• Saturday, October 20, 2018 10:10 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    The regional community recognized its best on Tuesday evening during the 2018 Leadership Development Workshop. Roger Burnett, vice president of sales and marketing at Fort Collins, Colorado, supplier Branded Logistics, LLC, and Steven Meyer, MAS, vice president of sales at Dallas, Texas-based supplier RiteLine, were presented with the 2018 PPAI RAC Volunteer of the Year award. Lisa Bibb, MAS, executive director for the Virginia Promotional Products Association (VAPPA) and the Georgia Association of Promotional Products Professionals (GAPPP), was also presented with the 2018 Donna Hall Memorial Grant.

    The PPAI RAC Volunteer of the Year award is presented annually to regional association members who have demonstrated an outstanding level of volunteerism and leadership, and who have made significant and measurable contributions to a regional association.

    In accepting his award from Danny Rosin, CAS, PPAI board member, Burnett, who is president-elect of the Michigan Promotional Professionals Association (MiPPA) board of directors, spoke on the impact and value that volunteering has brought to his life and career: “The saying goes, people buy from people they know, like and trust, yet, it’s increasingly more difficult to create the kind of real connections we’re all searching for.

    “That’s why I love volunteering so much. When you have an opportunity to work alongside other people from the industry on an item of common interest, it gives you the chance to find the people amongst you that we each know, like and consequently, trust. Volunteering, if done correctly, is one of the best ways I know to find your tribe—people who are approaching their work in a way you admire and changing the market in memorable ways.”

    Meyer accepted his award from Cassondra Franze, executive director of the Promotional Products Association Southwest (PPAS), where he is the current board president. His remarks also highlighted the importance of volunteerism on his life and career. Meyer said, “I imagine that most previous recipients of this award felt as I do now—that this honor isn’t completely deserved. I mean, after all, we are volunteers. But I am so grateful for the sentiments of my peers. Each of you know how much better your life has been because of volunteering. It changed my life and it has or will change yours also.

    “We all have people or groups that have special meaning in our lives. Don’t wait for them to ask for help but step forward to make a difference. I’m asking you to step forward because you have the skills, the talent, the energy and the heart they need. Step forward because we all realize, even if we do not often enough demonstrate it, love and compassion for others heals ourselves.”

    Lindsey Davis, MAS, RAC president, presented Bibb (above right, with Davis) with the Donna Hall Memorial Grant, and shared her pride in presenting it to such a deserving volunteer. The grant honors the memory of Donna Hall, who served as executive director of the Michigan Promotional Professionals Association (MiPPA) and provides regional association executive directors the opportunity to advance their education and careers by providing financial support to attend education conferences and events.

  • Saturday, October 20, 2018 9:55 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    SAGE presents rating awards to 1,374 suppliers based on distributor ratings from SAGE Online, SAGE Web, and SAGE Mobile.

    Addison, TX (October 18, 2018) – SAGE announces its 2019 supplier rating award winners. Each year, SAGE presents industry suppliers with A+ and A rating awards based on distributor ratings collected in SAGE Online, SAGE Web, and SAGE Mobile, the industry’s most popular product research and business management solution.

    This year, 1049 suppliers received the top A+ rating, while another 325 suppliers received an A rating. A total of 34 percent of all active suppliers in the SAGE database received an award this year. As part of the Power of Two relationship between SAGE and PPAI, suppliers with SAGE ratings are also considered for eligibility in the industry’s annual PPAI Pyramid Supplier Star Awards Competition.

    “We treat our Supplier Rating Awards with the utmost respect because they are a testament to each supplier’s dedication to product safety and customer service,” said SAGE President, David Natinsky, MAS. “This is why we’re so proud to recognize our award-winning suppliers for setting the standard of quality and integrity in the promotional products industry.”

    Awards are based solely on the distributor rating system that is part of SAGE Online, SAGE Web, and SAGE Mobile. The SAGE rating system is widely known within the industry for providing the most accurate and reliable supplier ratings.

    Distributors can rate suppliers at any time through the SAGE suite or via a “Rate us now” link provided by suppliers. They can only rate each supplier once, however, they may update their ratings at any time, providing the most accurate representation of their experiences with each supplier. Rating awards are given each year based on the aggregate of distributor ratings and suppliers with an A+ or A aggregate rating are given an award.

