Blog | August 1, 2016

Raising The Bar & Raising Awareness: W2W Community Meeting

Abby Sorensen July 2017 Headshot

By Abby Sorensen, Editor

W2W Committee

The W2W community meeting on Monday, Aug. 1 at RetailNOW 2016 featured panelists with 100+ years of combined experience in the channel. W2W, the Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA) community that is a resource and support for women in the Retail IT industry, based the discussion on the themes of raising the bar, raising awareness, raising families, and rising above.

Panelists Mark Olson, President and CEO of APG Cash Drawer, Lora Coggins, Channel Sales Executive with Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions , Debi Besmer Managing Partner of Archelon Enclosures, and Andrea Roberts Vice President of Sales and Marketing of Teletec Systems shared insights on how to elevate not just women, but all of the channel. The panel was moderated by Abby Sorensen, chief editor of Software Executive magazine and executive editor of Channel Executive magazine.

Top takeaways from the discussion included:

  • Debi Besmer stressed the importance of having a thick skin when it comes to dealing with situations that cross the line of political correctness. In her role as a business owner, she has to maintain relationships and tries to find the humor in uncomfortable situations.  
  • Lora Coggins reminded the audience of the importance of finding balance by unplugging. She explained how her colleagues are always more than willing to cover for each other so they can enjoy true vacations.
  • Mark Olson pointed out an insight he gained from reading Sheryl Sandber’s Lean In. He pointed out that men are more likely to raise their hand and take on assignments, so leaders need to go out of their way to make sure women know of opportunities for them.
  • Andrea Roberts explained the importance of staying organized if women want to find work-life balance. Even though her two boys are grown, she still keeps to-do lists and a meticulous schedule so things don’t fall through the cracks.

The following recommended readings relate to the themes of the W2W panel discussion:

  • Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
  • Unfinished Business by Anne-Marie Slaughter
  • The Second Shift by Arlie Hochschild
  • Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” by Anne-Marie Slaughter (from The Atlantic, 2012)
  • “What Are Gender Barriers Made Of?” – Freakonomics podcast, July 20, 2016
  • NUTS!  by Herb Kelleher, retired CEO of SW airlines
  • Taking People With You  by David Novak
  • ALL IN by Adrian Gostick
  • Good Boss, Bad Boss by Robert Sutton
  • Great By Choice by Jim Collins
  • Creating Competitive Advantage by Jaynie L. Smith

More about the panelists:

Mark Olson is the President and CEO of APG Cash Drawer, LLC, which is a portfolio company of PCM out of St. Paul, MN.  Mark graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1978, has worked as an engineer, product manager and sales person until joining APG in 1987. Mark became President of APG in October 1988, and has been involved in the management as well as ownership of the company ever since.  Mark has also been active in the RSPA for many years, has served on a number of committees, and is a Past-Chair (in 2013).  Mark is currently involved with board level activities in several organizations. He has an identical twin brother, has been married 29 years, has 3 grown kids, and lives in St. Paul, MN.  Mark’s hobbies include skiing, snowmobiling, sailing, scuba diving, reading, and helping others be successful.   

Debi Besmer is a Managing Partner at Archelon Enclosures, which she helped found in 2011. Before starting the company she rose to senior management positions in the male-dominated hospitality industry for 20+ years with Hilton, Westin, and Loews brands. Some of her favorite things in life begin with the letter "H" – Humor, Hardware (as in the Archelon), Home cooked meals, Health, Heaven, and Harleys!

Lora Coggins is a Channel Sales Executive for Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions who manages and synergizes many ISV and POS Partner relationships throughout their reseller community. Her role is to collaborate within the business partner channel and ISV community to provide a supportive ecosystem of Toshiba branded hardware, software and services for the SMB retailer. She brings over 25 years of experience in the POS industry.

Andrea Roberts is the Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Teletec Systems, which has been in business 48 years. Andrea is a second generation reseller and has 30+ years of experience in the POS business. Her primary role at Teletec is sales, and she is also responsible for evaluating new products and running the business. She takes pride in her organization skills honed by raising two active boys throughout her career in the channel, and she is a chef at heart.

For more articles on RetailNOW 2016, July 31 to August 2, 2016, at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, TX, and the Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA), go to