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HPPA Industry News

  • 19 Jul 2023 4:01 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    PPAI has announced officers for the Association’s 2024 Board of Directors.

    Chris Anderson has been named vice chair, financial services. Meanwhile, Denise Taschereau, who currently holds that role, will serve as incoming chair. Andrew Spellman, CAS, the Association’s 2023 chair-elect, will assume the role of chair and current Board Chair Kevin Walsh, CAS, will serve as immediate past chair.

    The one-year terms will begin immediately following The PPAI Expo 2024, which will run January 15-18.

    “The future of our Association is brighter than ever with talented and caring volunteer leaders such as Andrew, Denise and Chris,” says Walsh. “Andrew’s industry experience and brand-forward approach are timely as the PPAI team moves forward with the next phase of our strategic plan. Denise has been an excellent vice chair of finance services, whose passion and knowledge in key areas such as sustainability will make for an outstanding incoming board chair. Chris is an incredibly talented leader who brings financial management and investment prowess to the executive committee.”

    “Overall, a fantastic collection of talent,” Walsh continues. “As the current board chair and a veteran of the Association, I’m delighted by these selections and excited for what the future has in store for our members.”

    PPAI Board Officers’ Backgrounds

    A 30-year veteran of the promotional products industry, Spellman is currently vice president of corporate markets at Los Angeles-based supplier Therabody (PPAI 794574, S1).

    • He spent more than 14 years as vice president of sales for Victorinox Swiss Army (PPAI 113873, S8) and was senior vice president and general manager at The Magnet Group (PPAI 338534, S11) before joining Therabody in 2021.


    Taschereau is CEO and cofounder of Fairware (PPAI 262992, D2), a Vancouver-based distributor that specializes in sustainable merchandise.

    • Taschereau spent seven years leading the corporate social responsibility efforts of Canada’s largest outdoor retailer before founding Fairware.
    • She is also a board member of Promocares, a group working to support actionable strategies to encourage social and environmental responsibility in the promotional products industry.


    Anderson is CEO of HPG (PPAI 110772, S11), promo’s No. 8 leading supplier on this year’s PPAI 100.

    • Involved in the industry for more than 20 years, Anderson previously served as CEO of supplier HandStands.
    • Under his leadership, HandStands expanded its distribution into 138 countries and closed multiple strategic acquisitions, including the sale of the business to HPG (then HUB Promotional Group) in 2018. Anderson took the helm of HPG in 2019.


    Current board chair Walsh, president of supplier Showdown Displays (PPAI 254687, S11) in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, has been with the company – ranked No. 14 in this year’s PPAI 100 – for more than 10 years and has held escalating roles with the organization leading to his presidency.

    • His background includes leadership positions with numerous industry suppliers, including New Buffalo Shirt Factory, Lee Printwear, VF Imagewear and Wrangler Jeans and Shirts.

    PPAI board officers are selected by the PPAI Board Officer Nominating Committee and voted on by the PPAI board.

    Written by: John Corrigan

    Published with Permission from PPAI

  • 19 Jul 2023 10:23 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Orbus Visual Communications expands its display system product options with two new lines: MODify Retail Merchandising System and Blaze SEG Light Box.

    • The MODify Retail Merchandising System is a collection of one-of-a-kind retail displays that incorporates SEG push-fit fabric graphics, enabling organizations to brand, promote and merchandise with ease. This flexible display system allows for easy modification with graphics, accessories and furniture. Kits feature single-sided, double-sided, gondola and four-sided options and accessories include shelves, hooks, hang bars and more. Optional furniture pieces, including risers, nesting tables and counters enhance the overall presentation.
    • The Blaze SEG Light Box collection is a cutting-edge series of fabric light boxes available in wall-mounted, freestanding and hanging variations. Setting itself apart with its sleek six-inch depth frame (four-inch for wall-mounted), the Blaze SEG Light Box effectively eliminates unwanted shadowing while evenly dispersing light.
  • 19 Jul 2023 10:21 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Koozie Group has partnered with GoGo by Shed Rain, a retail brand that includes affordable products backed by 75 years of expertise in the umbrella market.

    • Koozie Group will be the exclusive supplier of GoGo umbrellas in the promo industry. IMAGEN Brands, Koozie Group’s sister company, will continue to be the exclusive promo supplier of the Shed Rain brand.
    • The collection is launching with 12 umbrellas, including compact, stick and inverted models, and all will be made from RPET, with an average of six to eight 16-ounce plastic water bottles used in each umbrella depending on the arc size. Three versions of the VORTEX, which can withstand wind gusts up to 75 mph, will also be offered. The umbrellas carry GoGo’s lifetime guaranty.

