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  • Wednesday, September 20, 2023 10:12 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has voted to approve a mandatory standard to reduce button cell and coin battery ingestion hazards to children six years and under.

    Both suppliers and distributors in the promotional products industry should be aware that these batteries are used in many types of products, such as a variety of toys, wireless video game controllers, musical greeting cards and keyless entry remotes.

    “Now that CPSC has finalized Reese’s Law, and has adopted ANSI/UL4200A-2023 as the mandatory standard for consumer products powered by button cell batteries and not covered by the ASTM F963- The Toy Safety Standard, it is urgent that all members of the promotional products industry comply,” says Rick Brenner, MAS+, president and CEO of Product Safety Advisors and long-time co-chair to PPAI’s Product Responsibility Summit.


    Enacted August 16, 2022, Reese's Law mandates that the CPSC implements federal safety requirements for button cell or coin batteries, as well as consumer products containing such batteries.

    • These requirements don’t apply to toy products for children under 14 if the products comply with the Toy Standard.
    • Additionally, the law requires that any button cell or coin battery offered for sale, manufactured for sale, imported into the U.S. or included separately with a consumer product, meet the child-resistant packaging requirements in the Poison Prevention Packaging Standards after February 12, 2023.

    Consistent with Reese’s Law, the mandatory standard – ANSI/UL 4200A-2023 – requires either the use of a tool, such as a screwdriver or coin to open the battery compartment, or the application of at least two independent and simultaneous movements to open by hand.

    Additionally, such consumer products must pass a series of performance tests simulating reasonably foreseeable use or misuse. The standard also includes labeling requirements for consumer products containing button cell or coin batteries, and labeling requirements for consumer product packaging.

    Safety Hazard

    According to the CPSC, the consequences of a child swallowing a button cell or coin battery can be immediate and deadly. The tiny batteries can burn through a child’s throat or esophagus in as little as two hours if swallowed.

    • From 2011 through 2021, the CPSC is aware of 27 deaths and an estimated 54,300 injuries treated in emergency rooms associated with ingested or inserted button cell or coin batteries.

    The movement to promote child safety regarding button cell and coin battery ingestion was spearheaded by Trista Hamsmith, whose 18-month-old daughter Reese Hamsmith died from injuries sustained when she swallowed a coin cell battery in December 2020. Since that time, Hamsmith has worked tirelessly to protect other children from similar hazards.

    “I thank Trista Hamsmith and the congressional champions of this legislation for all of their work to provide the commission with expedited authority to address this safety hazard,” wrote CPSC Chair Alexander Hoehn-Saric. “I also want to thank the CPSC staff for providing the necessary support and analysis to bring us to this important moment. With these changes, we’ll help reduce the number of deaths and injuries from these consumer products.”

    Promo’s Next Steps

    The new law will take effect 180 days from the date that it is published in the Federal Register, which has not happened yet. Promo industry suppliers have an opportunity to evaluate their product line and determine if their non-toy button cell powered products already meet the standard or will have to be redesigned.

    The Consumer Product Safety Commission is presenting at this year’s Summit on Reese’s Law. The event will be held October 8-10 in Alexandria, Virginia. Click here for more information and to register.

    Written by: John Corrigan

    Published with Permission from PPAI

  • Wednesday, September 20, 2023 10:07 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    One of promo's largest family-owned companies has appointed a new leader that was not born into the business.

    New York-headquartered Starline, the No. 13 supplier in the 2023 PPAI 100, on Wednesday announced the promotion of Jeffrey Hassler to the role of president. Hassler joined Starline in 2012. He had most recently served as chief financial officer.

    • Previous president Mason Lapsker will take on the role of CEO. 
    • The company was founded in Canada more than 50 years ago by Joshua Lapsker, Mason Lapsker's grandfather, who passed away at age 79 last year.

