Feature Story and Photos by Larry H. Oskin

For over 42 years, Kyle Promotions has provided promotional products and business printing to the South Lake community.

Cathy Kyle moved to Clermont in 1979, opening Kyle Promotions in 1980. After her first few years, she purchased a building in downtown Clermont for her business office and showroom. Kyle built her reputation by providing a wide variety of logoed business gifts, wearables, technical and promotional items businesses, non-profits, schools and government offices  

Cathy reminisces, “Back in the early 80’s, it wasn’t so easy to start a small new business. There really was no competition for this type of promotional business back then in the South Lake area. We didn’t have computers, the Internet or fax machines. No one had any desire for imprinted water bottles. My primary resource was the Yellow Pages and some valuable resources like the Thomas Register in the public library. Resourcing innovative products from supplier companies involved endless long-distance phone calls with time-consuming mailed responses. Imprinted items were only sold to company distributors back then. One of my first orders was for my sister’s Jazzercise group for 6,000 imprinted 22-ounce water tumblers. When I went to pick up the shipment for delivery, I mistakenly did not imagine how enormous pallets with thousands of water bottles could be. So, they would not fit in my car. Fortunately, the Jazzercise instructors came with trucks and I learned a big lesson about product volume!”

Cathy learned how much work it was to put it all together with very coordinated details and timeliness. She also learned how to handle small to large orders as she progressed through the years for up to 150,000 promotional pieces of any size. One of her earliest was Kate DiCamillo, who went on to author “Because of Winn Dixie”, gaining worldwide recognition for her many beloved books. Kyle earned numerous awards including the Gem of the Hills, South Lake Chamber of Commerce Heritage Award, South Lake Chamber Ambassador Choice and the SLCC Best of South Lake Awards in recent years. While reminiscing about the many changes in the Clermont area, Kyle adds, “I’ve been in this community so long, I forget things I should remember and I remember things I should forget.”  Over the life of the business, Kyle personally trained 40 employees.

At a recent South Lake Chamber of Commerce Breakfast, Kyle shared, “From the days when Clermont’s population was only 6,000, through five decades and two millennia, I’ve been part of this business community. It has been a rare privilege to work with everyone in the community.  Our business community has weathered difficult challenges and celebrated hard-won successes. Through it all, Kyle Promotions has persevered to provide valuable services as a trusted partner through storms and sunshine. I have carried a passion for my community and my customers through good times and bad. My small business has been here, standing behind my clients to support this community’s efforts with creative products, dependable and timely service. As a great number of you essentially live, breathe and eat for the business or non-profit you work in, that’s what I’ve also done for the past 42 years. It’s no easy task to walk in a different direction after all the years and after all the blood, sweat and tears!”

Cathy continues, “Stephanie Walter has been my friendly competitor for the past twenty-one years. She built her business from the ground up like I did, with commitment and stick-to-itiveness. I am passing the torch to Stephanie Walter at Stephanie Walter Promotions. It gives me comfort and confidence to know she has the experience and ability to care for my clients and carry my little flame into the future”.

In a sentimental gesture, Kyle passed the torch to Walter and will now focus on retirement, enjoying physical activities, travel and overseeing her real estate investments.

Stephanie Walter notes, “I am very thankful that Cathy picked me to trust with her valued clients. I appreciate her long-standing reputation in the community and her level of high-quality products with personalized service. I feel fortunate that we have been friendly competitors for years. She’s been a confidant and a mentor to me.” 

Originally from Pennsylvania, Stephanie and her family moved to Clermont, and she started her promotional business in 2001 as a stay-at-home mom. She received a box of imprinted promotional samples from Kaeser & Blair while looking for a new career opportunity. Soon after, Walter saw an opportunity when a friend mentioned needing imprinted products for a golf tournament. She re-ordered that box, knowing she had a terrific resource with a great set of solutions to start her business.

Walter quickly learned how much work it was to put it all together. She proceeded to build her promotional products business with schools, non-profits and businesses one step at a time. Today, she has loyal clients across the USA as well as here in South Lake. Her daughter Haley is involved, helping make daily deliveries to as many as 25 different clients and 250 dozen doughnuts during each Teacher Appreciation Week. Walter admits Covid was a big challenge, since many businesses and groups canceled their annual meetings, parties and community events. With order support provided by Kaeser & Blair, Walter has achieved ‘Top 10 Legends’ status from over 300 active and a total of over 2000 distributors by selling more than $500,000 in products per year. She has continued to grow her business and is now proudly on track to move up further to the million-dollar mark. Stephanie Walter says, “Our mission remains to help you create long-lasting relationships with your clients through the power of memorable promotional products.”

Stephanie Walter Promotions – learn more, Call: 352-552-6767, Email: sajawalter@gmail.com and visit: http://StephanieWalterPromotions.com.

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