Meeting Of The Minds

Regional Association Leaders Come Together For LDW

DSC_0107 (2) web More than 160 regional volunteers representing 27 regional associations attended the 2015 LDW at the DFW Hilton in Grapevine, Texas.

PPAI and the Regional Association Council (RAC) welcomed regional association leaders to Grapevine, Texas, in October for the 16th annual Leadership Development Workshop (LDW). The event’s packed schedule featured a PPAI Board of Directors meeting, a day of planning and training for PPAI committee and advisory group chairs, and an extensive two-day curriculum designed to provide participants with numerous learning opportunities through general sessions, breakout discussions and sharing activities. The associated Regional Boot Camp brought together regional association leaders for an intensive, hands-on training session designed for their specific needs. It featured two separate tracks—one for executive directors and one for incoming and current presidents—as well as opportunities for the two groups to work together.

“LDW attendees benefit from ideas and experiences from all over the United States that add new perspectives for regional associations to draw from,” says Tom Carpenter, MAS, national accounts manager for Fey Promotional Products Group and a member of the LDW work group. “LDW’s focus on open, non-threatening sharing allows regionals to learn from each other’s successes and failures, and to return to their associations with greater insight, and new and actionable ideas for pain points they struggle with on a daily basis. It also provides support and shows them that they are not alone in their commitment to make their association and the industry as a whole a better, stronger and more viable marketplace for us all.”

DSC_0191 web At LDW’s General Session & Dinner, psychologist and humorist Bruce Christopher spoke on the role having the right attitude plays in a successful life.

Ryan Small, CAS, president of Nashville, Tennessee distributor Blue Dog Merch and incoming president of the Regional Association Council, adds, “This week has been an outstanding showing of some of our industry’s best leaders and volunteers getting together to network, brainstorm and strategize to create an outstanding game plan for 2016.”

DSC_0235 web 2015 PPAI RAC Volunteer of the Year Award recipient Lori Bauer (left) was nominated for her work with PPAF by PPAF Executive Director Dana Geiger.

This year, LDW welcomed more than 160 attendees representing 27 regional associations, as well as PPAI board members and committee chairs. The comprehensive schedule featured 28 education sessions with speakers and panelists from PPAI, and from within and outside the promotional products industry.

“The keynote speaker this year was very relevant—he brought everything into perspective,” says Larry Arntz, president of Hayes, Virginia distributor Larry Arntz, Inc. and a volunteer with the Virginia Promotional Products Association. “We are here to learn. All the sessions have been fantastic and the new format is wonderful.”

At the Opening General Session & Dinner, psychologist and humorist Bruce Christopher’s presentation “Leap! The Net Will Appear,” tackled the fear of failure, one of the most prominent obstacles between people and reaching their true potential. His masterful storytelling style, laced with physical humor, led listeners through a short series of exercises to help them learn why positive self-talk is important. He also explained the two things optimists do that others don’t (leap through their fears and find freedom in failure)—and why that makes a difference in their uncanny ability to succeed against all odds.

The highlight at the Opening General Session & Dinner was a presentation honoring Lori Bauer, vice president of sales-national accounts at Tampa, Florida-based supplier BIC Graphic USA as the 2015 PPAI RAC Volunteer of the Year Award recipient. Bauer was formally recognized for her accomplishments working with the Promotional Products Association of Florida (PPAF) where she is active on numerous levels, helping lead the regional association and volunteering for its trade shows, committees and events. She has lent her experience and expertise to PPAI on numerous occasions, participated in a number of committees and action groups, and joined the PPAI Women’s Leadership Conference this year as a speaker on business communication. She was also named a PPB Rising Star in 2010.

“LDW is a venue that provides a learning and sharing experience with the regional association volunteer leadership from across the country,” says Jeff Shaw, president of Shaw Print & Promotion Powered By HALO Branded Solutions and a member of the LDW work group. “The exposure to ideas and critical thought from peers from other regionals helps broaden the perspective of the issues our individual regional associations face. I believe better decisions can be made, moving forward, when critiquing and benchmarking against others, not just from the past experience of our own regional association.”

Carpenter adds, “From my very first LDW, it was obvious to me that the volunteers in attendance were and are committed, giving and competent professionals who were eager to learn and share their experiences. What wasn’t obvious was how often I would hear one attendee tell another, ‘I thought we were the only ones with that challenge.’ What has always encouraged me has been that rather than a ‘misery loves company’ attitude, I more often see the strength-in-numbers mentality prevail. I have always left LDW feeing stronger and more energized to make my association a better and more vital value to our members.”