    "Our family's deep-rooted belief in the importance of a corporate family itself has been the heartbeat of our organization for over 50 years," says Mason Lapsker. "Jeff started his Starline career as a cost accountant, and in the span of a decade, he's become an indispensable part of our company. With unwavering support and unshakeable dedication, his commitment to Starline, and most importantly, our people, embodies the very principles upon which Starline was founded."

    Hassler had climbed to CFO by 2018. Previous career stops prior to Starline came from outside of promo, including stints in the banking and insurance industries.

    “Jeff’s guidance has already proven to be invaluable in our steady sales growth and innovative decoration offerings,” says Starline CRO Brian Porter. “I have no doubt that with his experience and knowledge of the industry, it will continue our long-standing reputation for top-tier service and innovation.”

    Written by: Josh Ellis

    Published with Permission from PPAI

  • Monday, September 18, 2023 12:09 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Saint Louis-based Arch Promo Group has announced its acquisition of HOWW Manufacturing Company in Barrington, Illinois. Terms of the sale weren’t disclosed.

    As a result of the acquisition, Mike Kalamaras, former owner of HOWW Manufacturing, will support Peter Kalamaras’ transition from vice president to general manager of HOWW Manufacturing.

    “I wanted to ensure HOWW would be in good hands, and I’m very glad we found Arch Promo Group,” says Mike Kalamaras. “Arch shares our commitment to delivering innovative products at a great price. Our customers will benefit from a larger partner with a wider product range, and our employees will continue to enjoy working for a growing leader in the industry. I see a bright future for HOWW Manufacturing and Arch Promo Group.”

    Welcome To The ‘Family’

    Formed in 2022, Arch Promo Group was developed to bring together a family of brands with a common goal of providing promotional products sold through its trade-only suppliers.


    • Arch Promo Group’s expanding line of products includes key tags, air fresheners, magnets, award ribbons, cups, napkins, reusable barware, calendars, journals, umbrellas, wristbands and more.


    Founded in 1984, HOWW Manufacturing specializes in custom printed promotional drinkware, such as shot glasses, beer mugs, multi-use cups and more.

    “We’re excited to grow our portfolio of products and services with the addition of HOWW’s industry-leading drinkware,” says Steve Ehlert, national general manager of Arch Promo Group. “For nearly 50 years, HOWW Manufacturing has been known for helping to build its customers’ brands throughout North America and beyond with innovative drinkware. We’ll invest in making our combined company stronger while offering a broader product line to our customers.”

    PPAI Media previously spoke with industry leaders on their best practices for mergers and acquisitions.

    Written by: John Corrigan

    Published with Permission from PPAI

  • Friday, September 08, 2023 11:35 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Steven Meyer, MAS,  Arch Promo Group National Sales Manager announced the appointment of Les Love, CAS as Midwestern Sales Manager. Love’s responsibilities include meeting and supporting regional distributors throughout the Midwest, introducing the Arch Family of Brands to all and attending industry events. “Meeting our distributor friends on their turf, doing everything possible to support their position as creative resources for their customers and helping them grow their business and profits is at the top of my list,” says Love.

    Meyer reports that Love’s new responsibilities are another example of change and growth with Arch. “His 17 years of experience as a distributor sets him apart from most supplier reps and his understanding of the distributor side of the business makes his voice valuable,” Meyer adds.

    “As we continue to grow, adding new suppliers and focusing on US made/decorated product yet happily NOT mashing everyone into one way of doing business, we’re finding out that both our new brands as well as their long time loyal customers appreciate and feel great about joining or working with Arch,” Meyer states.

  • Tuesday, August 29, 2023 8:55 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    SAGE, the leading provider of information, marketing, and business management solutions to the promotional products industry, is thrilled to announce the launch of its upgraded SAGE Company Store Standard. This latest release introduces a multitude of features designed to elevate user experience and site functionality to new heights. With these updates, SAGE continues to revolutionize the way distributors manage their online presence.

    SAGE Company Store Standard, the introductory company store solution in SAGE’s company store offerings, now includes more of the advanced features and functionality within SAGE’s higher-level company store options, SAGE Company Store Premium and SAGE Company Store Premium Plus.

