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  • Saturday, March 16, 2019 10:10 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    American Solutions for Business is proud to announce that TG Promotions has joined the team. The distributor consists of a group of nine people: 3 sales and 6 support team members and was founded by Terry Greer and his wife, Linda. They also brought on Jessica Huffman Dobosh to the sales team in November of 2017. She has experience on the supplier side of the industry, and is positioned as the future of leader of TG.

    Their move was fueled primarily by technology needs: “The technology that American brings to the table will help us to become fully automated,” explains Terry Greer, co-founder of TG Promotions. “Under our old system, no less than three people would have their hands on a piece of paper because our ordering, billing, shipping and customer websites were all on different platforms that were not able to be integrated. We will immediately notice significant cost savings in the technology itself, and once we become proficient in the new platforms, the labor savings will be unquantifiable as our people will be able to focus more on sales and marketing initiatives.”

    Another key motivator for the move was the culture within ASB. They realized several interesting things that stuck out about the employees – 1. Many have extremely long tenures at the company and 2. They are part of the ESOP (employee owners in a stock plan). After the group visited the home office in Glenwood, MN, met Larry Zavadil (Founder/CEO), the support team and other ASB sales associates, they decided it was a good fit.

    “The Greers and their entire team have such a positive energy,” says Greg Nelson, ASB’s Implementation Manager. “They’re so easy to work with and it’s clear that our cultures mesh seamlessly.”

    “We are also impressed by the comradery of the other sales people and their willingness to share their knowledge,” adds Linda Greer, co-founder of TG. “We have always been heavy in apparel and promo, but have been intimidated by the print aspect of the business. We’re excited about the opportunities to learn about new products that we can introduce into our current client base. We feel like these opportunities will enable us to easily double our business in the next 3 years.”
  • Wednesday, March 13, 2019 10:50 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    American Solutions for Business’ Vice President of Technology, Mike Pfeiffer, recently spoke to local students at Minnewaska Area High School’s Career Day. The school is located near Glenwood, Minnesota, where ASB’s Home Office is based. Many of these students are children of employees and some become summer interns and future employees. Therefore, for the leadership team at ASB, getting involved with area schools is always a top priority.

    Pfeiffer discussed the following topics:

    • Evolution of Technology – He explained, “Your smartphone is millions of times more powerful than all of NASA’s combined computing in 1969.”
    • Nearly all fields involve technology today.
    • AgTech (Agricultural Technology) is one of the fastest growing fields.
    • Cyber Security is hot and marketable: “A 200,000 worker shortage exists and is expected to grow. Cybersecurity may be the fastest-growing career field today, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimating that the field will grow 28 percent between 2016 and 2026 (average growth for all jobs is about 7 percent).”
    • Don’t specialize too much in high school – make sure to be open to trying many fields. Pfeiffer shared with them that he wanted to be an accountant prior to 11th grade.
    • Don’t overlook local technical and community colleges to get your 2-year degree, get employed, leverage your education with tuition reimbursement benefits and commitment to life-long learning.
    • High-speed Bandwidth (defined as 10 Mbps minimum download speed ) today is like electricity to the home for our parents’ generation. Not all homes have high-speed, but cities are under increasing pressure to meet that threshold to continue to see residents move to – instead of leave – their cities.
    Much of Pfeiffer’s presentation and conversation with the students centered around the technology field on a large scale and local level so that they could understand their options in relation to their own career goals and path. ASB continues to search for more opportunities to get involved in local education, technology advances and overall contribution to our communities.
  • Wednesday, March 13, 2019 10:08 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Blair Hawley has joined BIC Graphic North America (PPAI 114187) in the newly created role of chief operating officer. Hawley will lead all operations and support functions, including manufacturing, customer service, procurement, inventory, planning, supply chain and logistics for the Tampa, Florida-based supplier. He reports directly to David Klatt, CEO.

    "I have a passion for continuous improvement and excellence in execution across all elements of the supply chain," says Hawley. "I look forward to bringing this passion to my new role and providing custom solutions for BIC Graphic customers."

    Hawley will be directly responsible for delivering a best-in-class customer experience through implementation of key strategic initiatives that will create value and streamline processes. He brings expertise in managing global supply chains with numerous facilities and significant international workforces in highly customizable, multiple order environments.

     He holds a degree in management engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts and has spent his career in supply chain management and operations. He has led business transformation efforts and developed strategic partnerships in custom business with well-known consumer brands such as Broyhill, Snuggle, Playtex, Hawaiian Tropic, Ronzoni, Remington and Timex.

