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HPPA Industry News

  • 30 Dec 2022 8:22 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Edwards has added to their outside sales team by hiring Brian Deissroth as director of national accounts.

    • Deissroth comes to Edwards after serving as the senior key accounts manager at Augusta Sportswear Brands. Prior to that, he worked as the Eastern regional and Canadian sales director at Vantage Apparel.
    • With much of his career being in the uniform industry, Deissroth brings the knowledge and expertise to help Edwards distributors grow their business as well as land and execute complicated uniform programs for major uniform purchasers.
    • “We are excited to add Brian to our team. He is a proven expert in driving growth for the promotional industry,” says Jose Gomez, president and CEO at Edwards. “His drive for success will be a key part of our increased efforts to get more and more distributors to succeed with the support our products and services provide.”
    • Deissroth was named a PPB Rising Star in 2019 and SAAGNY 40 under 40 in 2021. He is currently involved in the Regional Relations Committee (RRC) and Government Relations Advisory Council (GRAC).
  • 22 Dec 2022 1:35 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    3M today announced it will exit per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) manufacturing and work to discontinue the use of PFAS across its product portfolio by the end of 2025. 3M will:

    • Exit all PFAS manufacturing by the end of 2025. 3M will discontinue manufacturing all fluoropolymers, fluorinated fluids, and PFAS-based additive products. It will help facilitate an orderly transition for customers. 3M intends to fulfill current contractual obligations during the transition period.
    • Work to discontinue use of PFAS across our product portfolio by the end of 2025. 3M has already reduced our use of PFAS over the past three years through ongoing research and development and will continue to innovate new solutions for customers.
    • 3M's decision is based on careful consideration and a thorough evaluation of the evolving external landscape, including multiple factors such as accelerating regulatory trends focused on reducing or eliminating the presence of PFAS in the environment and changing stakeholder expectations.
  • 22 Dec 2022 1:33 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Cintas Corporation and three of its employee-partners were recently recognized for their ongoing commitment to workplace safety and health and the United States Occupational Safety and Health Association’s (OSHA) Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP).

    • Myron Harper, Cintas corporate safety and health senior manager, and Meghan Moberly, Cintas first aid and safety regional service manager, have been awarded the Voluntary Protection Program Participants Association (VPPPA)’s prestigious SGE of the Year honors for their respective VPP Regions.
    • Additionally, Bobby Hunzicker, general manager at Cintas’ First Aid & Safety Location 479 in Kansas City, was recently recognized with VPPPA’s Star Among Stars Award for Region VII.
  • 20 Dec 2022 12:55 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Proforma recently sponsored the tree lighting event at the May Dugan Center, a foundation that provides comprehensive services and programs to individuals and families throughout the Cleveland area.

    • The May Dugan Center aims to enrich and advance the lives of people and their communities by providing essential items such as food, clothing, furniture, and household goods.
    • Proforma also participated in the community giveback event with a local chapter of The Salvation Army. The Salvation Army boasts more than 150 years of service to the Cleveland community, dedicating the winter season to holiday giving.
    • “As members of the local community, we want nothing more than to support and uplift those who need it most,” explained Doug Kordel, President of Proforma. “We will continue to do good unto our community and hope our actions will continue to spread cheer.”
  • 20 Dec 2022 12:54 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Showdown Displays’ customer success team was awarded Contact Center World’s 2022 Global Gold award recognizing the Best in Customer Service in the world.

    • This is the 18th annual celebration of CCW’s annual awards honor the most innovative call center solutions and individuals of the past year, recognizing superior innovation, outstanding customer experiences, creativity and execution.
    • “We are honored to be recognized for the outstanding efforts of our Customer Success team.” said Kevin Walsh, president of Showdown Displays. “Each and every day they collaborate our reseller partners, answering questions and providing solutions. Their efforts in creating personal connections delivers remarkable results for both our customers and for the company. It’s a proud day for Showdown Displays and for our team.”
  • 20 Dec 2022 12:53 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    WOWLine recently changes to its company’s sales team.

    • John Short has been promoted to director of sales. Short was previously national sales manager and has been in the industry for close to 25 years. He has been with WOWLine for the last four and a half years.
    • Nick Bombardiere has been promoted to regional sales manager for the Eastern region. Bombardiere was previously junior sales associate and has been with WOWLine for four years. He will report to Short.
    • “I am truly honored,” Short says. “As we continue to grow, this is a great opportunity to showcase and recognize the talent that we have here at WOWLine. I am looking forward to continuing to work with our distributor customers and to help them continue to be successful.”
  • 20 Dec 2022 12:49 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    There should be a word for the absence of recent tension in a room.

    Perhaps “relief” is the closest description. Whatever the word, you could feel that dynamic in an OrderMyGear conference room on an early December afternoon in Dallas, only a few weeks after the announcement that OMG had acquired BrightStores, a Denver-based provider of online company stores for promotional products distributors.

