Short Takes 100

PPAI's Women's Leadership Conference (WLC) is designed to develop a woman's professional network and maximize her leadership potential. Registration is now open for WLC 2018, running June 25-27 in Hollywood, California, with discounted early-bird rates available through February 27. WLC has a reputation for drawing inspiring and engaging speakers and delivering fresh insights on leadership development, business management, career planning and advancement, work life balance and exploring industry topics while creating a network of industry peers. For more information and to register, click here.

Kristen Ludgate has been appointed senior vice president, corporate communications and enterprise services, effective January 1, at St. Paul, Minnesota-based 3M. Ludgate joined 3M in 2008 as senior counsel, legal affairs. She is currently vice president of global human resources business operations, and has also served as chief compliance officer. The supplier participates in the promotional products industry through 3M Promotional Markets Dept. (PPAI 113638).

Dawn Ruler, MAS, has been promoted to division sales vice president for Geiger Midwest by the Lewiston, Maine, distributor (PPAI 105182), effective December 1. Ruler, who joined Geiger in 2015 as an independent sales partner, has worked in the promotional products industry for more than 17 years. She serves as a current board member of PPAChicago and has served in volunteer roles for PPAI, including the Distributor Committee and the Women's Leadership Work Group.

Hub Pen Company (PPAI 110772) has brought Terese Cook on as a business systems support analyst.  Cook comes to Hub after 17 years with international IP video company Piksel. At Hub Pen, she will work to improve the business processes throughout both Hub and Beacon Promotions, both as an analyst and project manager.

Washington, Missouri, supplier The Magnet Group (PPAI 338534) has hired Becky Blyth, a 13-year industry veteran, as a director of key accounts.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is hosting international training seminars for buyers and sourcing professionals in China and Vietnam in March 2018. These sessions are an opportunity for government representatives to share the latest information on important product requirements and standards, and for industry members to share their insights and experiences for the benefit of consumer safety. The sessions will be held in Shanghai on March 13, Guangzhou on March 15 and Ho Chi Minh City on March 20. The training is free of charge and will have simultaneous translation. To sign up to receive early notification when registration opens, contact Space is limited and registration, once open, will close February 28, 2018.

Supplier BAG MAKERS (PPAI 111408) in Union, Illinois, has hired Carol Vickers (left) as regional business development manager for the company's northwest territory, covering Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Alaska, and parts of Northern California. Vickers, an industry veteran, has more than 40 years of sales experience, along with established relationships with promotional product distributors throughout the northwest region. Amanda Madai, the company's previous regional business development manager for the northwest region, has accepted an internal position as BAG MAKERS' general manager. In her new role, Madai will be involved in the day-to-day business operations of the company, as well as product sourcing and relationships with external suppliers and factory partners. Madai also will continue to service some key national accounts.

Sharon, Massachusetts-based supplier Charles River Apparel (PPAI 111644) has brought Ross Dohrmann and Wes Stevens on in newly created roles on its sales team. Dohrmann will come onboard as a new regional sales manager. He will be responsible for overseeing the sales representative team based in the Midwest and New England. Stevens will serve as a new inside sales manager, and he will manage the inside sales team and focus on strategy and process for growing the inside sales footprint at the company.

Connect the Dots Promotions (PPAI 368415) in Phoenix, Arizona, has brought Kim Works on as an account executive. Works brings more than 15 years of industry experience to her role at the distributor.

Supplier Lanco (PPAI 112333), has secured financing from NC Promotions ("NC"), an affiliate of Nassau Candy, the parent company of supplier Chocolate Inn (PPAI 111662), and has a purchase agreement for NC to acquire its business assets. The company will remain in its Ronkonkoma, New York, location, and current employees will remain in place.

"We have secured financing to enable Lanco to continue operations," says Scott Slade, president of Lanco Corporation. "We have restocked inventory levels, are supporting customers and fulfilling orders in their entirety. We are retaining our employees and will continue the great legacy of Lanco."

"This is a good thing for Lanco, the industry, our employees, our customers—for everybody involved," Slade added.

Lanco Corporation is a third-generation company founded in 1985. Slade was named president in 2011.

New orders for manufactured goods to U.S. factories saw the sharpest rise in four months with an increase of 1.4 percent in September, following a jump of 1.2 percent in August, the Commerce Department reported on Friday. Shipments, up nine of the past 10 months, increased $3.9 billion or 0.8 percent to $480.4 billion for the same period.

In the July-September period, the overall economy grew at a rate of three percent following a 3.1 percent GDP rise in the second quarter. It marked the first consecutive quarterly gains of three percent or better in three years. Orders for nondurable goods, items not expected to last three years, rose 0.8 percent, or $1.8 billion in September. The gain was led by a rise in petroleum products.  

Multi-line reps provide many of the most critical connections within the promotional products industry, bridging the gap between suppliers and distributors, and serving up promotional solutions, samples, ideas and expertise. It's not an easy job but those who do it well make their clients look like the winners.

