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HPPA Industry News

  • 2 Nov 2022 1:20 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    It is with deep sadness and profound grief to announce that Pro Towels has suffered a major loss due to the death of our beloved employee Sheila Ware.

    Sheila has been with Pro Towels for 29 years and throughout the many years in the industry she has brought pure joy to everyone around her! She was truly loved by many and will never know how much happiness she brought to us and our customers. Anyone who had the pleasure of working with Sheila can attest to her passion and commitment to her profession.

    Sheila was our Large Quotes Specialist and was known to parade around with a set of purple and gold pom poms (LSU colors) shaking them and celebrating all over the office once she got a big order. She wore her heart on her sleeve, gave our team energy and was someone you can always count on.

    Sheila was a huge part of Pro Towels! Her positive attitude, commitment to her craft and desire to be of service to others will truly be missed. Her passing will affect the Pro Towels family immensely, but we will continue to carry on her legacy by continuing to provide a high level of service and making our clients smile!

    “Sheila was the heart and soul of the Pro Towels Family and brought a smile to work every day” Kevin Nord CEO of Pro Towels.

  • 1 Nov 2022 1:37 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Each year, SAGE presents industry suppliers and decorators with A+ and A rating awards based on distributor ratings collected in SAGE Online, SAGE Web, and SAGE Mobile, the industry’s most popular product research and business management solution.

    This year, 893 companies received the top A+ rating, while another 207 received an A rating. A total of 45% percent of all active Advantage or Decorator Members in the SAGE database received an award this year. As part of the relationship between SAGE and PPAI, suppliers with SAGE ratings are also considered for eligibility in the industry’s annual PPAI Supplier Star Awards Competition.

    “We are proud to offer these awards to those that have persevered and really raised the bar for the standard of quality, transparency, and integrity in the industry,” said SAGE President David Natinsky, MAS.

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

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

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

    Award-winning companies will have access to a variety of marketing collateral to promote their A+ or A rated status, including logos for their catalogs, websites, and email signatures. For more information, suppliers should contact their SAGE Account Advisor at 800.925.7243.

    Click below to download the complete lists:

    A+ Supplier Ratings

    A Supplier Ratings

    A+ Decorator Ratings

    A Decorator Ratings

  • 26 Oct 2022 12:04 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Reflecting its growth and renewed corporate vision, Houston-based supplier Hirsch Gift (PPAI 221823, S10) has rebranded simply as Hirsch. Along with the name change, the company has also introduced an updated corporate logo and website.

    “It’s a major milestone for the company, as we have accelerated our evolution to be the leading supplier of retail brands in the promotional products industry” says Peter Hirsch, MAS, owner and president. “This rebrand is not only a testament to our continuing commitment to bringing cutting-edge retail brands into the world of promotional products, but to our truly amazing team who has built Hirsch into the company it is today – and will be for years to come!”

    Introduced in conjunction with the rebrand, the updated website – www.hirschpromo.com – includes an integrated chat function to make it easier for promotional products distributors to collaborate with Hirsch.

    “Our distributor partners have referred to us as simply ‘Hirsch’ for years,” says Brittany Frase, director of sales and marketing. “This felt like a natural progression for our brand to drop the ‘gift’, which no longer fully encompasses our capabilities. We have the same commitment to quality, service, responsiveness and philanthropy we’ve always had. In essence, we are the same, new Hirsch.”

  • 26 Oct 2022 12:01 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Frank Myers, president of Bolingbrook, Illinois-based supplier S&S Activewear has been named the company’s chief executive officer, effective November 1. At the same time, current CEO Jim Shannon will transition to vice chairman of S&S’s board of directors.

    Myers joined S&S in 2009 and was named president last year after serving as chief financial officer and chief operating officer. He is credited with playing an integral role in the company’s nationwide expansion and acquisition strategy over the past decade, and he has supported Shannon in key company decisions. Myers and the leadership team have also been cited as instrumental in guiding the company through the pandemic, ensuring that S&S retained all of its employees during that two-year period.

    “Frank is a seasoned executive. His breadth of experience makes him the ideal candidate for overseeing S&S’s next chapter, and I believe there is no one better fit to handle this position,” says Shannon. “With Frank’s leadership and the combined expertise of the executive team, S&S will continue to provide excellent service to our customers, leading the company into the future.”

    Myers says, “I feel humbled to be representing such an amazing company and team. I’m grateful to lead a company with such talented and dedicated employees, and I’m very proud of what we’ve built together over the years.”

    Business strategies and operational leadership at S&S are not expected to change due to the leadership transition. Myers’ major initiatives are to continue the company’s relationship-first approach and ensure everyone – employees, customers and vendors – works collaboratively to achieve growth.

    "As we move forward, we will remain committed to the values and principles that have served us well in the past," Myers says. "I believe that maintaining our key relationships and focusing on collaboration will help us achieve our goals more efficiently and effectively."

    S&S was acquired by private investment firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice at the beginning of 2021. Shannon, who joined the company in 1991, transitioned from president of the supplier to CEO when the transaction closed.

