• Monday, January 07, 2019 8:25 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has closed resulting from a lack of funding for the fiscal year 2019. It’s included in about a quarter of federal government offices that have been shut down for the past 13 days.

    The CPSC has published its procedures in the event of a lapse in appropriations on the website. The procedures outline what activities certain CPSC staff are legally allowed to engage in during a government shutdown and identify which employees are excepted from the furlough. Employees who are not excepted from the furlough remain on call in the event of an emergency that requires them to report to duty as an excepted employee, which is a determination made by the executive director.

    During a government shutdown, the regulatory agency retains limited functional capability for responding to imminent threats to human safety and protecting government property. The CPSC has posted a hotline number for consumers to call in the event of an issue arises that needs immediate attention from their offices: 800-638-2772.

    At press time, there was no end in sight as the shut down enters its second week. The longest shut down in history was the stalemate between President Bill Clinton and the GOP Congress that lasted 21 days from December 16, 1995 to January 5, 1996.

  • Sunday, January 06, 2019 8:21 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Brooklyn Center, Minnesota-based Showdown Displays (PPAI 254687) has acquired Xarisma, a custom soft signage supplier in Huntsville, Alabama.

    “Xarisma’s creative branding solutions and innovative display development is an ideal complement to the current offerings of Showdown Displays,” says Kevin Walsh, president of Showdown Displays. “We’re equally excited to bring the added production capacity, expanded facility space and Xarisma’s expertise and talent in custom fabrications to the Showdown family.”

    In a news release, Showdown Displays describes the two companies as like-minded and culturally compatible, and once integrated under the Showdown Displays brand, will offer a more comprehensive suite of both stock and custom portable lightweight display solutions.

    “Showdown Displays is the undisputed industry leader in portable, lightweight displays,” says Jon Houser, a Xarisma owner and vice president of sales and marketing. “The entire Xarisma team is excited about the synergies this acquisition represents as well as the opportunity to leverage each company’s strengths to accelerate our overall growth.”

    The corporate headquarters for Showdown Displays will remain in Brooklyn Center. The current Xarisma offices and 85,000 square foot production facility in Huntsville and its 90 team members, will complement the Showdown Displays facilities and talent force.

  • Saturday, January 05, 2019 10:59 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Industry distributor Geiger (PPAI 105182) has promoted Bob Blaisdell, CPA, CMA, MAS; Dale Denham, MAS+, and Chris McKee, MAS, to new roles and responsibilities within the Lewiston, Maine, company’s executive team.

    “Having a strong leadership team is critical to the ongoing success of Geiger,” says President Jo-an Lantz, MAS. “I am enthusiastic about the skills that Bob, Dale and Chris contribute and the impact to our organization. They are terrific colleagues, and together I am excited about the future.”

    Blaisdell will now oversee all administrative operations in addition to the finance, legal and compliance departments. He has been with the company since 2000 as chief financial officer and executive vice president. He previously worked in various financial roles in Maine, Massachusetts and Saudi Arabia. Blaisdell received his accounting degree with honors from Merrimack College and his MBA in finance with honors from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

    "I look forward to my expanded role as we commit to applying continuous improvement practices to enhance the customer experience,” says Blaisdell. “The customer experience is not only at the time of the sale, it involves all touch points during the transaction including confirming the order is correct, that it will ship on time, be billed properly, the payment process is easy, and that any claim is dealt with expeditiously."

    Denham has been with Geiger since 2011 as chief information officer (CIO) and has been promoted to senior vice president in addition to his role as CIO. He also currently serves as PPAI’s board chair. Prior to joining Geiger, Denham was CEO of Maryland Pennysaver and senior vice president at the Advertising Specialty Institute. He is now responsible for information technology, ecommerce, vendor relations and digital marketing as well as the Crestline division of Geiger.