    This all-new, enhanced version has an innovative and fresh user interface. The clean and modern layout seamlessly incorporates distributors’ existing branding, colors, custom navigation, product selection, and settings allowing an effortless transition for their customers while delivering a more visually appealing experience. Moreover, the fully responsive design enables distributor clients to enjoy flawless viewing across all devices, be it desktop, tablet, or mobile phone.

    SAGE Company Store Standard continues to include SAGE's trusted web hosting services, promising seamless performance and maximum uptime for distributors' e-commerce stores. To further strengthen site performance and reliability, advanced security updates, including full-site 2 SSL encryption, have been implemented to safeguard sensitive customer data, fostering trust among site visitors.

    Another exciting new feature included in the upgraded SAGE Company Store Standard is the addition of a product matrix. This intuitive new component simplifies the process of inputting multiple sizes and colors in an order, eliminates multiple additional steps, and streamlines the ordering experience for distributors and their customers alike.

    Another addition to the new SAGE Company Store Standard includes multiple image support. This enables distributors to showcase their offerings from various angles or show multiple color options to help customers better visualize their final product and increase engagement.

    The enriched customization options within the new SAGE Company Store Standard allow distributors to create compelling content and promotional offers by adding text, specials, or links, ultimately driving more sales. And with the ability to add multiple auto-rotating and linkable homepage banners, distributors can easily highlight their featured products, seasonal promotions, or any message they wish to convey right at the top of their page.

    Plus, distributors can provide their customers with two additional custom webpages. Some great examples of this would be a size chart page or FAQ page. The user-friendly rich text editor empowers distributors to format and style their website content seamlessly, while the expanded file library allows for the storage and management of a greater volume of digital assets, including images, logos, and marketing collateral. Additionally, the new language support toggle supports clients with internationally located employees.

    For advanced users seeking even more customization options, SAGE's upgraded Company Store Standard offers JS & CSS support, allowing the addition of their own JavaScript and CSS code to further personalize their e-commerce stores.

    “Here at SAGE, our steadfast commitment is to help our customers thrive and provide them with the latest in what SAGE has to offer. And this upgrade is a big step up for our current 3 Company Store Standard customers” said Chris Sumpter, Vice President of Web Development. “We’ve modernized the design, but we’ve also incorporated several customer-requested features to make the site more efficient and effective for both our distributors and their customers.”

    The upgraded SAGE Company Store Standard is available now. All existing Company Store Standard customers will be automatically upgraded to the new version prior to September 30, 2023, and will receive an email once the upgrade is complete.

    Despite the significant enhancements, SAGE remains committed to delivering value to its clients. Effective October 1, 2023, all new Company Store Standard subscriptions or renewals will be available at the rate of $295 per year or $29 per month.

    To learn more about the updated capabilities of SAGE Company Store Standard or to request a free demo store, visit

  • Tuesday, August 29, 2023 7:28 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Proforma, PPAI 100’s No. 5 distributor, has added a new member to its executive team. Industry veteran Charity Gibson has been hired in the role of chief marketing officer.

    The Hire

    Gibson comes to Proforma from Peerless Umbrella where she spent six years as a national account coordinator.

    • Previous to her role at Peerless Umbrella, Gibson was a founding chef of PromoKitchen, where she has volunteered for over 10 years. She hosted the podcast Badass Women of Promo.
    • Her prior experience include president roles at Swag on Demand and Green Banana Promos.
    • Gibson has also volunteered on several committees for PPAI and regional associations. In 2017 she was named a PPAI Rising Star and she has been a regular member of PPAI Media's #Online18 listing of promo's best on social media.

    “It is no secret that Charity is one of the industry’s top voices as it pertains to marketing and is well respected as a thought leader and innovator,” says Vera Muzzillo, Proforma CEO. “She brings with her an unrivaled passion and vision for brand development and storytelling, and we are confident that her leadership and strategies will propel our distributors, sales professionals, and end-buyer customers to an entirely new level of success.”

