LOS ANGELES — XBIZ is pleased to announce the 2016 Industry Pioneer Award recipients to be honored at the 2016 XBIZ Awards.
The 2016 Industry Pioneer Award recipients are company founders Ilan Bunimovitz of GameLink, Kenny Guarino of Metro, Marty Tucker of Topco Sales and Ralph Caplan of Nalpac.
One of XBIZ’s highest honors, the Industry Pioneer Award is presented to those who have demonstrated a remarkable ability to forecast their sector with high precision — spurring innovation and provide a guiding light for those who came after them.
The 2016 Industry Pioneer Award recipients will be honored on Jan. 15 during an on-screen segment at the adult industry’s biggest night, the 2016 XBIZ Awards show.
Presented by LiveJasmin and hosted by adult superstar Stoya, the 2016 XBIZ Awards show takes place on Jan. 15 at the J.W. Marriott at L.A. Live in Los Angeles.
The 2016 Industry Pioneer Award recipients are:
Ilan Bunimovitz, GameLink.com — Web & Tech
Ilan Bunimovitz, owner and founder of GameLink and eLine and an investment banker with Ackrell Capital, is one of the earliest pioneers of the online adult entertainment industry.
Founded in 1993, Gamelink is one of the top distributors of adult content, a one-stop-shop for video-on-demand titles, sex toys and DVDs, and maintains scores of distribution agreements with leading content producers.
Bunimovitz said he is grateful to be recognized with XBIZ’s 2016 Industry Pioneer Award.
“We've come a long way since 1993 when the online adult industry was just getting started,” Bunimovitz told XBIZ. “This was a fascinating business then, and it's evolved as a great business now.”
Bunimovitz, who founded the company, successfully fought in 2012 to take back GameLink after it was sold in a stock deal to Private Media Group in 2009.
As part of a settlement agreement after a long-running shareholder suit in Nevada, GameLink’s stock was divested and handed back to Bunimovitz and its original operating units.
For GameLink, 2015 was punctuated by major deals with Adam & Eve and TitanMen, with GameLink creating and rebranding their flagship online properties.
"Stumbling into the e-commerce adult space turned out to be a very good thing," Bunimovitz said. "This industry is always evolving and the people who run the companies are creative, independent and innovative. I'm proud to have been a participant.
Ken Guarino, Metro — Movies & Production
Ken Guarino, owner of Metro Distributors, has been involved in the adult entertainment industry for four decades, successfully guiding his companies to success in movie production and retail.
"I learned at an early age that ‘sex sells,’ and I ventured out to New York to see what I could learn about the adult business,” Guarino told XBIZ. “Well, 42nd Street was booming. Adult stores selling European magazines and 8mm films were plentiful, many with peep shows and mini theaters, and some with live peeps.
“I thought if I could do this in the Boston and Providence areas I could be successful,” he said.
"Roll ahead many years and today Metro is one of the nation's largest stocking distributors of adult products. Our movie library exceeds 5,000 titles and we continue to produce new content regularly, we have several exciting Internet businesses and our chain of over 36 amazing stores in the Northeast continues to expand."
Guarino, however, said that growth was not without opposition by the government.
“In the 1970s the local and federal authorities were very aggressive with prosecuting our businesses,” he said. “Millions were spent on defending these cases and our constitutional victories have changed many laws to be what they are today, laws that everyone benefits from including mainstream companies.
Guarino said that “it's a new industry that continues to change and merge into the next generation where fantasies and technology meet.”
“I have built my business on always being fair and honorable and my sons, Steven and Alexander, follow in my path with the same foundation.
“I am honored to be recognized as a 2016 XBIZ Pioneer Award recipient. I have seen this business transition from products being sold under the counter in bookstores to mainstream retailers delivering products with the click of a mouse.
“This is an industry that is constantly evolving and I believe in some ways we are just getting started. Thank you XBIZ. "
Martin Tucker, Topco Sales — Pleasure Products
Founded in 1972, Topco Sales is one of the largest sex toy manufacturers in the industry with a 40-year-plus history of delivering groundbreaking, quality products. Martin Tucker founded the company with a background in aerospace technology and metallurgical engineering, which enabled him to introduce innovative technology and sophisticated materials to the business.
Topco Sales today is best known for its popular brands such as Cyberskin, Penthouse Toys, UltraZone, TwerkingButt and Virtual Sex. Headquartered in Simi Valley, Calif., Topco Sales manufactures everything from vibrators and dildos to lubricants and personal care cosmetics. In addition to in-house and licensed brands, the company also makes products for private label and contract packaging customers.
“I truly am honored that I was chosen to receive this award,” Tucker told XBIZ. “I thank you for acknowledging my contributions and accomplishments. The adult toy industry has been, and still is, ‘an exciting ride’ for me. I have many fond memories when I was growing and operating Topco Sales, which I began in 1972 and later sold in 2002.”
Tucker launched his new company MYWORLD in 2003.
Ralph Caplan, Nalpac — Retail & Distribution
Ralph Caplan established Nalpac — which is “Caplan” spelled backwards — in 1971 as a distributor of smoking paraphernalia. When the federal government deemed those products illegal, Nalpac shifted to adult products, and today the company is regarded as one of the most respected distributors in the U.S.
Headquartered in Ferndale, Mich., Nalpac boasts a 100,000-square-foot warehouse and carries close to 20,000 items ranging from premium adult toys, lubes, bachelorette supplies, bed and bath products and gag gifts.
Over the past 45 years, Nalpac has progressively evolved with the marketplace, utilizing state-of-the-art technology to offer timely customer information and order fulfillment.
“I am extremely honored to receive the Industry Pioneer Award,” Caplan told XBIZ. “I want to thank XBIZ and everybody involved for recognizing the 45 years of hard work it took to build Nalpac to the success it is today. I'd also like to thank our customers, suppliers and the staff at Nalpac for all the support throughout the years. I'm proud to be a part of such a wonderful industry and look forward to many years to come.”