Snapshots: commonsku Hosts Third Annual skucamp Conference In Pittsburgh


Photo above: The second day of skucamp's education programming wrapped with an interview with Mark and Catherine Graham from commonsku on the challenges, opportunities and risks inherent in running a high-growth company. The conference ended with a closing party at Lumberjack Axe Throwing.

In September, promotional products industry business and sales software provider commonsku hosted its third annual skucamp conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The two-day event offered attendees education and networking opportunities.

Above, left: skucamp drew more than 120 supplier and distributor professionals from as far away as Australia to
attend the bootcamp-
style conference designed to help entrepreneurs reboot and reimagine their businesses.
Above, right: Jason Lucash of HUB Promotional Group was one of skucamp’s first-day speakers. Also on the
docket were Johanna Gottlieb with Axis Promotions, Craig Dunlap with Meyer Dunlap, Jamie Watson with
Certified Marketing, Amanda Delaney with IMAGEN Brands, Steve McBee and Carson Roncketto with Creative,
John Vo with Whoopla, Brian Stidham with EMT and a special presentation by Nate Cunningham and Claire Hosteny
with East End Development Partners, titled “Building a Boutique Experience in a Commodity-Driven World.”


In October, Ellen Tucker, PPAI’s director of business development, and Jeff Rogers, account manager, were on the road visiting member companies in Washington State. On their journey, they met with Carolyn Colwell, president of supplier Your City Sports in Lynden, Washington, and Daniel Roso, vice president of sales and marketing at Gig Harbor supplier TravelChair, to learn more about their companies and their outlooks on the industry.  

Above, right: Carolyn Colwell (pictured with Jeff Rogers), president of supplier Your City Sports, shared what
motivated her to form
"Your City Sports in 2013. Above, left: The conversation with Roso (above left, with Rogers)
at the TravelChair offices turned more towards the philosophies behind the company’s products. He and his wife
bought the company from her parents. Roso says, “Fundamentally, we build a better mousetrap. It’s not rocket
science, specifically, it’s an intent. We’re intentional about the rivets we use, the size of the holes the rivets go into
and the specifications of the steel and the fabric. And we marry that with a quality control approach to how we
manufacture it, who inspects it, the employees on the ground, and we put that all together. In a nutshell, we want
to build something that’s going to last and that we’re proud of.”


In support of National Read A Book Day on September 6, Trevose, Pennsylvania-based supplier Penn Emblem donated books to Tree House Books, a giving library and literacy center in North Philadelphia, and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s (CHOP) Reach Out and Read Program. Both organizations share a mission of providing books to families and promoting literacy for all ages.     

Photo, left: Penn Emblem staff collected 220 gently used books at its corporate office. Randi Blumenthal-Joseph, president of Penn Emblem, says, “Reading and learning are two of my favorite things. It means so much to be able to give that joy to someone else, especially a child. I am so proud of this team coming together and giving back in this way. A book is such a small thing, but to the person reading it, that book can shape their world.”



Danielle Renda, associate editor of PPB, visited four suppliers in the Greater Cincinnati area in September to learn more about the history of the companies, their products and services, and the projects they’ve worked on. Among these companies was The Allen Company as it celebrated 60 years in business; Osborne Coinage Co. to learn about the history of the custom coin manufacturer; Links Unlimited, Inc., to find out how the company got its start; and IMAGEN Brands, parent company of suppliers Crown Products and Vitronic, to see its new products and collections.

Above, left: Danielle Renda, center in pink, visited with members of the Dohan family and company employees
during her visit to the
company’s Blanchester, Ohio, facility in September. Above, right: Gibson Olpp, marketing
manager at Osborne Coinage Co., showed Renda around the company, which is the country’s oldest, private
mint—it was founded in 1835 as Z. Bisbee Co.

Above, left: Renda, second from right, met with, from left, Paul Lage, MAS, president; Shannon Jenkins, director
of marketing and Lisa
Brooks, vice president of marketing, among others, during her visit to IMAGEN Brands.
Above, right: At Links Unlimited, Renda met with Scott Kooken, president and co-founder, who started the company
with co-founder Bret Williams with a vision to sell logoed golf clubs.


James Khattak is news editor of PPB.

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