PPAI Business Development Account Manager Connie Brazil has been on the road recently visiting industry suppliers in Chicago, Illinois, and the surrounding area. She met with staff at numerous companies, including Lion Circle (PPAI 112372, S6) and Richardson Seating Company (PPAI 232090, S3) in Chicago, Pinch Provisions (PPAI 739476, S1) in Elk Grove Village, Orbus Exhibit & Display Group (PPAI 428128, S7) in Woodridge, Replogle Globes (PPAI 112845, S2) in Hillside and Qpromo (PPAI 344904, S1) in Buffalo Grove, to learn more about their businesses, their outlook on the industry and how PPAI can work better with them.

At Pinch Provisions, Brazil spoke with Paul Killian and Georgette and Stephanie Kaplan. The company has been in business for 15 years, offering design-led, high-quality emergency kits to the retail market. It launched its corporate gift line one year ago. Killian says, “What’s next for us is determined by our distributors,” with Georgette Kaplan adding, “We’re trying to catch our corporate line up with our retail line. One business is 15 years old and one is a year old, so we’re working to catch up with what our distributors are asking for.”

Brazil met with Rich Carollo at Lion Circle. The supplier has been in business for more than a century, and manufactures its products in the U.S. Carollo says, “Being around for 100 years, we really understand what it takes to be a supplier in the promotional products business, and what it takes to make sure end users get what they want.”

The staff at Orbus Exhibit & Display Group, including Natalie Whited and Kelly Yuen, shared with Brazil the supplier’s commitment to recycling 90 percent of its waste and its annual university where distributors are invited to the company’s facility to learn. Whited says, “One of the differentiating factors regarding Orbus is that we truly try to be a business partner to our distributors and help them build their business, such as education on how to sell our products. We also take a lot of pride in our marketing materials to create good tools for distributors.”

Replogle Globes has been in business since 1930, and Dell Torgerson, Joseph Wright and Clayton Chang shared the company’s story with Brazil during her visit there. Wright says, “We are a unique company with a unique product. Globes are something people love to engage with. They remember them and love them as a keepsake item.”

Scott Lichtenstein of Richardson Seating Company showed Brazil around the supplier’s facility. He says, “We’re a 45-year-old American manufacturer of promotional furniture. Being a diverse manufacturer of furniture allows us to be bigger and better. Our facility here allows us to do pretty much everything, and we have 60 staff onsite.”

Brazil wrapped up her time in Illinois with a visit to Qpromo. Nate Bettinger, director of sales, national accounts, says, “Qpromo has been focusing our line to a specialized niche, realizing that there’s an opportunity for domestic-produced, high-quality products of various materials. These allow for higher margins, lower inventory risk, and more focus on the ecommerce platform and being a better partner to our distributors.”