Sue Selseth, executive director of the Upper Midwest Association of Promotional Professionals, says, “LDW always provides valuable opportunities to share information and ideas with peers, meet other association leaders, and establish or reconnect relationships with volunteers and staff. A wide array of sessions are offered that incite creativity, promote idea sharing, and provide industry-specific tools that association leaders can implement for best practices. The networking and education together make LDW a unique and rewarding experience.”

DSC_0076 (2) web LDW attendees had their choice of 28 education sessions with speakers and panelists from PPAI and within and outside of the promotional products industry.

Rebecca Mclaughlin, CAS, operations manager at Erie, Pennsylvania supplier CPS/The Keystone Line and president of the Regional Association Council, noted, “The week truly shows how committed our industry is to each other and how our volunteers are truly committed to giving back to the industry. For first-time attendees, this event is the best thing you can do if you are new to your board or new to the industry. If you really want to get involved, this is the place to get started.”

PPAI Welcomes Wehrle, David and Cohen To The Association’s Board Of Directors

In October, PPAI announced the results of its 2015 Board of Directors election, welcoming new members Perry Wehrle, president of distributor PAW Marketing, Inc., and Brittany David, vice president of sales at supplier SnugZ USA. In addition, Larry Cohen, president and CEO of Axis Promotions, was appointed to the PPAI Board of Directors as at-large director with full voting rights. The new board members and at-large director will begin their terms immediately following The PPAI Expo 2016. Wehrle and David will serve four-year terms, while Cohen’s term is for two years.

The board of directors is the governing body for PPAI and plays a major role in directing its strategic activities, adopting policies and approving budgets to carry out the work of the Association. The trio participated in a new board member orientation program at PPAI Headquarters in November. PPB spoke with the new board members about their qualifications and goals for their terms on the PPAI board.

Perry Wehrle

Throughout his more than 35 years in the promotional products industry, Wehrle has been Perry Wehrle new color weban active member and supporter of PPAI, both as a supplier and a distributor. He is also a past president of the Partnering Group, helping that organization realign its supplier structure during his tenure, and prior to his presidency, serving on a number of its committees.

PPB: Why do you want to serve on the PPAI Board?

Wehrle: As I built my business up for the past 25-plus years I always felt the need and desire to give back; give back to the only industry that I have ever worked in … give back to others so that they too can become successful and grow, and hopefully so they too can give back in the future. I want to share my knowledge and leadership with others in an effort to keep our industry strong and growing.

PPB: What unique strengths and experiences do you bring to the PPAI board?

Wehrle: Early on, I worked in our family supplier business, and then for 25-plus years as a distributor. I have a deep understanding of the needs of the suppliers as well as what is required to be a successful distributor. Through my life experiences of the good, bad and the ugly, I have been able to continue on the path to build a solid distributorship, and it is these skill sets which I will bring with me to the PPAI board.

PPB: What would you like to accomplish during your board term?

Wehrle: I personally feel that our greatest strength is education. PPAI has been and is doing a tremendous job in providing education to our members on so many levels. There are daily opportunities through webinars or seminars at regional shows, and The PPAI Expo is packed with prospects to further one’s personal growth with education, speakers, networking occasions and so many other chances to build knowledge. Perhaps the most interesting thing is that most of this is at little or no charge to the individual. This is truly one of the biggest benefits of being a member of PPAI. As a board member I will work toward continuing the education through communication.

PPB: Are there any industry challenges or issues that you’d like to see renewed focus on?

Wehrle: Our industry has to work hard to prevent outside influences from breaking apart our traditional business model which supports the supply chain as we know it. I see a greater threat from manufacturers (outside of PPAI) that want to eliminate the supplier and distributor, and go to the end user directly. These temptations are a wakeup call to all of us that we need to be the best we can so that outsiders don’t have the opportunity to infiltrate the marketplace.

Suppliers will need to present the distributors with innovation in products, design and imprint capabilities. Stocking issues should be pushed hard so to minimize the voids which occur. Distributors will need to increase their depth of services so that the client will never be tempted by others. Look to see what other opportunities are left on the table so that the client will never feel the need to look elsewhere. We all need to take an active role to protect what we have and understand that we need to be flexible and be willing to accept change as we move forward.