    At the table were OMG President Matt Kaplan and Mykayla Goodwin, vice president of strategy. Conferencing in from Denver was Tanya Ignacek-Sutton, vice president of BrightStores. The three executives had gotten to know each other over the years. Rivals turned teammates.

    “There’s been a friendly relationship for quite a while, but there’s a component as well of, ‘Boy, they are a fierce competitor,’” Ignacek-Sutton says.

    Both had been competing to serve clients in the industry. There didn’t seem to be any slowing to OMG’s growth and resources, but BrightStores strength was in serving distributors in promo, and the OMG top brass was at least a little envious of their competitors’ savvy in the market. The two companies even had history in that very same conference room.

    “I met Dan [Halama, BrightStores’ founder and former president], three years ago,” Kaplan remembers. “We sat in this room. At that time, I never thought that we could get to a place where we would be together. Did I ever hope and dream? Of course.”
    Kaplan’s hopes and dreams finally came to fruition. Announced November 14, the coming together of the two technology platforms will target the online needs of promotional product distributors, apparel decorators and team dealers.

    “We’re able to combine the best in class on both sides and bring them together and offer the best technology and blaze this path for group commerce and change the game,” Kaplan says.
    ‘The Perfect Partner’
    Any acquisition between two successful companies takes some amount of humility. BrightStores has grown in business every single year since it was founded in 1999, according to Ignacek-Sutton, and by any reasonable measure, it had the experience, the steady staff and the clients to continue to compete in the marketplace. It always offered to clients what Ignacek-Sutton refers to as “white glove support,” holding their hand through the process of making technology less complicated. In the promo world, that approach went a long way.

    But both companies were led by people who believed in the benefits of conversations within industries, and in the past few years the leadership teams got together at The PPAI Expo, chatting about common problems and possible solutions.

    Mutual clients would bring each company up to the other, identifying gaps on each side and reminding one company what the other excelled at. Executives at distributors, decorators or dealers were politely asking OMG if they ever considered partnering with BrightStores in some capacity.

    This is where OMG’s humility comes in.
    “We’re very honest with ourselves here internally,” Kaplan says. “We know what we’re great at, and we know what we’re not great at. We understand that Bright Stores does things that we do not do, cannot do and do not offer.”

    OMG approached BrightStores, not as victors in a competition but by laying out what the two could accomplish together. To the BrightStores leaders, like Ignacek-Sutton, who had been with the company since the early days, this was enticing.

    Ignacek-Sutton, who ultimately called the acquisition “wonderfully synergistic,” has seen the industry change over the years. She still sees it as small businesses doing what they could do with a small group of people: “That’s what BrightStores was.”

    The client relationships were already there for BrightStores, as was the savvy to move nimbly within the industry’s evolution. But they were no longer just competing with small groups of people. OrderMyGear had resources BrightStores never would, not to mention the track record of growing a company. There was only one way for those resources to become available: agreeing to an acquisition.

    “Our collective expertise is unmatched,” Halama says.

    OrderMyGear, according to Ignacek-Sutton, was “the perfect partner,” due not only to the companies’ shared vision but the way each felt about their respective clients and staff. She estimates that the average tenure of BrightStores employees is about seven years.

    “I think that speaks volumes,” Goodwin says, “and we want the exact same thing here.”

    At a bigger company – under the umbrella of the two companies there will be nearly 150 employees, as opposed to about 20 at BrightStores previously – those long tenured BrightStores employees will inherit more than just resources; they will have greater opportunities to advance within the company.

    The right perspective on technology helped each of these companies reach success, and that shared perspective helped bring them together. BrightStores had a front row for the technology’s rapid implementation of technology and e-commerce.
    “I’ve seen little tiny companies grow into something magnificent, and I’ve seen big companies wither away because they just won’t embrace the technology,” Ignacek-Sutton says.

    Group e-commerce made simple is ultimately what these companies can offer the promo industry – exciting ways to grow business delivered without a high barrier of knowledge for clients. Promotional products existed well before the internet, which is why some within the industry resist its resources even now. But OrderMyGear and BrightStores are in the business of changing that behavior, and it’s why Kaplan refers to the acquisition as “one of the most important partnerships that’s going to happen that can actually truly change the game in the industry.”

    The pandemic forced businesses to understand how they can survive through e-commerce. OrderMyGear expects to help them thrive.

    “The race started,” Goodwin says. “Catch up.”

    Putting Gas On The Fire
    Ignacek-Sutton admits that the hardest part in this initial stage of the merger is patience. She has seen OMG’s resources from afar, and it’s tempting to let her team loose like kids in a candy store. But Kaplan says that 2023 will be “business as usual” apart from both staffs getting better acquainted with their new colleagues.

    Make no mistake, the two will eventually become one company offering a functional version of the best that each company has to offer. But Goodwin, who is running point on the integration, is determined to make the early stages “less about the integration of the technology and more about the integration of the people.”

    BrightStores’ employees will be welcome to come operate out of OMG’s swanky office, walking distance from Dallas’ music hub known as Deep Ellum, but no one will be forced to move, and Kaplan anticipates that OMG will invest in a shared office space in Denver, as well.