    Pierre Montaubin, chief product and sustainability officer at Koozie Group, says, “The GoGo brand shares many of our core values, including offering products with sustainability in mind. Their approach to making the fun moments more comfortable, no matter the weather, aligns with our goal of leaving a lasting, positive impact with the solutions we provide. We’re excited to bring GoGo umbrellas to the promo market.”

  • 19 Jul 2023 10:19 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    BamBams, in Manassas, Virginia, has acquired Sealy, Texas-based supplier Visual Promotions.

    • The Visual Promotions staff will continue their current operations while the BamBams team adds the company’s products and services to their offerings.
    • Industry veteran Louie Massaro becomes BamBams’ general manager, bringing his vast experience in coolers.
    • Jeff Brandes, owner and president of Visual Promotions, will assist with the transition while growing his industry-based software business Schedule Key.

    “The opportunity made sense because of the meaningful synergies, adding significant production capacity and new products to our business,” says Dan Taylor, president and CEO of BamBams.

    Brock Taylor, COO of BamBams, adds, “With Visual Promotions’ Print on Demand [POD] capabilities, which are fully integrated with Schedule Key software, BamBams can accelerate its growth in the POD company store market. After expanding in on-demand products in 2022 with our Bolt Line, this acquisition moves us toward our goal of becoming an industry leader in POD.”

  • 19 Jul 2023 10:16 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Toddy Gear has named Viktorya Kooistra its vice president of marketing. Kooistra first joined the Bolingbrook, Illinois-based supplier in 2013, and brings 20 years of marketing communications, branding and product management experience to the new role.

    "We are thrilled to welcome Viktorya Kooistra as our vice president of marketing," says Jason Emery, president and CEO of Toddy Gear. "Her unparalleled expertise and proven leadership will be instrumental in shaping our marketing vision and strategy. We have full confidence that her insights and innovative approach will drive Toddy Gear's continued success in the ever-evolving promotional products landscape."

    During her time with Toddy Gear, Kooistra’s expertise in marketing communications, creative development, social media, public relations, trade shows, and events has been instrumental in driving brand awareness and boosting sales.

    • She has played a pivotal role in shaping Toddy Gears’ brand positioning and spearheading its marketing initiatives.
    • She has overseen every aspect of the company's marketing operations.
    • Under her guidance, Toddy Gear has achieved growth in lead generation and witnessed substantial engagement across various social media platforms.

    Last month, Toddy Gear went through an ownership change, with Emery and his business partner Isaac Delgado acquiring the remaining shares of the supplier from company founder Todd Gabel. The company was also was recently announced as one of Promo’s Greatest Companies To Work For In 2023 by PPAI.

  • 19 Jul 2023 10:13 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    The St Regis Group has announced the appointment of Mark Waisbrod as its new CEO, effective July 19. Richard Firkser, founder of the Markham, Ontario-based supplier, will remain as company president.

    “Mark is a proven leader with the ability to bring people together,” Firkser said in a press release. “His vision, business acumen and wealth of experience is exactly what St Regis needs as we enter the next chapter of expansion, innovation and growth. We’re fortunate to have someone of Mark’s caliber and track record to implement our strategy, take advantage of market opportunities and lead St Regis into the future.”

    Acting as COO at St Regis since 2011, Waisbrod has been part of the executive team overseeing several key acquisitions:

    • the 2016 merger with New York-based supplier K&R New York
    • the 2020 acquisition of The Book Company’s journal division, a Florida-based supplier of published books and journals
    • the 2022 acquisition of fellow Canadian-based supplier Clearmount


    “Under Richard’s leadership, St Regis has grown to be one of the world’s pre-eminent suppliers and manufacturers of prestigious awards, corporate recognition and promotional gifts,” Waisbrod said.

    “I’m honored to be given the mandate to lead this exceptional group. St Regis is where it is today due to the incredible efforts of all St Regis team members. The growth opportunities ahead for St Regis are vast and to seize them, we must move fast, embrace innovation and continue to transform in order to bring our distributor partners the best value, quality products and unmatched service.”

    Founded in 1999 as a small awards company, St Regis has grown to having more than 500 employees in North America with manufacturing and warehousing in Chicago and Markham.

