Hall of Fame

The Barter Hall of Fame is the highest honor the Modern Trade and Barter Industry can bestow. The honor recognizes individuals of the highest professional character and ethical conduct who are regarded as indisputable leaders of the Modern Trade and Barter Industry. An inductee must have a minimum of ten years of continuous Industry service and have made recognizable and specific contributions to the Industry as a whole.

Annette Riggs has over 30 years of experience in the Trade/Barter industry including the retail, corporate and countertrade sectors. She has contributed to collaboration between sectors including new emerging Complementary Currency systems that are forging new models for the future. She is a recognized conference speaker, educator and writer in many different venues and publications.

Annette began her career in the Barter Industry in 1980 as a young college student for Barter Systems Inc. of San Diego.  Barter Systems and most other exchanges at that time didn’t have cash fees and struggled for survival until the TEFRA Act in 1982 changed the landscape completely.  She took the lead in 1984 to convert the largest exchange in San Diego to a new business model that included cash fees, new management, sales and brokering structures. 

After selling the exchange in 1987, Annette consulted with other exchanges struggling to make the transition and became interested in Media and Corporate Trade.  IRTA had a Corporate Barter Council at that time and the conventions were a rich environment for learning across fields that differed greatly in business models and approaches to Barter/Trade.  Annette embraced these learning opportunities and became one of the first professionals in the field to successfully develop trade opportunities between the retail and corporate barter sectors.

Annette had many retail and corporate barter company clients when she returned to her hometown of Denver, Colorado in 1992 as she continued to develop a niche business unique in the industry and a collaboration with the local barter/trade companies.  As the dot com era began, she and her two partners formed a company to develop Barter.com.

Barter.com was the first company to envision and plan for a technology oriented online bartering system, working with cutting-edge tech companies and the Venture Capital community in Silicon Valley. Many followed and were in varying phases of development when the dot com crash came after approximately $200 million had been invested in the Barter/Trade sector.  By then, Annette was living in the Bay Area as required by VC investors as President of Barter.com.  The lessons learned from this experience were vast and as she says, “would fill a very thick book”.

During her 8 years in the Bay Area she became involved in Countertrade projects and on the complete opposite end of the spectrum became interested in Community/Complementary Currency initiatives which were beginning to emerge.  She worked extensively with Professors at Sonoma State University and was instrumental in introducing these fledgling systems and the academic community to the organized and well-established barter/trade sector so that they had an opportunity to learn what could be of value to their development of more sustainable projects.  She was on the first IRTA convention panel to introduce the Barter/Trade Industry to these new concepts, the subject of which has continued since that time.

Annette has circled the world promoting IRTA and Complementary Currency, Countertrade and retail barter models. In 2015, she traveled twice to Saudi Arabia on IRTA’s behalf to meet with executives of the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation, (ITFC). The ITFC meetings led to the completion of the “IRTA Report for the Development of an OIC Multi-Dimensional Credit Clearing/Counter Trade system,” of which Annette was the lead author. IRTA’s comprehensive research report for the ITFC was the first of its kind in IRTA’s history, and the report helped solidify IRTA’s standing on the international barter/trade stage.

Annette has also played a substantive role in IRTA’s current negotiations with the Government of Dubai to develop an international barter financial hub in Dubai.  

Annette has served on the IRTA Board of Directors for the past 8 years, as Secretary for 2 years and as President for two consecutive terms.  She is currently Vice Co-Chair of the board.  In addition to many Outstanding Service Awards, Annette received the first David Wallach Distinguished Service Award and the first President’s Award for her accomplishments as President of IRTA.  Annette lives in Denver, Colorado and is the Founder and Managing Director of Community Connect Trade Association.

The barter industry has benefited greatly from Annette’s limitless passion for our industry. Her 30 plus years of selfless work to improve our industry has clearly left our industry in a better place.

IRTA congratulates Annette on her much-deserved Hall of Fame Award, and sincerely thanks her for all she has done for IRTA, UC and the entire industry!

