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HPPA Industry News

  • 9 Aug 2023 9:28 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Perry Ellis International has promoted Amy Mazur to national sales manager within the corporate sales division.

    • Mazur, who has been with the company for two years, has consistently exceeded sales targets, fostered strong client relationships and contributed to the growth and success of the company, says a news release.
    • In her new role, she will oversee the strategic development and execution of sales initiatives across the country, represent the company at regional and national trade shows, forge strategic partnerships and expand the brand’s reach to new markets. Additionally, she will work on all national accounts and will lead and mentor Perry Ellis’ team of 30-plus independent sales reps.

    “Amy’s promotion to national sales manager is a testament to her hard work and remarkable contributions to Perry Ellis,” says Jeff Smith, vice president of sales at Perry Ellis Corporate. “Amy brings a tremendous amount of passion and apparel knowledge to the team. We are confident that she will excel in her new role, continue to educate our customers on current trends and opportunities, and help us reach even greater heights in the competitive apparel market.”

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

    Tekweld has hired Tom Kronberger as national account director.

    • His primary responsibilities include developing business for large accounts through strategic meetings and the use of Tekweld’s extensive product line, global sourcing, packaging solutions and advanced decorating techniques.
    • Kronberger brings experience on both sides of the industry. He was previously in a similar role at supplier Lanco and most recently was vendor relations manager and marketing coordinator at distributor Fully Promoted.

    “Tom will be an incredibly powerful asset for us,” says Scott Slade, Tekweld CEO. “His deep experience in the industry and strong ability to build relationships with customers in order to develop unique product solutions will help Tekweld maintain the solid growth trajectory we have experienced in recent years.”

  • 9 Aug 2023 9:24 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    At the end of June, during peak travel season, Los Angeles International Airport announced a ban on the sale of single-use plastic water bottles, making it the second U.S. (and California) airport to do so, following San Francisco in 2019.

    So far, the LAX ban applies to water containers only – not sodas, sports drinks, etc. – but SFO expanded its policy in 2021 to prohibit the sale of any beverages in plastic bottles.

    Once past the security checkpoint, travelers can still buy water in recyclable containers – or better yet, refill their own reusable containers at the hydration stations that have popped up in airports throughout the country over the past decade.

    These filtered water stations started to appear in airports around 2011 and began to spread in 2017. LAX first announced its water bottle refill stations in 2018, and the airport has installed more over the past two years to meet increased demand.

    Many refill stations feature a counter that tallies how many bottles each dispenser has saved. In a 2022 Facebook post, the Nashville International Airport in Tennessee reports that its stations have kept more than a million bottles out of landfills.

    Overall, Americans purchase about 50 billion water bottles per year, averaging about 13 bottles per month (roughly one every other day) for every person in the United States. That means one person switching to a reusable water bottle has the potential to save an average of 156 plastic bottles annually.

    Promo is here to help. With hundreds, if not thousands of brandable drinkware options, there’s something for every taste and budget, and PPAI research shows that drinkware is one of the best ways to promote your client’s brand because it’s kept longer than other promo items, yielding more than 1,400 impressions for the average item’s lifecycle.

    Here are just a few of the drinkware possibilities, from coveted prestige brands to more practical pieces for travel – including two bottles rated as top performers by Travel + Leisure magazine:

    turquoise Hydro Flask water bottle with custom logo

    Named best stainless steel bottle by T+L, the Hydro Flask Wide Mouth With Flex Sip Lid is soft to the touch with a comfortable drinking lip and an easy-to-hold handle. Its 20-oz. capacity offers plenty of hydration without getting too heavy. Available in five colors (Pacific shown).

    PCNA / PPAI 113079, S15

     black YETI water bottle with custom logo

    Another T+L favorite, the Yeti Rambler 26-Oz. Bottle with Chug Cap makes it easy to steal a sip without slowing down. It keeps beverages cold all day, plus it’s shatter-resistant and dishwasher safe. Available in six colors (black shown), laser engraving included.

