In December 2020, the American Botanical Council (ABC) mutually parted ways with Lance Lawhon, who had overseen advertising sales for the nonprofit organization’s quarterly peer-reviewed journal HerbalGram since issue 60 in 2003. For 17 years, Lawhon contacted potential clients to advertise on ABC’s website and in HerbalGram, sold ad space, and maintained ABC’s strict ad review process.
Lawhon was introduced to ABC while working at the management company Rector-Duncan in Austin, Texas. As a member of the sales team, Lawhon attended the first meeting between Rector-Duncan and ABC Founder and Executive Director Mark Blumenthal.
“I have one very distinct memory from that meeting,” Lawhon wrote (email, January 15, 2021). “Our proposal kit had ‘HerbalGram’ misspelled and I saw Mark reach over and make a correction with his pen. From there, I knew I’d need to keep close watch on my spelling and grammar around him!”
ABC was one of six clients for which Lawhon sold ads, but in 2004, the company downsized, ended its contract with ABC, and laid off Lawhon. Upon contacting ABC to inform them of his change in status, the organization offered him the opportunity to continue working on ad sales in a freelance capacity.
“The thought hadn’t even occurred to me. That meant I’d have to start my own business,” Lawhon recalled. He did just that, and continued to work with Blumenthal, Art Director Matthew Magruder, and Development Director Denise Meikel.
Initially, Lawhon sold ad space for HerbalGram only. But, as the organization’s web presence expanded, the scope of his duties grew to encompass advertisements on ABC’s website and sponsored email blasts. As part of its commitment to scientific rigor and independently verified information, ABC vets and fact-checks all advertisement claims before publication. During this process, Lawhon served as a liaison between the organization and the advertisers.
“For the entirety of my time with HerbalGram and ABC as art director, Lance has been a joy to work with,” Magruder commented (email, January 28, 2021). “HerbalGram has a unique process of reviewing and approving advertisements in the magazine and Lance has been wonderful in how he navigates this process. He will be missed as a member of our little team. As a fellow artist, I feel compelled to point out that Lance is also an incredibly talented artist. I proudly own one of his sketches from Europe that he gifted me many years ago.”
Lawhon, one of the self-proclaimed “five remaining native Austinites” in Austin, is a multi-talented individual with a thriving promotional products business focused on Texas wineries, Spectrum Wine Specialties, which he runs with his parents. When he is not working, he enjoys studying theology, listening to podcasts, cooking, gardening, writing, and playing table-top role-playing games. The growth of his promotional business prompted his retirement from ABC and HerbalGram, as he felt he did not have the time necessary to devote to ABC’s advertising needs.
Lawhon says he will miss strolling around the 2.5 acres of gardens at the organization’s headquarters at the Case Mill Homestead in East Austin. However, he will miss the people most of all, and appreciated being treated like “part of the family” whenever he visited. ABC’s passion for its mission, he wrote, was “infectious” and gave him a new perspective on herbs and their uses.
“Working with ABC stretched me as a sales manager and communicator,” Lawhon concluded. “I grew up a lot in those 17 years! But to sum up my feelings I can think of only one word: gratitude. I am thankful to have worked with such a passionate and caring group of people. I will always look on my time with ABC with thanks. Whenever I go out into my garden to pick thyme, oregano, or snap off a piece of ginger root, I’ll think of my friends at the American Botanical Council.”
ABC wishes Lance much success in his future business endeavors. He has already agreed to maintain a relationship with ABC by contributing his popular chocolate cayenne cookies at ABC’s annual winter holiday cookie exchange.