    In her role as chief marketing officer, Gibson will oversee Proforma’s marketing department. This will include areas such as:

    • Brand positioning
    • Communications
    • Market analysis and research
    • Industry recruitment
    • Customer acquisition and growth
    • Design input for implementation of artificial intelligence, machine learning and algorithmic marketing initiatives.

    “With more than 20 years in this industry, my experience now spans across nearly all channels of the industry,” Gibson says. “There is no one who does technology, training, leadership development, sales growth, supplier relations and community building better than Proforma. I couldn't be more thrilled for the opportunity to bring my knowledge, skillset, and passion for our medium to this organization full of true champions.”

    Peerless Umbrella ranked as the No. 21 leading supplier in the promotional products industry in the inaugural PPAI 100 list.

    Written by Jonny Auping

    Published with Permission from PPAI

  • Tuesday, August 22, 2023 12:26 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    In honor of Promotional Products Work! Day on August 24, PPAI is launching a sweepstakes that celebrates the effectiveness and impact of promotional products in driving brand awareness and fostering meaningful connections. 

    Beginning August 21, the Promotional Products Work! Day Sweepstakes will give end buyers the opportunity to enter for a chance to win prizes, including the grand prize of a $5,000 voucher towards their next promotional products purchase. Additionally, nine other winners will be selected to receive $500 vouchers each. 

    “This sweepstakes aims to highlight the value of promotional products in marketing strategies, while providing participants with the chance to enhance their brand presence and engage with their target audience in a memorable way,” says AJ T. Cole, CAS, manager of the Promotional Products Work! Initiative. “It will be a remarkable opportunity for businesses and individuals to experience firsthand the power of promotional products in driving success.”

    What Is Promotional Products Work! Day?

    On August 24, PPAI, together with its members and other industry professionals, will actively recognize and promote the value, impact and effectiveness of promotional products – the most memorable form of advertising.

    • More than three quarters (78%) of consumers enjoy receiving free swag from companies and brands they love, and nearly 73% want to receive promo products more often, according to PPAI’s 2023 Consumer Survey.

    On Promotional Products Work! Day, industry professionals are encouraged to thank customers, promote the power of branded merchandise and spread awareness of the important role industry professionals play in all aspects of advertising, marketing and business.

    In addition to the sweepstakes, here are other ways industry firms can celebrate Promotional Products Work! Day.

    What role do distributors play in the Promotional Products Work! Day Sweepstakes?

    Below are several ways that distributors can promote the sweepstakes to their buyers and what they should expect to see within the PPW Toolkit on August 21, the official sweepstakes launch date.

    • Email Campaigns

    Distributors can send out dedicated email campaigns to their buyers, using the compliant language approved by sweepstakes provider US Sweepstakes & Fulfillment Co.

    • Social Media Promotion

    Distributors can utilize their social media platforms to share the approved graphics and language.

    • Blog Promotion

    Distributors can create a blog post on their website about what a $5,000 voucher could do for a lucky buyer, linking to the sweepstakes.

    • Personalized Outreach

    Distributors can reach out to their key buyers individually via phone, discussing the sweepstakes and expressing the value of participation. Plus, this gives distributors a nice reason to make a cold call ahead of the busy holiday season.

    In addition to sharing the approved graphics and language that will be found within the PPW Toolkit, distributors should use the #PPWDAY2023 hashtag and engage with the Promotional Products Work! Initiative’s social media pages for the latest buyer-safe content resources:

    Caution: Distributors should only use what is being provided to them when promoting the sweepstakes. These materials have been approved by PPAI’s sweepstakes provider US Sweepstakes & Fulfillment Co. and will be located within the PPW Toolkit.  

    How can end users enter the Promotional Products Work! Day Sweepstakes?