    Buckeye Incentives / PPAI 786878, S1

    collapsible silicone water bottle, red with silver lid

    This ultra-portable 17-Oz. Collapsible Silicone Water Bottle is a great travel item because it shrinks from 8 inches tall down to about 4.5 inches. Made from food grade silicone, this bottle is dishwasher and microwave safe (except for the lid) and safe for liquids up to 140 degrees. Available in five colors (red shown), laser engraving of the metal cap included.

    High Caliber Line / PPAI 205801, S10

    stainless steel Contigo water bottle with push-button spout

    The Contigo Chug Chill, a 20-oz. double wall stainless steel bottle with vacuum insulation, one-touch push-button spout and carrying handle with carabiner, is ideal for staying hydrated on the go. For cold beverages only, this bottle comes in stainless (shown), white or black, with one-color imprint included.

    ETS Express / PPAI 135148, S11

    white RTIC water bottle with custom logo

    This white stainless steel, double wall insulated RTIC 26-Oz. Water Bottle keeps your drinks ice cold longer with no sweat on the outside. Price includes laser engraving with optional upgrade to digital/four-color process print. Gift box included.

    Hirsch / PPAI 221823, S10

    BPA-free plastic bottle with Cupanion QR code to track reuse

    The BPA-free Cupanion Bottle is made sustainably in New York of durable Tritan plastic and comes in 15 lid colors. The carbon emissions generated in production are offset after only two uses, and each bottle connects to an app through the QR code printed directly on the bottle so users can track the social and environmental impact of each reuse.

    Fill it Forward / PPAI 792815, S1

    Written By: Rachel Zoch

    Published with Permission from PPAI

  • 4 Aug 2023 6:31 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Koozie Group – ranked the No. 10 supplier in this year’s PPAI 100 – has named Pierre Montaubin the new CEO of the Clearwater, Florida-based company, as well as its sister company IMAGEN Brands.

    Montaubin, who was a member of the PPAI Product Responsibility Advisory Group (PRAG), was named the company’s first chief product and sustainability officer in January.

    “I'm excited for the future – the sky is the limit," Montaubin told PPAI Media. "We have the team in place to grow. This market is fairly big, and we have a small market share. If we’re delivering the services, products, brands and technology that our customers are looking for, we should grab more market share.”

    With its SAGE Rating improving to an A, Koozie Group is laser focused on achieving an A+ with Montaubin prioritizing customer experience improvements, according to Melissa Ralston, chief revenue officer at Koozie Group.

    “Pierre brings 14 years of experience across multiple functions,” Ralston says. “He knows our business and how to make those continuous process improvements work cross-functionally to deliver that better experience for our customers.”

    Leadership Transition

    In July, Koozie Group announced that former CEO David Klatt had stepped down to serve as an advisor to the supplier’s board of directors.

    • Klatt was also a board member of H.I.G. Capital, the private equity firm that acquired Koozie Group (formerly known as BIC Graphic North America) in 2017.
    • Koozie Group told PPAI Media that Klatt made a “planned transition in March” after his five-year term as CEO and board member ended.


    Since Klatt’s transition, the executive team has been working directly with the executive chairman of the board to “continue implementing strategic improvements” for the benefit of customers.

    A company spokesperson told PPAI Media that Koozie Group's strategy and focus will remain the same, nodding to the board's belief in the importance of a seamless leadership transition and continuity with customers.

    Koozie Group's Next Biggest Challenge

    In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting business, as it did for every firm in the promotional products industry, Montaubin blames the labor shortage for causing issues for distributor customers. 

    "It was hard to go back into the rhythm of standard lead times and offering what was consistent with what our customers were expecting," Montaubin says. "For the last six-to-nine months, we’ve been back. We don’t want to make waves or big announcements, we just want to be consistent day in and day out, delivering products on time to our customers. The next biggest challenge for our company is having to prove ourselves to our customers."

    The first task on Montaubin's packed agenda is meeting with Koozie Group employees at all of the company's locations. Then, he'll be hitting the road, accompanying Ralston and her team as they meet with distributors they believe they can bring value to. 

    "Distributors have grown tremendously over the past couple years," Montaubin says. "Frankly, Koozie Group hasn’t grown that fast. We need to understand what we should do to be better partners to our distributors. I want to listen to them and remove the roadblocks.”