  • 19 Jul 2023 10:08 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Canadian supplier Stormtech Performance Apparel has announced a strategic partnership with St. Petersburg, Florida-based Hit Promotional Productspromo’s No. 4 leading supplier in this year’s PPAI 100.

    Born in British Columbia, Stormtech – ranked the No. 34 supplier in the PPAI 100 – is gearing up for substantial growth in the United States, including the opening of its first U.S. distribution center, located just outside of Dallas.

    • This partnership will continue to grow Stormtech’s presence in the U.S., as distributors currently selling Hit products will now have access to Stormtech’s top-selling apparel and bags – all available for decoration through Hit.
    • Through its website, Hit is currently offering roughly 50 Stormtech products.


    “We’re excited to partner with Hit Promotional Products,” said Blake Annable, CEO of Stormtech, which made it on PPAI’s 2023 Greatest Companies To Work For list. “Their extensive infrastructure and dedication to delivering exceptional service align perfectly with our commitment to providing top-quality products to our customers. This partnership will allow us to enhance our services and deliver our brand to a much larger U.S. audience.” 

    While Stormtech will continue to maintain its own customer list and service these U.S. distributors directly, customers now have the option to purchase from Stormtech and ship to Hit’s production facilities for on-demand decoration, kitting, drop-shipping and fulfillment. 

    “We’re thrilled to welcome Stormtech Performance Apparel to our growing family of premium brands,” said C.J. Schmidt, president and CEO of Hit. “Stormtech's commitment to quality, sustainability and innovation aligns perfectly with our core values. Their dedication to environmentally sustainable practices makes them a perfect fit as a partner.”

    Coming off a very strong 2022, Schmidt told PPAI Magazine in its April’s cover story, that he’s expecting double-digit growth this year.

  • 13 Jul 2023 1:32 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    HirschNo. 12 on the PPAI 100 ranking of the industry’s leading suppliers, has named a new CEO. Paul Hirsch will serve as chief executive officer of the Houston-based company, while his father, Peter, will retain his role as president.

    Leadership Changes

    Hirsch, recognized for its innovation leadership in PPAI 100, has a strong background in applying technology to its operations. The company says this strategic move highlights its commitment by leveraging technology to increase performance and provide tools to benefit its distributor partners.

    “Paul’s elevation to CEO further places him in the leadership role for the continued growth of Hirsch, Inc.” says Peter Hirsch. “He has served the organization in many capacities with great skill over the years – including his most recent role as vice president. This has given him a keen understanding of both the organization and the amazing people who truly make Hirsch special.”

    Keeping It In The Family

    The promotional products industry is replete with successful family-run businesses, with succession preserving organizations’ strengths and focus. This week, 129-year-old distributor Kaeser & Blair also announced that the next generation had taken the reins.

    “It is with great pride that I step into the role of CEO,” says Paul Hirsch. “I’ve been beyond fortunate to work with Peter and our team at Hirsch for over 20 years. I look forward to continuing Hirsch’s path of successfully bringing premium retail brands to the branded merchandise industry and helping our distributor partners grow their respective businesses.”



    What's Ahead

    Paul Hirsch's tenure with the company and former role as vice president has equipped him for his new position, and informed his initial focus as CEO. He says, "As we move into our busiest time of year, my initial focus remains the same as it was in my VP role – ensuring that our value proposition is better than ever. We must have the right product in our line that resonates with our customers and end users, with the proper infrastructure in place to support quick and efficient turnaround times."

    Technology and corporate responsibility will also continue to play a role in the company's advancement.

    "We will continue to focus on technology and automation advances, as our team's ability to adapt to these processes is what I attribute our substantial growth to," he says. "In addition, we've come a long way in the past few years in our sustainability and ESG initiatives. We'll start highlighting these initiatives better to our customers so that they're as proud to sell our brands and products as we are."

    Written by: James Khattak

    Published with Permission from PPAI

  • 13 Jul 2023 1:29 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Kaeser & Blair has announced that the fourth generation of Kaesers has taken the helm of the 129-year-old company.

    Mitch and Brad Kaeser, both named PPAI Rising Stars in 2022, have been appointed to the roles of co-CEO of the Batavia, Ohio-based firm. Their father Kurt Kaeser will be transitioning from CEO/president to chairman of the company, which was ranked the No. 42 distributor on this year’s PPAI 100. Along with their father, the two brothers now share one-third ownership in the firm. PPAI has confirmed that the ownership change went into effect last year.

    “We’re incredibly excited to take the reins of Kaeser & Blair,” Mitch says. “Kaeser & Blair has always been led by incredible people. Being fourth generation, we know we have massive shoes to fill, and we’ll continue to run this company with integrity, respect and professionalism.”

