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HPPA Industry News

  • 3 Sep 2022 9:08 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Stran & Company, Inc. ("Stran" or the "Company") (NASDAQ: STRN) (NASDAQ: STRNW), a leading outsourced marketing solutions provider that leverages its promotional products and loyalty incentive expertise, today announced the completion of its acquisition of the assets and business of Trend Brand Solutions under its previously-announced asset purchase agreement. As contemplated under the agreement, the Company also announced that Mr. Michael Krauser, Chief Executive Officer of Trend, has become Regional Vice President of Stran, where he will lead the Company’s Texas region operations. As further contemplated by the asset purchase agreement, the Company entered into employment agreements with all retained Trend sales representatives.

    “We remain committed to our M&A growth strategy, targeting acquisitions that are highly synergistic with our existing operations and support the expansion of our products and services into new geographies. With this acquisition, we are broadening our presence in the South and entering the Houston market, which ranks third among metro areas in Fortune 500 headquarter locations and is home to two dozen Fortune 500 companies,1” commented Andy Shape, President and CEO of Stran. “Additionally, we are thrilled to have Michael join the team as our regional Vice President given his success with Trend as well as delighted to welcome the entire Trend team to the Stran family. We are excited to have executed this agreement and look forward to benefiting from the tremendous talent within their organization.”

     Trend is a leading global brand solutions company strategically headquartered in Tomball, Texas. Trend has a demonstrated record of delivering on customers’ brand marketing needs and developing solutions that are creative, original, dependable, cost-effective, and that meet or exceed product safety standards.

    Formed in 2010, Trend has evolved with the changing needs of customers within the promotional products industry by eliminating common barriers and obstacles through utilization of its proprietary technologies solution, SMART BUY custom buying sites. Trend is vertically integrated to deliver efficiency and convenience to each client relationship. Annually, Trend builds over 100 SMART BUY sites, while managing over 35,000 website transactions and shipping over 8,000 orders from inventory. Trend ships globally from its Houston, Texas area distribution center and has international factory partnerships to source as close to the end user as possible.

    Additional details of the transaction will be included in the Company’s Form 8-K to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and will be available at www.sec.gov.

  • 3 Sep 2022 9:06 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    On August 31, pre-installed Pantone Color Books were phased out of Adobe applications. While users rely on Pantone color options in their Adobe products, Pantone and Adobe are separate companies, which has presented issues in providing the most up-to-date Pantone services. Pantone libraries had become outdated with missing colors and inaccurate information.

    The proprietary color design company says that purchasing Pantone Connect is the solution that will allow Adobe users to access all 15,000 Pantone colors.

    What Impact Will The Phase Out Have?

    The following Pantone Color Books will not be immediately affected by the change and will remain in the 2022 versions of Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign and Adobe Photoshop:

    • PANTONE CMYK Coated
    • PANTONE CMYK Uncoated
    • PANTONE Metallics Coated

    Existing documents containing Pantone References will keep those color identities.

    Adobe Photoshop will be affected as follows:

    • Photoshop files using swatches from Pantone Color Books, when opened, placed or edited in releases prior to August 2022, will continue to function as they did in those releases.
    • Photoshop files with spot channels where the color used is from a non-available Color Book will open with a color rendering error.
    • When the spot channels have color from non-available Pantone Color Books, the information is fetched from those Color Book for appropriate rendering. If the color is not fetched due to absence of parent Color Books, such spot channels will render in black/gray.
    • The color details are preserved, so files will continue to support production workflows, but will display as gray/black when opening, placing or editing the file in Photoshop.

    Adobe Illustrator will be affected as follows:

    • Illustrator files having swatches from Pantone Color Books, when opened or placed in previous or future releases, will continue to function without any impact.
    • When Illustrator files have place-linked Photoshop files that have spot channels, and such spot channels have colors from Color Books that are no longer available, placed Photoshop content will render gray/black in Illustrator.

    InDesign files having swatches from Pantone Color Books, when opened or placed, in previous or future releases, will continue to function without any impact. When InDesign files contain Photoshop files that have spot channels and such spot channels have colors from Color Books that are no longer available, placed Photoshop content will render gray/black in InDesign.

    Pantone Connect Can Be The Solution

    All 15,000 Pantone colors and color design tools are available through Pantone Connect and will negate any of the above impacts of the phase out. 

    Purchasing a Pantone Connect subscription ensures consistency and accuracy with Pantone’s offerings. The platform also allows for sharing and collaborating with team members and clients, supports a remote work environment and is accessible at all times through its app.