    Montaubin's Background

    Montaubin entered the promotional products industry in 2009, when he took over the Hong Kong-based sourcing operations of BIC Graphic and Norwood Promotional Products. In 2017, he moved to the United States, where he'd assume several roles at BIC Graphic North America, such as vice president of global support services and senior vice president of product management and sourcing. 

    Prior to joining the promo industry, Montaubin held operational and financial project management roles with BIC, Neuf Telecom and Unilog Management Consulting, with clients such as Louis Vuitton, Gerflor and Riso. He received his BA from the University of Provence and a Master of Management from the NEOMA Business School.

    Recent Developments

    BIC Graphic rebranded to Koozie Group in 2020. That same year, Koozie Group acquired fellow high-profile supplier IMAGEN Brands.

    Since then, the company has been working with a third party to conduct impartial end-user surveys to identify what it calls KG Factor items – products designed to lessen environmental impact through longevity.

    • The initiative is part of Koozie Group’s product strategy around its sustainability commitment called “Keep It. Give It.”
    • Today, 77% of its product assortment – a total of 1,944 items – has earned the KG Factor designation. The company’s goal was originally to reach the 50% mark by 2024.


    In a recent article in PPAI Magazine, Montaubin said of the company’s spend in Asia, 90% of it is still coming from China. In comparison, in 2016-2017, it was 97%.

    • Over the past few years, some production has been moved from China to Vietnam, Bangladesh and India, and the company has considered Mexico as an alternative source.

    Written by: John Corrigan

    Published with permission from PPAI

  • 3 Aug 2023 9:15 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    SAGE, the leading provider of information, marketing, and business management solutions to the promotional products industry, announces the release of SAGE Mobile 11.2. The app, available for iOS and Android devices, allows industry distributors easy access to all their critical research and business management operations while on the go.

    This update introduces over 200 new features and enhancements to search features, supplier information, presentations, CRM, project management, and order management. SAGE Mobile 11.2 users will see more fields and filters to align with the recently updated capabilities of SAGE Online™ and SAGE Web™, enabling Total Access customers to manage their business across platforms from anywhere effortlessly.

    "Our industry is always on the go. Because of that, we are committed to providing our customers with a seamless experience whether they are using SAGE Online, SAGE Web, or SAGE Mobile to give them the flexibility they need to run their businesses so they may focus on what matters most, their clients," said SAGE President David Natinsky, MAS.

    The SAGE Mobile 11.2 update brings a number of new features to the mobile app, including the ability to view recent product searches from your dashboard and further refine your product search results by color, price, or other features.

    Distributors can view whether a supplier is available to chat online right in the supplier’s profile. This will help speed up communication and make it easier for distributors to get answers when they're needed most.

    Distributors will also be able to view distributor comments and supplier responses on the supplier’s rating details page. Supplier’s general information, geographic market, order change information, cancellations, and more are now also accessible in SAGE Mobile. Additionally, distributors can quickly view what type of art formats each supplier accepts, as well as set up or proof charges, all while on the go.

    Updates to the presentation area now allow distributors to adjust pricing in their presentations, translate a presentation into French or Spanish, and even share a presentation via URL or email directly from their mobile app. No more waiting until you get back to the office when your customer needs information right away!

    Another highly anticipated addition is the ability for distributors to add projects to their client’s profiles as well as a project field in the tasks area to make it easier to create new projects and stay on top of others even when not in the office.

    SAGE also enhanced the order management area, giving distributors the option to automatically send office copies of their order forms. The order forms will now show the subtotal price, subtotal cost, and profit fields for easier itemization.

    SAGE Mobile 11.2 is available now. Current SAGE Total Access subscribers can download SAGE Mobile free from the Apple App Store, Google Play, or the Amazon App Store. The update will download automatically for users who have their app updates turned on.

  • 30 Jul 2023 3:52 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Storm Creek, a leading supplier of eco-made and lifestyle apparel celebrates female owner and CEO, Teresa Fudenberg as one the recipient of ASI’s prestigious Counselor awardsBess Cohn Humanitarian of the Year.

