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  • Friday, June 18, 2021 10:14 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    3M has announced that it is collaborating with the Pandemic Action Network to help stem the spread of COVID-19 and to help prepare for future pandemics. St. Paul, Minnesota-based 3M operates in the promotional products market through its 3M Promotional Markets Dept. (PPAI 113638, S11).

    Pandemic Action Network is a coalition of more than 100 global multi-sector organizations that are driving collective action to bring an end to COVID-19 and to ensure the world is prepared for the next pandemic. 3M and Pandemic Action Network will work together on programming to support vulnerable communities that continue to bear the brunt of COVID-19.

    "We're staying true to our 3M vision to improve every life, as we take steps today to prepare for and help protect against future pandemics," says Denise Rutherford, SVP and chief corporate affairs officer, 3M. "No stakeholder or sector can tackle the enormity of this alone. The challenge demands bold collaboration on solutions and innovative approaches with governments, NGOs, academic organizations and other companies because that's how we will build a stronger and more resilient future."

    Gabrielle Fitzgerald, CEO of Panorama Global and co-founder of Pandemic Action Network, adds, “With the mass roll-out of vaccines and the U.S. CDC's recent guidance on masking, many people are understandably hopeful that the worst is behind us—but the COVID-19 pandemic is not over and now is not the time to let our guard down. So far in 2021, there have been more cases and deaths reported compared to the whole of 2020. We must act on lessons learned, and continue to promote and inspire healthy behaviors while ensuring the world is better prepared for pandemic threats. Through our partnership with 3M, we will mobilize public support and catalyze action until the world has fully crushed this pandemic."

  • Friday, June 18, 2021 10:09 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    PPAI’s Legislative Education And Action Day (L.E.A.D) got under way on Wednesday for two days of virtual meetings between industry leaders from 20 states and legislators on Capitol Hill. The annual series of in-person meetings intended to inform and educate legislators about legislation and issues affecting the promotional products industry was suspended in 2020 because of the pandemic and PPAI organizers were glad to be able to restart the program this year, albeit virtually.

    “Although we’re not physically in D.C. this year, it’s critical to keep the promotional products industry’s message top-of-mind for members of Congress and their staffers, especially considering the developments we’ve been seeing regarding labor, trade and tax issues affecting the industry this year,” says Maurice Norris, PPAI public affairs manager. “We couldn’t be more grateful for the volunteers who stepped in to convey our industry’s message through virtual channels.”

    Turnout was enthusiastic for the program with 25 industry leaders from supplier and distributor companies along with several PPAI staff members taking part in 51 pre-scheduled and confirmed meetings with their legislators.

    Among key topics discussed was the PRO Act (H.R. 842) which, if passed, would significantly change how independent contractors operate in the promotional products industry and would result in significant job losses. L.E.A.D. volunteers also talked with their legislators about the value of global supply chains and how they work in the promo industry to bring a product from conception to the end user, as well as how American workers are involved in decorating and selling imported promotional products and how those products are used to promote U.S. goods and services. The issue of tariffs was another major discussion point and L.E.A.D. volunteers asked their legislators to say no to any proposed taxes or restrictions on promotional products, citing how bad taxes and restrictions are for our medium because they could prompt end buyers to shift their budgets to an advertising medium not subject to tariffs or trade restrictions. L.E.A.D. participants also used the face-to-face opportunity to educate their legislators about the strength of the promotional products industry with its more than 37,000 U.S.-based companies that employ more than half a million American workers and generated $19.6 billion in distributor sales in 2020.

    “LEAD continues to be impactful for our industry,” says Virginia-based Harold Wood, strategic account manager at Koozie Group, who participated at L.E.A.D. this week. “The event empowers leaders throughout the industry to meet and discuss important topics with legislators. My meetings with members of Congress and staff were great. They were engaged and interested in our industry and listened about our concerns and issues affecting it. Meeting with them renews my energy and hope for the future of the promotional products industry and all its members.”

    Bill Petrie, managing partner at Tennessee-based Brandivate, visited Wednesday with legislators representing his state. “While the remote nature of the event presented challenges, all of the meetings were extremely productive. Every legislator and staffer I met with was not only engaged, but they truly understand the value of promotional products and the needs of our industry—one that is truly comprised of small businesses,” he says.

    Longtime L.E.A.D. participant Eric Ekstrand, MAS+, regional VP at HALO, who lives in Columbus, Ohio, met on Wednesday with his congressman, Rep. Troy Balderson (R-OH). “We had a surprise as we thought our meeting was with a staff member when Rep. Balderson’s face popped up on the screen. My being in his district helped make an immediate connection,” he says.