Illinois Trade Association Founder/CEO
President, College Funding Advisors
Founder, My College Planning Team

Jack has over 40 years in marketing, management and business leadership. At age 24 he started his first business, Career Counselors, which launched the careers of hundreds of college graduates at major companies throughout the Chicago area. His most recent business, Illinois Trade Association, was started in 1984. Under his leadership, his company became the largest commercial barter exchange in the United States and was sold to International Monetary Systems in 2006.

While at Illinois Trade, Jack mentored hundreds of business owners, teaching them creative financial strategies to reduce expenses, improve cash flow and boost their bottom line.

As founder of My College Planning Team, Jack and his team have appeared on WIND radio WGN (FM) and have been featured in several major publications including The Chicago Tribune, The Daily Herald, U.S. News, Online Colleges and Daily Parent.

Founder and President, Career Counselors International
Founder and CEO, Illinois Trade Association
President, College Funding Advisors
Founder, My College Planning Team
15 years of service on the N.A.T.E. Board
Multiple Outstanding Service Awards
Keynote speaker at six major conventions

Jack was featured in Inc and Forbes magazine (“When Money Isn’t Enough”) which highlighted his unique ability to retain talented employees through the creation of a leadership culture within his company.

Jack now brings the same creative edge in helping families reduce the cost of their children’s education. He and his extensive professional network of partner-businesses are committed to providing high value at affordable prices to middle income families struggling to pay for college.

The Hall of Fame Committee is pleased to announce that Bob Bagga, Co-Founder, President and CEO of BizX with offices in Seattle, Oakland, and Dubai, has been selected to receive the 2015 Hall of Fame Award. This is the highest honor conferred by IRTA.

The award will be presented at IRTA’s 36th Annual International Convention being held September 17th through 19th at the Solmar Resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Bob’s accomplishments in the private currency and barter industry have garnered him international recognition. Over the last 20 years, he has built a number of successful trade exchanges. His first company, Barter Business Exchange, which he co-founded at the age of 22, went on to go public as Ubarter.com. He co-founded BizX in 2002 which has grown to be the leading trade exchange on the West Coast. BizX has been recognized by INC magazine as one of the fastest growing companies in the US for 6 yrs and winner of many regional and national awards.

In 1992, he co-founded Barter Business Exchange (BBE), which expanded across Canada with offices in Toronto, Hamilton, Windsor, and Vancouver. Rogers Communication, Revlon and Kodak, along with 4,000 other companies were all members of BBE, trading in excess of $60 million a year. BBE went on to become one of Canada’s fastest growing companies, and was rated at #46 in 1998 and #51 in 1999 by Profit Magazine. It even went on to be featured by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Venture program. In 1999, BBE merged with International Barter Corp to create Ubarter.com, and later that year was acquired by Seattle-based shopnow.comand listed on NASDAQ.

Bob has been extensively involved with IRTA serving on the Board and holding numerous positions, including Chair of the Certified Broker Training (CTB) committee, Convention Committee, Vice President, Treasurer, and a member of the UC Committee. He was also a part of the IRTA Board that worked to create the Universal Currency (UC) system, a clearinghouse for trade exchanges that allows exchange members to buy and sell between one another, vastly broadening their reach. In 2005 IRTA recognized Bob’s many contributions and accomplishments by giving him the Outstanding Achievement Award and the Legends of Barter Award.

Bob is actively involved in the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a recipient of the Puget Sound Business Journal 40 under 40 award. He lives in Seattle with his wife Anita and 3 children Nikhil, Dylan & Mia.

IRTA congratulates Bob on his well deserved 2015 Hall of Fame Award!

The Hall of Game Committee is please to announce that Michael Mercier, founder and President of Metro Trading Association, has been selected to receive the 2014 Hall of Fame Award. This is the highest honor awarded by IRTA. He is a barter industry founder and past President of IRTA. The Hall of Fame Committee is comprised of all the former recipients of the Hall of Fame Award.

