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HPPA Industry News

  • 1 Mar 2023 2:01 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Orbus Exhibit & Display Group®, North America’s largest producer and manufacturer of visual communications solutions for tradeshows and events, retail environments and corporate interiors, is proud to announce that it has been recertified to the IDEAlliance G7 Master Print Specification for the 12th consecutive year and is celebrating 15 years of membership with Printing United Alliance.

    The G7 Master Certification signifies that a facility has calibrated certain equipment and systems to G7 gray balance and neutral tone curves and can deliver G7 proofs and print products. This certification indicates that all Orbus’ print processes, substrates, and inks are aligned to get the best color-match across different materials.

    Orbus has a number of G7 certified professionals on the graphics team in addition to holding the certification as a company. The experts implement G7 based calibration into print workflows and analyze color and print issues, benefiting customers with a valuable resource in ensuring that quality standards are met.

    Printing United Alliance is a trade association for printers and other professionals in the industrial, graphic, garment, textile, and packaging industries. Membership gives companies access to research, resources, events, education, and other tools to help build their business.

    Orbus is proud to have been a member of Printing United Alliance for 15 continuous years and Orbus’ own Vice President of Graphics and Printing Expert, Jaime Herand, is on the board of directors.

    “I am extremely proud of our ability to provide clients with premium print quality and service, while experiencing record growth,” said Jaime Herand, Vice President of Graphic Operations at Orbus. “Being a member of the Printing United Alliance for 15 years is a testament to Orbus’ dedication to quality graphic printing.”

  • 27 Feb 2023 9:52 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    It’s time for the big reveal! This year’s seventh annual #Online18 list of the industry’s best on social media is ready to go, and with it we announce some changes to the process.

    What began as a list based solely on the opinion of the always-online Dale Denham, MAS+, has been democratized. Now the president and CEO of PPAI, Denham has entrusted PPAI Media to carry on his tradition of alienating everyone who was not selected (tens of thousands finished tied at No. 19) and further upsetting those who did make the list but believe they should’ve been seeded higher.

    PPAI Media solicited nominations and recommendations from industry insiders, including each of the 2022 honorees, to help create this year’s rankings. In other words, blame your friends.

    In the past, Denham’s list consisted of an apples-and-oranges ranking of both organizations and individuals. This year, we’ve created a separate list for each category for double the fun and flattery.

    This is Part 1 of the 2023 #Online18, ranking the best-posting organizations in the industry, including distributors, suppliers, service providers and collaborative groups. Shout out to all the twentysomething social media managers making your bosses look good.

    Seven organizations spotlighted in last year’s article made it back into this year’s lineup – but not in the same ranking. They are joined by 11 savvy new front-runners who are making quite a name for themselves across social media platforms. The final countdown from No. 18 to No. 1 was decided by the PPAI Media staff along with the association’s most discerning likers, lurkers and retweeters, who considered the effectiveness of each organization’s posts across all accounts, their creativity and connection to their followers. (And obviously we disqualified ourselves from the competition, just to give everyone else a chance.)

    Let’s BeReal, though: If you are serious about strengthening your company’s presence on social media, you can learn a lot from the successes of these #Online18.

    18. PromoCares
    Follow On: FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn
    Largest Account: Instagram – 1,700 Followers

    Making the world a better place is what drives this industry organization to exist, and social media is an important channel for them. We love that the organization’s posts reflect the fun-loving and gregarious personalities of its board members. Their passion for the group’s mission consistently comes through their posts and helps build a community of like-minded volunteers who support their vision.

    17. Team SCG
    Follow On: FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn
    Largest Account: Instagram - 1,023 Followers

    We really like this family-owned distributor’s approach to social media – showcasing the people and personalities behind its brand and having a great time doing it. Read a few posts and you’ll not only feel you know the folks at Team SCG but you’ll want them as friends. And you know the old saying – people do business with people they know and like. They also mix it up with occasional product posts, live videos from shows and helpful links that spark ideas for clients.  

