Know The Nominees: Joshua White
(Editor’s Note: Amid the ongoing voting for the new slate of nominees for the PPAI Board of Directors, PPAI Media is profiling each potential new addition. Be sure to also check out today’s introduction to alphabroder|Prime Line president and CEO Dan Pantano.)
Joshua White joined Los Angeles-based distributor BAMKO as general counsel in 2013. Since then, his role at the company has evolved and he currently serves as its head of strategy, overseeing long-term initiatives that contribute to top line revenue growth. Since he joined the company, annual sales have grown from approximately $20 million to more than $300 million today. He also oversees BAMKO’s key partnerships, sales and marketing strategy, talent acquisition and other areas.
In 2018, White was named a PPB Rising Star. His nominator said at the time, “What impresses me most about Josh is a relentlessly positive attitude that places any goal within his grasp. The common theme to all of those successes has been hard work, persistence and an irrepressibly positive attitude that embraces all challenges that come his way.”
It’s that drive and an intrinsically optimistic worldview when it comes to achieving big goals – an attitude that that he attributes to shedding more than 150 pounds over the past decade and the invigorated mindset that came with it – which has, in part, led to his nomination as a candidate for PPAI’s 2022 board election. If elected, he’ll serve the industry from January of 2023 until 2027. This year’s two-person slate includes White and Dan Pantano of alphabroder|Prime Line. The election to approve Pantano and White runs from August 29 until September 6.
White sees the present moment as an opportunity for PPAI and the industry to accomplish great things.
“I think there is a unique opportunity now to actually make a big impact on the industry as a whole, on individual companies and on the human beings who work for those companies,” White says. “If we do the things we need to do, and we make the changes that we have the opportunity to make, we’re going to affect a lot of lives for the better and we’re going to significantly impact this industry.”
The challenges the industry faces, however, don’t have one-size-fits-all solutions. White says, “It’s a complicated, complex, nuanced world, and it’s important to talk to our constituency and listen and see what they need, what challenges do they have and, ultimately, how do we make it easier for them to be successful?
Among the key issues PPAI is pursuing is corporate social responsibility within the promo industry. “The best thing we can do is encourage and promote visibility and transparency,” White says. “One of the hardest things, on the customer side, is talking in substantive ways about what they’re doing when it comes to CSR. The more we can do to promote relevant transparency and data that suppliers, distributors and their customers can use to report back what they’re doing to operate better companies, the more valuable a tool it becomes.”
Digital transformation is another focus for the Association and an area that White feels can unlock tremendous efficiencies in the industry. “To put it as succinctly as possible, make it easy for distributors to get products from suppliers to customers with as little human interaction as possible. I say that not because I want to limit human interaction but because I want to unlock human potential and free people up to do things that ultimately creates a better experience for their customers and makes our industry look better.”
“We are in a business that is needlessly complicated,” White says. “The process of getting logos printed on products and sent to human beings is ridiculous, in terms of how complicated and time and resource intensive it is, relative to how the rest of commerce operates in this country. If we do what should be doing here, it should be a lot easier for folks in this industry to do their business and serve their customers and get products in people’s hands.”
Elevating promotional products in consumers’ consciousness is vital to the industry’s continued success but it’s a lift that PPAI can’t do alone. It doesn’t have the platform. But, White says, it can equip the companies and professionals of the industry to carry it themselves.
“We need to talk about the why,” he says. “We’re too focused on the product. We need to talk about the why of why a product exists or why we’re selling it to someone. PPAI can encourage more elevated conversations about why people use promotional products and what problems they’re solving. What we can do as an association is get vociferous in our pushing of that conversation, and we give people the resources to have informed, intelligent discussions.”
White says his duty as a board member, first and foremost, is to listen to what the industry and membership are saying. He says, “I intend to start with a commitment to listen to our membership’s needs, wants and desires, and helping to synthesize those. Figuring out what the biggest opportunities are to make the most amount of value that would make life as easy as possible for our membership. I’m going to hear what their needs are, what their issues are, figure out how we service those, and we will go get it done. The execution part, the taking action part, is the most important part and that’s what I want to do.”