Brittany David

David has worked in the promotional products industry for the past nine years and has participated in a number of the Association’s committees and events. She was a panelist at Brittany David webthe Women’s Leadership Conference in 2012 and this year served as a member of the event’s workgroup. She is also a past chair and member of PPAI’s Events Committee. Outside of PPAI, David has been active in numerous regional associations, and served as a panelist at the ASI Power Summit.

PPB: Why do you want to serve on the PPAI Board?

David: Getting involved and giving back are things that have always been a part of my life. Service is in my heart. My parents taught me at a very young age how important it is to give back. From service projects in Girl Scouts, to visiting retirement homes, it was always good times with friends doing good things for others. I spent much of my extracurricular time in college mentoring incoming freshmen and participating in fundraisers and events for a battered women’s shelter, and I was very involved at the executive level in a safe ride/designated driver program called CARPOOL. Throughout the years I have continued to give back. Currently I am involved in the SnugZ GiveZ community service committee. It has been an awesome opportunity to not only give back to the community but spend quality time with coworkers across our company.

The landscape of the industry is changing as a result of how readily available information is on the internet. This is an important time to get involved and see what I can offer and bring to the table. I love this industry and the people in it, and I want to make a positive impact to help maintain and propel a healthy, strong and thriving association.

PPB: What unique strengths and experiences do you bring to the PPAI board?

David: I started my industry career at SAGE Quick Technologies as the event coordinator and eventually moved into the SAGE TMS manager role, managing MAPPS, SAGE Showcase and the PPAF and then SACDV Expos. Five years later, I moved to Utah to join SnugZ USA as the national accounts manager and am now the vice president of sales. The knowledge I have gained from both companies, our customers and other supplier colleagues has helped me get where I am today.

One area where I would be a great asset to the board is to serve as the face and mind of a new generation. We have identified this new generation of buyers and buying habits as a challenge that we must adapt to in order to keep our industry strong, healthy and moving forward. I am that generation and have nearly a decade of experience in this industry. I am eager to participate, listen and lead. Hard work and dedication don’t change from generation to generation. They are either something that is instilled in your work ethic or something that is not. I am eager, engaged, excited and willing to work hard to keep us moving forward.

PPB: What would you like to accomplish during your board term?

David: I think having an “agenda” coming into this process would be short sighted of me. There is much to learn and much to catch up on before I dig in and find my way. Ultimately, I want to provide value and make a positive impact for our industry. There are many new challenges we face that I think we can focus on to keep our industry strong and relevant.

PPB: Are there any industry challenges or issues that you’d like to see renewed focus on?

David: It’s just like they say, what got you here won’t get you there. We used to be able to take pride in the fact that we were a hidden industry and it was difficult for end buyers to find a source for their promotional products. If we continue to be hidden, other industries/companies will be able to tell consumers where to go to get branded merchandise and deliver their own message. With the internet making information and ordering extremely accessible, we will be in a world of hurt if we don’t deliver the message and establish ourselves.

Another huge challenge ahead of us is the new generation of buyers and buying habits that are changing the way we do business. I am that dreaded “M” word—a Millennial. I grew up learning how to multiply from Number Munchers on seemingly the first computer, playing Oregon Trail in the classroom, having a pager in high school, and I was on Facebook when it actually required a college email address to participate. Technology isn’t something I learned—it is something I grew up with. Technology is a challenge that we haven’t embraced as quickly as we should have, which has allowed outside entities and disruptive business models—such as Amazon—to creep into our space. I know that PPAI is already working on some initiatives to keep us propelling forward and I look forward to contributing to those efforts.

Larry Cohen

Cohen was selected for the at-large director seat from a field of distributors, suppliers, multiline reps, business services members, international suppliers and international Larry-Cohen-Axis-PromotionsLG webdistributors, and nominated by a committee consisting of the PPAI Board chair, chair-elect and immediate past chair. He has been active in a number of promotional products industry organizations, including PPAI—for which he is a past chair of the Editorial Advisory Committee and the North American Leadership Conference—the PromoKitchen Advisory Board and the PeerNet Marketing Committee.

PPB: Why do you want to serve on the PPAI Board?