    16. SAGE
    Follow On: FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn
    Largest Account: LinkedIn - 5,522 Followers

    SAGE’s social media gets our vote for its useful tips, hacks and tutorials that help industry subscribers use their software programs more efficiently. The company also grabs attention with content around its exclusive research on things such as top products of the month and top product categories, plus timely reminders about upcoming webinars with handy registration links.

    15. SnugZ USA
    Follow On: FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn
    Largest Account: Facebook - 7,100 Followers

    When a supplier sells goods across more than two dozen product categories, we expect to see lots of products on social media, and we get that with SnugZ. The posts consistently spotlight a variety of its most eye-catching products in creative ways. We especially like the entertaining videos taken at this year’s shows, plus the short videos that educate and engage viewers about the company’s services and imprint methods. 

    14. iPROMOTEu
    Follow On: FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn
    Largest Account: LinkedIn - 4,757 Followers

    iPROMOTEu delivers content that hits its distributor audience right where they live with useful stats, resources and story links, plus reminders about programs and services to make their lives easier. It’s easy to see why iPROMOTEu has such a solid social media following.

    13. Hirsch
    Follow On: FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn
    Largest Account: Instagram - 2,154 Followers

    Most of Hirsch’s social media posts reflect a positive vibe that mirrors the company’s culture. This supplier always has something good to share: a new product, news about one of the giveback programs they support or a shout-out for an exceptional client or team member. Keep up the great work, Hirsch!

    12. PromoKitchen
    Follow On: FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn
    Largest Account: Twitter - 5,540 Followers

    It’s no surprise that PromoKitchen made our list – this volunteer-led group has been one of the most active on social media since its start more than a decade ago. They always have something relatable and attention-grabbing going on to share such as a new podcast or blog post, upcoming education program or humorous photos from an industry event. Last fall, they orchestrated a T-shirt design contest entirely on social media.

    11. Logojojo
    Follow On: FacebookInstagramLinkedIn
    Largest Account: Instagram - 2,056 Followers

    Did someone say coffee? This five-year-old, custom-label, craft coffee supplier has a social media following as strong as any espresso – and this is the company’s second year on our list. The difference-maker is co-owner Ellie Bathe, who has become the face of the company with her offbeat and hilarious social media posts. We can’t wait to see what she’s going to post next!

    10. Raining Rose
    Follow On: FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn
    Largest Account: Facebook – 3,500 Followers

    This personal-care product supplier grabbed our attention with its smart variety of posts aimed to educate distributors about its products, processes and services. Some of these can even be shared on distributor sites. The company has a great product story and they do a good job of telling it through social media. And a big shout-out for the entertaining video made at The PPAI Expo – so enjoyable to experience the show again through their lens.

    9. KNOSS Apparel
    Follow On: FacebookInstagramLinkedIn
    Largest Account: Instagram – 808

    KNOSS Apparel may be a new name to some, and has the smallest following on this list, but they are quickly establishing themselves as an industry leader on social media. KNOSS has some of the best videos we’ve seen – engaging, humorous, snappy little bites of content that are fun to watch. And they mix it up with stylish apparel spots and sales tips in a way that keeps viewers coming back for more.

    8. Maple Ridge Farms
    Follow On: FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn
    Largest Account: Twitter – 4,430

    A consistent standout on previous lists, this supplier has done it again this year with a variety of videos and content as rich as their fudgy brownies. But it’s more than sweet talk. Their posts about self-care, wellness tips and a blogging primer offer some alternatively tasty takeaways. Our favorite video is their Valentine’s Day post – a hilarious riff on a comedy classic.

    7. PromoCorner
    Follow On: FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn
    Largest Account: Facebook – 4,671

    PromoCorner is one of the most active companies on social media, sometimes posting daily or even twice a day. Even better, the content is typically education-focused, linking to PromoJournal articles from a variety of experts, and video Q&As with leaders across the industry. They also score big points for consistency with recurring posts like #PromoErrDay!, a frequent, product-focused video hosted by Brandon Pecharich and The Monday Minute, 60 seconds of inspiration with Kirby Hasseman. They’ve made our list previously because there’s so much to see here. 