It's time to start thinking about those multi-line reps who are true partners in your business and plan to nominate them as one of PPB's Best Multi-Line Reps for 2018. Nominations open November 20 and close December 15. Nominees must be affiliated with a PPAI member company and previous honorees are ineligible. Watch for a link to the nomination form in PPB Newslink's November 21 issue.

Andrew Sawczenko has joined supplier Spector and Co. (PPAI 168328) as territory sales manager based in Chicago, Illinois. He will be working with the company's multi-line rep team, Bridge Marketing, to manage sales in Illinois, as well as key accounts in Indiana, Ohio and Michigan.

Supplier Vantage Apparel (PPAI 113235) welcomes Scott Meade as regional sales representative for eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. Meade brings 20 years of experience in the promotional products industry to the role. He also served as a board member of the Philadelphia Area Promotional Products Association (PAPPA), and currently he is a trustee of the Specialty Advertising Association of Greater New York (SAAGNY) Foundation Board. 

Business services provider commonsku (PPAI 552077), headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, has brought Parmveer Khangura on as business development representative. Khangura is a former IT and small-business consultant and graduate of York University, and in his new role will consult with the company's customers on the right technology solutions for growth.

Stormtech Performance Apparel (PPAI 260245) has named Mike Oliver its new Canadian sales manager, responsible for Western Canada and designated national strategic key accounts. In his new role, he will develop and maintain effective corporate account relationships and ensure business growth is delivered in accordance with the organizational strategy. Oliver is returning to Stormtech, having joined the Vancouver, British Columbia-headquartered supplier in 1996. He spent nine years growing the brand in eastern Canada. He has since worked at the Bugattie Group, where he spent 12 years as regional sales manager, director of sales, and most recently as vice president of specialty advertising.

Pat Doyle, owner of distributor Proforma Promotional Products of Canada (PPAI 335386) in Pickering, Ontario, was named Business Person of the Year by the Ajax Pickering Board of Trade at its 2017 Business Excellence Awards. Recipients are nominated by their peers in six categories, and evaluated by a panel of judges. A 25-year industry veteran, Doyle was recognized by the board at an awards gala on October 19.

Bill Zeuch has been named senior vice president, sales, marketing and ecommerce at Neenah, Wisconsin, distributor AIA Corporation (PPAI 101364). Zeuch will be responsible for helping AIA's franchise owners and sales affiliates to increase their sales and profitability. In support of these efforts, he will lead all aspects of AIA's success management, marketing and communication efforts, and will work with key suppliers to further develop Brandtrinsic, AIA's exclusive content curation and sharing platform. Zeuch has extensive experience as both a senior sales and marketing executive and a successful entrepreneur.

Supplier Alternative Apparel (PPAI 217134) in Atlanta, Georgia, has added Emma Williams to its sales team to further develop their growing customer base in the Northeast. Williams, originally from Boston, started her career in technical design and later transitioned to the world of screen-printing as a sales rep. In her new role as account executive, Williams will cover the northeast territory, including New York and New Jersey.

Evanston, Illinois-based DARD Products (PPAI 113923) has named Susan Lewandowski vice president of marketing and business development. Lewandowski will be responsible for the leadership of the DARD sales team, developing new business opportunities and creating customized solutions to customer needs. She brings more than 25 years of experience in the promotional products industry to the role.

DisruptSports (PPAI 698768), a supplier headquartered in Santa Monica, California, has brought Kathy Kalmon on as the company's new Midwest business developer. Opening a new office in Chicago, Illinois, Kalmon will be supported by DisruptSports' sales, operations and manufacturing team in Santa Monica, as well as its international offices in the UK and Australia. Kalmon brings more than 15 years of experience on the distributor and supplier sides of the business to the role.

Distributor ePromos Promotional Products, Inc. (PPAI 212648) has donated $15,000 to the American Red Cross for disaster and hurricane relief. The donation is comprised of employee contributions, which the company matched, as well as a percentage of proceeds from September 18-20. The cumulative donation reflects the fundraising of the ePromos, ePromos Brand Solutions and Motivators brands under ePromos Promotional Products, Inc.
"This hurricane season has been devastating," says ePromos President Steve Paradiso. "It will be a long road to recovery for the areas affected by the hurricanes, but I am thankful to have a team eager to help in any way we can."

In the quest to attract customers and build buzz, brands making an impact by turning to promotional products that represent distinct departures from their core offerings. USA Today features some of the more eye-opening examples of these attention-grabbing products, from KFC's Colonel Sanders pillowcases to a $20,000 jewelry set from Cheetos.

Brett Laidlaw has joined Lawrence, Massachusetts-based supplier Gemline (PPAI 113948) as regional sales manager for Northern California. Laidlaw previously served as vice president for business development at TechCentrix USA, a company that uses technology to personalize products.

IMAGEN Brands, parent company of suppliers Crown Products (PPAI 113430) and Vitronic (PPAI 114197) has brought Jerry Bridges on as business development manager-Georgia and Tennessee. Bridges has spent the past 20 years in the custom information packaging/printing industry with previous experience in outside sales and sales management.

Supplier King Louie America (PPAI 337199) in Leawood, Kansas, has promoted John McMillan to CEO. McMillan has been with the company for 23 years, most recently serving as vice president of sales and marketing.