  • Monday, March 11, 2019 2:08 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Top 40 supplier Stouse (asi/89910) announced Monday that Clay Davis is its new CEO and president effective immediately.  Davis succeeds Bruce Reed, who is retiring after 14 years of leading the New Century, KS-based firm. Reed will remain active on the company’s Board of Directors.
    Davis, who will be responsible for guiding the next phase of Stouse’s growth and corporate development, has more than 25 years of experience in senior leadership, sales and marketing roles in the packaging, printing and food manufacturing sectors. He most recently served as vice president and general manager for Flint Group North America’s packaging business. According to Stouse, Clay has served in leadership positions with some of the most well-known consumer brands in the country.

    “After an extensive search, we are very pleased to have found a leader of Clay’s stature and experience,” said Reed. “I feel very confident leaving this organization in his capable hands, and look forward to working with and supporting him as he builds upon the Stouse platform.”

    Davis is excited to be aboard. “Stouse has a strong reputation for excellent service in the specialty printing industry,” he said. “I am thrilled to join the company. We plan to explore ways to innovate and help drive growth for our customers while upholding the high-value service our clients deserve.”

    Executives at Goldner Hawn, the Minnesota-based private equity firm of which Stouse is a portfolio company, thanked Reed for his work at the supplier company. 

    “Bruce has been instrumental in building Stouse to its market-leading position,” said Joe Heinen, managing director of Goldner Hawn. “All of us at Goldner Hawn and the Stouse team are thankful for his vision, leadership, integrity and friendship over these many years. He is leaving behind an exceptionally strong organization poised for even more success in the future.”

    With reported 2017 North American promotional product revenue of $50.9 million, Stouse ranked 29th on Counselor’s latest list of the largest suppliers in the industry.

  • Wednesday, March 06, 2019 7:48 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Pantone, LLC, has introduced Pantone Metallics for Graphic and Packaging Design, a collection of metallic spot colors intended for use on printed products, packaging, branding and other collateral. This addition to the Pantone Graphics System enables designers, brands and printers to specify and produce luxurious, dazzling colors in a more versatile and cost-effective way when compared to other commonly used metallic applications for print.

    The new Pantone Metallics combines the prior premium and regular metallic publications into one collection and includes a new Rose Gold base ink and 53 other new colors. The full selection features 655 metallic shades that are globally available off-the-shelf and designed to enhance projects.

    “With their sheen and sparkle, metallic shades instantly capture and captivate the eye, adding visual texture and differentiation from surrounding products on-shelf,” says Laurie Pressman, vice president, Pantone Color Institute. “Entranced by luminosity, iridescence and holographic effects, our love for metallic and pearlescent finishes continues to build, particularly in packaging design. To address this growing trend, our new metallic palette for print encompasses a range of core metal shades including cool and chic silvers, lustrous golds, earthy bronzes as well as a wide variety of colored metal tones that take their cue from fashion and lifestyle, including vivid reds, bold pinks, minty greens, watery teals and warming corals.”

    The 54 new shades were inspired by the Pantone Metallic Shimmers, recently added to the Pantone Fashion, Home + Interiors System. For designers and suppliers working across materials, this alignment helps ensure that print and packaging colors can be more easily matched to products created in other materials and substrates including textiles, plastics, paint and more.

    As the latest update to the Pantone Graphics color system, Pantone Metallics are intended to complement the existing elements of the system and are available in two physical formats—the Metallics Coated Guide, used for color specification and communication, it is a portable fan deck including color numbers and ink formulations, and the Metallic Chips Coated Book, for palette development, color specification and communication, and production reference, it is a single-volume, three-ring binder. In addition, all 655 metallic colors for print are available digitally for accessibility and viewing in design software and on-screen applications. Further, brands and their software and systems providers can license the color identities and then specifying into their style guides and designs.

  • Saturday, March 02, 2019 9:25 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    American Solutions for Business is honored to be a recipient of Gill-line’s award for a Top Twenty-Five Distributor in 2018.

    “We’re incredibly grateful for our partnership with Gill-line,” explains Dana Zezzo, ASB’s VP of Marketing, Vendor Relations and Events. “Recognition like this is beginning to become a lost art – we appreciate this acknowledgement and will display this award proudly.”   

    “We’re pleased to present this Top 25 award to ASB!” shares Mike Malinowski, VP of Sales at Gill-line. “Thanks to all ASB affiliates for “sticking” with Gill-line!”

