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  • Tuesday, January 18, 2022 2:51 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Last week at its booth on The PPAI Expo show floor, supplier Sweda celebrated another banner year of support for the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) with a $115,000 donation. On January 11, Sweda Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Kellie Claudio presented Julie Soares, warrior support/corporate partnerships/ resource development manager for the WWP, and Dan Nevins, Basecamp® and WWP Brand Ambassador, with the donation surrounded by Sweda and Snugz USA team members, distributors and friends. To date, Sweda has donated more than $285,000 in money and product to support the WWP, helping over 1 million veterans reclaim their lives and bring independence back to the nation’s most severely wounded.

    Nevins, an Iraq war veteran and double amputee, conducts retreats all over the country for veterans and their families. A nationally recognized yoga master and motivational speaker, Nevins shares his practice with warriors giving them a safe space to heal mentally and spiritually. He is also the official brand ambassador for Basecamp, a Sweda adventure brand featuring products like backpacks, bear-tested coolers, drinkware, multi-tools, weatherproof Bluetooth speakers, hammocks and tents.

    Wounded Warrior Project is a charity and veterans service organization that offers a variety of programs, services and events for wounded veterans of the military actions following September 11, 2001. It operates as a nonprofit 501 organization.

    Earlier this month, it was announced that Sweda had been acquired by West Jordan, Utah-based supplier SnugZ USA (PPAI 112982, S11). SnugZ USA President and CEO Brandon Mackay, MAS, will serve as CEO of the combined company while Jim Hagan will stay on as president of Sweda. Business is expected to be “as usual” for both companies.

  • Friday, January 14, 2022 10:36 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Cintas Corporation has been named to Newsweek’s 2022 America’s Most Responsible Companies list. The magazine’s corporate social responsibility ranking is based on a “holistic view of corporate responsibility” and considers equally businesses’ environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) rankings.

    “We believe that ESG is central to Cintas and it’s influenced our sustainable business model since our company’s origins during the Great Depression,” says Todd Schneider, Cintas president and CEO. “Environmental, social and governance concepts are engrained in our company and we appreciate the recognition for our recent performance in these areas.

    The 2022 edition of the list marks the company’s debut on Newsweek’s third-annual rankings, which began in 2020. Cintas was selected for Newsweek’s list following a four-phase review of the 2,000 largest public companies in the U.S.

    “Cintas has made a tremendous effort to reduce our environmental impact; foster an inclusive, supportive atmosphere for our employee-partners; and establish ourselves as a moral and ethical company,” adds Schneider. “Our corporate culture is based on doing what’s right and using positive discontent to push ourselves to be better. Being recognized for our success to date is certainly gratifying, but we also acknowledge that we must continue to challenge ourselves to make stronger impacts in these areas while continuing to do so in an admirable way.”

  • Thursday, January 13, 2022 8:06 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    HALO recently recognized its 2021 Supplier of the Year and Supplier Representative of the Year in a company-wide communication. The awards were based on the results of votes cast by more than 1,000 of the Sterling, Illinois-headquartered distributor’s account executives and support team members.

    Hit Promotional Products is the 2021 HALO Supplier of the Year. CJ Schmidt, CEO of Hit, says, “In one of the most challenging years the industry has ever experienced, this award reinforces the spirit of collaboration and problem-solving that we enjoy with a key customer like HALO. It’s an honor for the Hit team.”

    Charles Duggan, MAS, national and strategic accounts manager for industry supplier Goldstar, was recognized as the 2021 HALO Supplier Representative of the Year. Goldstar sales to HALO increased nearly 60 percent in 2021 thanks to the industry veteran sales professional. Duggan says, “The award goes to the entire Goldstar team. We worked closely with HALO to find every way to help them grow their sales overall, and with Goldstar.”

    Terry McGuire, senior vice president of supplier relations, adds, “Our sales grew in 2021 in one of the most difficult supply chain environments we have ever experienced because we could rely heavily on key partners like Hit and Charles. Collaboration with our HALO preferred suppliers created success for our account executives and satisfaction for our clients.”

    HALO CEO Marc Simon says, “Our preferred supplier program is an industry success story. We rely heavily on the partnership with this elite group to continue to grow our business regardless of the challenges the market presents.”

  • Wednesday, January 12, 2022 4:52 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    First announced Friday in a PPB Newslink Breaking News alert, Daron Hines has been named president of Overland Park, Kansas-based distributor Staples Promotional Products (PPAI 108945, D15), a subsidiary of office retail company Staples, Inc. Hines is an executive with more than 20 years of experience with numerous well-known brands, including General Mills, the J.M. Smucker Company and most recently, Morton Salt.