Paul Whyatt has joined Issaquah, Washington-based supplier SanMar (PPAI 110788) as chief financial officer. Whyatt's background includes more than 20 years of senior finance and operations experience, primarily at Weyerhaeuser Corporation. He comes to SanMar from Merrill and Ring Forest Products, where he served as CFO. Whyatt also managed finance and operations for a few Seattle-area startup companies. Whyatt's arrival is in preparation for the retirement of Marty Rask, vice president of finance, at the end of the year.

Syracuse, New York-based Thermopatch, doing business in the promotional products industry as supplier DECO-PRINT (PPAI 272075), has named Jim Sinclair senior design engineer. In his new role, Sinclair's responsibilities will include assisting the efforts of the engineering department, quality control, and facilitating all development efforts on the company's identification equipment. He brings more than 30 years' experience in product development, manufacturing, drafting documentation, and management in drafting and engineering in various industries to the position.

Vetta, LLC, parent company of supplier J. America Wholesale Blanks (PPAI 351699), has named Glenn Silbert chief executive officer. Throughout his 25-year career, Silbert has held roles in all areas of consumer products—from merchandising, sourcing, marketing, operations and strategic planning—with Gap, Macy's, Foot Locker and Carter's. Silbert has spent the past six years in various leadership roles at Under Armour, most recently as the senior vice president of product and global brand licensing.

Gemline (PPAI 113948) has promoted Michael Dunn to account manager. Most recently a regional manager covering Southern California and Hawaii, in his new role Dunn will manage relationships with specific key national accounts. The Lawrence, Massachusetts, supplier has also brought Natalie Azmitia on to replace Dunn as regional manager for Southern California and Hawaii, and Maiya Dworkin, on as an inside sales representative to provide support to the Southern California territory.

Sandy Senn has joined Chicago, Illinois, supplier Toddy Gear, Inc. (PPAI 516677) as an account manager. In her new role, Senn will focus on strategically building sales revenue with new customers, while growing sales with the company's current clients. She comes to Toddy Gear with 14 years of supplier industry experience in relationship building and growing sales.

Supplier Seville Gear (PPAI 113233) has announced that it has added Inventory Status to its PromoStandards integration. PromoStandards is an industry-wide collaboration designed to enable industry participants to improve the customer experience, reduce transactional errors and improve the digital promotional experience. Seville Gear currently supports the Inventory standard, with commitments to adhere to all future standards and plans to implement the Order Status and Order Ship Notification standards by the end of 2017.

Brandon Moon has joined Mason, Ohio-based IMAGEN Brands, parent company of suppliers Crown Products (PPAI 113430) and Vitronic (PPAI 114197), as regional sales manager—New England. Moon previously worked in golf sales and has experience in wholesale for clothing, screen-printing and embroidered products.

Wolfmark Neckwear Corporation (PPAI 114140), headquartered in Neenah, Wisconsin, has brought Stephanie Kern on to assist the supplier in the development and execution of a creative and innovative marketing communication strategy. She has extensive experience in marketing, branding and visual communication for multimedia outlets.

New Ulm, Minnesota-based supplier Beacon Promotions, Inc. (PPAI 113702) has hired Nichole Heiderscheidt as a customer care representative. She will be handling accounts in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina. 

Bensussen Deutsch & Associates (PPAI 109381) has hired industry veteran Marc Roy as divisional vice president of client integration and new ventures. Roy brings more than 20 years of industry and senior level leadership experience to the Woodinville, Washington, distributor. He says that his first priority in joining the company is to contribute to the evolving growth strategy surrounding its recent acquisitions in London, Manchester and Paris.

Chocolate Inn / Taylor & Grant (PPAI 111662) has announced that Mark and Nick Chipchase of MAC Marketing have joined the Hicksville, New York, company to represent it in the Mid-Atlantic territory.They will be directly responsible for leading and executing incoming projects for the entire Mid-Atlantic territory including Maryland; North Carolina; South Carolina; Virginia; Washington, D.C.; and West Virginia.

IMAGEN Brands, parent company of suppliers Crown Products (PPAI 113430) and Vitronic (PPAI 114197), has promoted Debra Remmert to national accounts coordinator and key account rep. She has 21 years of experience with the company, holding roles in customer service, inside sales for Texas and Louisiana, and inside sales manager for Vitronic.

Starline USA (PPAI 112719), headquartered in Grand Island, New York, has added two new members to inside sales team. Sodji Tossah has been promoted to inside sales representative, covering Illinois, Indiana and southern Wisconsin. Tossah has been with Starline for nine years, working as a bilingual customer care representative and as a member of the Starline Canadian inside sales team. Kathleen Sullivan has joined the supplier as the new inside sales representative covering the Northeast—Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia—and the Southeast—Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina and Tennessee. She brings 22 years of sales experience in the IT distribution field to her role.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-headquartered supplier Pro Towels (PPAI 112755) has welcomed a new rep to its sales team. Nick Chipchase with Mac Marketing will cover Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee, and he will represent products from each company: Pro Towels, Kanata Blanket, Neet Feet and Superior.