    6. ASI
    Follow On: FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn
    Largest Account: LinkedIn - 30,911

    Returning to the list, ASI has the largest number of followers of any social media account we checked. The company's content approach includes recorded podcasts and live sessions hosted by ASI Media’s Vinnie Driscoll, as well as videos that give a sneak peek at upcoming event keynote speakers. Seemingly everyone at ASI is active on social media, and their individual accounts share in this award. The group keeps things fresh with inside jokes and chatter. Plus they’ve got the GOAT, Michele Bell, who always has something sweet to say when our own publisher posts pics of his kids. Kudos to ASI for the team effort.

    5. Goldstar Pens
    Follow On: FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn
    Largest Account: LinkedIn - 3,810

    Goldstar is another of last year’s top influencers that makes smart use of social media by posting frequently and often about products: new collections, color trends, product introductions and links to new look books. For several years, VP Charles Duggan has been a familiar face on Goldstar posts and now he’s hosting a frequent video spot called The Creative Goldstar Globetrotters where he chats it up with a variety of industry personalities. Goldstar is serious about the business, but they have fun doing it.

    4. American Solutions for Business
    Follow On: FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn
    Largest Account: LinkedIn - 5,798

    ASB held the No. 1 spot on our list last year, largely on the strength of some of the individual accounts under its umbrella. Still, the ASB corporate social media presence is definitely praiseworthy – specifically for its wide variety including product spots, gift ideas, creative inspiration and charitable company news (see how far they’ll go for a charity in the clip below). Plus, Founder 411, a video interview featuring CEO/Founder Larry Zavadil, and ASB Employee Spotlight, an element they launched in 2021, add a welcome family-feel to their content.

    3. commonsku
    Follow On: FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn
    Largest Account: Instagram - 2,966

    commonsku is another company that knows its brand persona inside out and remains true to that brand on social media. We love their broad assortment of content from original articles crafted by commonsku’s leaders and others, to podcasts featuring experts inside and outside the industry. And who can forget those posts promoting upcoming events? They share a bit of info in one post, boost the excitement in the next post, and finally unveil the details in the final post. It keeps us guessing and wanting more – and that should be every company’s social media goal.

    2. HPG
    Follow On: FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn
    Largest Account: LinkedIn - 2,650

    If you want product storytelling at its best, look at HPG. They use custom photography, well-designed GIFs and tightly-edited video reels to deliver messages that are succinct and memorable. Other large suppliers can take a cue from this social media leader because they know how to capitalize on the strengths of each platform. For example, their Instagram posts lean to short-form videos, while posts on LinkedIn are often company announcements and reshared posts from around the industry, and Facebook is a complementary mix of product posts, videos and company activities and announcements. They obviously work hard to achieve this kind of success and it’s impressive.

    1. BrandFuel
    Follow On: FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn
    Largest Account: Twitter – 5,501

    The magic about BrandFuel is that this distributor never takes itself too seriously and that shines through on its social media pages. Brilliant! Viewers can expect not only witty content that’s worth sharing, but also thoughtful, purposeful posts that get people thinking. We love to read activity updates on the many nonprofits and causes the company supports as well as the occasional, unexpected post (a high school football team photo featuring the two co-owners that was posted just prior to the Super Bowl). BrandFuel knows exactly what its brand looks like and sounds like, and its social media posts are a mirror image. From the likes on these pages, we are not the only ones to find its content so refreshing.

  • 23 Feb 2023 6:39 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Gemline will be hosting a free live webinar – Outside, in: A conversation with Former Defense Secretary and CIA Chief Leon Panetta – on Wednesday, March 8 at 1 p.m. (Eastern) featuring former Secretary Leon Panetta, who will help us try to understand ongoing global events and the potential future impacts.

    • A presentation by Secretary Panetta will be followed by a Q&A led by Gemline’s Executive Chair, Jonathan Isaacson.

    Click Here to Register.