    Distributors using SAGE’s industry-leading research and business management tools can make more informed decisions about suppliers by accessing suppliers’ current, real-time ratings, including peer distributor comments as well as full award information, including any additional industry awards, for each supplier.

    Supplier award winners will have access to a variety of marketing collateral to promote their A+ or A rated status, including logos for their catalogs, websites, and email signatures. For more information, suppliers should contact their SAGE account executive at 800.925.7243.

    About SAGE

    SAGE, based in Addison, Texas, is the leading provider of information, marketing and business management solutions to the promotional products industry. In addition to SAGE’s flagship SAGE Online™, SAGE Web™, and SAGE Mobile™ research and business management services,

    SAGE also provides the industry with other research services, order management, website and email services, e-commerce solutions, end-buyer catalogs, artwork services, payment processing, tradeshows, tradeshow management services, and lead retrieval software. SAGE is also the exclusive technology provider for members of the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), the industry’s non-profit association as well as Promotional Products Professionals of Canada (PPPC), Canada’s non-profit association.

    For more information, please visit or call 800.925.7243.

  • Friday, October 19, 2018 3:02 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Now in its 19th year, the annual Leadership Development Workshop (LDW) is under way this week at the DFW Hilton in Grapevine, Texas. Hosted by PPAI and the Regional Association Council (RAC), the multi-day event kicked off on Sunday evening with a reception and dinner for regional association executive directors. Monday’s schedule featured an executive director’s symposium with training designed for their specific needs and the workshop continues today and tomorrow with an extensive curriculum designed to provide regional association leadership with numerous learning opportunities through general sessions, breakout discussions and idea-sharing activities.

    Regional association volunteers arrived on Monday for the RAC delegate orientation followed by a reception and the LDW opening dinner. The conference officially got under way for all attendees this morning with an opening keynote by Jess Ekstrom, founder and CEO of Headbands of Hope.

    “LDW is so important to the regional community because it is a time to learn together and inspire each other as we prepare for the year ahead,” says Lindsey Davs, MAS, RAC president. “When I attended this event as a regional board member, I took so much knowledge away from the breakout sessions, but some of my best ideas came from conversations in between the sessions with my fellow attendees.”

    Bill Petrie, RAC vice president, adds, “LDW is the foundation of grass-roots volunteerism in the industry and where professionals across the country assemble, share best practices and leave with a clear knowledge of how to best serve their regional communities. The 2018 LDW should truly stand out with a fantastic mix of specific education and tremendous networking opportunities. As a long-time attendee of this event, it’s wonderful to see it evolve to better provide the guidance each regional board needs to succeed.”

    This year, LDW welcomes nearly 150 volunteer leaders representing all 27 regional associations as well as PPAI board members. Today and Wednesday they will participate in their choice of 21 education sessions presented by regional leaders, PPAI staff and outside subject matter experts, plus take part in the many opportunities for idea sharing and networking.

    “While every regional is unique, the challenges they face are not and LDW serves as a think tank of sorts to tackle some of the community’s largest challenges,” says Dana Geiger, PPAI regional relations manager. “It is also an opportunity to network and meet like-minded professionals. Many will say that the relationships created at LDW have been vital in their professional careers.”

    Davis says, “This year’s stand-out aspect for me is watching new attendees have their ‘aha’ moment about what makes this community so special. LDW is a great event for inspiring new leaders in the regional community and it is a pleasure to watch it happen!”

    At an off-site reception and dinner this evening, Roger Burnett, vice president of sales and marketing at Fort Collins, Colorado, supplier Branded Logistics, LLC, and Steven Meyer, MAS, vice president of sales at Dallas, Texas-based supplier RiteLine, will be formally recognized as the 2018 PPAI RAC Volunteers of the Year for their leadership and contributions to the regional association community. Also tonight, RAC will present Lisa Bibb, MAS, executive director for the Virginia Promotional Products Association (VAPPA) and the Georgia Association of Promotional Products Professionals (GAPPP), with the 2018 Donna Hall Memorial Grant. Established by the RAC board in 2013, the grant provides regional association executive directors with financial support to attend education conferences and events and advance their education and careers. Read more about the award winners in Thursday’s PPB Newslink.