    "I love crafting the intersection of offline and online sales as I strongly believe in the benefits of both," says Denham. "Some customers want to buy online, some offline and some a mixture of both. I'm enthused to further position Geiger as the leader in this hybrid ecommerce space. As customers look to the web more frequently to drive their purchasing decisions, we will work to ensure our vendors who provide the best products and the best service receive the majority of our business."

    McKee has been promoted to senior vice president of sales and marketing. He joined Geiger in 1995 and has worked in positions with steadily increasing responsibility. He started his career with Geiger in marketing followed by five years as the division manager running Geiger’s Miami, Florida, and San Juan, Puerto Rico, operations. In 2001, McKee was promoted to general manager of corporate programs and then in 2006 to vice president to oversee the division’s online stores, business development, distribution and call center operations for top clients. In his new capacity, McKee will oversee all sales, business development, international activities and marketing for Geiger.

    "I am very excited by the opportunity in my new role to expand our business both in the U.S. and internationally,” he says. “We have an exceptional client base that will benefit greatly from our initiatives in Europe and Far East. We have a team and company culture that is second to none and I can’t think of a better group to work with on behalf of our customers, sales partners, associates and our local communities.”

  • Friday, January 04, 2019 11:15 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Distributor Geiger (PPAI 105182), headquartered in Lewiston, Maine, has acquired Bloomington, Illinois-based CM Promotions (PPAI 334193) as part of its continued expansion strategy and to broaden its client base in the Midwest.

    Connie Mandula, a veteran of the promotional products industry, started CM Promotions in 2000 and became the sole owner in 2004, eventually bringing two of her daughters on board—Holly Hedges in 2005 and Alyssa Mandula in 2016. CM Promotions will continue to support its current clients and community activities as a part of the Geiger family under the leadership of Connie Mandula. Geiger's technology will enable CM Promotions to add company stores to their services and better support its client base.

    In announcing the acquisition, Geiger said of CM Promotions, "As another family-owned and operated company, CM Promotions' culture, philosophy and focus on community service make CM Promotions a perfect candidate to join Geiger."

  • Thursday, January 03, 2019 9:24 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    BAG MAKERS, Inc., is featuring Digital Full-Color printing on plastic bags for 2019, as well as introducing several new product options and new imprint colors for customers.

    BAG MAKERS now offers Digital Full-Color printing on a variety of bags with the option for two-sided imprints. Digital Full-Color printing offers a generous imprint area, crisp colors, and exceptional clarity for fine lines, small text, and other details. Set-up is free and minimums start as low as 250 pieces. All Digital Full-Color plastic bags are made and printed in the USA and orders are shipped with exact quantity.

    Digital Full-Color printing is available on:

    ·         Digital Full-Color Die Cut Handle Bags. These 2.0 mil. White or Clear plastic bags have non-reinforced die cut handles and are available in three sizes (7.5 x 9, 9 x 13, and 12 x 15).

    ·         9 x 13 Digital Full-Color Plastic Doorknob Bag. This 2.0 mil. White plastic bag features a 1.5” round hole that fits around most standard-sized door handles.

    BAG MAKERS has also added the following new products for 2019:

    ·         Oxo-Biodegradable Die Cuts. These eco-friendly, reusable, and non-toxic bags will degrade under proper conditions when discarded responsibly. They are made and printed in the USA and are available with either Flexo Ink or Digital Full-Color printing.

    o   Flexo Ink: Two 3.0 mil Oxo-Biodegradable bag sizes are available (9 x 12 and 11 x 15) in a variety of colors (White, Clear, Buff, Gray, Black, Red, Orange, Yellow, Lime, and Navy).

    o   Digital Full Color: Two White, 2.0 mil Oxo-Biodegradable bag sizes are available (9 x 13 and 12 x 15).

    ·         Josephine Cotton/Jute Tote. This stylish 17W x 6 x 12H tote features durable 10-oz. cotton front and back panels that offer a generous imprint area, paired with natural-colored jute gussets and bottom. Interior gussets are laminated. Print options include Screen Print, ColorVista, and Sparkle.