    Utah-based Brittany David, MAS, chief revenue officer at SnugZ USA, who is a past chair of PPAI and a frequent participant at L.E.A.D., met with Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT) and his assistant on Wednesday. “This is the first year we have held the event virtually and I felt that it was still extremely impactful even though some of us are across the country,” she says. “The meeting we had yesterday with Congressman Owens and his Legislative Assistant Ray Phillips was productive. Both of them are more aware of our hidden gem of an industry, the people and the jobs, the value of our medium and the issues that affect us. In addition, the meeting resulted in an invitation to participate in future roundtables with them and in setting up a factory tour in August when they are in town. Thank you to PPAI and all the volunteers who have made time over the past few days to make sure our industry is represented on the Hill and our voices and concerns are heard.”

    Industry members who are not participating in L.E.A.D. can still have a voice in the conversation. Use this link to call or send a pre-written email your members of Congress in support of the same issues addressed during this week’s virtual meetings. Find more information on the issues here.

  • Tuesday, June 15, 2021 4:36 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Gemline (PPAI 113948, S11) has formed a strategic long‐term partnership with retail brand Slowtide, adding the company’s towels and blankets, made from sustainable materials, to the Lawrence, Massachusetts-headquartered supplier’s product portfolio.

    Slowtide is known for its commitment to minimize the effect of manufacturing on the environment. Its cotton is certifiably sourced through the Cotton LEADS program, assuring the material is responsibly produced and its polyester products are made from 100-percent recycled post‐consumer waste, primarily plastic bottles, that have been transformed into premium polyester fibers.

    Slowtide products are sold in a variety of retail locations, from local surf shops to large outdoor retailers such as REI, and department stores including Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.

  • Tuesday, June 15, 2021 1:22 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Distributor Boundless Network (PPAI 267078, D11), headquartered in Austin, Texas, has been acquired by Point Rider Capital and Treaty Oak Equity, two private investment firms also based in Austin. The company had been operating as a subsidiary of Zazzle.com (PPAI 391384, D3) since 2014.

    “We are thrilled to be partnering with Point Rider and Treaty Oak during this next chapter for Boundless,” says Pat Barry, EVP of sales at Boundless. “The resources and focus that these new partners bring will allow Boundless to invest for the future, reach new heights as a company and continue to provide industry-leading service to our ecosystem of customers, suppliers and sales professionals. We look forward to the exciting growth to come.”

    When Henrik Johansson, co-founder and then-CEO of Boundless, stepped down in September 2020, Bridget Smith, chief of special operations at Zazzle, was tapped to lead the distributor. With ownership transitioning to Point Rider Capital and Treaty Oak Equity, Smith has resumed her responsibilities at Zazzle and will not be affiliated with Boundless going forward. Charley Dean, president of Point Rider, who first worked with Boundless in 2005 as an early investor, has been appointed chairman and interim president of the company.

    Dean says, “As an early investor in Boundless through Silverton Partners, it has been inspiring to watch this company grow over the past 15 years from under $1 million in sales to a leading promotional products distributor. I am excited to rejoin the Boundless team and look forward to helping the company achieve its goals in this next chapter.”

    Ben Williams, founder and managing director of Treaty Oak, adds, “Boundless represents an ideal opportunity to invest in a storied company and leading team within the promotional products industry. Boundless is known industry-wide for its creativity, technology and commitment to quality and customer service, and we look forward to continuing that legacy. Furthermore, under Treaty Oak and Point Rider’s ownership, Boundless will remain deeply committed to providing salespeople, partners and suppliers opportunities to continue growing their businesses.”

  • Tuesday, May 25, 2021 10:38 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    PCNA is excited to announce the addition of Bose, the leaders of sound innovation, to their industry-leading technology lineup. PCNA now offer select Bluetooth® speakers, which are stocked in-house at PCNA’s Pittsburgh warehouse and are available for quick turn through the company’s SureShip® service.

    When asked about their newest retail brand, Liz Haesler, Chief Merchandising Officer for PCNA explains, “This is about more than just offering products from one of the greatest sound companies in the world, it’s about making sure our customers can rely on PCNA for all their needs. Bose is a brand known around the globe for their unmatched sound quality and PCNA is known in the industry for our dedication to technology and product safety, with an entire team in place who works solely on this product category,” Haesler continues. “We are extremely honored to offer Bose products as part of our tech assortment.”