    Distributors will send invitations to eligible individuals who may enter by clicking the URL link provided in the invitation to visit the sweepstakes website. End users must follow all instructions to complete the online entry form in its entirety, including, but not limited to, providing their name, email address, name of the company they work for and name of the distributor* they consider purchasing their promotional products from. End users must submit the completed form to receive one entry into the sweepstakes. There is no purchase necessary to enter the sweepstakes. The sweepstakes ends on September 30, 2023, and is subject to Official Rules.

    *Distributor must be a member of PPAI to qualify as an entry.

  • Thursday, August 17, 2023 1:09 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    CleggPROMO is under new leadership with the promotion of Brett Cutler to president of the Gardena, California-based supplier.

    Meet The New President

    Cutler joined the custom manufacturing arm of CleggPROMO in 2021.The company focuses on specialty packaging, tech merchandising and digital signage solutions.

    • Cutler brings more than 30 years of promotional products and incentives experience to his new role.
    • Prior to CleggPROMO, Cutler held senior leadership positions at distributors HH Global and HALO, as well as supplier Greater Pacific Industries.
    • Cutler’s background also includes product line development, sales and marketing.

    What They’re Saying

    “I’m very excited to join the CleggPROMO team as we grow our company as a valuable supplier to promotional products distributors by expanding our product lines and services and building upon our fast, personal, high-quality service,” says Cutler. “CleggPROMO is a great company with very special innovative skill sets, and I look forward to working with this talented team and with the Clegg brothers.”

    Timothy Clegg, CEO and founder of CleggPROMO says, “Brett is a knowledgeable and well-respected industry member, and he fits well with our leadership team. We are happy to have him focus his talents on growing CleggPROMO, and his unique combination of product knowledge and marketing will create growth and market expansion of our audio logo and audio branding line, our tech offerings, as well as our specialty and premium packaging, digital displays and custom manufacturing capabilities. We are excited about supporting Brett and the vision he has to take CleggPROMO to the next level.”

    Founded in 1987 in Southern California, CleggPROMO introduced the promo industry to its original ringing sound card and has since evolved into a full line of custom designed audio-logo greeting cards and interactive sound products.

    “One of the first products I sold as a distributor was the fantastic Clegg TRC 1000 ringing sound card, followed up by the first Clegg voice chip talking brochure,” Cutler says. “I sold thousands and thousands of the Clegg sound and voice chip brochures over the years. There’s always been a culture of innovation and inventiveness at CleggPROMO, and I am thrilled to be part of a team of great product designers and innovators.”

    Written by: James Khattack

    Published with Permission from PPAI

  • Thursday, August 17, 2023 1:04 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    We’re one week away from Promotional Products Work! Day, which PPAI has designated as a special occasion to celebrate the power of promotional products and the value they bring to businesses and organizations.

    On August 24, PPAI – together with its members and other industry professionals – will actively recognize and promote the value, impact and effectiveness of promotional products – the most memorable form of advertising.

    • More than three quarters (78%) of consumers enjoy receiving free swag from companies and brands they love, and nearly 73% want to receive promo products more often, according to PPAI’s 2023 Consumer Survey.

    On Promotional Products Work! Day, industry professionals are encouraged to thank customers, promote the power of branded merchandise and spread awareness of the important role industry professionals play in all aspects of advertising, marketing and business.

    So, how can industry companies join in the fun? Below are nine ideas for making the most of Promotional Products Work! Day.

    1. Host an Open House

    Invite customers and prospects to visit your showroom, meet your team and learn about new products and services. If you haven’t welcomed anyone to your showroom since the COVID-19 pandemic, this would be an ideal time to open your doors.

    2. Create a Social Media Campaign

    Use Facebook, Instagram, X (formerly known as Twitter), Snapchat or whichever social media platform you have to share stories and images of successful promotional products campaigns, emphasizing the impact they’ve had on your clients. Encourage your followers to share their own success stories, too. You may also use any of the other social graphics provided within the PPW Toolkit.

    3. Offer Special Discounts

    Incentivize customers to make purchases and get ahead of the busy holiday season by offering special discounts on popular products or services. A one-day-only deal could be the extra push that a prospect needs to finally invest in promotional products.