    Features include:

    • Search any colors.
    • Pick any colors visually.
    • Measure any colors in the physical world.
    • Convert RGB/CMYK/HEX/L*a*b* data to closes Pantone Color.
    • See Color Data, Color Psychology and Cross Reference against all Pantone Libraries.
    • Build mood boards with Color Story.
    • Accessibility support for color blindness.
    • Compare color choices with Light & Dark Simulations.
    • Share Palettes with anyone.
    • Change and update shared palette in real-time.
    • Trend and palette exploration

    Pantone Connect is available through connect.pantone.com, IOS/Android mobile application or Adobe Extension in Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.

    Higher pricing for a Pantone Connect subscription will go into effect September 15, so there is still time to take advantage of lower pricing.

    Let PPAI Help You

    Any interested end users looking to purchase a subscription to Pantone Connect should be directed here.

    Pantone is a PPAI Affinity Partner, offering discounts on most products to the Association’s members. Any larger business accounts should reach out to shop@ppai.org in order to get in touch with PPAI’s Pantone contact.

  • 3 Sep 2022 9:04 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    (Editor's Note: The second of PPEF's Live Concert Series events, originally scheduled for September 7, has been rescheduled to November 10 at 4:45 p.m. ET.)

    The Promotional Products Education Foundation (PPEF) is inviting industry professionals to groove to a new beat this year with the launch of its Live Concert Series. A virtual experience drummed up by industry veteran Roni Wright, MAS, of supplier The Book Company, attendees will rock out while learning about PPEF and how they, too, can get involved.

    The Live Concert Series, which kicked off with its first livestreamed event on June 8, raised more than $5,800 for the (c)(3) nonprofit, which grants education scholarships to accredited universities, community colleges, trade schools and career colleges to the children of industry professionals. As PPEF’s first major fundraiser since the pandemic, the series was created to collect donations to fulfill the organization’s mission, but also to educate industry professionals of the eligibility requirements for their children for a PPEF Scholarship, and to inform interested companies about the options for giving.

    “Yes, we want to raise money for the foundation, but we also want to raise awareness and create an experience by which all of our industry can participate,” says Wright, who also sits on the PPEF Board of Trustees and is chair of its fundraising committee.

    Sydra Newell of supplier SnugZ USA is another member of the PPEF Board of Trustees and is chair of its marketing/recognition committee. She says, “In addition to bringing awareness, the concert series also brings industry veterans closer together, especially for those who do not normally travel within their profession.”

    The idea for the concert series came to Wright when she was reflecting on a pre-pandemic experience. “Before Covid, I was living in this little city and I learned about a program called The Listening Room, where someone in a home setting would have a noteworthy musician come in and invite people who are part of their network, to come to a concert in their home and give a donation that goes 100% to the artist,” Wright says. “I thought, ‘Wow,’ is there a way that I can transpose that idea into an online event, have an industry concert where we have musicians who are in our industry and extremely talented?”

    The first concert was broadcast on YouTube and Facebook. Three industry musicians showed off their talent for a good cause, which included Matt Wagner of Fields Manufacturing, Brett Garran of Edwards Garment and David Schultz of commonsku. Nick Lateur of HPG emceed the event, and the Braintree, Massachusetts-headquartered, supplier donated the hosting platform. T-shirts were also donated that featured a relevant graphic and were given to those who gave $100 or more to PPEF.

    “We’re very excited that we can support students; the children of our industry people,” says Wright. “Anybody who has children in college or will be attending college is eligible to apply for this scholarship. It doesn’t matter if you work in the warehouse or work at home, if you’re full-time in the promotional products industry and you work for a company in our industry, your children can apply for scholarships.”

    New to this year, Wright says PPEF is expanding its scholarship eligibility to include accredited trade schools. “We feel there are students who want to pursue a trade, and why shouldn’t we support their endeavor?” she says. And to get the word out there even more, PPEF has issued flyers in English, French and Spanish, so a more diverse group of employees can both spread the message and consider the opportunity for their children. In the future, PPEF aspires to open a Live Concert merchandise store, Wright says, and to invite former scholarship recipients to share their stories on-camera with concertgoers.

    The other side of the Live Concert Series entails charitable giving from interested donors, and Wright says that PPEF is working hard to connect with prospective companies to encourage their involvement and explain their options. She’s particularly dedicated to reigniting the Tomorrow Fund, which commits donors to one of six giving tiers under a six-year term and makes it possible for PPEF to ensure future scholarships. Wright also notes the other giving options, which include the Named Scholarships, where companies can recognize their standout employees or create a long-lasting legacy in memory of an industry icon.