    ·         Picasso Tote. This 14W x 8 x 14H tote is made with White 220-denier polyester front and back panels accented by Black gussets and handles. Sublimation, ColorVista, Screen Print, and Sparkle printing are available.

    In addition, BAG MAKERS added four new Flexo Ink colors for 2019 (F-2 Pantone Pink, F-11 Pantone Medium Purple, F-12 Pantone Bright Red, and F-17 Pantone Dark Blue), as well as a new Screen Print ink color (SS-44 Glow-in-the-Dark Classic White).

    For more information about what’s new at BAG MAKERS in 2019, as well as current 2019 pricing, visit

    About BAG MAKERS

    BAG MAKERS, Inc. is a Counselor Top 40 supplier of non-woven, PET non-woven, paper, polyester, plastic, laminated, and mesh bags, as well as ribbon, bows and tissue. Established in 1980, BAG MAKERS offers a collection of more than 100 products to the promotional products industry, as well as complete custom product design services. BAG MAKERS is a Women’s Business Enterprise and is an Accredited Supplier through the Quality Certification Alliance (QCA). Additional information may be found at
  • Friday, December 28, 2018 10:08 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    The Incentive Federation, Inc. (IFI), a trade association dedicated to promoting, protecting and providing research in the incentive field, and of which PPAI is a member, has announced its 2019 board of directors. PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE, sits on the IFI board.

    The IFI was founded in 1984 to bring together associations involved in various aspects of the incentive field, encompassing rewards, recognition, promotional products and related promotions. Originally founded to focus on government affairs, the IFI educates state and federal governments and agencies to protect the field and has expanded into three related areas: corporate outreach, education and research through its administration of industry studies.

    Steve Slagel, CAE, past president and CEO of PPAI and PPAI Hall of Fame member, serves as managing director of the IFI. The association’s 2019 board of directors are:

    Chair: Karen Wesloh, CAE, CMP, Executive Director, Incentive Marketing Association
    First Vice Chair for Associations: Didier Scaillet, CIS, CITP, Chief Excellence Officer, Society for Incentive Travel Excellence
    Second Vice Chair for Associations: Carl Anderson, Manager, Global Employee Recognition, Delta Airlines, and representative for the Recognition Professionals International
    Third Vice Chair for Associations: Melissa Van Dyke, President, The Incentive Research Foundation
    Fourth Vice Chair for Associations: Paul Bellantone, CAE, President and CEO, Promotional Products Association International
    Vice Chair for Corporations: Michael Donnelly, CPIM, President, Hinda Incentives
    Treasurer: Sean Roark, CPIM, Executive Vice President, IncentPros, Inc.
    Secretary: Brian Galonek, CPIM, President, All Star Incentive Marketing
    Director: Richard Blabolil, CPIM, President, Marketing Innovators International
    Director: Richard L. Low, CPIM, Vice President, Special Markets, Citizen Watch Company
    Director: Theresa Harkins-Schulz, SPHR, CCP, CRP, Vice President - Client Success & Engagement Solutions, Inspirus
    Director: Sue Voyles, President, Logos Communications, Inc.

  • Thursday, December 27, 2018 10:11 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Small businesses are evolving to meet shifts in the workforce market. The Future Workforce Report, produced by global freelancing website Upwork and conducted by independent research firm Inavero, surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. hiring managers—including more than 200 small-business managers—and found that small businesses embraced flexibility as they worked to build out their staff in 2018.

    “Record low unemployment is putting enormous pressure on businesses to explore new ways to find and engage talent,” says Stephane Kasriel, CEO of Upwork. “As the biggest driver of job growth in the U.S., small businesses are on the leading edge of workforce innovation. Innovative businesses are realizing that the only sustainable way to grow is by accessing the right talent and technology. As workers seek out more flexible work arrangements, businesses are embracing a flexible workforce to fill skills gaps and scale their teams.”