  • 23 Feb 2023 6:38 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    SanMar Corporation (PPAI 110788, S16) announced John Janson as Vice President, Global Logistics. Janson, a longtime SanMar leader who elevated the company’s logistics and deepened partnerships with key strategic suppliers, assumed the role effective February 5.

    • Janson is a logistics leader who brings deep transportation management expertise to SanMar’s executive team. During his nearly 40-year career, he has served more than six years at SanMar, most recently as senior director of global logistics. In 2022, Janson was honored by DC Velocity with its annual Rain Maker award, celebrating leaders making a difference in the world of logistics.
    • “We are thrilled to have a trusted expert and natural leader at the helm of our logistics network,” said Patrick Noonan, chief product officer at SanMar. “John is positioned to lead SanMar to the next level."
    • The move marks a notable investment in the company’s leadership of its global and domestic supply network.
  • 23 Feb 2023 6:35 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    As part of its Keep It. Give It. initiative, Koozie Group (PPAI 114187, S13) and its sister company IMAGEN Brands (PPAI 114197, S10) announced their intent to become carbon neutral on Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), by the end of 2024.

    • They are the first hard goods and stationery promotional products suppliers to set such an aggressive goal. For Koozie Group, this move is the latest in a long line of social responsibility measures the company has made since 2020 when it launched its Keep It. Give It. social impact and sustainability commitment. IMAGEN Brands is now fully participating in the program as well.
    • In 2022, Koozie Group and IMAGEN Brands began measuring Scope 1 and 2 emissions monthly. The EPA defines Scope 1 emissions as direct greenhouse (GHG) emissions generated from sources controlled or owned by the organization, including those associated with fuel combustion in boilers or furnaces. Scope 2 emissions are indirect GHG emissions associated with a company’s purchase of electricity, steam, heat or cooling.
    • “We know that the health of our planet is important to our distributors and their customers, and it’s also important to our employees and their families,” said Pierre Montaubin, chief product & sustainability officer. “We want to lead the promotional products industry in these efforts by going beyond just selling sustainable products to taking this next step in our corporate responsibility journey.”
  • 23 Feb 2023 1:32 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Next Level Apparel announced another key addition to its executive team with Michael (Mike) Alexander taking on the role of president. Most recently, Mike served as executive vice president at Careismatic Brands and brings 10 years of executive leadership in the apparel industry.

    • “This is a big win for us. Mike is joining us at time when we have a lot of momentum and he makes us that much stronger,” said NLA CEO Randy Hales. “He played a key role in the growth of Careismatic from $200M to over $600M during his tenure, including a three-year initiative that grew the digital revenue side of the business to over $100M.”
    • As president at NLA, Alexander will have leadership responsibility for sales, marketing, and product management, with a focus on implementing strategic initiatives that deliver a cohesive, cross-functional go-to-market approach aimed at growing the company’s top line.
    • “This is like joining a team on its way to the Super Bowl. I’m thrilled to be joining the company and to do my part to build upon the successes at Next Level Apparel,” he said.
  • 17 Feb 2023 5:22 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    PPAI has announced the members of its Technology Committee for 2023. Including industry tech experts from a nearly equal number of distributors and suppliers as well as service providers, the committee was formed with balance in mind. It is made up of representatives from small, medium and large companies.

    The committee will identify industry problems and brainstorm viable solutions while enhancing Promo Data Exchange (PDX).

    Why Does PPAI Need A Technology Committee?

    Chris Anderson, CEO of HPG and the technology committee’s liaison to the PPAI Board of Directors, lays out the reason for the committee.

    “The stated purpose of the PPAI technology committee is to advance the digital transformation of the industry,” Anderson says. “I can’t think of a more exciting – but also more important – initiative facing suppliers and distributors today, and I am excited to partner with this talented and knowledgeable group to take it on.”

    Promo companies of all sizes are constantly looking for tech solutions to problems they face in their day-to-day operations.

    • Most issues are shared problems that affect other distributors and suppliers.

    “We need to find out what our members’ most significant requests and concerns are,” says Nick DiNicola, PPAI’s digital transformation manager. “It’s great to have an exchange of real-world challenges and successes and, as a group, create a pathway to hopefully fixing some of those [issues].”