Not long after the shooting Sunday night that killed 58 people and wounded more than 500 in Las Vegas, black and white ads have begun appearing all over the city reading, "We've been there for you during the good times. Thank you for being there for us now." Alongside the words are the Las Vegas tourism logo and the hashtag #VegasStrong.

In New York City after 9/11 with "United We Stand," #BostonStrong after the marathon bombing and elsewhere, outdoor advertising has been used by cities reeling from the unimaginable to express their collective grief and resilience. In AdWeek, writer Tim Nudd explores the story behind the message and how R&R Partners, the agency behind "What happens here stays here," got it out to Las Vegas.

PPAI and Johnny Earle, aka "Johnny Cupcakes," founder of the t-shirt brand, traveled to New York City in September to bring the message of the Get In Touch!® industry branding initiative and promotional products to Advertising Week. PPAI is a long-time participant in Advertising Week, and this year the Association hosted Earle at B.B. King NYC, where he shared the novel, creative ways he's connected with customers and built his brand.
Afterward, Earle, along with PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE, and PPAI Board Chair Mary Jo Tomasini, MAS, were interviewed by BJ Smith at the Playstation Theater for the AW360 Live Podcast where they shared their stories and spoke on products and brands that connect with consumers. Smith is the former host of iHeartMedia's Madison Radio podcast. His interviews with Earle, Bellantone and Tomasini are now available online.

Nicholas Chipchase has joined MAC Marketing's representation of Champlain, New York, supplier Spector & Co. (PPAI 168328). The multi-line rep firm, led by Mark Chipchase, has expanded its territory for Spector & Co. to Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee.

3M, headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota, and operating in the promotional products industry as 3M Promotional Markets (PPAI 113638), has appointed Paul Keel senior vice president, business development and marketing-sales, and Jon Lindekugel senior vice president, supply chain. Prior to assuming their new roles, Keel served as senior vice president, supply chain, and Lindekugel served as senior vice president, business development and marketing-sales.

DistributorCentral (PPAI 220404) has brought Adam Mertz on as a software engineer. Mertz brings a diverse range of skills to the Gardner, Kansas-based business services company, including creating internal dashboards, analysis of big data, QA development and web application development. Previously, Mertz has held positions at Codero Hosting and ARRIS on both the business and engineering and development sides.

Supplier Advance Corporation (PPAI 111135), headquartered in Cottage Grove, Minnesota, has brought Steve Donlin of Team Donlin on as its Midwest sales multi-line representative. He will be representing the supplier in the midwest territory, covering Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Charles River Apparel (PPAI 111644), headquartered in Sharon, Massachusetts, has promoted Mark Gama to regional sales manager. Gama joined the supplier in 2016 as an account executive. In his new role, Mark will be responsible for managing direct sales reps in their territories and increasing revenue through relationship cultivation and new business opportunities. Before joining Charles River Apparel, Mark spent 30 years in the golf industry, including 15 years as an independent sales rep. He is a former director of sales at TaylorMade and a former vice president of sales with Tommy Hilfiger Golf.

Voting is open for the PPAI Supplier Star Awards. The awards honor suppliers who have gone above and beyond to fulfill distributors' orders and help them find the right products for their clients. The awards are an opportunity for PPAI distributor members to vote for the top supplier companies that have delivered the best customer service, communication, on-time delivery and top quality products. Voting is open through October 13.

Chocolate Inn/Taylor & Grant (PPAI 111662) have named Kevin Sephton as its new Southeast regional manager. Sephton brings more than 20 years of industry experience to the Hicksville, New York-based supplier. He previously served as the president of PPAMS and is a current board member of the regional association. Sephton will be directly responsible for leading and executing incoming projects for Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Supplier Gill Studios (PPAI 114157) has promoted Dana Henton (left) to regional sales manager for the central region. Henton has been with the Shawnee Mission, Kansas, company for six years, having begun her career there as a regional sales associate for the northeast region, before moving to Bebco Marketing line manager in 2015. In her new role, she will be responsible for developing relationships and supporting customers in selling the Gill and Bebco brands. The supplier has also promoted Liz Morrison to regional sales associate for the midwest region. Morrison has been with the company for 1.5 years, having come onboard in a customer service role. In her new role, she will provide inside sales support for the midwest territory.

Los Angeles, California-based supplier AST Sportswear (PPAI 213725) has named Nadir Zulfiqar, former vice president of sales for Direct Tees and national sales manager for Cotton Heritage, its new vice president of brand development. Zulfiqar, a veteran and graduate of West Point, began his apparel industry career with Vanity Fair in 1993 as a global sourcing director.

HanesBrands (PPAI 191138) has appointed Barry A. Hytinen as chief financial officer, effective October 16. Hytinen joins Hanes from Tempur Sealy International, where he served as chief financial officer. Hytinen has nearly 20 years of finance experience, including oversight of mergers and acquisitions, capital structure, global strategy and tax structure, corporate development and investor relations.

The Michigan Promotional Professionals Association (MiPPA) has elected new members to its board of directors. The regional association's members elected Rachel Olson, account executive with distributor Davidson Promotional Products; Glenn Miotke, president of distributor Unfolding Communications; and Kelly Connolly, outside territory manager for supplier Charles River Apparel, to the board. Their terms begin January 1, 2018 and run through December 31, 2019.