    Since the acquisition, S&S has added talent across the organization, notably expanding its salesforce, operations staff and executive team. Myers will lead the business alongside veterans Keith Shannon, chief revenue officer, and Brian Beale, chief technology officer, as well as newly hired executives Joy Kelly, chief human resources officer, and Christopher Kodosky, chief financial officer.

    “We are thankful for Jim’s stewardship of S&S Activewear. Jim and his team have built a formidable business with multiple layers of sustainable advantage,” says John Compton, operating partner at CD&R and chairman of the board. “We are equally excited to announce the appointment of Frank Myers to CEO and a member of the board of directors. Frank has a distinguished track record of success, and we look forward to partnering with him and his team for future growth.”

  • 20 Oct 2022 6:03 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    VisionUSA®, the Dallas-based designer and manufacturer of customized promotional products, today announced they will add another best-selling lifestyle brand to their already impressive list. In addition to Bodum, Rocketbook, JBL and Weber we will now offer the LARQ brand to distributors, allowing companies to feature their own logos and messages on these trending products.

    “We are excited to provide our customers with the opportunity to purchase branded, high-quality items from LARQ,” says Felix Soliz, owner of VisionUSA. “The addition of LARQ products differentiates us from our competitors by adding unique, attractive, sustainable, and functional items.  An example is a 25 oz. a pure, on-the-go stainless steel bottle, featuring a portable water filtration system that combines high-performance Nano Zero filter technology.”  Soliz says.  The addition of LARQ will elevate the company’s offerings and appeal to both new and current customers and will deliver clean drinking water while ending dependence on single-use plastic.   LARQ paves the way for healthy and sustainable living promoting a #DrinkBrilliantly mantra.
  • 17 Oct 2022 11:46 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Thirty-year promotional products veteran Charles "Chuck" Dahlgren died Monday at the age of 70 following complications during surgery.

    Dahlgren was the owner, president and CEO of Crystal D, a manufacturing company that specializes in crystal awards and gifts, after purchasing the company Ice Nine Glass Design in 1993 and renaming it.

    In a statement, the company says “our hearts are broken” by the loss of its president.

    Under Dahlgren’s stewardship for just under 30 years, Crystal D prided itself as a family atmosphere that did its work in St. Paul, Minnesota rather than outsourcing labor hundreds or thousands of miles away. Believing in the power of recognition, Crystal D aims to “turn emotions into memories” for its clients.

    Born in Olicia, Minnesota and raised in Bird Island, Minnesota, Dahlgren attended Concordia College. His first job consisted of working on his family’s farm as a young man, which he took on as his responsibility. This sprouted his entrepreneurial spirit. Hard work was an expectation for Dahlgren, but hard work should also be recognized, he thought.

    “I believe that success is a result of hard work, persistence and dedication,” said Dahlgren. “I love being part of the recognition industry because I know how great recipients feel when they receive Crystal D awards. To me, this is the ultimate feel-good experience.”

    Perhaps no better testament to the company’s leader, under Dahlgren Crystal D has also been recognized as a terrific environment for employees, having been named to PPB’s Greatest Companies To Work For In The Promotional Products Industry as recently as this year, as well as in 2021 and 2019. Dahlgren himself was honored with a PPB Best Bosses award in 2012.

    Dahlgren enjoyed slowing down and spending time outdoors, primarily boating on the Minnesota lakes. He joked that his favorite sports team was “whoever’s winning” and his favorite television show was American Idol. A lover of sweets, the Chocolate Volcano from Chili’s was his favorite dessert.

    He is survived by his wife, Jeanne, and his three daughters, Bridget Dahlgren, Audra Lehnert and Crystal Hoelzel, for whom the company is named, and many grandchildren.

    Bridget Dahlgren and Audra Lehnert are helping to carry on their father’s legacy at Crystal D. Bridget Dahlgren works in marketing, sales and employee recognition in the company and Audra is an impressions brand manager.

    Condolences to the family can be sent via a private voicemail at 651-925-3499 or private email at DahlgrenFamily@crystal-d.com. Flowers and gifts can be received at 505 Atwater Circle, St. Paul Minnesota.  

    Crystal D will update its website with more information about upcoming funeral and celebration of life.

  • 17 Oct 2022 10:16 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Ariel Premium Supply is pleased to share that its newly created environmental and social responsibility program has so far raised $24,782 to support key global environmental initiatives. The program, initiated in August and only 2 months old, is simple -- $1.00 is donated for every order placed by Ariel's distributor customers. Through this distributor participation, Ariel Premium and customers alike are making important contributions to the environment. With this early success, Ariel Premium committed to continuing the program to drive more awareness to protect our planet.

    The donations are shared monthly between Rainforest Trust and The Ocean Cleanup. Rainforest Trust focuses on tropical-based initiatives targeting preserving land, species and indigenous peoples. The Ocean Project is dedicated to unique solutions to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Each is making a significant impact to protect and clean up our environment.