    • PPAI’s role is to serve the industry as a whole, identify solutions to issues and raise awareness of the solutions, as well as drive adoption where appropriate.

    “Distributors and suppliers are dealing with the problems, not PPAI,” says PPAI President and CEO Dale Denham. “The organizations that are selling and producing know the issues and can craft the best solutions through collaboration. Our role is to bring them together and create the best value for the industry.”

    Rose Arendarczyk, HALO’s SVP of transformation and the PPAI Technology Committee Chair, expects the conversations to initially be broad and big picture before eventually being narrowed down through discussion. She will bring an outside perspective to the group, having joined HALO in April of 2022 after over seven years of navigating tech solutions at Trustmark Companies, a national employee benefits company.

    “I look forward to working together, engaging in robust discussion and aligning on solutions that will enable improvements to some of the common challenges we face in the industry,” Arendarczyk says. “The committee is a cross-section of different players and will really bring a diverse set of perspectives. Being new to promo, I can also bring an outside lens.”

    • Technology solutions and possibilities are created specifically to meet promo demands, but in some large-scale cases, they will only truly be utilized to their full potential if collaborators across the industry are discovering and able to use them in their businesses.

    “Technology is evolving very rapidly across the promotional products industry,” says Marc Sule, chief information officer at alphabroder Prime Line and member of the committee. “I am excited to be a part of the PPAI Tech Committee to advise on initiatives and industry trends.”

    These trends, according to Taylor Tadmor, president of Tekweld and member of the committee, not only “shape the industry for years to come” but also will be a factor in determining the promo world’s place in an increasingly digital future.

    “It is exciting to be part of a team that is working to ensure the industry remains competitive and relevant,” Tadmor says.

    The Committee Members

    PPAI put together the Technology Committee with an eye on balance between suppliers and distributors as well as size of companies, which shows in the committee roster, but DiNicola also points out that there are a variety of different kind of tech thinkers on the committee.

    “Many of the people are highly technical and highly visionary,” DiNicola says. “I think that combination will lead us to a path to success even faster.”

    PPAI hopes this mix will lead to an organic blend of technology knowledge and business knowledge, so that tech investment is deliberately targeted and immediately impactful. Many promo organizations already implement initiatives to lower the barrier of entry when it comes to technology for their clients. An industry-wide version of that can accomplish more than individual troubleshooting and, hopefully, create growth opportunities. 

    The list of members:

    • Rose Arendarczyk, SVP of transformation, HALO (Committee Chair)
    • Chris Anderson, CEO, HPG (Board Liaison)
    • Nick DiNicola, digital transformation manager, PPAI (Staff Liaison)
    • Joe Hoffmann, vice president of vendor management, iPROMOTEu
    • Malik Hemani, creative director, branding & advertising, Graphic Stylus
    • Ryan Feigenblatt, founder and president, The Boca Ratonian
    • Todd Bold, chief operating officer, Americas at adm Group ltd.
    • Andrea Kramer, president, City Apparel
    • Taylor Tadmor, president, Tekweld
    • Paul Hirsch, president, Hirsch
    • Marc Sule, chief information officer, alphabroder Prime Line
    • Jeison Ortega, chief technology officer, Charles River Apparel
    • Matt Price, manager, information technology, Gold Bond
    • Dustin Downing, chief product officer, OrderMyGear
    • Jeremy Holley, vice president of technology, HPG
    • Edward Streiff, senior manager application development, PCNA
    • Shawn Reed, director of information technology, Showdown Displays
    • Jarod Thorndike, VP of business development, SAGE

    Together, these committee members make up some of the most technologically and business savvy companies in the promotional products industry.

    “The caliber of the organizations on this committee is extremely impressive,” Denham says.

    PDX Remains An Important Topic

    PDX will be top of mind for the technology committee. PDX makes it easy for suppliers to share order status and inventory with distributors with a single integration which will eliminate thousands of hours of wasted effort. Eliminating friction and unnecessary phone calls are goals that most of the industry understands can make business much more efficient.