    About American Solutions for Business
    American was founded in 1981 in Glenwood, Minnesota, and has evolved into a leading distributor, providing our customers with print, promotional products, marketing collateral, fulfillment and more. Despite our growth in technology, resources and sales, we maintain our grassroots attitude by operating as the only large employee-owned distributorship in the industry. This results in a team of personally-invested employees that care for our customers’ branding, spend and creative reach to help achieve their goals.
  • Friday, March 01, 2019 3:36 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Americans for Free Trade, a broad coalition of more than 150 U.S. businesses and trade associations united against tariffs and of which PPAI® is a member, sent a letter this week to President Trump commending the administration for making progress on trade negotiations and recognizing the negative impact of tariffs on American businesses by avoiding a tariff hike on March 1. The coalition emphasized the urgency of concluding trade talks as existing tariffs and ongoing uncertainty continue to hurt promotional products businesses and others across the country.

    “It is our hope that this momentum will build in the weeks ahead and lead to a final deal that addresses structural issues in China, removes tariffs on both sides and eliminates trade uncertainty facing American businesses and farmers,” said the coalition’s letter. “Although we are encouraged by the latest signs of progress, it is important to note that existing tariffs and shifting deadlines are hanging over American businesses and farmers and undermining their ability to grow, invest and plan for the future.”

    The letter also asks the administration to publish a required Federal Register notice before March 2 confirming and detailing the decision to avoid a tariff increase in order to provide the business community with certainty.

    “We are eager to see a trade deal with China that addresses structural issues such as intellectual property theft and technology transfer while removing existing tariffs and the threat of tariffs in the future,” the letter stated. “Millions of American farmers, businesses, workers and families are counting on you to achieve a positive resolution that keeps America competitive on the global stage while growing our economy and protecting the millions of U.S. jobs supported by trade.”

    The coalition letter also highlighted the rising cost of the trade war using monthly data on how much new tariffs have cost American businesses and consumers. The most recent monthly data, which comes from the U.S. Census Bureau, shows that American businesses paid an additional $2.7 billion in November 2018, compared to $375 million in tariffs on the same products in 2017.

    The full text of the letter can be found here.

  • Monday, February 25, 2019 8:05 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Specialty Advertising Association of California (SAAC) has selected PPAI® to provide the regional association with management services. SAAC will continue to work under the stewardship of its board of directors and will maintain autonomy and a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit status as a professional trade association. A dedicated PPAI representative will serve as SAAC's executive director and will be supported by additional staff resources.

    "We are incredibly excited to partner with PPAI as our chosen association management company," says SAAC Board President Rhett Todd. "The level of support PPAI will provide is much more robust than that of a standard association management company. They are on the forefront of legislative and regulatory matters, and we believe working together in California will not only be beneficial for SAAC members but will ultimately help pioneer initiatives that will positively affect the industry at large."

    PPAI and SAAC operate under separate missions designed to serve the promotional products industry at the international and regional levels, respectively. This shared vision and natural alignment strengthens the presence of SAAC in the region, while creating more opportunities for SAAC and PPAI members. 

    PPAI will immediately begin work with SAAC and its board to bring the news of this partnership to SAAC members. SAAC members are invited to join the SAAC board and PPAI leadership at the board installation dinner on March 7 at Café Santorini in Old Town Pasadena. Details are available on the SAAC website.

  • Thursday, February 21, 2019 11:58 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Ed Johnson, MAS, who served as PPAI® board chair in 1995 and was previously a regional vice president at Geiger, passed away on February 15 after a long illness. He was 77.

    “Ed was the chairman of the PPAI board who hired me as president in late 1995,” says Steve Slagle, CAE, past president and CEO of PPAI. “In fact, Ed called to offer me the job following a weekend of interviews with the search committee. During my first year as president in 1996, Ed finished his board tenure as immediate past chair and I got a firsthand view of Ed’s leadership style. I recall that Ed was so easily approachable, and I found that I liked him immediately. Ed was a gentleman, very generous and gracious, and truly interested in what was happening in others’ lives.”

    Johnson joined the U.S. Army after high school and served in Vietnam. After his time in the military, he went to college on the GI Bill and earned a degree in industrial design from the University of Illinois-Chicago. He began his career in the industry as a graphic designer working with promotional products companies in the Chicago area. In 1973 he moved to Seattle, Washington, and joined distributor Walter W. Cribbins Company in a sales role. He rose within sales management and in 1987 purchased the San Francisco division of the company from Carl Rosenfeld. He later sold the Walter W. Cribbins Company to Geiger where he and his wife remained active. Johnson became a regional vice president at Geiger and oversaw its in-house education program until his retirement, then he continued on with Geiger in a sales capacity.