Michael started Metro Trading Association in 1978. He came from Investment Banking and was a principal in a NYSE member firm before starting Metro Trade Association in 1978. Metro Trading services the business community in Michigan and Ohio. He joined IRTA that year and attended the very first national convention in Memphis, Tennessee. In addition to being a past IRTA President, Michael has served as IRTA’s Vice President (3 times) and Secretary. Mercier has chaired numerous IRTA committees and been recognized with the “Paul St. Martin Award”, “Legend of Barter Award” and numerous “Outstanding Achievement Awards. “No person has served on the IRTA International Board of Directors for more years than he has.

Michael also played a leading role as the long-term chairperson of IRTA’s Government Relations Committee. He authored, (with IRTA staff), legislation to regulate the industry that was twice introduced in the United States Congress. Additionally, he was deeply involved with lobbying Congress in response to the• John Doe” summons activity of the IRS. This led to the government’s recognition of the barter industry as a third-party record keeper via the Tax Equity and Fiscal and Responsibility Act (TEFRA). This record keeper designation was the first point cited by the Commissioner in the recent exemption obtained by IRTA from the CA money Transmitter Act.

Michael’s passion and vision have always been and his dream for the future continues to be:

  1. Industry transparency and accountability
  2. Industry unity

As noted he was the primary force in 1984 when IRTA membership voted unanimously to be regulated by a board made up of industry representatives, the public and government, similar to the Securities Industry. Mercier says the industry today forgets that all trade exchanges then in existence would have been exempt from the $1,000,000 capital requirement that was written into the bill. That would have made each exchange worth a minimum of $1,000,000 in 1984 dollars. He understands that no business really wants to be regulated but he believes that a financial industry such as ours needs to be transparent to attract significant investment capital as well as to achieve the greatest market penetration.

Mercier more recently represented IRTA at the British Standards Institute Capacity Trading Workshop and the Capacity Trading Round Table hosted by the City of London. Mike believes that with the global growth of the industry the method to transparency and accountability is international standards certification. In fact, he believes that certification may be necessary for the industry to survive. Michael says “Whatever an exchange’s “books” (accounting) looks like today is of little or no importance. Standards need to be written so existing businesses in our industry can participate without exception. Standards will define a pathway to show how greater success in the future will be achieved by standard practices. These practices need to be certified by a credible third party. Then those who wish to do business with you will be confident. Equally as important, you will be able to transact business with any other exchange worldwide with the knowledge and assurance that they use the same standardized business methods as yourself. Mercier believes standards will unleash a volcanic growth that will raise the well-being of the industry. In addition, it will help participating businesses succeed and living standards improve in all countries.

His other major focus of the last quarter of a century is industry unity in the United States. Primarily because of the IRTA membership’s unanimous vote to support regulation in 1984 a splinter group was founded, the National Association of Trade Exchanges. The IRTA board sent him to the second NATE convention in Denver to try to negotiate reconciliation. Mercier joined NATE and has been a dual member since. Mercier was elected to the NATE board and became president; he is the only individual who has been President of both organizations. At one time he was President of NATE and elected to the IRTA board! •1 did this to dramatically show that we have so much in common: On more than one occasion it seemed that unity had been achieved only to see it break down. He has encouraged and participated in collaborative efforts between IRTA and NATE such as having the same Certified Trade Broker test, training and mutual recognition.

He has fond friendships with members of both groups and hopes someday to not have to go to two meetings annually to see all of them! He also feels that we could do so much more to inform, enlighten and motivate the public and without the substantial costs of duplication.

Michael gratefully acknowledges that much of his contribution to the excess capacity trading industry is due to the support of (the love of his life) his wife and business partner, Lois Best­-Mercier. She has worked at Metro Trading Association for 26 years. She is the Chief Operating Officer and has made many contributions herself to our industry. Mike and Lois have four grandchildren. They have a very big cat, Ziggy and a King Charles Caviler Spaniel, Oliver. who also works at MTA as the official greeter.

Regardless of what career she chose to pursue, Lois Dale was destined to lead. Her ceaseless energy, industry smarts and amazing sense of humor combine to make her star shine brightly in any arena.