The Michigan Promotional Professionals Association (MiPPA) has announced that LaDonna Belcher will be inducted into the regional association's Hall of Fame. MiPPA will recognize Belcher's contributions to the association at a celebration on November 11 at its annual meeting and dinner aboard the Detroit Princess Riverboat. Belcher is the executive director of the Ohio Promotional Professionals Association (OPPA).

Belcher's nomination cited her role in assisting the organization during the particularly difficult period when long-time MiPPA CEO Donna Hall passed away. Belcher assumed the role of interim executive director and assembled a task force search committee. She was able to keep the board of directors focused on maintaining programs and services, conduct a successful search for a new executive director and provide the guidance for a successful transition. Her nominator writes, "She put together a vision of what the organization would look like in the future. Because of her vision, MiPPA is a model organization for all regional promotional product organizations."

Supplier HandStands Promo, LLC (PPAI 111285) took advantage of an opportunity to give back to their local community by providing a newly founded elementary school in the Salt Lake City, Utah, area with custom printed Mouse Mats with their school mascot on them. This donation helped supply all faculty members with a mousepad for their classroom for the new school year.

"Here at HandStands we like to highlight our organizational 'Core Values,' one of which is Purpose. We encourage our employees to have purpose not only in their daily work, but outside as well.  We are excited to have worked with Old Mill Elementary on this successful donation," says Jason Fogg, executive vice president.

In a world where remarkable customer service is the exception rather than the rule, PPB is proud to identify those promotional products professionals who go above and beyond their customers' expectations on a regular basis.

Customer service at this level—highly responsive, courteous, informative and accurate—easily differentiates one company from the next and not only wins business, but can win a customer over for life.

The seven professionals selected as this year's PPB Service Superheroes were nominated by their clients, reps and coworkers for their relentless pursuit of excellence in delivering customer service. Read more about them in PPB's November issue.

Congratulations to this year's honorees:
Laurie Bandas, Customer Service Supervisor, Pacesetter Awards
John Jacobsen, Account Executive, SanMar
Denise Mohn, Strategic Account Representative, Sweda
Alison Peters, Director of Accounts, Icon Blue
Venus Thom, National Account Coordinator, Imagen Brands
Nancy Waters, Senior Key Account Manager, Image Source
Lindsey Whitney, National Sales Representative, Raining Rose

Ray Hughes, former vice president of wholesale for American Apparel and director of strategic accounts at Bella + Canvas, has joined supplier AST Sportswear, Inc. as vice president of sales and marketing. The U.S.-made apparel manufacturer has locations in Los Angeles and Orange County, California. 

Supplier Sacs and Boxes 2 (PPAI 112906) has closed its St. Joseph, Missouri, production plant. The closure affects minimums, pricing and lead times for several products  for new and repeat orders received after September 15. The company suggests distributors contact the company directly before quoting small quantity orders.

All orders currently in house will be printed as ordered.

Suppliers Gordon Sinclair (PPAI 111537) and Tempo Industries (PPAI 110911) have notified customers they will be closed on September 21 and 22 in observance of the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah. They ask that distributors schedule their orders accordingly. If your company will be closed for the holiday, please notify PPB Newslink at for an updated story in the next edition.

Alan Chippindale returns to distributor Proforma (PPAI 196835) to serve as senior vice president of business development. Chippindale had previously worked with Cleveland, Ohio-based Proforma from 1987 to 2007. For the past 10 years he has worked to form, build and expand Canada's BrandAlliance. In his new role with Proforma, he will lead the launch of a new bundle of distributor services exclusively for new Proforma member owners with sales ranging from $5 to $50 million.

Supplier Sweda Company, LLC (PPAI 113914) has named Shelley Bednarski as its new regional sales executive for the Southeast region. Bednarski is the current president of the Promotional Products Association of Florida and brings more than 15 years of industry experience to the role.

Hixson, Tennessee-based supplier Gold Bond (PPAI 113974) has brought Brooke Standefer on as the manager for the inside sales team. She brings a background in both logistics and health industries to the position.

Supplier MasterCast Ltd. (PPAI 112455) has completed the integration of the Amcraft product line. Pawtucket, Rhode Island-based Mastercast acquired Amcraft in 2016 and continued to operate it as an independent selling division. Going forward, however, Amcraft and its products will fall under the MasterCast brand. Marken Industries, MasterCast Ltd.'s other selling division, will continue with its own independent branding.

Emmanuel Bruno, formerly the vice president and general manager at BIC Graphic North America (PPAI 114187), has been named president of the Tampa, Florida-headquartered supplier. Bruno has been with BIC Graphic for eight years and prior to that, he held multiple operational executive roles within BIC Consumer and other companies.

"On my side, it is just a change of title," says Bruno, "I am honored to work with the people throughout our organization as it is they who define our leadership within this industry. This has never been more apparent than with the recent events of Hurricane Irma."

