of the publication, one can see his selflessness. The name Dick Beall appears only one time, in an introduction to the VDTA staff.

Dick was deeply dedicated to independent vacuum and sewing dealers. His tireless efforts on their behalf earned Dick the friendship and admiration of many and the respect and gratitude of the entire industry. His commitment gave rise to hundreds of programs designed to help everyone in the vacuum cleaner and sewing machine business become more successful. By fostering an atmosphere of cooperation between and mong dealers, distributors and manufacturers, Dick created something no one else could, his dream -- the Vacuum Dealers Trade Association.

Improving the Industry

Dick Beall's dedication to improving the business of independent vacuum cleaner and sewing machine dealers was second to none. For more than 15 years as Executive Director of the Vacuum Dealers Trade Association, he instituted countless programs to benefit dealers and the vacuum and sewing industries. Thanks to Dick's efforts, thousands of independent dealers benefited from these programs. Listed below are just a few of Dick's lasting contributions to the industry.

VDTA News: Floor Care & Sewing Professional
Since 1981, this monthly magazine has been informing and educating dealers, distributors and manufacturers about new products, promotions, ideas and events to improve their business.

Winter Convention & Trade Show
These annual gatherings bring together the vacuum and sewing industries leading dealers and suppliers to exchange ideas, educate one another and strengthen the industry.

Regional Summer Convention & Trade Show
Held in a different location each year, these shows bring the association to the dealers. Summer conventions allow more dealers to benefit from industry education and information.

Service and Repair Seminars
At convention, dealers have the opportunity to receive vital service and repair training on a variety of machines that may not otherwise be available to them.

Dealer Certification
Dealers have the opportunity to become Association certified in the service and repair of vacuum cleaners and sewing machines, as well as the installation of central vacuum systems.

VDTA Hotline
With one call, member dealers can put the resources of the Association to work for them in locating parts or finding answers.

Learning To Sew Program
Brings dealers together with their community to promote sewing education.

National Vacuum Month
An industry first, this nationwide promotion allows dealers to increase their visibility with customers and improve consumer awareness of the high quality products and services available from local independent dealers.

National Sewing Month
Promoting consumer awareness of sewing and independent sewing machine dealers, this program increases dealer recognition in their community. It gives dealers across the country the opportunity to join together to promote high quality machines and repair services.

Code of Ethics and Guarantee
Member dealers abide by the Association code of ethics assuring their customers of fair and honest service and a guarantee that quality service and repairs are available from our international network of independent dealers.

Vacuum and Sewing Dealers Hall of Fame
On display at each convention, the Hall honors the pioneers and innovators for their contributions to the vacuum and sewing industries and independent dealers.

VDTA/Bernie Epstein Scholarship
This award assists our industry's young people obtain higher education and opportunity for a bright future.

Extended Warranty Program
This program provides dealers with another sales tool to keep customers coming into their stores. It helps give customers confidence in their purchasing decision.

Highlights of Dick Beall's VDTA History:

1981
Vacuum Dealers Trade Association founded.
First issue of VDTA News published.
Fire destroys VDTA office.

1982
First VDTA Convention & Show held.

1983
VDTA buys printing press and bindery equipment.
First four-color issue of VDTA News published.

1984
First National Vacuum Month promotion.

1986
VDTA introduces Extended Warranty program.
VDTA introduces first Phone Book & Product Guide.

1987
First regional convention (summer show), Cleveland, OH.

1988
First on-site central vacuum installation seminar at Las Vegas Convention.
First vacuum repair certification seminar at Las Vegas Convention.
VDTA introduces its first National Sewing Month program.
VDTA introduces separate sections in VDTA News for Floor Care and Sewing.

1989
Vacuum & Sewing month promotions include national prizes donated by industry suppliers.
VDTA upgrades printing and bindery quipment, moves production operations to larger facility.

1990
VDTA convention fills exhibit hall at Las Vegas Riveria, convention moves to larger hotel.
VDTA News changes format (vacuum on one side, sewing on the other).

1993
VDTA News introduces new Central Vacuum section and "Members only" section.
VDTA moves, placing offices and production in same facility.
VDTA shutdown for 10 days due to Midwest flood.

1994
VDTA introduces "Vacuum & Sewing Hall of Fame" at Las Vegas Convention & Show.

1995
VDTA unveils new Learning To Sew education program.