    “PPEF makes a positive impact by bringing people together,” says Newell. “This platform also helps elevate talented musicians within our industry all in the name of creating a better future for our children. PPEF exemplifies what makes this industry so special.”

    Register for the next concert here: www.ppef.us/live/.

    To watch the first PPEF Live Concert Series, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mecdK08XT8.

    For more on how to participate as musical talent, contact Nick Lateur at nick.lateur@hpgbrands.com.

    For more on opportunities to volunteer with PPEF, contact sarab@ppai.org or roni@thebookco.com.

  • 3 Sep 2022 8:59 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Droughts across the U.S. cotton regions, especially in Texas, have led agricultural forecasters to predict that 40% of currently planted cotton will be abandoned. This would account for approximately five million acres of failed cotton.

    The Severity Of The Shortage

    If these predictions indeed come to fruition it would result in the smallest area of cotton harvested since 1868, during Reconstruction when the country was recovering from the Civil War.

    Droughts across Texas, the nation’s leading state for cotton production, have severely impacted the cotton output. The USDA is predicting a record for lowest ratio of harvested-to-planted acres. Even after record rain in parts of Texas for a few days in late August, the U.S. Drought Monitor shows that 95% of Texas is still at some level of drought.

    The price of cotton as of August 29 is $1.22. This is a drastic rise compared to the price of $0.94 one year ago.

    Many climatologists believe that droughts will become more frequent in Texas over the coming years. Benjamin McKnight, state cotton specialist for the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, says that farmers are working on developing more “drought tolerant” strains of cotton to combat this problem, but it won’t be a saving grace for current conditions.

    Along with India and China, the United States is one of the largest producers of cotton in the world. India has faced its version of the opposite problem recently; losing cotton to heavy rains and pests.

    The Promo Perspective

    Less available cotton at higher prices has a direct effect on the apparel business, including promotional products.

    “The reduced cotton harvest will most likely pressure global prices,” says Mark Lawrence, chief operating officer, alphabroder | Prime Line, which offers branded apparel in various forms. “To what extent? It is too early to fully quantify, but we are working to mitigate as much as we can while continuing to build inventory and maintaining full product line availability.”

  • 31 Aug 2022 8:04 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Between May and July, 40 industry professionals chose to invest in their professional development and earned their Certified Advertising Specialist (CAS) and Master Advertising Specialist (MAS) certifications.

    Professional Development:
    PPAI’s Trained Advertising Specialist (TAS) certificate, and CAS, MAS and MAS+ designations are achieved through a combination of active employment in the industry, education, industry contributions and the successful demonstration of expertise. The CAS and MAS certifications require continuing education and recertification to remain in good standing.

    CAS and MAS certification holders have joined an elite group of individuals who have demonstrated their commitment to the industry and to continuing their education in it. Each has met rigorous educational requirements, demonstrated an exemplary commitment to their field and established their professional credibility to colleagues, clients and peers. Click here to learn more about the PPAI Certification Program and PPAI’s professional development opportunities.

    The Recipients:
    Congratulations to these recipients of the CAS and MAS certification:

    Jake Blackstone, CAS, Bensussen Deutsch & Associates, Inc.
    Tracey Bohmbach, CAS, Geiger
    Brooke Bostic, CAS, TCB Promotions
    Tricia Cunningham, CAS, Geiger
    Lydia Dagneau, CAS, Geiger
    Krista D'Ateno, CAS, Geiger
    Keaton Deranek, CAS, Bensussen Deutsch & Associates, Inc.
    Lauren Dustin, CAS, PromoShop, Inc.
    David Glassman, CAS, The David Erwin Group
    Diego Gonzales, CAS, 1338Tryon
    Victoria Gonzalez, CAS, Bensussen Deutsch & Associates, Inc.
    Megan Hawk, CAS, Geiger
    Paul Hirsch, CAS, Hirsch Gift
    Alyssa Huseth, CAS, Geiger
    Erin Kennealey, CAS, Geiger
    Kristin Long, CAS, Gemline
    Kimberly Martin, CAS, Bensussen Deutsch & Associates, Inc.
    Johnna Meyer, CAS, Bensussen Deutsch & Associates, Inc.
    Christina Moncke, CAS, Staples Promotional Products
    Monique Overton, CAS, Bensussen Deutsch & Associates, Inc.
    Monica Scott, CAS, PK Promotions, LLC
    Greg St. Martin, CAS, Custom Branding Solutions
    Jolanda Thomas, CAS, Preferred Document Solutions, LLC
    Savannah Bennett, MAS, Geiger
    Theresa Benson, MAS, Geiger
    Patrick Doyle, MAS, Durham Promotional Products
    Eliana Franklin, MAS, CAAMP & PMANC
    Christopher Gagne, MAS, Geiger
    Kaitlynne Gibson, MAS, Geiger
    Dylan Harrington, MAS, Geiger
    Candice Johnson, MAS, TK Promotions, Inc.
    Susan Heneson Kornblatt, MAS, HALO Branded Solutions
    David Peters, MAS, A-Z Office Resource
    Kaitlin Pickard, MAS, CE Competitive Edge, LLC
    Lori Plummer, MAS, Geiger
    Joshua Pospisil, MAS, Hirsch Gift
    Kristin Prosper, MAS, Geiger
    Sheri L. Ridgeway, MAS, Geiger
    Monica Scott, MAS, Logotology
    Cheryl Simpson, MAS, Geiger

