At the 2010 conference of the California Association for Music Education Southern Border Section, J.W. Pepper was presented with the organization's distinguished Industry Leadership Award. Each year the CMEASBS awards both a legislator and an industry partner the honor "in recognition of your support of music education." Merryl Nelson, past president of the Southern Border Section, presented Pepper with the plaque.
Vice President Sam DeRenzis accepted the honor on behalf of J.W. Pepper. DeRenzis has a long history of working with southern California music educators and currently serves as Pepper's regional marketing manager for southern California, Arizona and Hawaii. According to DeRenzis, during the presentation "We got a very warm and extended round of applause. Merryl cited several examples of our service to the SBS along with our service and support on the statewide level of the California Music Educators Association." DeRenzis noted he was especially touched to hear the general membership in attendance give such rousing support as Pepper received the award.