    “It gives us great pleasure to align with PCNA to bring a selection of Bose speakers to the promotional products market,” according to a representative of Bose’s authorized distributor for corporate gifts and incentives. “We are a company that prides ourselves on representing Bose for corporate gifts, incentives and rewards. In talking with the PCNA tech team, we understand that they share those same values through both product development and decoration. We have full trust in them to bring these products to promo.”

    By housing Bose inventory at their warehouse, PCNA can accommodate large orders through both inventory and their best-in-class decorating capacity. Better yet, by inventorying products on-site, PCNA will be able to accommodate quick-turn orders through their SureShip service so customer orders can ship out next-day if needed.

    “We have also received feedback from customers that a brand like Bose would be a great addition to our Perfectly Packaged™ offering,” Haesler mentions. “A brand as recognizable and sought after as Bose makes a great gift on its own but we love that we can take it one step further by having an option to pair a Bose speaker with other PCNA items for a custom gift set that can be drop shipped right to people’s homes.”

    PCNA currently has two Bose Bluetooth® speaker styles available, the Bose Soundlink Micro Bluetooth® Speaker and the Bose Soundlink Revolve II Bluetooth® Speaker, with plans to expand the product selection in the future. Both speakers are sold decorated. You can view the Bose collection at PCNA.com.

  • Wednesday, May 12, 2021 10:22 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Sterling, Illinois-based distributor HALO (PPAI 106462, D15) has relaunched its corporate brand, with a new logo and rebranding of all touchpoints, including its marketing and sales tools, digital platforms, social media and direct mail. It is also investing in a relaunch of the HALO.com website, which will go live in August 2021.

    The new brand messaging has been incorporated into the company’s vision and values. Additionally, the distributor will be marketed as HALO going forward. “This brand name will provide the opportunity to create a stronger market presence and communicate the full range of solutions and capabilities that we offer across our entire business,” says Stephanie Preston, vice president of marketing.

    Marc Simon, CEO of HALO, says, “Our redesign and the powerful messaging associated with it will allow us to better articulate the extensive client capabilities and solutions we offer. We have experienced exponential growth the past several years as a result of our investment in these increasingly more sophisticated service offerings.”

    HALO retained DeSantis Breindel, a business-to-business brand consultancy based in New York City, to work with the company in developing the new strategic branding approach. DeSantis Breindel conducted comprehensive research with key stakeholders, including current and prospective clients, to uncover market opportunities addressed with the enhanced brand.

    “This rebrand highlights the availability to HALO account executives of more robust selling tools that speak directly to the range of solutions we provide to help customers break through and achieve their business goals,” says Jeffrey Wurtzel, HALO’s SVP of marketing. “Our new brand story is focused on the value we provide in unlocking highly engaging experiences for our clients’ brands.”

    Wurtzel adds, “Our team is inspired by the new brand and our ability to connect people and brands to create powerful, lasting experiences.”

  • Friday, May 07, 2021 4:01 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Kathy Sipes passed away at home on May 2, 2021 a few weeks short of her 68th birthday following a long battle with cancer.

    She was born in Lima, Peru to Jack and Beverly Hulsey. Kathy grew up in Irving, Texas and graduated from North Texas State University. She married her loving husband, Ron Sipes, on October 18, 1975. They raised two wonderful sons, Sam and Dan. As a mother, Kathy instilled in her sons a keen sense of humor, adventure, and determination, among other things.

    Kathy was exceptional and generous with a zest for life and love for people. Her constant curiosity and keen memory showed in the way she remembered the smallest details about people's lives and never forgot a birthday. As the owner of a promotional products business, she was known for her personal touch that made every order perfect. Ever thoughtful and perceptive, she was an extraordinary gift giver.

    Kathy loved to be active. Whether physically or socially, she was always on the move. Her sharp eye for aesthetics helped her create a beautiful home and garden.

    Kathy will be sorely missed and is survived by her husband, two sons and their wives Dan and Laura Sipes, Sam and Deepa Sipes, grandson Isaac, sister Barbara Lee and her family, sister Marcia Engelking and her family, brother Pat Hulsey and his family and countless family and friends, all of whom loved her dearly and will never forget her tenacity, wit, charm, undying love, and care for them.

    A celebration of life is planned for the 15th of May at 9am at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, 1700 University Dr, Fort Worth, TX 76107. All guests are encouraged to wear blue in Kathy's honor.

    In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The American Cancer Society or The North Texas Food Bank in Kathy's honor.