  • 31 Aug 2022 7:51 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    A company get-together is always an excellent bonding opportunity for employees. It gives them a chance to swap stories, share a laugh, and grab a bite to eat with one another.

    The recent IMAGEN Brands summer barbecue in Doniphan did all that and more, featuring delicious meals and games. But in addition to fun and food, the event also served something even greater: the company’s own employees and the community.

    Looking to make a positive impact, IMAGEN Brands employees who attended the barbecue stepped up during to pack 500 backpacks with markers, crayons, pencils, water bottles, and more. The company decided to donate 200 of the backpacks to their own employees with school-age children. The remaining 300 backpacks will be donated to a local organization to distribute to area families for their back-to-school needs.

    In addition to filling up the backpacks for their co-workers and the community, the employees were able to enjoy some tasty burgers and hot dogs that were cooked up by company leaders. Speaking of which, Koozie Group CEO David Klatt and COO Blair Hawley led a town hall during the event to provide some updates on the company. A great time was had by all!

  • 31 Aug 2022 7:46 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    PowerStick, the industry’s leading designer and manufacturer of personal technology products, announces that Alex Symms, MAS, MASI, will be joining the company as national account manager.

    Symms comes to PowerStick with 19 years of industry experience in sales and marketing. He has spent the past seven years at Chameleon Like, where he was most recently national account manager/digital marketing manager. His career also includes a year at supplier Admints & Zagabor as southwest regional manager and 10 years at KTI Networks/KTI Promo where he was southeast regional sales manager.

    In his newly designed role at PowerStick, Symms will be responsible for the ongoing growth of the supplier throughout North America, says CEO Nigel Harris, adding, “Alex is a tremendous and well-respected resource with the skillsets I really wanted on our team. His nearly 20 years of experience will greatly benefit this company and help us continue our leadership role in the areas of tech and custom packaging.”

    Symms says, “I'm thrilled for the opportunity to join Nigel and the incredible team at PowerStick. I've always been fascinated with the creative innovation that PowerStick releases and also the ability to stay ahead of the trends. Nigel has built a team of highly-talented and forward-thinking industry leaders, and I am just so excited that I will be surrounded with such great talent and inspirational leadership. Ultimately, I'm looking forward to my future at PowerStick as we continue to drive innovation and industry-leading service.”

    Symms will be based in Houston, Texas.

  • 27 Aug 2022 3:17 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Inflation and other challenges are putting pressure on shipping companies and their contractors. Patton Logistics, one FedEx Ground’s largest contractors – servicing 225 routes in 10 primarily Midwest states – has warned that the company could stop deliveries if FedEx doesn’t amend its contracts to account for increasing costs. And Patton Logistics isn’t the only company feeling the pain.

    FedEx has identified contract renegotiation as the appropriate remedy to the challenges its contractors are facing, and says that over the past three months, 1,600 contractor agreements – representing approximately 25% of its service providers – have been negotiated. Additionally, in a response to contractors’ concerns, this month the company cut back on Sunday residential deliveries in some markets.

    Negotiations continue, in some cases, however. Spencer Patton, founder and president of Patton Logistics is calling on FedEx to revise its contracts to account for higher fuel, vehicles and labor costs. Speaking earlier this month at the Route Consultant Contractor Expo in Las Vegas, Patton said that his company would stop servicing its delivery routes on November 25 – Black Friday – if FedEx does not offer improved contract terms.

    Promo Perspective

    Patton Logistics’ challenges highlight concerns that e-commerce/B2C has made the individual service provider/contractor business model that FedEx utilizes less profitable. Regardless how the company’s issues with FedEx play out, it will likely have an impact on businesses in the promotional products market.

