Inside PPAI (1)

GSD&M Founder Roy Spence Tapped As NALC Opening Speaker

Roy Spence, founder and chairman of GSD&M Advertising, and CEO of the Purpose Institute, will be the opening general session speaker at the PPAI 2017 North American Leadership Conference (NALC) August 13-15, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin, Texas.

Spence’s presentation focuses on strategic foresight, currently a hot topic in the business world. He will share key insights and lessons from the leaders he’s worked with over the years, and present actionable ideas to inform decisions that build business success. Audience members can expect a session that explores core values and purpose, and how these influence the difference an organization makes locally, nationally and globally.

For more information on NALC and to register, and to view a video from Spence on his background and his core message of strategic foresight, visit Follow him on Twitter @RoySpence.

Fran Ford, CAS, (second from left) and Bob McLean (right) with Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) (second from right) and Joseph Boddicker, tax counsel and legislative assistant.

L.E.A.D. Brings The Industry’s Voice To Capitol Hill

Washington, D.C., was a busy place in late April when nearly 80 promotional products industry professionals and PPAI staff crisscrossed Capitol Hill over two days for the eighth annual PPAI Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.).

Government-funding extensions, the President’s 100-day marker and debates surrounding tax reform, trade agreements and health care filled lawmakers’ agendas. Yet in that environment, delegations from 20 states and five regional associations forged meaningful connections with legislators and their staffs, and educated them on the promotional products industry and its key issues.

Holding 260 meetings on April 26-27, L.E.A.D. delegates met with elected officials and their staffs on several priority issues for the industry, including the proposed border adjustment tax (BAT), advertising deductions and the economic status of the promotional products industry as a thriving business sector and a major source of employment. Virginia’s delegation—Craig Dickens, vice president and sales manager for Suntex Industries; Jeff Marks, president of Promotional Considerations, and Harold Wood, account manager at BIC Graphic USA—met with a number of legislators on Capitol Hill, including Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and his legislative director, Bobby Hammill. “Griffith and Hammill were very interested in learning about our position on the border adjustment tax,” says Dickens.

“We explained the big difference between the retail industry importing items for resale, and our industry which is that while we do import a lot of products, we also add value to these imports. We provide thousands of jobs domestically across the U.S. They appreciated our information and said that they had never thought about imports in this fashion, with added value and jobs.”

Dickens adds, “I think what impressed me the most was they asked us to stay in touch about our industry and issues. I received an email from Hamill within 10 minutes of our meeting as a follow-up. Without PPAI promoting our industry they would have never had this information.”

Taking in the spectacular view from the Speaker’s Balcony (located off the Speaker of the
House’s office suite) are George Jackson; Sharon Willochell, CAS; Mary Jo Tomasini, MAS;
Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH; Mitch Rhodus; Brittany David, CAS, and Charlie Stevens, MAS.

Three members of the Pennsylvania delegation—Bruce Korn, president of Zakback, Inc.; George Jackson, owner of George Jackson Promotions, Inc.; and Chuck Manchion, senior vice president of ASI—visited the office of Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and met with legislative correspondent Virginia Lenahan. “The biggest takeaway I had was that Sen. Casey very much wants to work for small businesses in a bipartisan way,” says Korn, noting that a discussion on the BAT and advertising deductions is on hold pending a White House budget proposal. “By and large though, there is agreement that the BAT is not in the best interests of Americans and businesses of all sizes who work with imported goods.”

Brad Ness, president at S&S Promotional Group in Fargo, North Dakota, began the day by attending a weekly breakfast held by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and then had a productive meeting with Tyler Hardy, a staff member in the office of Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND). “The senator is a strong advocate for small business,” says Ness. “We reviewed the independent contractor situation and how independent contractors are beneficial to North Dakota business. We also discussed BAT and the other topics important to our industry.”

He also met with Alex McIntyre in the office of Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and was pleased to hear that the congressman is a supporter of the industry’s issues. “He is leading the effort on healthcare reform and is a tireless supporter for small business,” adds Ness.

Devin Martin, account manager at Advance Corporation in Minnesota, joined Ness for a visit to the office of Sen. John Thune (R-SD), and they met with senior staff counsel Mark Warren. Martin says, “He was very familiar with our industry and the issues we are talking about, having worked on the CAMP bill a few years back.”

Carrie Laufenburg, MAS, finishes a visit at Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) offices.

The border adjustment tax factored into many of the conversations L.E.A.D. delegates had while in D.C. Carrie Laufenburg, MAS, director of key accounts at The Magnet Group and attending L.E.A.D. on behalf of TSPPA, visited with most of the legislators representing the regional  association’s membership.