    Most small businesses surveyed—67 percent—planned on increasing their headcount in 2018 and to do so, 58 percent said they were embracing an agile workforce to meet greater interest among workers for flexible work arrangements. Most (53 percent) are working with flexible talent—freelancers, agency and temp workers—and Upfront expects the work done by flexible talent to increase by 20 percent over the next 10 years. The survey also highlighted that 86 percent of small businesses have made progress on developing a more agile, flexible talent strategy.

    Skills have also become more specialized, with 67 percent of respondents noting a trend in this direction over the past three years. Small businesses are also describing hiring as harder, with 63 percent noting “access to skills” as their top hiring challenge.

    Another trend identified in the survey is the remote worker. Upfront found that 60 percent of respondents agree that remote has become more commonplace over the last three years, and 67 percent of small businesses say that have someone on their team who works a significant portion of their time remotely, up 13 points from the company’s 2017 survey. Furthermore, small business were three times more likely to agree than disagree that offices will serve as occasional anchor points rather than daily travel destinations. In the next 10 years, small businesses predict that 35 percent of their employees will work predominantly from remote locations.

  • Thursday, December 20, 2018 8:16 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    At the International Association of Exhibitions and Events’ (IAEE) Expo! Expo! last week in New Orleans, Louisiana, PPAI Executive Vice President Bob McLean, CPA, CAE, was named chair-elect of IAEE and began his term as the 2019 chair for the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR).

    “CEIR provides invaluable research to guide participants in the tradeshow industry,” says McLean. “From research on attendee retention and the changing environment of the trade-show industry to the annual CEIR index, CEIR provides useful tools to help the industry and its members grow. I am honored to be the chairperson of such an important organization and look forward to working with its dedicated staff and board members.”

    The IAEE is the world’s largest association for the exhibitions and events industry, with a membership of show organizers, exhibitors and exhibition suppliers. CEIR provides research on the North American exhibitions and events industry globally which optimizes performance, increases engagement and addresses emerging customer needs.

  • Wednesday, December 19, 2018 8:13 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has published a notice in the Federal Register that officially delays the January 1 tariff increase from 10 percent to 25 percent. The notice states that the increase to 25 percent has been pushed back to March 2, 2019. The extension follows a bilateral meeting at November's G-20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, between President Trump and President Xi Jinping, and the delay opens up time for the two countries to come to an agreement in their trade dispute.

  • Tuesday, December 18, 2018 8:10 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Supplier Sweda Company, LLC (PPAI 113914) is adding a new apparel initiative to its hardgoods lines for 2019. The additions, which will be available beginning in January, include basics under the Basecamp® brand label, a partnership with surf and skate business staple Mill42, and apparel from numerous key retail brands.

    The Basecamp brand offers Made in the U.S. and U.S. fabrics/sewn in Mexico options, and a portion of the brand’s proceeds are donated to the Warrior Spirit Retreat, a place where wounded service members can heal physical and mental wounds. Sweda has also entered an exclusive partnership with Mill42, whose apparel is used by brands Volcom, Vans, Quiksilver, Billabong, DC Shoes and New Balance, among others.

    The City of Industry, California, supplier will also offer apparel from Adidas, Oakley, Champion, Columbia, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and Burnside along with key basic brands Gildan, Hanes, Jerzees, Anvil, Bella and Canvas, Next Level, American Apparel, Comfort Colors, Comfort Wash, Augusta Sportswear, Badger Sportswear, Independent Trading Company, J America and MV Sport.

    “With imprint locations in California, Ohio and Kentucky, we look at this opportunity as a one P.O., one freight charge and one contact convenience for our customers,” says Kellie Claudio, senior vice president of sales and marketing. “After years of planning, we are certainly ready to enter this category. Offering complete event packages from bags to rags, Sweda is making the distributor search a one-stop solution. I am over the moon thrilled about this category addition! It is like coming home to my apparel roots!”

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

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