    “I’ve been in the industry almost 30 years and we’re struggling with some things at this point that we shouldn’t be,” DiNicola says of the need for a universal set of standards.

    Tadmor says it is fairly obvious to everyone that what PDX intends to accomplish will make the industry run more smoothly.

    “From a tech standpoint, an open standards formula like PDX – combined with leveraging an established service provider with 45,000 users – does seem like a no-brainer,” says Tadmore. “Like many organizations, we support PDX and PromoStandards because they help us reach different organizations to reduce friction.”

    How we get there has been a subject of debate within the industry, and PPAI wants the technology committee to foster these discussions, and even disagreements, about the necessity of PDX. PPAI has also leveraged its partnership with SAGE to make PDX more accessible, along with creating the ability within the SAGE app for distributors to see order statuses and inventory that suppliers supply live.

    “The exciting part about PDX is that due to PPAI’s relationship with SAGE and their commitment to PDX, there is minimal additional work for most firms to benefit from PDX,” Denham says.

    What the industry’s future holds for this particular area is not certain, but it’s clear that the conversations need to be happening in earnest, and the technology committee is a healthy place for that dialogue to occur.

    “There have been multiple stabs at seamless supplier-distributor integration, some less successful than others, but no ‘perfect’ solution,” Anderson says. “Whether PDX proves to be the right solution for all distributors and suppliers very much remains to be seen. However, I am confident that it will drive additional thought, dialogue and collaboration around the topic of data exchange that will, no doubt, benefit the industry.”

  • 14 Feb 2023 9:42 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    American Solutions for Business hosted over 660 attendees at their National Sales Conference, including over 150 exhibiting supplier partners, making this their highest attended conference to date. A select group of ASB attendees were able to begin the week early by joining a distillery tour sponsored by ASI, alphabroder, PDF Print, The Chest, and BEL Promo on Thursday, February 2nd. The majority of arrivals happened Friday, February 3rd, where professional development sessions featuring PPAI’s Anne Stone, OrderMyGear, brandivate’s Bill Petrie, and various ASB representatives, kicked off the afternoon. Attendees also enjoyed the Hatch Show Print experience sponsored by Wise and Delegate CX, as well as a merch show and Owner’s Lounge. Friday concluded with a dinner and musical entertainment at the Country Music Hall of Fame.

    “My favorite part of this event each year is seeing the American family connect in-person,” expressed Founder & CEO of American, Larry Zavadil. “Somewhere between our packed schedule and exploring the city, we always make time for an American family reunion.”

    Saturday began with coffee and pastries provided by Ennis before the official kick-off of the conference. The day included a spa experience sponsored by Mixie and HPG Brands. Professional headshots were offered as a means for members of the industry to update their portfolio and social media pages. Saturday evening’s social at Fat Bottom Brewing was sponsored by ASI, while transportation to and from the brewery were sponsored by Outdoor Caps.

    ASB’s Vendor Boot Camp, a session that outlined marketing efforts, exposure opportunities and cybersecurity best practices, was available for attending vendors. The rest of the day included the supplier and home office workshops and closing social.

    “We put so much care into the structure of our agenda so that attendees can successfully learn and network while also enjoying themselves,” explained Dana Zezzo, ASB’s VP of Marketing, Vendor Relations & Events. “Our conference team gets stronger every year and is able to strategically align elements such as event locations, flow, education topics and resources to result in the best experience possible. I couldn’t be prouder!”

    As with all ASB events, there were opportunities to contribute to charitable efforts. The American Memorial Walk was hosted in honor of late ASB sales associate, Frank Quinlan, which resulted in $8,000 to St. Christopher’s Hospital. Another independent effort allowed attendees to purchase and sign floor decal records at the event, contributing $15,000 to St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

  • 12 Feb 2023 3:52 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Last month, the Federal Trade Commission proposed a new rule that would ban employers from imposing noncompete clauses on their workers. An upcoming webinar from the Small Business Legislative Council will address the issue and the proposed rule.