BIC Graphic, which was sold to H.I.G Capital earlier this year, operates five facilities across the United States with three in Florida and two in Minnesota, in addition to a sourcing operation in Hong Kong and mainland China. 

Industry Companies Move Toward Recovery Following Irma

Florida, Georgia and South Carolina continue to pick up the pieces left in the wake of Hurricane Irma. While difficulties remain, industry companies in the stricken region are working to return to normality. Delray Beach, Florida-based The Book Company reports that its facility is up and fully operational, while BIC Graphic has announced that it will reinstate 24-hour service for orders received beginning September 18 for all product categories with the exception of writing instruments, lighters and ceramic drinkware. These product categories are produced or decorated out of BIC's Florida facilities and their standard lead times have been extended by three additional days, although these too are expected to be back to normal by the middle of next week.

For more updates on the status of industy companies following Hurricane Irma, refer to the PPAI's list of businesses that have reported delays or closures. Numerous companies in the affected region have taken advantage of PPAI's Emergency Closures Form, which helps businesses in the storm's path share updates on their situation and inform customers of alternate ways to contact them or check orders after the hurricane.

The Houston Promotional Products Association's (HPPA) 2017 Hot Stuff Expo had been scheduled for August 29, falling in the midst of Hurricane Harvey's assault on Southeast Texas. While the regional association cancelled the show's original date, the HPPA board announced today that it would not reschedule the show for later in 2017 as previous planned.

Dave DeGreeff, HPPA executive director, says, "We appreciate the amazing support from our promotional product industry family in response to the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. This industry has, once again, proven that we are the best, most caring industry that exists. The outpouring of love, prayers, well-wishes, donations and other support has been phenomenal. Your support gave us the room we needed to focus on the recovery of our HPPA family and those in the surrounding areas affected by the storm. ... We have shifted our events where we needed to, and have come up with a great end of 2017, as we demonstrate that we're Houston Strong!"

Hixson, Tennessee-based Gold Bond (PPAI 113974) has added two new members to its sales team. Tia Flynn (left) has been promoted from sales support to an outside sales representative, after six months with the company. Flynn, who came to Gold Bond with more than 15 years of experience in retail sales, will work with distributors in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Patricia Hai joins the supplier as the outside sales rep for the West Coast. Based in Portland, Oregon, her territory will include her home state, California, plus Nevada and Washington. Her background includes 10 years on the distributor side of the industry.

Beacon Promotions has hired Lori Pietz as a customer care representative. She will handle accounts in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Pietz's background includes 14 years as an educator, and work in sales and marketing for an accounting software reseller.

Supplier HandStands Promo, LLC (PPAI 111285), in Salt Lake City, Utah, has hired Charley Johnson as the new senior vice president of sales and marketing. Johnson brings more than a decade of promotional products industry experience to the HandStands team, having served as part owner and executive vice president for SNUGZ USA for 15 years. In between his employment with SNUGZ and HandStands, he was president of the Pay It Forward Foundation, made famous by the 2000 movie with Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt.

Sarah Page has been promoted to vice president of overseas operations at Cap America, Inc. (PPAI 111597). Page has been with the Fredericktown, Missouri, supplier for more than 12 years. In her new role, she will be responsible for providing program and personnel direction to the company's overseas office while supporting growth of the organization, as well as directing day to day import operations, staff training and customer relations.

Hub Pen Company (PPAI 110772) and Beacon Promotions (PPAI 113702) have hired Michael Sacco as manufacturing and quality engineer.  Sacco worked as product engineer for Tyco fire protection products for more than seven years before joining the Braintree, Massachusetts-headquartered suppliers.

IMAGEN Brands, the Mason, Ohio-based parent company of suppliers Crown Products (PPAI 113430) and Vitronic (PPAI 114197), has named Amanda Delaney as regional sales manager for Florida. Delaney has been in the promotional products industry for more than 15 years with a variety of experience including production, distributor sales, and supplier inside and outside sales.

Prime Line (PPAI 112744) has hired Madison Mastro to provide sales support in the mid-Atlantic region for the Bridgeport, Connecticut-based supplier. In her new role, Mastro will help provide a higher level of service to accounts in the territory, which spans from New Jersey to northern Virginia, and will be available for sales calls, ideation and regional shows.

Corporate Imaging Concepts (PPAI 221047), a distributor headquartered in Northbrook, Illinois, has brought Rick Salvadore on as vice president of sales. In this role, he will be responsible for all sales functions, including business development, field sales and inside sales/development teams. Salvadore brings more than 20 years of sales management experience in the technology space to Corporate Imaging Concepts. Most recently, he served as vice president of sales and chief business officer at ITRADENETWORKS, a software company providing supply chain solutions for the food and beverage industry.

Pawtucket, Rhode Island, supplier MasterCast, Ltd. (PPAI 112455) has named Joshua Katseff vice president. He continues his role as general manager of all selling divisions.

Britney Godsey has been promoted to vice president of sales at Hixson, Tennessee, supplier Gold Bond (PPAI 113974). She joined the company six years ago in sales support, before advancing to outside sales and becoming one of highest producing sales reps in Gold Bond's history. For the past six months, she has served as manager of the inside sales team. As vice president of sales, Godsey will manage the 50-plus team of sales support, inside sales reps and outside sales reps.