    “Ed was one of the great characters—of great character—that I’ve come across in my work life,” says Gene Geiger, MAS+, co-owner and CEO of Geiger. “His interests and accomplishments were as varied as a Renaissance man. He had sensibility of an artist and the grit of a fighter. He helped elevate our industry and all those he worked with. And when I think of him, I am so appreciative I was able to know and enjoy him.”

    A longtime industry volunteer, Johnson was elected to the PPAI board of directors in 1991, when the organization was operating as Specialty Advertising Association International. During his term, he was instrumental in the Association’s name change to Promotional Products Association International.

    “Ed was a great friend both as a distributor customer and as a colleague on the board,” says Barry Chase, CAS, former PPAI board chair. “But above all he was a visionary who knew the future would be better than the past if we would only look ahead, not backwards, in our lives and careers.”

    Prior to serving on the board of directors, Johnson also served on the PPAI Technology, Terminology & Standards Task Force, Leadership Advisory Committee, Membership Services Committee, Strategic Planning Committee and as a PPAI Ambassador. A tireless supporter of education, in 1980 Johnson and his employees donated $10,000 to the Association in Rosenfeld’s name as a birthday gift for its industry education certification program.

    Slagle adds, “Ed was a very effective leader, in his quiet and typically reserved manner, because those around him had such respect for his integrity and his experience. Ed exhibited love, loyalty and dedication to the promotional products industry, which was only surpassed by his love and affection for his lovely wife Tanya and his daughters. Among Ed’s amazing gifts were his infectious sense of humor, his wry smile and twinkling eyes, and his willingness to have fun. Ed’s leadership by example, his professionalism and his respect for his colleagues will be sorely missed by all those who knew him. He truly was one of the really good guys.”

    Outside of the industry, Johnson’s passion was restoring vintage automobiles. He installed a grease pit in his garage and spent countless hours rebuilding cars. In addition, he built the first pickleball court on Bainbridge Island and hosted many competitive pickleball tournaments.

    “Ed was my friend and mentor,” says Cliff Quicksell, MAS+, iPROMOTEu’s director of affiliate marketing. “I had spent a few times at his home with him and his wife Tanya. I loved Ed’s calm disposition and his willingness to always share. Ed was kind enough to write the forward in my first book, I will cherish that, always remembering what an amazing guy he was. I remember sitting with him and prejudging Geiger’s Pyramid entries several years back. We had such a good time. I remember being at his home, walking through his amazing garage, looking at his amazing antique car collection, pickleball tournaments and having a glass of wine, eating wood-planked grilled salmon overlooking Puget Sound and the great conversations that would just blend into the night.”

    Johnson is survived by his wife Tanya, his five children—Ericka Frink, Paula Burke, Carla Johnson, Grant Johnson and Laura Yu—eight grandchildren and one great granddaughter, and his brother Bill and family.

    No services are scheduled for Johnson at this time, but the family is planning to celebrate his life with an event near his home in the spring or summer. For anyone wanting to make a contribution in his memory, the family requests donations to Holt International, the adoption agency through which his daughter Carla joined the family and an organization he supported. Holt International, 250 Country Club Road, Eugene, Oregon 97401, www.holtinternational.org.

  • Tuesday, February 12, 2019 7:46 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    This past week, ASB held a 5K Run/Walk to raise money for the local United Way while hosting their national sales conference in conjunction with the ASI Show Fort Worth. Over 130 individuals donated and nearly 100 participated in walking or running the race on Monday, February 3rd. In addition, 13 suppliers stepped up as event sponsors to donate product and monetary contribution. These suppliers include: SanMar, Dubow Textile, BamBams, Spector & Co., Raining Rose, Catania Medallic Specialty, Showdown Displays, Logo Mats, OTTO International and Evans Manufacturing.

    “We’re incredibly grateful for this opportunity to give back to our host city,” said Dana Zezzo, ASB’s VP of Marketing, Vendor Relations & Events. “We set off with the intention to raise awareness and hopefully get 20 or 30 people to participate – we had no idea it would blow up like it did! We have some of the most passionate associates and vendor partners and are looking forward to exploring even more ways to give back to our communities.”
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