    An End To Noncompetes

    In January, the FTC proposed a rule that would ban businesses from requiring their employees sign noncompete clauses and rescind existing noncompete clauses.

    • Noncompete clauses are a contractual term between an employer and a worker that blocks the worker from working for a competing employer or starting a competing business, typically within a certain geographic area and period of time after the worker’s employment ends.
    • The proposed rule would apply to independent contractors and anyone who works for an employer, whether paid or unpaid.

    The FTC cited the clauses’ impact on wages – both for both employees subject to them as well as workers who are not – and employment opportunities as the impetus for the rule.

    • The FTC says that noncomplete clauses “prevent new businesses from forming, stifling entrepreneurship, and prevent novel innovation which would otherwise occur when workers are able to broadly share their ideas.”
    • The Commission estimates that the proposed rule would increase American workers’ earnings between $250 billion and $296 billion per year.

    “The freedom to change jobs is core to economic liberty and to a competitive, thriving economy,” says FTC Chair Lina M. Khan. “Noncompetes block workers from freely switching jobs, depriving them of higher wages and better working conditions, and depriving businesses of a talent pool that they need to build and expand. By ending this practice, the FTC’s proposed rule would promote greater dynamism, innovation and healthy competition.”

    Elizabeth Wilkins, director of the FTC’s Office of Policy Planning, says, “Research shows that employers’ use of noncompetes to restrict workers’ mobility significantly suppresses workers’ wages—even for those not subject to noncompetes, or subject to noncompetes that are unenforceable under state law. The proposed rule would ensure that employers can’t exploit their outsized bargaining power to limit workers’ opportunities and stifle competition.”


    Policy Insights

    Promo industry practitioners have a few options to learn more about the noncompete clauses and the proposed rule and submit their perspectives on the issue.

    The SBLC – an independent, permanent coalition of national trade and professional associations, including PPAI, that represents small businesses in federal legislative and regulatory issues – is hosting its first webinar of 2023 on the use of employee noncompetes and other restrictive covenant agreements. The March 16 webinar will cover:

    • The FTC’s proposal to ban noncompetes
    • State and local legislation limiting the use of noncompetes
    • Options for small businesses to protect their interests and information in light of the push back against using noncompetes.

    PPAI has arranged for the webinar to be free to the Association's members, although space is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Association members can register here and should identify PPAI as the association that invited them.

    The FTC is requesting members of the public submit written comments on the proposed rule. It will also host a virtual public forum on February 16, during which the commission will hear from a series of speakers who have been subject to noncompete restrictions, as well as business owners who have experience with noncompetes. Members of the public will also have an opportunity to comment via livestream.

  • 8 Feb 2023 11:43 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Stuart James Johnson, who founded and ran CFS Promotional Products with his wife, Sharon, died on January 28 at the age of 79. 

    Johnson will be remembered as a beloved family man, a U.S. Marine and a successful entrepreneur of the promotional products industry. Referred to as a “true Renaissance man” in an obituary, he was born in Cleveland and grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

    The son of a naval officer during World War II, Johnson himself eventually joined the Marine Corps Reserves as an infantryman. Years later, his son Michael, would follow his footsteps and become a Marine Corps F-18 fighter pilot.


    After his service, Johnson founded Corporate Fulfillment Services, Inc. in 1978 in Schaumburg, Illinois, which by 1992 became a promotional products supplier. He would eventually meet Sharon, his wife of 28 years, who he ran CFS Promotional Products with until his recent passing.

    “Together with an incredible team of long-time employees, Stuart and Sharon have created a boutique company culture of customer care; providing concierge-level service specially customized to meet the unique business needs of the industry,” reads a remembrance provided by CFS Promotional Products.

    Sharon and the dedicated team will continue the business and legacy that Stuart began.

    Johnson was a devoted father to his two children, Lisa and Michael, and a proud grandfather.

    To plant a memorial tree in memory of Stuart James Johnson or send flowers to his bereaved, visit this site.

    A celebration of his life will be planned at a future date.

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