    4. Donate to a Charitable Organization

    Partner with a local charity and donate a portion of your sales on Promotional Products Work! Day to that organization. It’s a great way to demonstrate your commitment to giving back to the community.

    5. Host a Networking Event

    Organize a networking event for local businesses and organizations to connect and learn about the latest trends in promotional products and marketing. Perhaps you could hold the open house in conjunction with the networking event as an added incentive for clients and prospects to participate.

    6. Launch a New Product or Service

    What better time to introduce a new product or service than Promotional Products Work! Day? Offer a special promotion or discount for customers who place an order for the new product during the event.

    7. Conduct a Survey

    Distributors should engage with their customers on a consistent basis to not only identify areas for improvement, but also better understand customer needs. Take advantage of Promotional Products Work! Day to send clients a survey about their favorite products, what challenges they’re currently facing and how you can help solve their problems.

    8. Host a Webinar

    Plan and host an educational webinar for customers and prospects to learn about the latest trends, best practices and newest promotional products. However, don’t let the webinar turn into a commercial – make sure you provide valuable content that can improve some aspect of your attendees’ business.

    9. Give Prizes

    To create a fun atmosphere, host a raffle or giveaway for customers who make a purchase during Promotional Products Work! Day. It’s an opportunity to showcase multiple products or services in an exciting way.

    Written by: John Corrigan

    Published with Permission from PPAI

  • Wednesday, August 16, 2023 5:24 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Mike Szymczak, co-founder of Salt Lake City-based supplier Origaudio, is retiring from the promotional products industry.

    A Change In Leadership

    Origaudio, a subsidiary of HPG – ranked the No. 8 supplier in this year’s PPAI 100 – has announced that Szymczak will step down from his development and sales management role at Origaudio, as well as his vice president of business development role at HPG, on Aug. 18.

    “This industry is the absolute greatest to be a part of and I’m thankful for all the people I’ve met because of it,” says Szymczak, who will remain an HPG investor. “I’m proud to have worked alongside the HPG family as we’ve collectively grown the Origaudio brand and have every confidence they’ll continue to in my absence.”

    In a video, Szymczak announced that Nick Lateur, director of sales at HPG, will assume his development and sales management role as it relates to Origaudio.

    • Entering the promo industry in 2015, Lateur worked in national sales for San Clemente, California-based supplier AP Specialties and Mason, Ohio-based IMAGEN Brands (PPAI 114197, S10) before joining HPG as director of national accounts for HPG’s specialty channel.

    “Mike Szymczak is a true innovator and someone I deeply admire,” Lateur told PPAI Media. “While I’m (selfishly) a little bummed out about his decision to step away from the day-to-day work at HPG/Origaudio, I’m also extremely happy for Mike and his family for having the ability to continue to blaze his own path in life. He’s earned that privilege.”

    “I humbly accept the fiery-hot Origaudio torch he is now passing to me,” Lateur adds. “I’ll continue to instill creativity and innovation to the unique brand that he and Jason Lucash built 14-plus years ago, and I consider it one of my top professional honors to be the one to carry Origaudio successfully into the future.”

    Origaudio History

    In 2009, Szymczak and Lucash launched Origaudio, which has earned numerous accolades inside and outside the industry for its cutting-edge products, innovative packaging and clever go-to-market strategies.

    • In 2011, the duo appeared on Shark Tank, accepting an offer from investor Robert Herjavec, who offered the exact $150,000 for 15% deal that they hoped for.
    • In 2018, Origaudio was acquired by HPG, which was formerly named HUB Promotional Group.

    “The HPG team wishes to congratulate Mike on his success and thank him for his wonderful contribution to the entire enterprise,” says Trina Bicknell, chief revenue officer at HPG. “He has earned his stellar reputation through hard work, ingenuity and genuine kindness toward those around him. I’m delighted he won’t be far away as he remains an investor and look forward to his input in the future as we grow both Origaudio and HPG.”

    Written by John Corrigan

    Published with Permission from PPAI

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