    In a statement announcing his appointment, Hines said, “I couldn’t be more excited to join Staples Promotional Products (SPP). SPP is an industry leader with an incredibly innovative team and an unparalleled global supplier network. I look forward to working alongside the team to build upon SPP’s successful track record of creating meaningful brand experiences for employees, consumers and stakeholders.”

    At Staples, Hines is a member of Staples’ executive leadership team, reporting directly to its CEO. With a focus on the general management and profit-and-loss responsibilities of the promotional products business, he will work with customers and suppliers to develop brand experiences for employees, consumers and stakeholders.

    Hines’ background includes roles in general management, commercial strategy development, brand building, innovation, trade marketing, direct account and customer relationship management, category management, retail operations and organization structure design. Prior to joining Staples in December 2021, he served as vice president, consumer and industrial, Americas, at Morton Salt. There, Hines led the sales and marketing teams supporting the company’s Morton, Windsor and Lobos brands and applications in North and South America. Earlier, at J.M. Smucker, he was the vice president of sales, channels, and the vice president of trade marketing.

  • Saturday, January 08, 2022 10:18 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Supplier SnugZ USA, headquartered in West Jordan, Utah, has acquired supplier Sweda Company, LLC, based in City of Industry, California. First reported Monday in a PPB Newslink Breaking News alert, the move will result in aggressive, sustainable, diverse and differentiated best-in-class service and product selection, according to the news release announcing the deal. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

    Based on 2020 promotional product sales, the combination of SnugZ and Sweda would reportedly place the company near the top 10 largest suppliers in the industry.

    “One of the things that attracted us to Sweda was the ethos of the company,” says SnugZ USA President and CEO Brandon Mackay, MAS. “They have an amazing team, quality products, a solid reputation and very similar core values. We believe this acquisition of Sweda will further strengthen our ability to innovate new products, expand into additional product segments, and most importantly, take advantage of the similarities between both companies to better serve our loyal customers.”

    Jim Hagan, CEO of Sweda, adds, “I am thrilled about the combination of Sweda and SnugZ and know that our future, elevated together, is bright. The synergies between our two companies, from our core values to our differentiators, will only strengthen our position in the marketplace. It is the perfect fusion of culture and creativity.”

    Mackay will remain as CEO of the combined company, while Hagan will stay on as president of Sweda. Mackay expects it to be business as usual. He says, “We both built tremendous teams throughout the years, and we intend to keep that momentum moving forward.”

    Speaking to PPB Newslink, Brandon Brown, SnugZ USA's vice president of marketing, says the deal has been in the works for months between both owners and expanded on what distributors the plans going forward. He says, "It will be business as usual for both companies. Orders will still be submitted separately for now as they always have and we will be working together to bring the best experience and product offering to the industry."

  • Friday, January 07, 2022 3:04 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Cliff Quicksell, MAS+, is a known marketing enthusiast. With nearly four decades of experience in promo on both the supplier and distributor sides, and three decades as a professional speaker and consultant, Quicksell has a portfolio of feats as expansive as the range of promo products, including his induction into PPAI’s Hall of Fame during The PPAI Expo in Las Vegas this month. It’s an honor that grants permanent recognition to individuals who have made significant contributions to the industry and/or their communities.   

    But if you were to ask Quicksell how he’s achieved success over the years, he’ll turn the focus away from himself, giving credit instead to the many people who have helped him. “I didn’t get here alone,” he says. “Everybody contributed at some level, and I just hope that other people see the value in being able to give back and how important it is.”

    As president of his Walkersville, Maryland, speaking and consultancy firm Cliff Quicksell Associates, Quicksell has helped hundreds of clients to achieve their marketing goals, but he’s also given back to the industry time and again—and done so tirelessly. Over the years, Quicksell has given nearly 4,700 speaking presentations at industry shows with signature topics including, “Maximizing Your Time Management by Evaluating and Segmenting Your Clients,” “Selling Apparel A to Z” and “The Promotional Apprentice – Transitioning to a Sales & Marketing Consultant,” in addition to writing more than 1,200 articles for global publications including  PPB magazine, CounselorAdVantages and PromoCorner. He’s also created more than 75 webinars for regional associations, self-published three books—his latest is 30 Seconds To Greatness—created two industry blogs, “Jumpstart Monday” and “30 Seconds to Greatness,” and served in numerous volunteer roles for both PPAI and his regional association, Chesapeake Promotional Products Association (CPPA). For the past year, Quicksell has also been working as a content generator for DASH, a subsidiary of 8 Legged Media Group, where he produces written content, creates webinars and provides consulting services, and he currently serves on PPAI’s Marketing Research Committee and as president of CPPA.


    Above: Cliff Quicksell, third from left, with Pyramid Award winners, from left, Darrell and Greta McChesney of Team Iowa, Paul and Stephanie Zafarana of PICA Marketing Group, and Drew Pulliam of Pinnacle Branding.