Plano, Texas, industry software provider Antera Software (PPAI 452579) has announced that it will offer free coud storage to companies in Hurricane Irma's path. Any company that may be affected can contact Antera Software to be provided with complimentary secure electronic cloud storage for their business data. The offer is open to all industry companies, not just Antera Software customers or PPAI members. Antera Software can be contacted at 214-556-8040 or

MAC Specialties (PPAI 112420) has brought Maria D. LaFichi on as vice president of sales. She brings more than 40 years of industry experience to the Oceanside, New Jersey, supplier. For the past 20 years, she has served as executive vice president at Zenith Promotions. In her new role, in addition to sales, she will assist in new product research and development as well as marketing, catalog and web development.

Supplier Pepco Poms (PPAI 134252) in Wharton, Texas, was forced to close Wednesday afternoon and vacate its facility because of flooded roads. Wharton is located in Southeast Texas, where Hurricane Harvey has dumped 50 inches of rain since Saturday. All affected companies in the area are asking for customers' patience and understanding as they work through the situation.

All information PPAI has received on companies reporting closures and delays is available here. Send updates about your company's storm-related status to

On August 22, PPB Newslink reported on industry companies recognized in Inc. magazine's Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing companies in the U.S. Not included in that story was Pompano Beach, Florida, supplier The Spice Lab (PPAI 562480), at No. 1877. With 200 percent growth between 2013 and 2016, this is The Spice Lab's third consecutive year on the Inc. 5000.

The Michigan Promotional Professionals Association (MiPPA) has announced its 2018 board officers. The 2018 MiPPA executive committee for calendar year 2018 are Jane Mitchell, MAS, president; Lisa Bascom, president-elect; Marci Taran, secretary; Jim McCollough, treasurer; and Paul Zafarana, CAS, immediate past president.

New York City-based supplier Threadfast Apparel (PPAI 622344) has named Jeff Snegg as its new national sales manager. Snegg most recently served as was vice president of business development at Star Tee Apparel and earlier held sales positions at Independent Trading Company, Alstyle Apparel and Next Level Apparel. In leading Threadfast Apparel’s sales team, he will support the supplier’s short-term goal of expanding its North American footprint and maximizing growth in various distribution and sales channels.

Goldstar has brought Parker Melvin on as Midwest regional sales manager. Based in Chicago, Illinois, Melvin will represent the San Diego, California-headquartered supplier in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin. He brings seven years of experience managing sales at three industry distributors to the role.

In support of its strategic growth plan, Cap America (PPAI 111597) has named Mark Gammon its president and chief operating officer. Gammon joined the Fredericktown, Missouri, supplier in 2015 as vice president of sales.

New Ulm, Minnesota, supplier Beacon Promotions, Inc. (PPAI 113702) has hired Scott Eyler as a customer care representative. Eyler will handle accounts in Arkansas, Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee.

Braintree, Massachusetts-based suppliers Hub Pen Company (PPAI 110772) and Beacon Promotions (PPAI 113702) have promoted Victoria Freeman to IT support analyst. In this role, Freeman will provide initial support to system users with hardware, software, email and the company’s business applications.  She will also be responsible for updating the company’s website with new products, press releases and distributor sales tools, such as flyers and images. Freeman joined Hub Pen in 2012 as a customer service representative.

Bensussen Deutsch & Associates (PPAI 109381) has added three new members to the Woodinville, Washington-based distributor’s team. Matt Chavlovich has joined the company as senior director, league activation, and will be responsible for leading business development and building relationships within the BDA network of sports clients domestically and abroad. Senior Director, New Business Development Dan Robinette has come onboard to develop long-term organizational strategic goals, build key customer relationships, identify business opportunities, negotiate and close business deals and maintain extensive knowledge of current market conditions. Kristin Spence is the distributor’s new senior director, global procurement, and will apply her global strategy expertise to the company’s procurement team and focus on growth and scalability through customer acquisition and innovation.

Richardson, Texas-based supplier Fossil has appointed Jeffrey Boyer, currently a member of the company’s board of directors, to the positions of executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer, effective October 16. Boyer is replacing Dennis Seco, who is relocating back to California for personal reasons. Boyer was appointed to the supplier’s board of directors in December 2007 and currently serves as chairman of its finance committee. He has also served as executive vice president and chief financial officer for Pier 1 Imports since June 2015.

Supplier GMGPEN (PPAI 313899), headquartered in Lakewood, New Jersey, has brought Josh Gross on as a customer outreach representative. Gross has spent the past five years in the health care field, in a role where his responsibilities included customer service, sales and marketing.

Hixson, Tennessee-based supplier Gold Bond (PPAI 113974) has added Leslie Trewhitt as outside sales rep for Florida; Tracy Lantz has been promoted to outside sales rep, serving Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi; and Eric Washburn has been promoted to inside sales rep, serving Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri and Mississippi.