As the founder and owner of Dale Carpet Center in 1978 she was one of the few women in the carpet business in the entire country. To no one’s surprise, Lois was immediately elected as to the National Carpet Association’s Board, and appointed its Vice President.

Lois formed Barter Advantage (BAI) in New York City and ran both the carpet company and the barter exchange simultaneously until she sold the carpet business in 1992. Lois was one of a small handful of women at the time who ventured into the barter business. Word traveled fast about the woman pioneer in the barter business and soon the BAI story was picked-up by every major news station, newspaper and magazine on the east coast!

The famous American financial journalist and host of Wall Street Week even dubbed Lois as the “First Lady of Barter.”

BAI joined IRTA in the late 1980’s and Lois quickly became immersed in IRTA at every level. She served on the IRTA Public Relations/Marketing committee for numerous years and she was a key member of the UC Committee for over eleven years from 2001 to 2012. She served on both the NATE and IRTA boards for many years and held numerous officer positions within IRTA, Secretary, Vice-President and was IRTA’s President from 2004 to 2007. Lois traveled the world spreading the good news about the barter industry and she was a welcomed ambassador for the industry wherever she went.

Lois received numerous awards over the years, including the prestigious IRTA Paul St. Martin Award, Ambassador and Sales Presentation Awards. After twenty-nine years in the barter industry, Lois sold her exchange to IMS and she retired from the barter world.
Lois’ energy is now directed at her newest venture, Dale Workforce Solutions, www. daleworkforcesolutions.com, a Certified Woman Owned Business, which staffs information Technology (IT) personnel to Fortune 500 companies.

Lois is a special person in the barter industry; yesterday, today and forever. She dedicated 29+ years to our industry and unquestionably was a major factor its growth and maturation.

Lois’ four year old daughter got it right back in 1991 when she told the press, “My mommy got smarter, when she decided to barter.” The reality is that the entire industry benefited from Lois Dale’s unselfish contributions to it. We all are grateful to Lois for her three decades of support and commitment to our industry.

The Hall of Fame Committee, comprised of all the former HOF recipients, is proud to name Lois Dale as the 2013 Barter Hall of Fame inductee. Congratulations Lois!

While employed as manager for a computer timeshare and software development company she met David Wallach. He came to her office to try to sell her a membership in his new barter exchange. This would later prove to be a life-changing encounter. Now a client of American Trade Association, Sally, along with a fellow Access Systems software engineer, developed a software package for trade brokering. This software revolutionized the workflow of trade brokers enabling quick and easy access to client information and significantly increasing productivity.

In 1986 Sally Selbman joined partnership with David Wallach. Together they faced numerous challenges. Not least among them was the continuing fight against damage to the trade industry from unscrupulous trade organizations attempting to use barter to avoid taxation. American Trade Group was a highly successful trade exchange but it soon became apparent that there was greater growth potential by consolidation and acquisition. During this acquisition phase they moved their offices from Marin County to San Francisco. They successfully acquired three exchanges and by the time they sold the exchange in 2001, they had increased membership from 1600 to 3700 clients.

In the course of her tenure she has earned the Paul St. Martin Distinguished Service Award and the Legend of Barter Award. As a member of IRTA Sally has lead several seminars including Credit and Collection, Trade Brokering and Accounting Procedures as well as serving on several committees. She also co-authored the trade brokering system entitled “Project Management”.

Despite Sally’s retirement, she has remained active in the industry. She continues to attend conventions in the United States and Europe and continued her partnership, both professional and personal, with David Wallach until his death in 2011.

After six successful years with the Xerox Corporation, Perry began his barter adventure in 1977 by buying a franchise from a group in Salt Lake City. By the early 1980s the franchiser group began to falter so Perry took Barter Systems, Inc. of DC and went independent. At that time there were few trade exchanges and most were located on the West Coast. The East Coast had one exchange in the Washington, DC area that was selling franchises. Six months after Perry started up his exchange this local competitor went out of business creating bad press for the barter concept on the Washington Post’s front page. Nevertheless, Perry managed to grow his business through the adversity.