    [ Counselor Award announcement ]

    [ video interview with Teresa ]

    Committed to Better

    Teresa is recognized for her bold commitment to donating at least $5 million to charity by 2030. What started out as an internal goal, quickly became a pillar of Storm Creek’s mission to Seek Better. “Our commitment to giving back has become front and center in conversations with our customers, employees, and partners,” Fudenberg explains. “One of the benefits of stating this boldly is that we’re accountable to it and making business decisions around it.”

    Storm Creek is well on their way to reaching the stated goal. To date, the company has donated over $1.3 million to local and national charitable organizations. See more about the impact they had in 2022 here.

    Teresa accepted the award at ASI’s Annual Counselor Awards ceremony in Chicago Wednesday evening, stating, “This isn’t a me  thing. It’s a we  thing. Our team shows up every day with a ton of passion and ton or purpose. It’s an honor to have that passion and purpose recognized by ASI on such a prestigious stage.”

    The Other Pillars of Storm Creek

    In addition to philanthropic efforts, Strom Creek is also committed to sustainable sourcing, which includes to upcycling plastic bottles into garments. By the end of 2023, the company will have prevented over 30 million bottles from ending up in oceans and landfills. “Given the pollution issues related to the fashion industry, we are absolutely responsible for producing our apparel in the most sustainable way possible and ensuring high-quality garments that last and last versus filling landfills,” stated Fudenberg. “Nearly 1 million garments leave our building every year,” she says. “If there’s an option to make it better, we can’t not do it. Plus, our market is corporations and resorts that logo their apparel for brand building. The vast majority of these organizations value and measure their environmental impact, so we do everything we can to align with their values.”

  • 25 Jul 2023 1:41 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    American Solutions for Businessranked the No. 9 distributor in this year’s PPAI 100, has announced that Taylor Borst has been promoted to senior director of marketing and vendor relations.

    In this new role, Borst will be responsible for leading, creating and executing short and long-term strategic direction of the marketing, events, public relations, vendor relations and product support departments.

    "I’m excited and honored to take on this new role and work even closer with our dynamic, talented teams,” Borst says. “My mission has always been to create connectivity and add value for our sales associates, home office, vendor partners and end-user customers. I look forward to learning from our vendor relations team and exploring ways to contribute to our already outstanding efforts.”

    Joining the Glenwood, Minnesota-based distributorship in 2015 as a strategic operations support specialist, Borst has worn many hats during her eight-year tenure.

    • Some of her roles have included strategic operations support specialist, promotional product specialist, and communications and public relations.
    • For the last two and a half years, she’s served as director of marketing, events and public relations.

    “I’m excited to continue to work closely with Taylor,” says Dana Zezzo, vice president of marketing, vendor relations and events at ASB. “She has been instrumental in many of the positive changes of our team, and I have full confidence in her ability to continue to be a leader at ASB.”

    Ranked No. 3 on PPAI’s 2023 #Online18 and a 2019 PPB Rising Star, Borst also serves as the current president of the Upper Midwest Association of Promotional Products Professionals (UMAPP).

  • 25 Jul 2023 1:39 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Logomark is now the exclusive supplier of the 58-piece Pelican Hydration collection of tumblers, mugs and water bottles to the promo industry.

    • Crafted of 90 percent recycled 18/8 stainless steel, the colorful, fashion-forward, multi-functional collection features vacuum-sealed technology and leak-resistant lids.
    • The new collection features five inspiring signature styles including the 22-ounce Pelican Traveler Tumbler, the 40-ounce Pelican Porter Mug, the 18-ounce Pelican Ridge Mug, the 26-ounce Pelican Pacific Water Bottle and the 22-ounce Pelican Cascade Grip Tumbler, all available in 25 limited-edition colors.

    “Pelican has always been synonymous with exceptional quality, performance and customer satisfaction,” says Logomark President Clive Goldberg. “Customizability is built into the collection, providing distributors with ample space for showcasing their clients’ logos and branding. Pelican Hydration’s superior quality and on-trend designs enable distributors and their clients to easily incorporate drinkware into their marketing mix.”