  • Friday, May 07, 2021 2:30 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    The Promotional Products Education Foundation (PPEF) will, with the support of the promotional products industry, establish a named scholarship in memory of Phil Carney, formerly of supplier QuickPoint, who passed away in April. Carney served on the PPEF board of trustees from 1987 – 1989, holding the position of chairman in 1988. He also served on the PPAI board of directors from 2000 – 2002 and was named a PPAI Fellow in 2016.

    “Phil Carney was an icon of his time,” says Paul Lage, MAS, past PPAI board chair. “He taught so many how to use promotional products that would make an immediate reaction from someone. He was probably the inventor of the spec sample. Phil generally did it in an incredibly humorous way. He was truly one of the funniest people in our industry. He created a big following and would be considered an influencer of his time. I was fortunate enough to grow up with Phil as he worked with my dad. Eventually we were able to work together on the PPAI board. He loved our industry and making it fun for everyone.”

    PPEF Named Scholarships are available in memory or recognition of industry members and their accomplishments. The foundation establishes the scholarships with donations at the $5,000, $10,000 or $50,000 marks for the three levels—four years, eight years and a permanent scholarship.

    Click here for a video about the impact Carney made on the careers of Lage and others in the promotional products industry, and information on donations. A direct link to the PPEF donation page for the Phil Carney Scholarship Fund can be found here.

  • Monday, May 03, 2021 12:39 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Evans Manufacturing (PPAI# 110747 ASI#52840) today announced a renewed commitment to all promotional industry distributors, with their “3-5-7” production plan on all catalog quantity purchase orders regardless of decoration type.

    “We understand and sympathize with issues currently present within our industry regarding labor shortages and supply chain issues,” says Alan Vaught, owner of Evans manufacturing. “We also know that distributor client business keeps rolling along as the effects of the pandemic recede, placing the distributor network in a very precarious position regarding order integrity and on-time delivery.”

    “Because of those facts, Evans prepared itself for this possibility within the industry.  We have taken a hard look at our internal and external processes, and with our improvements made, developed the 3-5-7 program for catalog quantity orders.  Our most complicated decorated item is available no later than a five-day period.  That in my opinion, demonstrates to the entire industry the commitment Evans Manufacturing has made to any distributors success” stated Ron Williams CMO.

    Evans has worked hard to remain the trusted supplier for so many distributors by having:

    • 398 products available in three days
    • 174 products available in five days
    • 13 products available in seven days

    Evans “3-5-7” program in currently in-place and ready to assist any distributor regardless of location.  For more information on the Evans “3-5-7” program and how it can help you today,  visit www.Evans-Mfg.com to view all of our products or call us at 800.745.3826 with questions about our “3-5-7” program and how Evans can help you today.

  • Monday, May 03, 2021 10:51 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    PCNA has introduced food as a new product category, providing an easy way for distributors to make gifts even better. The snacks and beverages add a personal touch, especially combined with the company’s popular Perfectly Packaged™ service, which includes decorative packaging and unlimited drop shipments.

    PCNA has reported phenomenal success with Perfectly Packaged™ since launching the service as an innovative gifting solution for the fourth quarter of 2020 – and the company credits distributor feedback for the addition of food as a category.

    “Food has been the most requested item among customers placing Perfectly Packaged™ orders,” says Liz Haesler, Chief Merchandising Officer for PCNA. “With this product launch, customers are able to complete their packages with a sweet or savory treat that will take their gift to the next level.”

    With over 15 specialty brands of snacks and beverages, including KIND, Ghirardelli, Tate’s Bake Shop and Stash Tea Company, there’s a special treat for any type of gift. And like PCNA, many of the food brands are committed to more than just providing high-quality products – they also make values like sustainability and contributing to communities a priority.

    “Distributors can feel good about the treats they’re adding to their orders,” Haesler says. With the addition of snacks and beverages to the industry’s largest, most diverse product offering, PCNA is the only true one-stop-shop for any type of gift – employee gifts, customer gifts, virtual events and more. And with unlimited drop shipments through Perfectly Packaged™, PCNA can have gifts delivered directly to people’s doorsteps at no extra cost.

    “The current snack and beverage selection is just the start,” continues Haesler. “We look forward to growing this collection and broadening the assortment in the future as we collect more feedback on what our distributor partners are looking for when it comes to food. We look forward to continuing to be that solution for all their gifting needs.”

    Food items come in both individual and shareable sizes, and there are several options, including gluten-free snacks, to accommodate dietary restrictions. Food and beverage items are currently available in the United States and cannot be imprinted or sold individually. To see the entire assortment, go to PCNA.com.

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Promotional Products Association Southwest (PPAS) is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization.

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