What’s New And Notable In 2014

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It’s only February but projects in 2014 are already well under way and we’ve hit the ground running. As it has every year for decades, PPAI had the good fortune of kicking off our calendar year with the industry’s best trade show and event, The PPAI Expo, held last month in Las Vegas.

Expo is the perfect time for all of us, including PPAI leadership, to refocus on the business at hand. Assembling our Board of Directors, volunteer committees, action groups and staff at meetings during the biggest and best industry trade show offers invaluable opportunities for all of us to get on the same page and plan for the upcoming year.

Many members have asked me what my “theme” will be for my year as PPAI board chair. I quickly and happily tell them that the tradition of a chair’s theme or mission went away several years ago. Instead, the chair and Executive Committee at that time decided to focus on moving the current PPAI Strategic Plan forward. For those of you who don’t know, PPAI relies heavily on a detailed, multi-year strategic plan that is updated every year. And, every three years, the plan is blown up and redrawn via a strategic planning meeting with PPAI board members and senior staff. We are now on our second full year of the latest rendition of our strategic plan. View it at www.ppai.org.

So in lieu of announcing a new theme, I want to make sure you are up to date on two key developments that are consistent with PPAI’s mission and strategic plan.

By now, you may have heard the announcement about PPAI’s new Product Safety Awareness Program. It was rolled out at Expo and works like this: Any member company (regardless of membership category) that wants access to the PPAI marketplace (as an exhibitor, advertiser, sponsor, etc.) must now complete four hours of basic education on product safety by the start of Expo East 2015. What this means is that every supplier on the trade-show floor will have completed these very manageable requirements in order to exhibit.

Our immediate goal is to provide confidence to every distributor who is walking and working the show floor that our exhibiting suppliers are informed and up to speed on the basics of product safety. Of course, the more important goal here is that we collectively are working toward marketing and distributing safe products and programs to the end buyer. Ultimately, this program is about protecting the integrity of our advertising medium.

We have another important development on the trade-show front that will also come to fruition in 2015. Under the category of, “I don’t want to have to say we told you so,” make sure you note that the trade show dates are shifting slightly for The PPAI Expo 2015. Instead of a Wednesday-Thursday-Friday schedule, the show floor will open on Tuesday and close on Thursday next year. Show exhibitors will benefit from a weekday/straight time tear down when it comes to moving out on Thursday and Friday.

The last thing we want, of course, is for distributors and suppliers to show up on the wrong days for the biggest event of the year. The change is small; however, we are all creatures of habit and over the years we have become accustomed to the Wednesday through Friday pattern, so we are telling you early and often that in 2015 the show will run Tuesday through Thursday.

As an industry road warrior myself, I expect to be very visible at industry events this year. In addition to representing PPAI last month at both the PSI Show in Dusseldorf, Germany, and the Promotional Products Professionals of Canada (PPPC) Show in Toronto, I plan to be at a number of regional shows and events over the next couple months. Please make a point to introduce yourself and let me know how PPAI can help you make your business more successful this year and beyond.

Mark Jenkins, MAS+, is director of sales for Wichita, Kansas, supplier Pioneer Balloon Company (UPIC: Pioneer). Mark.Jenkins@pioneerballoon.com.

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