Spots are filling up quickly at the seventh annual PPAI Product Responsibility Summit, September 18-20 in Newport Beach, California. Each year, Summit attendees take home a sourcing and compliance manual that serves as a guide for industry companies to get their compliance programs up and running quickly and efficiently. This year's binder has been comprehensively reimagined, with a shift in focus from corporate responsibility to risk management. Its best practices, worksheet samples, templates and checklists are focused on mitigating risk. The binder also includes dozens of flow charts that illustrate the pillars of a robust compliance program, and all of the documentation has been updated to reflect current developments affecting the industry.

An in-depth education conference, the Summit explores the current landscape in supply chain security, social responsibility and much more. It highlights the growing importance of social compliance audits and ethical sourcing and manufacturing practices. Facilitated by industry leaders, the Summit will address the ways many industry professionals have turned a cost burden into a strategic advantage. Click here to register. PPAI is also offering discounted room rates at the Duke Hotel, site of the Summit.

Supplier SIMBA (PPAI 110881) has brought Julie Ditchik on as the Oxnard, California, company's marketing director. Ditchik has more than 17 years of marketing and sales management experience in the promotional products and trade show industries, and most recently served as director of sales and marketing at Pinnacle Designs.

Dayton, Ohio, distributor Shumsky (PPAI 108541) has joined several major companies in renewing its commitment to the Global Business Coalition Against Human Trafficking (gBCAT). Formed in 2010 by a number of prominent executives, including Shumsky president Dawn Conway, gBCAT has provided a forum for business to understand how all forms of modern slavery affect their operations and supply chains, and to design effective and pragmatic solutions to combat traffickers.

Under its new scope of work, gBCAT will capitalize on the major organizational strengths, resources and reach of global businesses to accelerate progress on human trafficking. Members will share learnings through webinars and in-person meetings; develop a research lab to incubate ideas, publish reports and identify areas for action, and publicize findings through an enhanced public platform.

American Solutions for Business (PPAI 101656) has promoted Taylor Borst to a promotional communications and public relations role at the Glenwood, Minnesota-based distributor. In her new position, Borst will oversee all internal and external communications while working with ASB’s vendor relations and marketing teams.

Rob Watson has been promoted to managing director of Outstanding Branding North America (PPAI 678649), headquartered in New York City. Watson joined the UK-based distributor as global chief marketing officer in January and helped introduce its U.S. business. In his new role, Watson will continue to lead the distributor’s marketing efforts in the U.S., UK and Hong Kong, but his major role will be to further advance its position in the U.S. marketplace.

Supplier Crystal D (PPAI 112326) has recently added eight new employees to the St. Paul, Minnesota, company’s workforce. Baron Duncan has come onboard in the warehouse department as a material handler; Dah Dah, Michael Goetz and James Thao have joined the production department; Amy Felton has been hired on as executive assistant to the company’s president, Chuck Dahlgren; Nathan Karnick has joined the art department as a production artist; Alexis Kurttila was hired as a marketing coordinator in the marketing department; and Timothy Leutbounshou joined the customer service department as an order manager, managing the Midwest and Northwest territories.

A fire destroyed the production facility at supplier Cooler Graphics (PPAI 226076) in Channelview, Texas, near Houston, on Sunday night. The company reports its inventory was not damaged and a notice on its website says production will continue using sub-contract partners. On-site operations are expected to take 30 to 60 days to restore and, during that time, the supplier asks its customers for support by keeping their business with the company.

A news report published by the local ABC news affiliate says no one was in the facility when the fire broke out overnight and the cause of the fire is unknown. Cooler Graphics, which produces bottle insulators, can wraps, counter mats, mouse pads and other products, has been a PPAI member since 2001.

Hub Pen Company (PPAI 119772) has hired Parich Basnet as sales system support analyst at the Braintree, Massachusetts, supplier. Basnet will be working with the IT and sales departments to expand upon the current NetSuite operating system functions as they relate to sales and finance. He joins the company with several years of consulting experience with NetSuite both in his native Nepal and in North Carolina, where he lived when he first moved to the U.S. three years ago.

Supplier Gold Bond, Inc. (PPAI 113974) in Hixson, Tennessee, has hired Tracey Pruett as director of golf. Pruett has played professionally, designed courses and managed golf properties, and will help develop sponsorship packages, recommend on-trend giveaways and more for the company.

Natalie Clark has joined industry technology provider DistributorCentral (PPAI 220404) as a software support specialist in the Gardner, Kansas-company's product support department. Clark's background includes experience at both distributor and supplier companies.

PPB Newslink News

PPB Newslink - December

PPAI Issues Statement On Oklahoma Governor’s Executive Order Limiting Promotional Products Spending

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin issued an executive order on November 21 that would limit the state government’s spending on promotional products advertising. PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE, has released the following statement on the effectiveness of promotional products advertising and the wide-ranging ramifications this executive order will have on Oklahomans.
PPB Newslink - December

Staples Earns Perfect Score In 2018 Corporate Equality Index

Staples, Inc. received a perfect score of 100 percent on the 2018 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), a national benchmarking survey and report on corporate policies and practices related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) workplace equality, administered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. The Framingham, Massachusetts-company participates in the promotional products industry as distributor Staples Promotional Products (PPAI 108945).