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HPPA Industry News

  • 6 May 2022 11:42 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Los Angeles, California-based distributor BAMKO, a division of the Superior Group of Companies, has acquired substantively all the assets of Norcross, Georgia, distributor Guardian Products. The transaction closed effective as of May 1.

    Guardian Products generated approximately $23 million in revenue over the past 12 months and has built its business providing promotional products to automotive dealers nationwide. A strategic acquisition for BAMKO, the acquisition of Guardian is expected to be immediately accretive and is seen as a natural extension of its December 2021 acquisition of Sutter’s Mill Specialties, which is also focused on the automotive dealer space.

    “The acquisition of Guardian is a great fit for our expanding business,” says Jake Himelstein, president of BAMKO. “Our December acquisition of Sutter’s Mill and its production and decoration capabilities created a unique synergistic opportunity that we were eager to seize upon. With the addition of Guardian, we can further leverage the Sutter’s Mill infrastructure to immediately become the dominant player in the automotive dealer space.

    “We see this as a tremendous growth opportunity and expect significant sales opportunities to result from our unique ability to provide uniform solutions for Guardian’s existing and future customer base.”

    The acquisition delivers holistic benefits to BAMKO. Sutter’s Mill has the decoration and production capabilities, while Guardian has the sales network and customer base. Essentially, from BAMKO’s perspective, each of the acquisitions becomes more attractive by virtue of doing both of them—the whole is substantially greater than the sum of the individual parts.

    • The acquisition allows BAMKO to advance some of its technology objectives for Sutter’s Mill.
    • BAMKO can invest more into Sutter’s Mill’s production, decoration and distribution infrastructure.
    • Guardian becomes more appealing to its existing and prospective customers because production and decoration is now in-house.

    The deal is the latest acquisition for BAMKO. Prior to the Sutter’s Mill acquisition, In February 2021, it acquired the assets of Seattle-based distributor Gifts By Design, Inc. In late 2019, BAMKO expanded its footprint into Texas with the formation of a strategic partnership with Dallas-based distributor Lapgevity. BAMKO’s parent company, Superior Group of Companies, also operates in the promotional market through subsidiaries Tangerine Promotions, Ltd. and Public Identify, Inc.

    Himelstein adds, “our first and most important focus always is on culture fit. The Wise family has built a culture at Guardian that we greatly admire. It is one of trust, positivity and a lightness of spirit that meshes well with our own. We’re honored with the confidence that they have placed in us to help them continue that legacy and are thrilled to welcome them into our BAMKO family.”

    Neil Wise, Sr., founder and president of Guardian Products, says, “We knew right away that BAMKO was different. BAMKO approached this entire process with a thoughtfulness, enthusiasm, cooperative spirit, and authenticity that got us excited about building a future together. The more we learned about the vision that the BAMKO team has for the future of this industry and the incredible business that they’ve already built, the more apparent it became that this was a special opportunity for our team that we simply could not pass up.

    “This deal will secure the long-term future of Guardian Products and create opportunities for our people that are bigger and better than any they’ve ever known. We can’t wait to get started.”

    Speaking to Newslink, Himelstein says, “We are so excited to bring these two cultures together and continue building something special here. The Wise family has built a great company and they have honored us by placing their trust in us to preserve and enhance that legacy. We intend to do so.

    “We are really fired up about this opportunity and what it means for the future. BAMKO, Sutter’s Mill, and Guardian became a lot better today. We’re going to give the folks at Guardian access to tools that we’ve invested millions to develop that will supercharge their growth. By joining forces, we’ll be able to accelerate our technology and infrastructure investment timeline and further press the advantage we’ve created through BAMKO's technological superiority.”

  • 6 May 2022 9:33 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    American Solutions for Business (ASB) has been selected by Premier as one of the primary vendors to provide Service Awards and Promotional Products to their member organizations as well as members of Premier’s partner GPO’s.

    ASB announced that it has been re-awarded a three-year group purchasing agreement with Premier, Inc., one of the largest healthcare purchasing alliances in the United States. The agreement (PP-SV-358) names ASB as a contracted supplier of Service Awards and Promotional Products, which includes promotional products, service awards, employee recruiting and retention programs, tradeshow booths, and other items related to marketing and HR. Effective Sept 1, 2022, the new agreement allows Premier members, at their discretion, to take advantage of special pricing and terms pre-negotiated by Premier and ASB for service awards and promotional products.