She says, “When discussing the border adjustment tax with Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) staff, they were able to give examples of how other industries would be negatively affected. They were the only office to do this and they were also the only office that seemed to have a full grasp on the negative impacts to the consumer. I then showed them the infographic PPAI provided on the cost of a promotional backpack before and after the proposed tax. They were amazed at how much it would affect items in our industry and appreciated the research our group has put into this proposed bill. Sen. Paul is against the tax and recognizes the detriment it would do not only for small businesses across the nation, but also to the 392 promotional products businesses in the state of Kentucky.”

Pennsylvania team members with Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA), center.
From left are Larry Whitney, Bruce Korn, Sharon Willochell, CAS, Charles Machion and George Jackson.

Dan Reading, vice president at In The Bag Promotions, visited several of his Idaho officials as part of the delegation from Northwest Promotional Marketing Association.

“It was a great start to L.E.A.D. with a flurry of meetings with our senators and representatives,” he says. “There was a lot of buzz about the border adjustment tax, but it died down a bit after President Trump’s tax proposal was published. It is still an issue we will talk about in our meetings, as these things never seem to really go away.” Reading said he was also surprised to see one of his customer’s logos on another visitor’s business card. “It was a logo of a company that we did a t-shirt order for just last week!” he says. “It made for a great opener to the power of promotional products in my meeting.”

PPAI Board Chair Mary Jo Tomasini, MAS, and PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE (right), present Sen. Gery Peters with the Association’s Legislator of the Year award.

Before beginning Wednesday’s afternoon appointments, L.E.A.D. volunteers gathered for lunch and to hear a presentation on tax reform and small business by Paula Calimafde, a partner at Paley Rothman in Bethesda, Maryland, and chair of the Small Business Council of America. The next morning, as part of L.E.A.D. PPAI recognized Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) as its 2017 Legislator of the Year. Elected in 2014, Peters was presented with the award in appreciation of his history of serving the needs of the promotional products industry by encouraging economic stability and growth through advocating for small business, promoting manufacturing and preserving jobs.

Dana Geiger, VAPPA executive director who worked with both Team Virginia and Team Maryland/Delaware this year, sums up her efforts at the Capitol: “Year after year, I am reminded of the importance of continuing these conversations with our legislators and increasing awareness about the value of promotional advertising. With tax reform at center stage, staff members were very interested in our position on the border adjustment tax as well as our position on advertising expenditures and how the proposed legislation could affect our industry. The productive meetings reinforced the fact that every voice truly does make a difference.”

Jeff Marks, Harold Wood, Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and Craig Dickens discuss the issues.


The Industry Celebrates Promotional Products Work! Week

In April, the promotional products industry turned out in a big way for the fifth annual Promotional Products Work! Week (PPW! Week). Companies, regional associations and professionals across the industry came together to raise awareness of promotional products’ role in advertising and marketing, and to deliver the message that promotional products work to advertisers, marketers and media buyers.

This year, PPW! Week, April 24-28, tapped into the successful and growing Get In Touch!® campaign, the industry’s first-of-its-kind, multiyear multimillion-dollar branding initiative targeted directly to promotional products buyers. The campaign is designed to increase awareness and enhance the overall perception of promotional products and direct a larger share of advertising dollars to the industry.

Over the course of five days, PPW! Week suggested five ideas to help members speak up for the promotional products industry: Day One, host an open house, meet-and-greet or company tour; Day Two, advocate for the industry by speaking to colleges, clubs or business groups about promotional products industry careers or the power of promotional products; Day Three, designate a day of service to support a local charity or cause; Day Four, share the industry’s impact on the economy with legislators, politicians and government officials—this day coincided with PPAI’s Legislative Education and Action Day on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.—and Day Five, partner with industry suppliers and regional associations and host a customer appreciation day.

As always, the regional associations stepped up for PPW! Week, hosting networking and education events, joining with industry companies for factory tours, and connecting with their communities to speak about the effectiveness of promotional products and support local charities.

PPAI Diversity Development and Engagement Manager Seth Barnett joined PPAChicago to offer its members education on reaching out to and working with new demographic markets.

• PPAChicago members joined Toddy Gear and alphabroder for tours of the suppliers’ facilities, and PPAI Diversity Development and Engagement Manager Seth Barnett presented an education session on attracting, engaging and retaining young staff, and managing the Millennial market. PPAChicago also hosted a free luncheon as a thank-you to its members and held a charity drive in support of the Riverside Foundation.

• MiPPA’s Patrick Kelleher of Headfirst Printing and other distributors in the Plymouth, Michigan, area shared the industry’s story with the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce. Members also toured AmeriFoam’s factory alongside staff from the office of Rep. John Moolenaar, and Bill Petrie of PromoCorner a hosted a webinar for MiPPA members, “The Lessons of 100%: Strategies to Reduce Client Friction to Sell More.”

• SAAC held events every night of Promotional Products Work! Week, five of which were Next Gen events geared toward industry members under age 35. SAAC also partnered with Ceramic Source in Vernon, California, for a factory tour.