In 1979 he was the first trade exchange owner to become an organizer of the International Association of Trade Exchanges which later became the International Reciprocal Trade Association. He was elected to the original Board of Directors and became Finance Chairman. It was his duty to raise $75,000 in cash and $75,000 in trade to challenge the Internal Revenue Service’s “Barter Project” in court and take the industry’s case to the United States Congress. In those days the barter industry was besieged by tax authorities whose plans called for auditing every business who bartered. The use of barter to evade taxes though the “underground economy” was given wide publicity; there were no known tax rules and trade exchanges had no clear status in commercial law. As a result, government regulators could use “John Doe” summonses to obtain the names of every barterer and investigate them for tax evasion.

Thus a handful of exchanges, most of them only a couple of years old, had to confront the Federal government with its immense legal resources behind it. The barter industry might well have been extinguished but Perry was an energetic leader in rallying resistance by the exchanges. He raised the cash that supported appeals to the Federal appellate courts in Philadelphia and Cincinnati. In addition, Perry’s company, Barter Systems of Washington, DC paid off entirely the trade debt owed to the Washington law firm which represented the industry in its legal appeals. Being located in Washington where the Board of Directors had to come frequently to lobby Congress and enter into negotiations with IRS, someone had to provide accommodations, meeting rooms, and meals on trade for numerous meetings spanning two tumultuous years, and that duty fell to Barter Systems of Washington, DC. It was a duty that Perry performed without complaint and without asking for recognition or thanks, but it resulted in the friendly tax rules the barter industry enjoys today, and in the crowning achievement of passage by Congress of the “Barter Bill of Rights”, formal recognition of trade exchanges in law, third-party record keeper status, and granting exchanges the same rights and safeguards over their records as banks and credit card companies. In 1984 he was awarded IRTA’s Distinguished Service Award for outstanding contribution to the commercial barter industry.

During those early days Perry was also an IRTA Board member and Chairman of the Ethics Committee. During the last ten years Perry has served two additional terms on the Board, worked with the committee responsible for rewriting the CTB exam, he also has served on and led numerous panels at IRTA conventions. He is currently serving on IRTA’s New Membership Committee, the Ethics Committee and is IRTA’s Vice President. He has also been serving for many years on the UC Committee.

Perry is a clear thinker and a straight talker, a friend to everyone in barter, a man who keeps his word and gets things done. His exchange has been the barter industry’s flagship in the U.S. capital for three decades and his achievements in the founding of our industry should not be forgotten.

Scott has been a member of IRTA since 1982. He served on the IRTA Global Board of Directors for more than 20 years, was IRTA President for two terms and held all other Board officer positions for a least one term.

Scott has been honored on three occasions with the highest award IRTA offers; the Paul St. Martin Distinguished Service Award. He has also received several IRTA Outstanding Achievement and Ambassador Awards as well as numerous awards from NATE. Always willing to share his expertise with others in the industry, Scott has led numerous Seminars and Discussion Groups during industry Conventions.

He presently serves as the very active and effective Chairperson of the Universal Currency Committee.

Scott graduated from Georgia Tech in 1977 where he attended on a football scholarship and received his BA in Industrial Management.

He is a dedicated husband and father and is active in local affairs and charities.

Donald F. Mardak has been the Chief Executive Officer, President, and a director of IMS since 1989. From 1970 to 1974, Mr. Mardak was a partner in Learning Unlimited, a division of Hal Leonard Publishing Corp. In 1974, he founded Don Mardak Piano & Organ Centers, Ltd., a chain of retail piano and organ stores in the Greater Milwaukee Area. In 1985, Mr. Mardak founded the Continental Trade Exchange barter network under the name “Continental Trading Company,” a sole proprietorship. Continental Trading Company was incorporated in 1988 as Continental Trade Exchange, Ltd., and is now the primary operating subsidiary. Mr. Mardak has served two terms as president of the National Association of Trade Exchanges (NATE) in 1995-96 and again in 1999-2000 and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the International Reciprocal Trade Association (IRTA).