    “For industry companies in the 10 states serviced by Patton Logistics, if Patton does stop deliveries and FedEx finds alternative contractors, that would cost more,” says Maurice Norris, PPAI public affairs manager.

    PPAI members receive savings from FedEx, an Affinity Partner to the Association, on shipping costs - with discounts as high as 78% off freight and 50% off Express service.  The Association will continue to monitor this ongoing issue and report updates on the story as they become available.

    An Ultimatum

    Earlier this summer, in a letter to FedEx, Patton made two requests to FedEx Ground:

    • An increase in stop pay – if a load requires multiple stops between loading and the final destination, a driver could be paid for those in-between stops along the way—for pick-up and delivery contracted service providers (CSPs) of $0.50 per stop and an increase of $0.20 per mile for linehaul CSPs.
    • The letter asks FedEx Ground to reevaluate its commitment to Sunday deliveries. Patton says, “By our estimates, Sunday deliveries are costing FedEx Ground upwards of $500 million in earnings drag. That $500 million figure is getting worse, not better. Likewise, Sunday deliveries erased more than one-third of CSP profit margins in less than one year’s time. In parallel fashion, that margin erosion is worsening, not improving.”
    • Structural changes made by FedEx to the independent service provider contract.
    • Sunday deliveries, which have much lower package density and create operational challenges as well as additional capital requirements and costs.
    • An increase in Express deliveries via Ground, for which contractors are paid a lower rate than with traditional Ground delivery.

    In Las Vegas, Patton stressed that the problems with the business model have grown so severe, that he needs to see changes from FedEx. He termed his November 25 deadline “Purple Friday.” During his conference speech, he said, “Purple Friday is my way of trying to work with FedEx Ground to say, ‘We have to have a timeline.’ This cannot just extend on an open-ended platform because that’s not working in my business.”

    The Industry Challenge

    Analysis from Stephens, an independent financial services firm, on the FedEx Ground/contractor relationship, found that after seeing strong profitability in 2020 due to additional payments and much higher volume, the margin structure for a Ground contractor began to come under pressure in 2021. This is attributed to:

    Also, projections for the 2021 peak delivery season were overly optimistic and missed the volumes that contractors had prepared for. So even before fuel and other costs climbed, contractors entered 2022 on the back foot.

  • 24 Aug 2022 11:09 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    American Solutions for Business hosted a charity event, raising $10,000 during this year’s Summit. The Summit event features two days of supplier education sessions for top ranking ASB sales associates from around the country to celebrate their achievements over the last year. The fundraising started a month before the event, in which participants could purchase a paper star for $25. Those stars were then displayed throughout the ballroom during the Summit week.

    “We set a goal of $5,000, knowing how giving our American family usually is to our host cities,” explained Justin Zavadil, President of American. “We were blown away once we realized that the funds raised were double that. I couldn’t be prouder of these efforts.”

    A representative of Make-a-Wish Illinois was present to accept the donation and explain further the importance of the charity.

    “Make-A-Wish Illinois was overjoyed by the generosity and the support of the American Solutions for Business team,” expressed Make-A-Wish Gift Officer, Ashley White. “To walk into their conference room and see all of the stars on the wall was so impactful. Because of their team and supporting vendors, another future wish child will experience the hope, strength, and joy that wish provides.”
  • 24 Aug 2022 10:39 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    To maintain its position as a top supplier in the promotional products industry, Tekweld has hired Gregg Szpicek as Vice President of Business Development to help further scale and strategize on its growth trajectory.

    Hauppauge, New York.  Tekweld, a leading supplier in the promotional products industry, is proud to announce the triumphant return of Gregg Szpicek in the role of Vice President of Business Development.  Szpicek had previously joined Tekweld over a decade ago and served as Vice President of Sales until 2016, at which point he branched out as a formidable force in the industry leading sales and business development for a number of premier companies. 

    Over the past 6 years, Szpicek has implemented effective growth initiatives and marketing and business plans for multiple organizations in a variety of roles—his intuition, strategic thinking, and fundamental understanding of the promotional space has allowed him to effectively scale and exceed sales goals and objectives.  

    “We are thrilled to have Gregg back in the fold at Tekweld,” said Scott Slade, Chief Executive Officer.  “In this new role, Gregg will collaborate with leadership to strategically identify new channels, business opportunities, and revenue streams to further solidify Tekweld’s position as a trusted industry leader.”

    Szpicek is a native New Yorker, with a vision for creative solutions and an innate ability to build strong relationships with colleagues, customers and associates.  He is well known and respected within the promotional products industry, and will oversee the development of Tekweld’s new channels and strategic initiatives.

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