Going The Distance
Preparing to race a triathlon requires concentrated preparation and the ability to juggle three separate but all important disciplines. There’s building a base of fitness to establish endurance, threshold training to push your body to levels you might think is not possible, and getting into the right mindset so that you can train the body to respond to the mind.
Stepping into the role of PPAI board chair required a similar, deliberate focus to ensure a solid foundation of knowledge and processes, and to map a plan to manage the board chair responsibilities while keeping up with my business and personal life. As of this writing I’m on the final quarter of the run as my term nears the finish line at The PPAI Expo in mid-January. It’s been a fast one—the past 11 months—and your Association has covered a lot of ground with a number of well-attended shows, incredible events and first-of-a-kind programs designed to strengthen our industry.
Before I finish that final mile as your board chair, let’s take a look back at some of the brightest moments in 2016.
My term got off to a great start at The PPAI Expo 2016 with 11,700 attendees from more than 4,300 companies, and 1,325 exhibitors—including 182 new companies—in 3,200 booths within a newly configured floor plan at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.
This show was also the first PPAI Expo in which all exhibitors, sponsors and advertisers had achieved the Product Safety Aware status. Getting to this point was a huge accomplishment because it’s critical that promotional professionals are knowledgeable and mindful about selling safe products.
In March, we again brought a quality trade show to the East Coast with Expo East in Atlantic City. The show reflected our investment in a powerful education program and captivating speakers such as Seth Godin.
A month later I was off to Hong Kong and China to represent PPAI on the international stage at the 2016 Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair where I spoke about the value of our supply chain and how to sell to U.S. suppliers. While in Hong Kong, PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone and I also presented to several global industry groups.
In May, our entire board and PPAI management team convened in Washington, D.C., to update PPAI’s Strategic Plan. The intensive two-day work session led to the development of your Association moving from transactional to relational as well as a new PPAI mission statement, and a fresh set of goals including one focusing on strategic foresight. I was never more proud of our board and staff than when we put our heads together and looked at the issues strategically to prepare the Association to meet the future and best serve its members. With change coming at our industry from every direction, our exceptionally strong three-year vision and strategic direction will help us stay on top of emerging trends, be alert to opportunities, and help keep our members ahead of the curve.
A day later I was honored to meet up with more than 80 PPAI members and staff on Capitol Hill for this year’s Legislative Education and Action Day. Over two days we conducted nearly 250 visits with legislators and their aides from 30 states to discuss vital industry issues. I came away truly inspired by the passion of our industry colleagues and encouraged that our voices are being heard.
Throughout the summer there were several superb opportunities for PPAI leadership and members to meet as we convened for Women’s Leadership Conference, North American Leadership Conference, Technology Summit and Product Responsibility Summit. Each of these PPAI events reinforced the Association’s undisputed place as the industry’s leader in bringing together business owners and marketing professionals to learn about, discuss, explore and debate the significant issues we face.
By September, Paul Bellantone, SanMar’s Marty Lott and I were off to the UK to speak at the British Promotional Merchandise Association show—just one example of the many opportunities I’ve had this year to represent PPAI at industry associations and companies.
September also signaled the rollout of one of PPAI’s largest and most exciting initiatives yet—the Get In Touch! campaign, a five-year, multimillion-dollar branding initiative targeting advertising buyers to increase awareness and improve industry perception. It’s another big step in the right direction in creating visibility and viability around the value of promotional products.
This year has been a whirlwind for me personally and a very active and dynamic one for our board and PPAI as we recognize the significance of our medium and the power of our member companies to keep the momentum moving upward.
In January, my successor, Mary Jo Tomasini, MAS, will assume her role as chair of the board along with Dale Denham, MAS+, chair-elect. We will also welcome three new board members: Danny Rosin and Sharon Willochell, who were elected this fall, and D’Anna Zimmer, CAS, who was appointed as RAC Delegate to the Board.
As I cross the finish line and take my seat as immediate past chair, it will be with sincerest gratitude for all those who had a role in PPAI’s rousing success in 2016. It’s been quite a race!