Cohen: There are times in life when you reach a point where you realize that much of your success has been built on the support of others and that it is important to give back. For me, I feel like this is my time. One of my mentors in the industry was Janelle Nevins, who was a legend and one of the most giving people I’ve ever met. Janelle loved this industry and was so involved. She always used to say to me that I should get more involved in PPAI and should think about running for the board. I did not totally take her seriously all those years ago but, as I’ve matured, I have come to recognize all the good things that PPAI does. I truly want to contribute to the industry’s growth and success. I feel honored to be part of the board and am excited that I can continue to build on the efforts of people like Janelle.

PPB: What unique strengths and experiences do you bring to the PPAI board?

Cohen: I am one of those people who is both right-brained and left-brained. After college, I attended an Ivy League law school and worked as a lawyer for a couple of years. This training continues to help me analyze situations from numerous vantage points and clearly assess strengths and weaknesses. I’m also a great problem solver. On the other hand, I am very creative and love coming up with new and unique ideas to help build our company and to help our clients build their brands.

I recognized very early on that the perception of our industry (trinkets and trash, tchotchkes, etc.) was not commensurate with the potential impact our industry could have on corporate branding and marketing. One of the core concepts we strongly emphasize to our team members and our clients is the need for a clear strategy before selecting a branded promotional item.

I also recognized that product safety and compliance was going to be a huge issue in our industry. As a result, we formed an in-house compliance department almost 10 years ago. I think this is something that every supplier and distributor needs to come to address as soon as possible. Axis has been very involved at the board level in this matter.

PPB: What would you like to accomplish during your board term?

Cohen: There are three key areas that I would like to work on while on the board.

1. Perception – I still believe that our industry has a long way to go to get the respect that is due. All the research indicates how effective promotional products can be if used properly and strategically. Nevertheless, our products and services are often not perceived in the same way as other marketing vehicles. I know PPAI has been working hard on this effort. I believe I can contribute significantly in this area as Axis has direct experience working with many of the larger advertising agencies and their clients. A corollary to this is the need to get everyone who works in our industry to understand the real benefits and to modify how they discuss these benefits with their clients. The long-term success of our companies and our industry is going to be based upon our ability to get our clients to view us as strategic partners as opposed to product sellers.

2. Compliance – This is a critical area that is still evolving. I applaud the efforts of PPAI and hope to bring some of our knowledge and experience as a distributor on the forefront of this area to others in the industry.

3. Recruitment – This is an amazing industry that has so much to offer. I can’t think of many industries where the potential list of prospects is unlimited and the options of what you can sell them is huge and continues to evolve every day. We have to do a better job of exposing people to this unique industry and to attract the next generation of marketers. We also need to do a much better job of attracting minorities to our industry.

PPB: Are there any industry challenges or issues that you’d like to see renewed focus on?

Cohen: Technology is changing how we do just about everything. I would like to see PPAI explore the impact technology—analytics, digital, social—will have on our industry and how end users market their brands and purchase promotional products.

October PPAI Board Meeting Highlights

The PPAI Board of Directors met in Grapevine, Texas in October prior to the annual PPAI Leadership Development Workshop, with board chair Rick Brenner, MAS+ presiding.

Among the board’s many agenda items were these highlights:

• Bob McLean, executive vice president, and AJ Hunter, director of finance, presented a 2015 financial forecast and provided a general timeline for the 2016 budget-setting process.

• Anne Stone, director of public affairs, provided an overview of results on the 2015 board election noting that Brittany David, SnugZUSA, will serve as the supplier board member and Perry Wehrle, PAW Marketing Inc., will serve as the distributor board member. She noted that in 2016, PPAI will reduce the election window from four to three weeks to enable new board members to attend new director orientation in October and participate in LDW.

• Stone also reviewed the current state of PPAI’s legislative work on a federal and state level as well as potential issues for consideration. She said the board should expect to see continued work to build strong coalition relationships with like-minded organizations to advance our legislative and regulatory priorities.

• Keith Vincent, director of marketing, reviewed PPAI’s work with ITR to produce a quarterly market outlook report.

• Rachel Robichaud, director of professional development, provided a review of the department’s mission and vision for all professional development offerings, highlighting that they serve a diverse audience. She also addressed each of the stand-alone education events, reporting on attendance and opportunities for improved engagement.

• Tina Berres Filipski, editor, and Gary Slavonic, MAS, director of business development, reviewed PPAI’s various print and digital publications, and discussed the media strategy currently under way.

• Darel Cook, director of expositions, reported on the status of Expo 2016 and Expo East 2016 and briefed the board on projections and expectations for the shows.

 

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