  • Friday, October 12, 2018 9:05 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    IMAGEN Brands, parent company of suppliers Crown Products (PPAI 113430) and Vitronic (PPAI 114197), has announced a new partnership with Portland, Oregon, supplier ShedRain (PPAI 112963) as part of its continued expansion strategy. IMAGEN Brands is now the exclusive supplier of all ShedRain products in the promotional products industry; it will no longer supply any other brands of rainwear.
    "Shedrain is an umbrella brand with a global retail presence who recognized that IMAGEN Brands is known as a successful brand champion in the promotional products industry," says Paul Lage MAS, president of IMAGEN Brands. "We are excited that we could create this strong partnership with a company that shares the same standards and values. Our customers will be the true beneficiaries of this relationship for years to come."


    IMAGEN Brands will assume all sales, marketing and decorating of ShedRain products and will move production to Missouri to create more centralized distribution with shorter delivery times nationwide.

    Lage adds, "IMAGEN Brands has enjoyed the success of our partnerships with some of the best brands in the industry. ShedRain is the best in the rainwear category. They have 70 years of experience and have been recognized as the leader in retail. They are innovative and the trendsetter in the market. The combination of our decorating capabilities and 24-hour service and their products—it feels like the right combination."
    Jeff Blauer, president of ShedRain, says, "As ShedRain's business grows at the fastest pace in our company's 70-year history, we were looking for a new partner that could help us continue our growth to existing customers and reach out to new ones. Combining our leading retail brand and superior product with IMAGEN Brands' reputation for excellent service, 24-hour lead-times, and their ideal shipping point right in the heart of the country in Doniphan, Missouri, it is the perfect partnership with two industry leaders and is the foundation for future success in this ever-changing industry."
  • Thursday, October 11, 2018 11:39 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    The construction industry is one of the top buyers of promotional products; PPAI’s Sales Volume Study, released earlier this year, found that it accounted for 6.1 percent of 2017’s $23.3 billion in promotional product sales. Analysis from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), however, suggests some segments of the industry may be squeezed by rising fuel, materials and labor costs.

    Drawing from Labor Department data, AGC reports that the cost of many products used in construction climbed 7.4 percent over the past year due to double digit increases in commonly-used construction materials. Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist, says “The new construction materials cost data likely under-reports actual price increases, since federal officials collected most of their data in the first half of the month, before new tariffs affecting many construction materials started. Contractors are paying more for the materials they use and workers they employ but aren’t able to pass most of those new costs on to their clients.”

    The Labor Department’s producer price index with inputs to construction industries, a weighted average of all goods and services used in construction, increased 0.2 percent from August to September and is up a significant 6.2 percent since September 2017, while the index for goods except services rose at a faster pace of 7.4 percent. In contrast, an index that measures what contractors say they would charge to construct five types of nonresidential buildings rose just 3.5 percent over the year, which Simonson notes is an indicator that contractors were absorbing more of the costs than they were passing on to owners.

    Simonson’s analysis highlights that diesel fuel, steel pipe and tube, asphalt paving mixtures and aluminum products were among the products that contributed to the large year-over-year cost increases. From September 2017 to September 2018, there were producer price index increases of 29.3 percent for diesel fuel, 22.1 percent for steel pipe and tube, 11.7 percent for fabricated structural metal, 11.2 percent for asphalt paving mixtures and blocks, and 10.7 percent for aluminum mill shapes. Additionally, Simonson notes that the Trump administration’s tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports include diverse goods important to the construction industry.

    These material costs come as the industry is wrestling with labor issues as well. In August, the AGC’s released the results of a survey that found that 80 percent of respondents reported difficulty filling hourly craft worker positions. As a result, 62 percent of firms report they are paying higher salaries to attract and retain workers. Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer, adds, “The more firms get squeezed by higher materials and labor costs, the less likely they are to continue hiring and investing in new equipment.”

  • Thursday, October 11, 2018 11:38 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    DTG2Go, LLC, a subsidiary of industry supplier Delta Apparel (PPAI 188431) has acquired substantially all assets of Silk Screen Ink, Ltd., which does business as SSI Digital Print Services and is a provider of digital print services. The deal is reportedly worth $12 million.