    "We are very pleased to do what small part we can for the environment and preservation," says Yuhling Lu, owner of Ariel Premium. "It also allows distributors to participate and contribute to these causes through their purchasing power," she adds.

  • 17 Oct 2022 10:13 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Issaquah, Washington-headquartered SanMar, the promotional products industry’s largest supplier, has begun its mission to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with a company-wide target.

    On Wednesday the company announced that goal has been approved by Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi), which helps drive climate action in the private sector by aiding organizations to set science-based emissions reduction targets.

    SanMar’s target for carbon emission reduction states that the company is dedicated to reducing scope 1 and 2 GHH emissions 50% per pound of product by 2030 from a 2019 base year. It also commits to reduce scope 3 GHG emissions from purchased goods and services 50% per pound of product within the same time frame.

    SanMar states that many of the company’s initiatives to reach its emissions targets will focus on reducing the environmental impact of its products and engaging with suppliers to decrease the impact of their operations with an emphasis on efficient machinery, process and renewable energy.

    SBTi employs a five-step proves to create tangible goals and establish pathways to reduce emissions by an amount and timetable that first the size of the company they are working with. Targets are consistent with the level of decarbonization that, according to climate science, is required to keep global temperate increase within 1.5°C to 2°C compared to pre-industrial temperature levels.

    SanMar formally committed to SBTi in April of 2021, and the company’s 2030 target has officially been approved.

    “Establishing audacious science-based targets is a landmark moment for SanMar and our industry,” says Emily Gigot, senior manager of sustainability at SanMar. “Collectively, we must all do our part to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, and this framework provides us with a roadmap to reduce our emissions in line with climate science.”

  • 12 Oct 2022 9:00 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Apollo USA is expanding into Texas. The Gardena, California-based supplier is on track to begin construction of a new facility in North Richland Hills, northeast of Fort Worth, later this year.

    Apollo USA, a minority-owned company, produces an extensive range of promotional products and apparel using embroidery, heat transfer, laser etching and screen-printing processes.

    • Along with its California location, it has facilities in Grove Village, Illinois, and Pennsauken, New Jersey, representing a combined footprint of 200,000 square feet between them.
    • The company is led by Dora Zhang and currently employs about 250 people.

    Apollo USA’s Texas facility is expected to open in summer 2023, with 70,000 square feet spread across production and office space. The supplier plans on hiring approximately 50 new staff members in Texas.

    “Texas has always been in our expansion plans. Now is the right time, and we are ready,” says Zhang. “The new facility allows us to better cover our Midwest client base and in Texas, which we have been lacking.”

    The Texas location will support a range of capabilities, including embroidery, heat transfer and woven labels and patches, as well as drop shipping and kitting of Apollo’s entire product line.

  • 12 Oct 2022 8:56 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    After two consecutive years of being held in a virtual format, the Leadership Development Workshop (LDW), hosted by PPAI and the Regional Relations Council (RRC), returned to Grapevine, Texas Tuesday for a live, in-person event to bring together regional association leadership.

    This week marks the 23rd year of LDW fostering relationships among regional associations.

    “Everyone’s excited to be back on site in-person again and to be able to see each other face-to-face,” says Jill Begun, PPAI’s professional development manager. “Everyone was ready to come.”

    While the event, held at the Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center, took on a traditional conference format on Tuesday and continues Wednesday with roundtables, breakout sessions and guest speakers tackling specific topics, Monday’s registration was followed by a three-hour roundtable training session held for regional executive directors only.

    This session was an informal but fairly exhaustive informational session going over topics that executive directors of regional associations confront routinely. Bob McLean, chief financial officer of Axiom Plus and former vice president of PPAI, joined the roundtable to go over tax requirements, allowing each executive director in the room to ask follow-up questions and clarifications.

    “It is vital to the executive director community to have this time to talk and share ideas,” says Sue Selseth, executive director of the Upper Midwest Association of Promotional Products (UMAPP). “This is how we learn things. We work so independently. We don’t have IT departments. We don’t always have co-workers to ask for advice, so this is where we learn from each other.”

    Executive directors from New England to California and regions everywhere in-between are using the week’s training sessions to discuss hyper specific logistical issues and broad practical concerns that allow for both comparing of methods and expert advice. 

    “This is the only opportunity we have all year long to all be in one room and idea share,” says Cassondra Franze, executive director of Promotional Products Association Southwest (PPAS). 

    The Executive Director Roundtable Session was followed by an opening dinner attended by the PPAI Board of Directors and staff. LDW continues Tuesday and Wednesday with guest speakers and roundtable sessions tackling many of the core issues that PPAI believes the promotional products industry should remain focused on, including corporate social responsibility and digital transformation.

    “It’s a wide variety of topics,” Begun says. “Everything from legal guidelines to best practices for digital marketing. It’s going over Promotional Products Work and sustainable practices. It’s kind of encompassing everything.”

    Between those educational sessions and during lunches and dinners, however, regional association executive directors will continue to take advantage of the in-person networking opportunities, according to Franze.

    “The best part of LDW is all the side conversations and all the networking that happens outside of the education,” Franze says.

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