    “One of my many passions is my desire to give back, share and contribute in a meaningful way. It is how I am wired,” Quicksell says. In reflecting on his passion for giving back to others, he shares an anecdote that describes the impact that helping can have. “Have you ever heard the story about the little boy and the starfish on the beach?” Quicksell asks. “A little boy is on a beach that’s just littered with starfish, and an older man, who’s watching him, asks, ‘What are you doing?’ The little boy says, ‘I’m throwing the starfish back into the water so it can live.’ The older man replies, ‘Look how many there are! You’ll never make a difference,’ to which the boy replies, as he throws a starfish in the water, ‘Well, I made a difference for that one.’”

    Quicksell also keenly gives of his time to industry mentoring and educational programs, which has included assisting in the development and creation of and participating in PPAI’s Certified Speaker Ambassador program, where he spoke at a grassroots level to students on college campuses about the power of promotional products. In 2002, Quicksell embarked on a mission to mentor as many professionals in the industry as he could, to increase involvement in the PPAI Pyramid Awards. Over the years, he’s been directly involved in coaching more than 120 top distributors, many of whom received PPAI Pyramid Awards. He’s also been a major proponent for certification in the industry, and has helped to encourage many additional distributors to pursue their professional designations of TAS, CAS, MAS and MAS+. Quicksell leads by example, having received his MAS+ certification in 2014, the highest designation given to eligible promotional products applicants.

    “Over the years, I have had the pleasure of seeing Cliff speak and of seeing him educate. I have seen how the people in the industry have truly flocked to him, relying on his knowledge, experience and friendship to further their careers and businesses,” says Andy Griffin, managing partner of Carlstadt, New Jersey, supplier Keepsake Box USA, and one of Quicksell’s nominators. “It is truly a sight to behold to see him interact with these people. Whether they sell $50,000 or $5 million, it’s as if he is the co-owner of each company he works with. He doesn’t just tell a person what they want to hear; he educates them in the process so they have a better understanding of what he is teaching them.” He adds, “Whether it is one-on-one on a simple phone call or in a convention hall with 100 people watching, his conversations motivate you, captivate you and give everyone listening the feeling of ‘Yes! Yes, I can do this.’”

     
    Above: Cliff Quicksell leads a 2014 session for British Promotional Merchandise Association's Professional Development Program. Right: Cliff Quicksell, with his wife Maria Quicksell (left), daughter Caitlin Quicksell-DeNilo and son Lt. Alexander Quicksell.

    Quicksell positions himself as a lifelong learner, and even though he attends many events as a speaker, he makes it a point to remain open-minded and teachable. “I remember when my son and daughter went to college,” he recalls. “They were both tremendous athletes. When my son asked me, ‘How do I be the very best?’ I told him you have to do two things: you have to be eligible and you have to be coachable. That simple principle holds true in life. You have to be coachable, then you have to do all the hard work to be eligible to get paid the money that you need.” 

    And certainly, knowing how to remain open and teachable comes from experience, and Quicksell has seen both ups and downs in the industry. A few years after joining his first industry company, Quicksell’s position was terminated abruptly. “I was blindsided,” he says, though it was a situation that motivated him to form his own company, Promotivations Advertising, which he operated for 11 years. After encountering a business deal that went sour, he was considering leaving the industry altogether, when another professional he met at a regional association meeting offered him an opportunity that proliferated into many more, and kept him in the industry. As a small-business owner, he’s experienced everything from nearly going bankrupt five times to building multi-million-dollar equity positions and winning more than 30 PPAI Pyramid Awards for creative campaigns.

    “I have had both the opportunity to work with Cliff in a professional manner as well as a personal relationship,” says Paul Zafarana, MAS, MASI, founder of Dearborn, Michigan, distributor Pica Marketing Group, and one of Quicksell’s nominators. “I can tell you that he is dedicated to the education of both distributors and clients. He really is concerned about the future of the industry. He has been a strong advocate for getting the necessary industry training and education that helped him excel in his own business. Cliff goes above and beyond in looking to make you feel comfortable, and at the same time feel energetic about learning more about promotional products. On a personal note, I can tell you he exemplifies his concern for our well-being. Cliff is the first one to tell you like it is and share with you the knowledge he has gained, and make you feel like a million bucks.”

    With so many responsibilities to manage at once, Quicksell shares that the way he’s learned to achieve balance is by learning how to put his well-being first. “My habits are really simple. I take care of me first,” he says. “The reason I say that is because I know, if you look at it like a pyramid, I’m at the top of the pyramid. If I’m whole physically, mentally and spiritually—and I have to do the things that make me whole first—[everyone] benefits. If I’m off, if I’m sick, if I’m not right, then I’m not a contribution to [the people around me] at all.”