    “We look forward to the opportunities the acquisition of SSI Digital Print Services provides our company, including increasing our digital print capacity and enhancing our strategic footprint so that we now service over 90 percent of the U.S. population with one- to two-day shipping,” says Deborah H. Merrill, Delta Apparel’s chief financial officer and president, Delta Group. “Our vertically-integrated platform utilizing Delta Apparel’s broad range of blank garments provides customers with a seamless supply chain for on-demand, digitally printed garments fulfilled directly to their consumers. This level of customer offering and consumer reach is unmatched in the digital print space. We believe the on-demand market is in a rapid growth stage and we are committed to being the leading digital print and fulfillment service provider in this evolving industry.”

    Jay Butterfield, owner of SSI Digital Print Services, adds, “We have known the leadership team of DTG2Go for a long time and have always admired the innovative business model they operate. I am pleased that the SSI team is now a part of DTG2Go, and believe the transaction provides great synergies for the company, our customers and our employees.”

  • Thursday, October 11, 2018 11:37 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Hurricane Michael hit the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday at almost Category Five strength, with winds gusting to 155 mph and storm surges of up to 14 feet, making it one of the strongest landfalls the U.S. has ever seen. Although it has weakened since coming ashore, the storm is expected to remain at tropical storm strength as it moves through Georgia and the Carolinas. Millions of Americans and hundreds of promotional products businesses in its path have been affected by wind damage, flooding and power outages.

    Speaking to PPB Newslink before the storm made landfall, Tom Perrin with American Solutions for Business in Tallahassee, Florida, noted, “We’re waiting on landfall and the severity of the storm surge and wind. Downed trees and power outages will be the major issues.”

    Logistics companies are expecting service delays and disruptions in affected areas. FedEx and UPS have both posted alerts warning that shipments to and from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina may be impacted by Hurricane Michael and its effects.

    News reports have made clear the devastation of the hurricane on the Florida Panhandle, and the its impact on the communities on its inland path will become more clear in the days ahead. Business is as normal at supplier Fresh Beginnings in Valdosta, Georgia, which reported heavy rain but no real disruptions to their operations, while Prime Line’s South Carolina facility, which took several precautions last month as Hurricane Florence approached, is operating normally as well.

    Industry businesses that are evacuating, or are experiencing delays or disruptions due to the hurricane, can share their status with PPAI through the Association’s Emergency Closures Form. The form helps businesses in the storm’s path share updates on their situation and inform customers of alternate ways to contact them or check orders during or after the hurricane. To see the list of businesses that have reported a delay or closure, click here.

    If the impact of Hurricane Michael results in a federal disaster declaration, PPAI, in conjunction with the Regional Association Council (RAC), will offer disaster relief to assist promotional products industry members seriously affected in the form of the Promotional Products Disaster Recovery Foundation (PPDRF) Business Recovery Fund. To apply for funds, please click here.

    Financial contributions to support the program are being collected now and should be directed to the Promotional Products Business Recovery Fund, care of PPAI RAC, 3125 Skyway Circle North, Irving, Texas 75038. This fund is a 501(c)(3) organization and all contributions will be tax deductible. A tax-deductible receipt will be mailed to each donor. Or, donate online here.

    Unfortunately, this is not the first hurricane that industry professionals and coastal communities across the U.S. have had to recover from, and a body of experience and expertise has grown as a result. When the Houston area suffered massive flooding following the impact of Hurricane Harvey in 2017, industry companies and professionals in the area went to work immediately afterwards to help their communities recover. Read some of the critical lessons industry pro and storm clean-up volunteer Kim Reinecker learned during the massive process.

  • Thursday, October 11, 2018 11:36 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    October 2018.  Beacon Promotions, Inc. of New Ulm, MN is a supporter of their local Brown County United Way.  The programs supported are primarily in the areas of education, health, self-sufficiency and basic needs.  