    ASB has been contracted with Premier since 2013 for services, including advertising and marketing, promotional products, enterprise content management, and service awards. As one of a select few contracted vendors in this category, ASB looks forward to continuing to service Premier’s members through its model of flexibility and exceptional customer service.
  • 6 May 2022 9:13 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Supplier Mixie, along with staff members of parent company HPG and customers, celebrated its grand reopening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its upgraded 60,000 square-foot facility in Eagan, Minnesota. Mixie, previously the Webb Company, was acquired by HPG in 2020.

    The Rebranding: Mixie’s reopening ceremony is part of a comprehensive rebranding initiative overseen by HPG’s in-house creative marketing team, based in Danville, California. Along with the facility upgrade, Mixie has introduced several new brand elements:

    • A new logo
    • A website redesign
    • New fonts
    • Updated marketing collateral
    • Refreshed product photography
    • Overhaul of its entire visual identity system

    The rebranding comes as several product categories offered by Mixie enjoy resurgent growth in the promo market. In its recently published Q1 2022 Global Statistical Report, industry service provider and PPAI technology partner SAGE noted that in January-March, lip balm searches climbed in its search results, rising 13 spots to No.34 in its top 50 product searches and comparisons. And sunscreen product searches climbed 75 percent quarter-to-quarter as distributors’ clients plan campaigns for the summer months.

    The Reopening Ceremony: Mixie specializes in custom, U.S.-mixed health and wellness products. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in the company’s new product showroom and afterwards guests were taken on guided tours of the production facility. The tour showcased the company’s operations, which, following the upgrades, have more than doubled the liquid fill capacity for sanitizers, lotions, lip balms and other items.

    Mixie’s facility is available for tours. Interested parties are invited to contact Rena Ashfeld, vice president of sales, at Rena.Ashfeld@hpgbrands.com.

    “I feel enthusiastic about what’s ahead for our product lines,” says Brett Olsen, Mixie’s general manager. “We refreshed and decorated the facility from top to bottom. HPG, our parent company, has been behind us 100% of the way. We’re excited to host more visitors and our sales team has hit the road to bring Mixie to customers.”

    Trina Bicknell, HPG chief revenue officer, says, “I’m so excited about Mixie’s new brand position. We are personal care and wellness, and taking the industry by storm. Our guests were so excited to smell and touch the products along the tour, and I am just thrilled to share Mixie industry-wide.”

    Ashfield says, “Mixie continues to rapidly expand its health and wellness line to include some amazing selfcare products. We added moisture beads with vitamins A and E to our hand sanitizers, mixed up some amazing scents for our hand and body lotions, and developed a reef-friendly sunscreen for the summer. The facility upgrades have enabled us to speed up development and absorb even more wellness products to the Mixie line.”

  • 6 May 2022 9:08 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Torrance, California-based supplier Next Level Apparel has announced its implementation of the Logility Digital Supply Chain Platform in order to create a more modern and efficient inventory planning process. Next Level Apparel is a wholesale producer of premium quality blank apparel in the United States.

    Prior to their January implementation of the Logility platform, Next Level Apparel was using a mix of Excel Spreadsheets and legacy proprietary ERP systems for the managing of its supply chain. These are workable-yet-outdated means to manage various tasks in a digital age.

    Digital transformation in the supply chain and inventory process allows for more efficient and transparent collaboration between supplier and distributor and eases companies’ abilities to react with customer behavior that may change rapidly and spontaneously with trends or world events.

    PPAI’s forthcoming Promo Data Exchange initiative—announced in January under the placeholder moniker The Industry Standards—is designed to work in tandem with tools like Logility to make the same data available to members through SAGE.

    Logility’s platform provides a number of services that will allow distributors to more efficiently do business with Next Level Apparel.

    • It allows Next Level to optimize its inventory and production strategy to eliminate a surplus of supply and the additional costs that come with oversupply.

    • Its systems allow for the accommodation of highly fluctuating consumer buying behavior.

    • The Logility platform can respond to spontaneous product demand and new market opportunities, which have been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “Although early in our adoption, our team has experienced great success with Logility,” says Paul Volkman, CIO at Next Level Apparel. “Their team of experts made our transition from legacy systems and manual processes to total digital supply chain management an easy experience. We expect efficiency, without question, but also plan to gain greater effectiveness through our new digital approach to supply chain management.”

    Allan Dow, president of Logility says, “The pandemic has exemplified supply chain complexities and has shown organizations the manual way of doing things must be replaced for digital solutions.” Next Level Apparel knew that to grow, it had to transition to digital demand and inventory management. Upgrading its technology stack and processes has helped the brand improve supply chain visibility and has provided the ability to optimize inventory and keep on top of changing consumer demand.”