    He adds, “I’m always looking at how to improve. There’s a Japanese term known as ‘kaizen,’ and it’s the constant state of re-purposing and making change for better improvement. What I encourage people to do is not to wait until there’s a problem to adapt and change. Look at your surroundings and make those adaptations now.”

  • Friday, January 07, 2022 2:59 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    AIA Corporation (PPAI 101364, D12) has recently welcomed seven distributors to its owner community—AB Swag; Champagne Branding, LLC; Gerbo Designs; Imprint Logo, LLC; K.W.A Group Branding; Stitched Expressions, LLC; and Tropical Promotions. All will have access to Appleton, Wisconsin-headquartered AIA’s financial, technical, sales, marketing and purchasing solutions. The new additions to the community will bring in nearly $6 million in projected total contract sales.

    “We are thrilled to welcome our new owners and are honored they chose us as a trusted partner who will help them take their business to the next level,” says Nancy Schmidt, CEO of AIA. “We look forward to hitting the ground running and delivering an inspiring owner experience by implementing customized solutions that utilize our technology, marketing and business consulting services.”

    The new AIA owners will be able to utilize AIA’s back-office support services to improve efficiency, along with sales and marketing resources to increase time spent with existing and prospective customers, and order financing to drive their growth.

  • Friday, January 07, 2022 2:56 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    An affiliate of NC Custom (PPAI 111662, S7) has acquired the continental U.S. business of ACE USA. ACE USA was established in Alaska in 1955 as a wholesale supplier of custom-designed apparel and hard goods for the gift and tourist industry. It joins promotional products brands Chocolate Inn, Taylor & Grant, Lanco and SPD Shoreline under the umbrella of Hicksville, New York-based NC Custom.

    With in‐house design, screen-printing, embroidery and pad-printing capabilities, ACE USA delivers customized and coordinating product collections. It will be combining its production operations with NC Custom’s state-of-the-art 200,000 square feet of customization manufacturing. The product line will also give back a portion of the proceeds to the National Park Foundation.

    “The acquisition of ACE USA continues our vision of building out a leadership platform in the souvenir and resort business with top-notch product, design and development,” says Lance Stier, CEO of NC Custom. “We are honored to build upon the tremendous legacy of the ACE USA business and are excited to work closely with many of ACE USA’s team members to continue to build this great business.”

    Becky Ourso, president of Arctic Circle Enterprises (ACE USA), says, “NC Custom is a great fit for our treasured customers. I am thrilled they will be able to continue to offer top‐notch designs on a curated product line developed specifically for the gift and souvenir industry.”

    The acquisition was completed December 15.

  • Friday, January 07, 2022 2:44 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Daren Hines has been named president of Overland Park, Kansas-based distributor Staples Promotional Products (PPAI 108945, D15), a subsidiary of office retail company Staples, Inc. Hines is an executive with more than 20 years of experience with numerous well-known brands, including General Mills, the J.M. Smucker Company and most recently, Morton Salt.

    In a statement announcing his appointment, Hines said, “I couldn’t be more excited to join Staples Promotional Products (SPP). SPP is an industry leader with an incredibly innovative team and an unparalleled global supplier network. I look forward to working alongside the team to build upon SPP’s successful track record of creating meaningful brand experiences for employees, consumers and stakeholders.”

    At Staples, Hines is a member of Staples’ executive leadership team, reporting directly to its CEO. With a focus on the general management and profit-and-loss responsibilities of the promotional products business, he will work with customers and suppliers to develop brand experiences for employees, consumers and stakeholders.

    Hines’ background includes roles in general management, commercial strategy development, brand building, innovation, trade marketing, direct account and customer relationship management, category management, retail operations and organization structure design. Prior to joining Staples in December 2021, he served as vice president, consumer and industrial, Americas, at Morton Salt. There, Hines led the sales and marketing teams supporting the company’s Morton, Windsor and Lobos brands and applications in North and South America. Earlier, at J.M. Smucker, he was the vice president of sales, channels, and the vice president of trade marketing.
  • Friday, January 07, 2022 1:35 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    American Solutions for Business pledged $8,315 during their annual United Way scavenger hunt. Held during the second week of November, 39 American Solutions for Business employee pledges help achieve the massive goal.

    With virtual events held November 8th-12th, The United Way of Pope and Douglas Counties used their annual campaign to support their local community and spread the important work that their organization does.

    “The annual campaign is a way for our company to support our community and spread the word about the important work that is done by the United Way of Pope and Douglas Counties,” explained Web Application Support Specialist, Michelle Pfeiffer. “Employees that participated in the events were eligible to win prizes. We had 39 employees this year who pledged a total of $8,315.”

    United Way fosters and promotes an inclusive environment that leverages the unique contributions of diverse individuals and organizations so that we can collectively and effectively create opportunities for a better life for all.
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