    “I look at this amazing opportunity as a huge honor,” Brad adds. “I'm incredibly grateful to the K&B family around us for trusting me and Mitch to take over. Our father, Kurt, has had amazing success as CEO, as did our grandfather, Dick. So, we definitely have some work cut out for us. But Mitch and I are ready for anything that comes our way. Plus, Kurt will still be here as chairman. His knowledge and experience will still play an important role as we continue to grow Kaeser & Blair.”

    It’s A Family Affair

    In 1894, the company was founded in Cincinnati as the Cincinnati Printing and Paper Products Co. The name changed when Dutch Kaeser and Bill Blair acquired the firm in 1923. Representing the third generation of family leadership, Kurt Kaeser became CEO/president in 1996.

    Involved in the industry for as long as they can remember, Mitch and Brad both went to college and gained professional experience in other areas before committing to the family business.

    Mitch, who graduated from Otterbein University with a bachelor’s in graphic design, formally joined Kaeser & Blair in 2016 as a business development executive. Coining himself the “chief officer of fun,” he’s been instrumental in event planning, including organizing the company’s annual Sales Leader Summit. 

    Brad, who graduated from Northern Kentucky University with a bachelor’s in marketing, formally joined Kaeser & Blair in 2011 in order entry. He worked his way up to business development, connecting with new business owners and assisting with the startup process.

    “The position of co-CEO is very fitting,” Brad says. “We work really well together and are always bouncing ideas off one another. We have our own strengths and weaknesses, but when working together, those weaknesses cancel out and let both our strengths really show. We also have an open-door policy. Kaeser & Blair has always been a family business and we extend that sense of family to all of our team. We want to welcome everyone's voice at K&B – the best way to be successful is by truly working together. With everyone at our side, the future looks really good.”

    Mitch adds: “Brad and I believe in the motto of ‘honoring the past and reinventing the future.’ We hope we can lead the Kaeser team into a progressive and successful future, but we can't do it without our amazing team behind us: our sales leaders, the leadership team and our home office team members. We hope this brings some fresh energy to K&B and the industry.”

    With more than a century in business, Kaeser & Blair and the independent salespeople it supports have built a strong reputation in the promotional products industry. In fact, the firm’s attitude towards career education helped the company earn high marks in the PPAI 100 for its professional development.

    Written By: John Corrigan

    Published with Permission from PPAI

  • 12 Jul 2023 10:02 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Orbus Visual Communications just has a more modern ring to it.

    The Illinois-based supplier formerly known as Orbus Exhibit & Display has officially changed its name, effectively immediately.

    According to Orbus, the new name “reflects the company’s expanded capability, offering and commitment to meeting the evolving visual communication needs of its valued clients in events, interiors and retail.”

    “Exhibits & Displays” was not exhaustive enough a description for what Orbus had become. In recent years, Orbus has made a number of growth acquisitions that have allowed the company to evolve its mission to encompass a “dedication to delivering comprehensive visual communication solutions that go beyond exhibits and displays.”

    “Visual communications is essential for organizations to effectively convey their brand and message creatively and visually,” says Gary Keefer, CEO of Orbus Visual Communications. “The name change reflects our commitment to being at the forefront of this dynamic industry, providing clients with a wide range of innovative visual solutions to meet their community needs.”

    If the old name suggested offerings specifically tailored for trade shows, “Visual Communications” is meant to include workplace interiors, retail environments and other non-traditional events.

    • The name change will not affect operations in regard to all clients’ orders and customer service.

    For years, the Orbus company vision has been, “To be the leading innovator of impactful visual solutions.” That led to the development of new products – along with the acquisitions detailed above – and, according to Natalie Whited, vice president of marketing, that vision began to lend itself to endless possibilities and offerings. It was decided recently that the name must better reflect that.

    “’Visual Communications’ also aligns with the evolving nature of the display industry,” Whited says. “It positions Orbus as a company that can adapt to modern trends.”

    A name might not tell the whole story, but it leads ahead of everything else, which is why it is a huge decision for any company. There’s a trickle down, and marketing must ensure every department is aligned with the ethos of the new name.

    “While changing signage, logos and appearances of our name on our website and buildings are expected, what you might not consider is messaging and communication changes,” Whited says. “We needed to rewrite and re-phrase our key message that can tell our story and align with our brand identity.”

    Written by: Jonny Auping

    Published with Permission from PPAI

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