  • 3 May 2022 9:48 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Augusta Sportswear (PPAI 187246, S5)’s facility in Champoton, Mexico, suffered a fire earlier this week. The Augusta, Georgia-based supplier is working to fulfill orders and accommodate its production needs.

    The Incident: On Tuesday, April 19, the company reported that its sublimation and wool jacket facilities Champoton had been impacted by a fire overnight. All of Augusta Sportswear’s staff are safe and accounted for, and there were no reported injuries. Its leadership team is on the ground in Mexico and is working with local authorities to understand the cause of the fire.

    Production Impacts:The incident only affected Augusta Sportswear’s sublimation and wool orders. The remainder of its products and services, including all blank apparel and all headwear, is produced in one of its additional facilities and was not impacted or disrupted by the situation.

    • Augusta Sportswear is expected to have updates on all unshipped, art-finalized sublimation orders by Monday. For orders in art proofing or pre-production, the company is evaluating every order to determine whether it can accept and produce that order or potentially have to cancel and provide an alternative option. Augusta Sportswear will continue to offer a sublimated assortment that will be produced out of its second sublimation factory. This assortment, which will not include its entire sublimation offering, will have a 20-day lead time and is now active.

    The company’s second sublimation facility, located in a different city, features state-of-the art production capability. Augusta Sportswear plans to invest aggressively to ramp it up over the coming months. Ultimately, this new facility, will have five times the capacity of its previous location and the company will expand its offerings over the coming months as this capacity comes online.

    • All stock varsity jacket orders that have inventory will ship as planned. The company says that it will continue to accept orders for all stock varsity jackets with active inventory but is not accepting back orders on stock varsity jackets at this time. August Sportswear is evaluating various options to service custom varsity jacket orders and plan to share definitive options by early next week for all current orders in the system. It will not be accepting new custom orders until it finishes the evaluation of options for current custom orders.

    Augusta Sportswear is evaluating various options to service Football Blitz and Two Minute Drill orders and plan to share definitive options by early next week for all current orders in the system.

  • 3 May 2022 9:07 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    American Solutions for Business raised $3000 through their virtual fundraiser for the Fishing for Vets program. This virtual fundraiser was held through their proprietary eCommerce platform, called ACES, April 19-21, and results were announced live on April 21st. Those participating in the fundraiser went online and traded dollars for votes for either Director of Technology, Nate Disrud, to shave his beard, or VP of Technology, Mike Pfeiffer, to shave his head.

    The purpose of the fundraiser was to raise money for charity, Fishing for Vets, a non-profit organization with a mission to provide veterans, both active and retired, with an opportunity to fish some of the mid-west’s premier fishing destinations. This was the favorite charity of late ASB employee, George Nerby.

    “George was a great employee and valued member of the team,” shared Pfeiffer. “He and I shared interests in fishing and rock concerts, such as the one that I attend each year called www.shiprocked.com cruise. When we talked, we had planned to try to hit a concert in Fargo. The pandemic has proven to hit everyone differently. George will be missed.”

    “The decision to shave my beard was a simple one,” expressed Disrud. “With George, our work relationship was exceptional, and we bounced questions and ideas off each other daily. I miss this daily interaction.”

    The live results were revealed at Lakeside restaurant in Glenwood, MN where the votes revealed that Mike Pfeiffer had won. ASB Founder & CEO, Larry Zavadil, was unable to attend in person, but shared a video message after Mike was shaved that he was matching the donations to create a tie. Nate Disrud then had his beard shaved as well. The event was also live streamed for those far and near to watch.

  • 20 Apr 2022 12:18 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    PPB Newslink is sharing the stories of several 2022 Pyramid Award winners to highlight their accomplishments and to learn more about what it means to secure a PPAI Pyramid win. This issue spotlights the 2022 Silver Pyramid Award won in the Supplier Decorating: Embroidery category by supplier Terry Town (PPAI 230911, S7). Submissions for the 2023 Pyramid Awards are open through May 14. 

    “We submitted our first Pyramid Award in 2018 for Supplier Decorating,” says Alp Ereren, Terry Town content manager. “Our advice for someone who is submitting for the award would be to put as much effort into the submission as you can. Adding personal stories and your experiences in your write ups will add depth to your submission. Be the expert in your category and provide quantitative results to back up your program.” 

    For its winning “Rainforest Kisses - Elegance Through Advocation” entry, Terry Town used high-definition embroidery to decorate its Sweatshirt Beach Bag for PONGO Lifestyle, a brand of organic, all-natural skin care products. With a decoration comprised of 53,000 stitches, the project was chosen for showcasing just how clear and concise an embroidered logo can look. 