    The week started with a presentation from several United Way representatives.  The presenters talked about just two of the 30+ non-profit agencies that are supported by United Way.  The two non-profits featured this year were NUMAS House, which provides emergency shelter and support services to homeless women and children in the Brown County area.  The 2nd agency is CADA (Committee Against Domestic Abuse), which provides safety and healing to victims of domestic and sexual violence through support, education, advocacy and shelter.  These two agencies, often times, work very closely together. 

    Employees had numerous ways they could support the United Way.  Employees could purchase raffle tickets for the chance to win additional PTO hours , purchase popcorn from a local popcorn truck, and ended the week with a silent auction/bake sale.  The employees enjoyed the opportunity to outbid their co-workers on the delicious baked goods and homemade items. 

    Many employees contributed to the United Way through payroll deductions this year.   The combined fund raising efforts brought in $2,600.  The fundraising efforts were fun for all and a huge success for the United Way of Brown County!


    About Beacon; We are a multiple Star Supplier Winner with a great reputation for service.  Our customers have rated us “A+” on the SAGE rating system and 5 out of 5 stars on ESP.   Beacon offers a wide selection of products, such as:  Calendars, table covers, housewares, tools, techie, auto, highlighters and Name badges.  You will also find premium leather products in our Canyon Outback Leather line and Name Brand products for executive gifts and incentives.   For more information on Beacon, visit our website at  or call customer service at 800-628-9979. 

    About HUB; Boston has been described as the “Hub of the Universe” and in the Hub Pen story the same holds true. From Frank and Rita Fleming’s humble beginnings in Boston in 1954 to the 100 million pen annual operations of today, Hub Pen has grown to serve an ever -increasing national and international market.
  • Wednesday, October 10, 2018 11:03 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    iPROMOTEu (PPAI 218870) has obtained new financing that will provide the Wayland, Massachusetts-headquartered distributor with growth capital that will allow it to accelerate investment in initiatives that will benefit its affiliate network. The company says that the additional capital will be used to enhance systems and technology, strengthen recruiting efforts, streamline internal operations and potentially fund acquisitions, and that nothing will change from an operational standpoint as a result of the financing.

    Ross Silverstein, iPROMOTEu’s founder, will remain the distributor’s largest individual stockholder and will continue in his role as president and chief executive officer. All management personnel and staff will remain in their current positions at the company. iPROMOTEu notes that in connection with the financing, its senior management team now has a broader and more significant ownership interest in the company.

    “Since its inception more than 18 years ago as a start-up company offering a unique, independent ‘affiliate’ distributor model, iPROMOTEu has grown into an industry powerhouse with a network of more than 650 independent distributor affiliates and a projected 2018 aggregate order volume in excess of $200 million,” says Silverstein. “Now, I want to propel iPROMOTEu to even greater growth and success, and I want our affiliates, suppliers, staff and all those who support us and work with us to benefit as a result.”

  • Wednesday, October 10, 2018 11:03 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    PPAI has updated its Master Advertising Specialist (MAS) program to better engage and support industry professionals pursuing career improvement and industry education. The changes to the MAS program, which follows revisions to the Trained Advertising Specialist (TAS) and Certified Advertising Specialist (CAS) programs announced earlier this year, are designed with a focus on learning and testing on specific content, and on the pursuit of electives that best suit professionals’ specific learning needs. The Master Advertising Specialist Plus (MAS+) program remains unchanged.

    The MAS program is now open to industry professionals with three years of experience rather than five, and candidates are required to earn 50 credits through completion of dedicated courses and electives. They must complete courses that provide 15 dedicated MAS credits, and each includes a quiz upon completion through PPAI’s online education platform. Candidates can take the quizzes at any time. No paper or online proctored exams are offered with the new program. The 35 MAS-level electives do not require quizzes.

    The MAS program also requires candidates to earn one industry service credit. Industry service credits recognize and honor professionals’ contributions to the industry. They can be earned through service on the PPAI, PPPC or regional association boards; participation in PPAI or regional association committees and advisory groups; or serving as a volunteer speaker for a PPAI webinar or live events, or as an industry ADvocate. All industry service credits are awarded at the end of the completed term of service and/or at the completion of the service activity.

    MAS-certified industry professionals must be recertified every three years by completing 25 CAS/MAS credits and complete the application with a fee for recertification.

    More information on the full certification program can be found here. For additional information or to ask questions, email

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

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