Attendees at Hirsch Gift’s open house in celebration of PPW! Week included local distributors, charity representatives and staff members from the offices of Sen. Ted Cruz, Rep. John Culberson and Texas State Rep. Gene Wu.

• HPPA joined with suppliers Hirsch Gift, Inc. and Landes, Inc. to give the regional association’s members the opportunity for a closer look at the suppliers’ Houston, Texas, facilities. At Hirsch Gift’s tour, attendees were joined by representatives from the offices of Sen. Ted Cruz, Rep. John Culberson and Texas State Rep. Gene Wu, and collected products for donation to local charities Broken Walls and Richmond State School.

• UMAPP and its distributor members attended a pair of factory tours hosted by Webb Company and Storm Creek, giving them a closer look at the Minnesota suppliers’ operations.

Barnett says, “The education component of PPWW is the most critical because that is where people learn the new skills they need to better define and grow their businesses. With our new push for public identification of promotional product use, industry members must arm themselves with the latest information to ensure they can effectively deliver the message of what they do and who we are.”

Geiger Sales Partners Ashley Moss (left) and Elizabeth Mosley attended an event the distributor hosted at a client’s facility in North Carolina to educate them on promotional products.

Industry companies also held events in support of PPW! Week across the country. Distributor Geiger hosted two presentations on the industry at healthcare provider clients’ facilities in North Carolina. Janet McMaster, MAS, Geiger’s regional sales vice president, says, “A lot of work and planning went in to these events. Dozens of spec samples were prepared and displayed promoting the value, effectiveness and impact that branded products make; from showing appreciation to employees, assisting in raising patient perception and scores, helping with community outreach of services available, and of course recruiting purposes. We were pleased to speak with nearly 50 buyers during the two days.”

Facilisgroup celebrated PPW! Week with a contest on its Facebook page. The management consulting and technology services group asked its partners to submit videos showing how promotional products can be incorporated into summer vacations, team fundraising events or team sports.

PPAI staff members also hit the road in celebration of PPW! Week. They traveled to locations across the Dallas-Fort Worth area to meet with a wide range of member companies and tour their facilities. They delivered gifts and snacks, discussed promotional products and the benefits they deliver to advertisers, and learned more about the companies and what they do.

Tools and information to participate in the Get In Touch! campaign are still available for download at get-in-touch-campaign.

PPAI’s Inaugural SPARK Event Targets Young Professionals

Next month, the inaugural PPAI SPARK event for young professionals in the promotional products industry comes to Denver, Colorado, July 27-28. SPARK builds on a series of “pop-ups” PPAI introduced last year that offer education and networking opportunities for young people working in the industry.

SPARK is focused on connecting future leaders and giving them insight into ideas, projects and achievements that will shape the industry going forward. Its programming has been developed by the 10-member SPARK Work Group, representing suppliers, distributors, multi-line reps and regional associations.

PPB spoke to three SPARK Work Group members about the July event and its role in engaging, educating and connecting with young professionals at the beginning stages of a successful career in the promotional products industry: Jeff Franklin, national accounts manager for Headwear Professionals; John R. B. Cudahy, CAS, senior national account manager for Prime; and Heather Clay O’Neill, national account executive for Walker-Clay, Inc.

What does the industry get out of the SPARK incentive?

Franklin  We get a new lease on life. SPARK represents the next generation and I believe it is very important to bring them into the fold. Education and a strong peer network are vital to the continuation of our industry as it is today. Otherwise, the result will be further disintermediation, blurred lines and strictly online purchasing.

Cudahy  The Millennial/young professional work force is the largest out there right now. Tapping into this demographic to guide them on their professional career helps us all.

O'Neill  The industry is evolving and the SPARK incentive is a great reflection of that. We always need to be thinking ahead, not only in products but in the next generation of both sales representatives and buyers. Many of the new reps to the industry have a strong focus on email for communication and use social media to research clients. They face rising internet competition and the need for speed is at a height. The SPARK incentive is designed to reach out to those individuals, both suppliers and distributors, in a specific demographic facing similar issues, and to create a network where individuals feel confident in discussing problems and find solutions to create a better industry.

What does a SPARK attendee get out of the experience?

Franklin  They get an opportunity for relevant continued education that can actually help you catapult your career. The entire event is centered around networking as well; a great

chance to start a peer network of like-minded individuals that you can do business with or bounce ideas off of. I feel like this industry is rooted in relationships and SPARK is an

incredible chance to find and connect with people you can relate to.

Cudahy  SPARK attendees have the opportunity to network and learn with so many of their peers, which is the most rewarding aspect of the event for me.

O'Neill  Attendees get a great, interactive introduction to a fantastic group of young professionals. It’s great to have a group of eager young professionals who feel comfortable enough to ask lots of questions, as opposed to being a bit timid in a room full of seasoned veterans. They will leave the event eager to expand on their new networking skills and thrilled to have expanded their network of distributor and supplier friends.

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