    “Terry Town first started to submit in Supplier Decorating, as we wanted to showcase our prowess in sublimation printing on large format textiles,” Ereren says. “Our first few wins came from Supplier Decorating and it was amazing to see our products displayed and heralded for their quality. As our company kept growing, we were able to expand into other programs like marketing, branding, and self-promotion campaigns. We felt we had made great strides in all of those categories, so we thought ‘Why not?’ and just submitted. Even though we were up against some great companies, it was remarkable to see our work recognized for the entire industry to see.” 

    Pyramid Awards not only celebrate a company’s success, but cane be an education in themselves. Ereren notes, “Winning the awards over the years has really taught our company to never be complacent. We want to keep striving to be better than the year before and outdo ourselves to ensure we don’t do the same things over and over again. The Pyramids look great in our lobby, as we have them on display for visitors to see when they come to the office. We just hope the table they’re sitting on doesn’t collapse!” 

    The 2023 Pyramid Award competition is accepting entries through May 14. For more information and to enter the competition, go to www.ppai.org/pyramid. If you need assistance or have additional questions email awards@ppai.org.

  • 20 Apr 2022 12:15 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    With submissions to the 2023 PPAI Pyramid Awards now officially open, PPB Newslink is sharing the stories of several 2022 winners to highlight their accomplishment and to learn more about what it means to secure a PPAI Pyramid win. Today we’re taking a look at OrderMyGear (PPAI 704581, AS), which asked the committee to take a look at how one of its programs made a difference for good, and it took home a 2022 Silver Pyramid Award in the Marketing Program category as a result.

    Based in Dallas, OrderMyGear (OMG) is a sales tool aiming to empower dealers, distributors, decorators, and brands to create custom online pop-up stores to sell branded products and apparel. The company decided to use those tools to react to the economic upheaval of 2020 due to the pandemic. The result was the Community Tee Project (CTP), which provided communication resources, free store building services and project-related logo designs to clients.

    Through CTP, distributors, decorators and dealers could identify local businesses, schools, and organizations in need of financial support, select a unisex t-shirt and a single-color logo and create an online pop-up fundraising store, adding messaging on the storefront to communicate the purpose and goal.

    “When the OMG team sat down to brainstorm which program to focus on, we knew right away we should focus on our Community Tee Project initiative, which helped raise funds for local businesses and organizations that suffered from the pandemic,” says Lauren Seip, Content Marketing Manager at OMG. “We thought this submission was unique because it allowed us to use our online store platform in a new way by supporting others across the country during an uncertain time.”

    Seip also stressed that the PPAI Pyramid Awards application process for OMG was more than simply writing “Community Tee Project” on a form and submitting. The company spent a month compiling all the relevant information and statistics in order to convey what results came out of the project and how exactly the company accomplished them.

    “One other piece of advice is to make this a team effort,” advises Seip. “Lean on your team for supporting collateral, statistics, or any other details that can help support your application.”

  • 20 Apr 2022 12:09 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    At The PPAI Expo 2022 in Las Vegas, the Association announced its upcoming foray into major end-buyer facing events. These virtual shows reflect PPAI’s newly announced mission statement: “Be the voice and force to advance the promotional marketplace for the benefit of our community.”

    The Promotional Products Work (PPW) Expo was created to help buyers boost creativity, inspire ideas and work more cohesively with their distributors. Invited clients will have access to supplier booths, content and education while engaging with their distributor hosts. The first Promotional Products Work Expo will kick off on May 18 as a precursor to what will become an annual event in the fall to help clients plan for holiday gifting and their promo budgeting in 2023.

    By sharing ways to leverage promotional products, these virtual shows give distributors a way to remain top of mind for clients. While some distributors wonder about the potential industry impact of clients interfacing with suppliers, others expressed excitement about facilitating meaningful conversations that lead to sales.

    PPAI President and CEO Dale Denham, MAS+, says, “Clients rarely, if ever, have the opportunity to learn about the many different ways promotional products can be used to inspire, attract or reward their audience. Distributors are often asked for what’s new, and while that is important and helpful, the PPW Expo will give them the opportunity to get inspired by successful campaigns and new trends in utilizing promotional products.

    “In addition to inspiring education, clients will have the chance to hear and interact with suppliers who know their product lines the best, all while protecting and reinforcing the value of the distributor.”

    Denham assured members that the virtual platform—the same used for PPAI Expo Direct-2-You—will be customizable, so that the program feels like it’s the distributor’s own event, just under the umbrella of Promotional Products Work. “We’re hoping by the fall show to have specific rooms for you that are unique to you, but there will be no ability for [clients] to interact with any other distributors,” Denham says. “Someday, we hope to allow pre-set appointments so clients can choose the places to go on a schedule.”