    They are each teasing to their respective clients the opportunities that this will mean for them, but everything takes time and precision, just like the acquisition itself. It was late summer when, in good faith, Halama opened up to letting his company be acquired by OrderMyGear. The OMG team immediately got busy with due diligence, researching the realistic options for such a move.

    Halama and OrderMyGear CEO Leonid Rozkin, negotiated down to the eleventh hour, with even top leadership like Ignacek-Sutton, Goodwin and Kaplan often out of the loop on whether the deal would even happen. (Halama now sits on the OrderMyGear board.)

    With the deal final, there are 4,000 combined clients. About 600 came from BrightStores, many of those large distributors that will soon gain access to the innovative features, such as pop-up shops, that OMG has to offer.

    And for as much as Kaplan is doing his level best to preach patience with the integration, he will admit that there are things that they can do at OMG that will “turn BrightStores on its head.”

    Goodwin puts it a little more boldly.

    “They’re already on fire now. We’re just going to be putting gas on the fire,” she says.
    Kaplan adds, “We’ve got a very robust sales and marketing engine.”

    Technology platforms exist to enable clients to do more. BrightStores has always done that “nimbly,” as Ignacek-Sutton says, doing what they can with the resources they have and working within what their clients can handle. Now it’s OMG’s turn to enable their new acquisition to do more. They want to give BrightStores employees the opportunity to say “yes” to more things.

    “Dan [Halama] has been passionately concerned with the future of BrightStores,” Ignacek-Sutton says. “I think it’s a relief to know that we’re now partnering with a company that can help us get to the next step.”

    OrderMyGear has been in the team sporting goods space since its inception in 2008. Years before that, founder Kent McKeaigg’s father, Ronnie, was a sporting goods distributor who could have used the platforms that OrderMyGear and BrightStores would eventually provide.

    Ronnie represents a client that this acquisition hopes to serve across the sporting goods and promotional products spaces. Seamless, effective online stores represent one of the few large-scale innovations this industry has seen in generations, and the potential client list is endless. Goodwin isn’t shy about her ambitions, now that BrightStores is in tow.

    “I want all 42,000,” Goodwin says, referring to OMG’s estimated market size.
    To Kaplan, the technology the combined companies offer is about more than maximizing a client’s potential or profits. Effective group e-commerce can improve the quality of life for distributor reps, who can spend less time on the road. They can reach more customers with more ease. It’s something that BrightStores has been doing for over two decades. Both companies can provide resources and tools to make the lives of distributors – and decorators and suppliers – easier.

    OMG+BrightStores Reveal from PPAI on Vimeo.

    Can They Change The Game?

    OrderMyGear is ready to make that apparent to the world using the engine that has fueled its growth thus far.

    “If you can tell the story about how easy it is to actually navigate these systems and use those tools, then you’ve actually won,” Kaplan says.

  • 14 Dec 2022 11:32 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Spector & Co. has announced the opening of its brand-new, state-of-the-art factory and merchandising studio located minutes from the Vegas strip. 

    • With this expansion, the company effectively doubles its capacity to support distributor growth while jointly improving services to both American and Canadian customers. 
    • “US expansion has been an objective of ours for some time now and with the recent hiring of new team members in the areas of IT, logistics, production, and fulfillment, we feel very good about taking this strategic step to better support our distributors,” says Rob Spector, CEO of Spector & Co.
    • With this Las Vegas location, Spector & Co. will be able to offer improved logistics and reduced shipping times throughout more of the US, especially for distributors in the Midwest and western states. This also means a reduction in carbon emissions directly linked to transportation.
  • 14 Dec 2022 11:31 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    AAA Innovations announced that Cristi Meyer has been hired as its new national account director, managing many of the industry’s largest national accounts such as Staples Promotional Products, Proforma and Geiger.

    • Meyer brings more than 25 years of experience in the promotional products industry. Most recently, she served as a national accounts manager with Sweda/Snugs and was previously an account executive at Corporate Express (Staples Promotional Products) for many years.
    • “It is my great pleasure to introduce and welcome Cristi Meyer to our team,” says Jeffrey Nanus, CEO of AAA Innovations. “Cristi has been successful wherever she’s been and I could not be more excited to have her join our team! It is a very exciting time at AAA Innovations as we have put together our strongest product assortment ever and have added all the necessary resources behind it to continue to move forward.”
  • 14 Dec 2022 11:00 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Evans Manufacturing has been awarded a Top Workplaces 2022 honor by the Orange County Register Top Workplaces.

    • The list is based solely on employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey administered by employee engagement technology partner Energage LLC. The confidential survey uniquely measures 15 culture drivers that are critical to the success of any organization, including alignment, execution, and connection.
    • "It truly is a privilege to be considered for this award and it's even a greater honor to actually win. Our culture is both employee centric and customer centric, which explains why Evans has won multiple Best Places to Work awards," says Ron Williams, Evans chief marketing officer.
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