NextGEN Community Celebrates Rising Stars, Ponders Industry’s Future

By: Chris Arnold, RSPA Marketing Communications Manager

The RSPA is continuously expanding and forming a fully inclusive retail IT community. One example is the NextGEN Community, founded on the belief that today’s up-and-coming innovators are tomorrow’s industry leaders. The annual NextGEN Community event at RetailNOW 2019 focused on networking, featured a discussion among a panel of today’s and tomorrow’s leaders, and celebrated five of our industry’s rising stars.

The panel was moderated by Joshua Stanphill, the ISV Business Development Manager at Epson, and consisted of:

  • Rick Feuling, Owner of VAR RITE Enterprises in Sartell, MN
  • Nicholas Brunner, Co-Founder of ISV POSLABS/eatOS in Los Angeles, CA
  • Chelsey Paulson, Director of Human Resources at VAR North Country Business Products in Minneapolis, MN
  • Dean Crotty, Chairman of the Board at VAR North Country Business Products in Minneapolis, MN

Some of the standout observations from the discussion included:

  • “Opportunities exist everywhere in today’s world, but some of the biggest changes I’ve seen that have created opportunities throughout the years are digital marketing and the security aspects of the industry.” Crotty
  • “The business model changes. Take SaaS for example. Focus on the last word of that acronym – service. The changes that will reshape the industry will come from online and software services – cloud, mobile, and artificial intelligence.” Brunner
  • Fueling gave advice as a new generation business to his younger self (a.k.a. other young startups): “Take more risks. Spend more time creating strategic, long-term plans. Read a lot.”

Feuling was a recipient of the 2018 NextGEN Rising Star grant and has grown exponentially as a leader and an industry player over the last few years. The NextGEN Rising Star Grant was established to recognize and reward individuals who display the qualities of our industry’s next leaders. Awarded annually, five of our industry’s brightest young professionals receive an all-expense-paid trip to RetailNOW to experience the show’s exceptional networking opportunities, top-notch education courses, and much more. The 2019 RSPA NextGEN Rising Star Grant winners are:

  • Eric Smith, Product Manager at ISV KlickTrack
  • Mikey Yasumura, Partner Enablement Trainer at ISV Vend
  • Justin Ecker, Sales Executive at VAR Cloudpoint Hospitality
  • Angel Melendez, Implementation Specialist at VAR/ISV CBS NorthStar
  • Matthew Shaw, Hospitality Sales Consultant at VAR Postec

Smith says, “It’s an honor to receive the 2019 RSPA NextGEN Rising Star grant. We are excited and humbled to be a part of the national retail conversation. This recognition means a lot to both me as an individual and to KlickTrack as a company. Thank you to the RSPA for the acknowledgment and to my KlickTrack team for their continued support and dedication to innovation.”

“Receiving the NextGEN grant has been a tremendous growth experience,” says Melendez. “Through the grant I have received the opportunity to network with my fellow industry peers as well have the opportunity to listen to industry leaders.  I look forward to the continued interaction within the RSPA community.”

As Paulson mentioned in the panel discussion, “Getting involved with the NextGEN Community and the association is important. We need to not only foster new people but get them involved and acclimated.” Mentioned time and time again at RetailNOW, you will receive more than what you put in. Take this advice and get involved with the association and the RSPA NextGEN Community. If you are an experienced industry veteran, offer to mentor or give advice to newer players. We, as a community, can grow and build a stronger community and generation of leaders. You can learn more about the NextGEN Community and how to get involved at

About RetailNOW
RetailNOW 2019 was held July 28-31 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, TX. Known as “Where the Industry Meets,” RetailNOW annually brings together retail IT professionals, channel leaders, and innovators from around the globe. RetailNOW 2020 will be held at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas August 2-5. For more information, contact