    PPAI Board Chair Dawn Olds, MAS, says the Promotional Products Work Expo will support the existing supply line between clients, distributors and suppliers. Olds says, “During our strategy plan development sessions, the PPAI Board of Directors was very excited about the possibility of extending a D2U-like experience to end buyers.

    “We know that the pandemic made it more difficult for industry salespeople to physically connect with their buyers, who are often working from home now. We saw this as a way to create reconnection opportunities and to showcase some of the best products and ideas in the industry at the same time.”

    PPW Expo won’t be a disrupter. “From a distributor's perspective, you have all kinds of representation on the Board, from large firms and mid-sized firms, and then also there is representation from independent distributors,” says Olds, SVP of operations at distributor HALO. “We’re going to make sure that line isn’t crossed over. Please be assured that we’re not looking to introduce anything that would break that channel. We all recognize how valuable that is. That’s really what our purpose is, to further the community. Violating that would be the complete opposite of our mission.”

    As end buyers have become more aware of issues such as sustainability, DEI and product safety when making buying decisions, Olds says the industry can position itself as a guide. “PPW gives the Association an opportunity to support members by demonstrating our industry’s commitment and proficiency in these topics,” she says. “As we have learned from our industry-wide collaboration on product safety and in our government advocacy programs, there are some topics or initiatives that we cannot take on as individuals and are far stronger when we stand together. Educating end buyers about the value, power and trustworthiness of our industry is one of them.”

    Olds says end-buyer facing events have always been and will continue to be important to the promo industry. “Many distributors, including my own, have successfully held end buyer events for many years. It is a terrific way to trigger conversations about the buyer’s upcoming events and remind the buyer how powerful our medium is,” she says.

    Paul Zafarana, MAS, is one of these distributors. As founder of Michigan-based distributor Pica Marketing Group, Zafarana recently partnered with Cliff Quicksell, MAS+, as a consulting client to hold a buyers’ event in 2021. “We invited 90 people to this end-user event, and 100% showed up and stayed the entire time,” says Quicksell. “The revenue he generated was over $270,000 from just that hour and a half.”

    Zafarana says he decided to put on this event to bring value to his clients. “If I could do more of them, I would,” he says. “It gives us distributors a chance to showcase our value. I think these events bring some polish to the industry.” As an engagement piece, Zafarana created a kit filled with products from presenting suppliers. This creative component was sent to each attending client and was tied to the diner-themed experience.

    Quicksell says end-buyer events showcase strong supplier relationships. “The suppliers will make or break your event,” he says. “Having strong supplier presentations was critical. We set an expectation with our vendors on how their presentation should be. We told our suppliers that their rep should be someone with high energy. We spent a lot of time reviewing presentations to make sure they weren’t just reading the catalog.”

    For a successful event, Quicksell says there must be a post-show action plan. “At the end of a show, you only have seven days to connect with attendees before you’re forgotten. How do you complete the circle? There has to be built-in key performance indicators (KPIs) so distributors can measure their effectiveness and make plans for long-term engagement.”

    With more end-buyer shows, clients will better understand the best ways to use promotional products and likely increase their purchases through distributors. Denham says, “Clients will recognize how promotional products can be extremely targeted both to the recipient as well as where they want to be reached. You can target the recipient in their office, car, kitchen or other places in their home, as well as at events and many other places.

    “No other medium gives more opportunity to remain visible when you choose the right product for the right recipient. As PPAI helps to elevate and reinforce the value of promotional products to buyers, we will remain top of mind to take a bigger portion of the marketing spend.”

  • 20 Apr 2022 12:06 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Vantage Apparel has announced that it will now offer decorated specialty retail brands Gap and Old Navy to the promotional market. 

    The Avenel, New Jersey-based supplier’s roll out includes performance and fashion fleece styles for men and women, a unisex Old Navy full-zip hoodie and a Gap brand, 100% cotton, classic t-shirt.Details on the full collection are available here

    “We’re seeing an entirely new way of dressing for work,” says Ira Neaman, MAS, Vantage president and CEO. “It’s a culture of comfort, and apparel items such as hoodies and t-shirts are a big part of the weekday wardrobe. The Gap, Inc. family of brands is dedicated to bringing incredible quality, style, and value to businesses all over the world. It’s a perfect fit for corporate comfort.”   

    Richard Culberson, general manager of GPS Apparel, the business-to-business apparel arm of Gap, Inc., says, “We take pride in creating products our customers love, and working with Vantage in the promotional space expands the reach of our quality, sustainable products to meet the promotional and uniform needs of business leaders.”

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