Accordion Champ to CEO…

Today, IMS is one of the largest full-service, membership-based trading networks in the United States currently serving 50 markets. But Mardak’s first brush with fame occurred as a teenager, when he was crowned Wisconsin’s accordion champ. At 20, he partnered with the state’s #2 player and opened The Accordion School of Champions. But when Beatle-mania hit, the accordion became obsolete.

Mardak nimbly transitioned, teaching himself the electronic organ. He began selling organs, and then wrote the first easy-to-play method. Suddenly, huge manufacturers like Hammond and Baldwin were clamoring for it and he found himself in the music publishing business.

He and his brother convinced Hal Leonard Publishing—now the largest U.S. music publishing company—to open a division in Milwaukee. While his brother would stay on to become CEO, Mardak left four years later to open an organ store. But history repeated itself in the 1980s, as organs were edged out by computerized keyboards. So, in his first barter transaction, Mardak traded the retail store for real estate and used his investment to launch his barter career.

The First National Bartering Network

In 1985, Mardak founded CTE – Continental Trade Exchange – a modest barter organization located in the Milwaukee area. His business model: go door-to-door signing up local businesses, exchanging merchandise for trade certificates. His office: the trunk of his car. His showroom: the family garage. At night, his wife Judy—who remains involved in the management of the business—would type the day’s certificates.

Initially, the business was small. But in 1989, they made their first acquisition, a small trade association in Green Bay. “It was a revelation for me,” recalls Mardak. “I spent four years growing our business to 300 members, then doubled our size with the stroke of a pen.”

Shortly thereafter, he created a holding company, International Monetary Systems, Inc. (IMS). His thinking behind the then-grandiose name: “I didn’t want to be perceived as just a barter network. I wanted room to expand.”

Capitalizing on the fragmented market, Mardak has since acquired more than 20 other trade exchanges, creating a first-of-its-kind national bartering network. Today, IMS spans 18 states, from New York to California, and includes Toronto, Canada.

A Publicly-Traded Trading Company

In 2000, Mardak did the unheard of, making an initial public stock offering, making IMS one of two publicly-traded barter exchanges. IMS trade on the OTBB under stock symbol ITNM.

Today, IMS has more than 17,000 members, a national broker network, a national sales team, and an annual trading volume of more than $114M. Through strategic acquisitions and aggressive enrollment practices, IMS has grown to be the largest single exchange network in the U.S.

Today Ron Whitney Executive Director of the International Reciprocal Trade Association announced that Sirri Simsek will be formally recognized as the 2008 inductee into the Barter Hall of Fame on September 24, 2008 during the 29th annual IRTA Convention to be held at the Westgate River Ranch near Orlando Florida.

“Sirri Simsek has truly contributed to the Modern Trade and Barter Industry in a universally recognized manor.” Said Whitney; “The Industry is proud to honor him”The Barter Hall of Fame is the highest honor the Modern Trade and Barter Industry bestows. The honor recognizes individuals of the highest professional character and ethical conduct who are regarded as Indisputable leaders of the Modern Trade and Barter Industry. An inductee must have a minimum of ten years of continuous Industry service and have made recognizable and specific contributions to the Industry as a whole.

Mr. Simsek is CEO of Turk Barter located in Istanbul Turkey. The company has over 10,000 participating business clients that are active in domestic and international Modern Trade and Barter transactions thru the Turk Barter system.

As an active global speaker Simsek has addressed and educated audiences about the economic benefits of Modern Trade and Barter during several international conferences, including, the Eurasia Economic Summit, Conference of the Stroheim Foundation, the Kalder International Association and the ESBAS Conference.

His other Industry accomplishments include:

  • Authored an educational Industry related book “Moneyless Trade: Barter”
  • Has served on the IRTA Global Board of Directors and Ethics Committee for several years
  • First to apply swipe technology to barter transactions
  • Working with the Turkish government to secure standards of operation of Barter systems for the benefit of all Barter clients.

“We congratulate Sirri for earning and receiving the Barter Hall of Fame Award” said IRTA President David Wallach, “He exemplifies all of the best qualities our Industry has to offer.