PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE, has, throughout the spring, visited with numerous industry companies and regional associations to learn more about them and their businesses, and to update them on the latest developments at their Association. Recently, Bellantone and PPAI Director of Public Affairs Anne Lardner-Stone met with a number of promotional products businesses in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
In New Jersey, Bellantone and Lardner-Stone met with Impex International (UPIC: Impex) and Admints & Zagabor (UPIC: ADMINTS). Both Impex president Randy Chen and Admints president Brett Hersh are active volunteers in the industry, and the conversations touched on their business models, product responsibility and how PPAI can help their companies grow.
Impex International’s business model is an uncommon one in the promotional products industry as Chen’s company serves as an importer and wholesaler for smaller suppliers, letting them tap into his warehouse program and offer his products in their catalogs. “My business model was born out of necessity,” says Chen. “I used to operate a trading company, helping suppliers procure goods from overseas. But expenses made it difficult, and I realized smaller suppliers couldn’t compete as they didn’t have the opportunity to fund it properly. My business offers a lower cost of entry to become a supplier. When they have orders, they can ship my products to a decorator, and then to their distributor customers.”
Chen is also a member of the Product Responsibility Action Group (PRAG). He says: “I joined as an opportunity to volunteer. I have knowledge to share, as I deal with a lot of manufacturers in Asia and have experience shipping to the U.S. It’s also a chance to listen to and learn from all of the talented people in the group.”
In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Bellantone and Lardner-Stone visited with Larry Whitney, director of compliance at Leed’s (UPIC: LEEDS), and a member of PPAI’s PRAG. Whitney gave his PPAI guests a tour of the facility for a look at the company’s product development process, its warehouse and production capabilities.
Whitney says: “Neither had been to our facility in Pittsburgh, and the visit was an opportunity for them to get a sense of the scale and way we do things. They also met with our chief executive team for a conversation on what PPAI is doing and the direction the Association wishes to go, and what issues we feel are important.”
Bellantone, Lardner-Stone and Whitney also discussed a few legislative issues important to suppliers in the industry. “There are a couple of bills in Congress that impact suppliers,” says Whitney. “We worked with our congressman to get a piece inserted into the Miscellaneous Trade Bill. It won’t be voted on until after the election, but it’s important in the interim that legislators are aware there are components of the bill important to suppliers. We also spoke about the unintended consequences of the CPSIA [Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act], which affects all sorts of industries. What can seem to be a simple requirement is practically impossible for a promotional product supplier to meet. We need to pressure Congress to address these issues.”