    He adds, “We are proud to embark on this journey with Pelican Hydration drinkware and set new standards of excellence in the promotional products industry.”

  • 25 Jul 2023 1:37 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Vantage Apparelranked the No. 17 supplier in this year’s PPAI 100, has announced that Fred Durand and Christopher Alfano have returned to the Avenel, New Jersey-based organization.

    As chief operating officer (COO), Durand heads up all production, sourcing, IT, customer service and digital operations teams. His first tenure with the company lasted from 1999 to 2008, and he held several leadership roles, including director of customer service and vice president of e-commerce.

    • Durand has spent the past 15 years outside of the promotional products industry, acting as vice president of operations at Galanz Americas Limited Company, a home appliances manufacturer, and COO at GAR Products, which specializes in commercial seating.


    “Fred has a strong technology background, experience running large-scale manufacturing operations and a passion for fostering excellence throughout an organization,” says Ira Neaman, MAS, founder and president of Vantage Apparel. “In his first six months, he implemented significant process enhancements to give our service and operations teams more visibility to real-time information, access to technology benefits, and ultimately an overall better order experience.”

    Alfano has returned as chief digital officer (CDO). His first tenure with Vantage Apparel lasted from 2012 to 2020, and he served as director of information technology and then chief technology officer. He’s credited with modernizing the company’s ERP system and spearheading the shift toward more effective and efficient digital processes.


    “I'm incredibly excited to return to Vantage Apparel and contribute to the ongoing digital transformation,” Alfano says. “I aim to use my experience and expertise to enhance our e-commerce capabilities, deepen our partnerships, and support our distributors with more robust and seamless integrations. It's an exciting time for Vantage, and I'm thrilled to be part of it."

    “Chris' experience and innovative leadership will now be channeled into enhancing Vantage's e-commerce platforms, streamlining distributor integrations and cultivating strategic partnerships through their newly established digital sales operations team,” Neaman adds. “The recent hires are in line with Vantage's commitment to bolstering its digital capacities in response to the evolving needs of the industry.”

  • 25 Jul 2023 1:34 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Apparel supplier BELLA+CANVAS has appointed industry veteran Norm Hullinger, CAS, as its new president.

    Hullinger, who had been the Beverly Hills, California’s chief operating officer since April 2021, was previously the CEO at alphabroder for 18 years. He now slides into the role vacated by Chris Blakeslee, who has been appointed president and CEO of retail women’s lifestyle apparel brand Athleta.

    • Blakeslee had been president of BELLA+CANVAS and its sister brand Alo Yoga since 2017.
    • Athleta, a $1.5 billion certified B Corporation, is owned by Gap.


    Hullinger is a former member of the PPAI Board of Directors. In his previous role at alphabroder, he led the firm through several key milestones, including its late 2017 acquisition of supplier Prime Line. Before joining the promotional products industry, he served in executive roles for Fortune 500 retailers and online enterprises.

    In a statement released first to Graphics Pro, BELLA+CANVAS said, “With a remarkable record of accomplishments during his tenure as chief operating officer, we are confident that Hullinger’s leadership will drive our company to new heights and further solidify our position as a leading manufacturer and supplier of premium blank apparel.”

    Both BELLA+CANVAS and Alo Yoga have been on a growth trajectory with Blakeslee in the president role and Hullinger as COO.

    • BELLA+CANVAS unveiled two new distribution centers this spring, in Las Vegas and Maryland, totaling nearly 1.5 million square feet and supported by more than 700 employees and 300 production robots.
    • Alo Yoga, meanwhile, grew to more than $1 billion in sales in 2022, according to the announcement from Gap.


    BELLAS+CANVAS has co-CEOs in co-founders Danny Harris and Marco DeGeorge.

    “As we embark on this exciting new chapter with Hullinger as our president, we are confident that BELLA+CANVAS will continue to innovate, grow, and exceed expectations,” Harris said in the statement. “Hullinger’s leadership and strategic direction will undoubtedly lead toward new achievements and strengthen our position as an industry leader.”

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