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HPPA Industry News

  • 14 Jul 2022 4:30 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    August Recess is a month-long official break in the congressional calendar that occurs every year. This recess offers an excellent opportunity for promo industry professionals to meet with elected officials in their districts and discuss issues that are important to the promotional products industry.

    This annual break in the congressional calendar also gives industry members the opportunity to establish and maintain relationships with legislators and their staffers, and it allows L.E.A.D. attendees the chance to refresh the connections they created during personal or virtual visits to Capitol Hill.

    Critical Timing:

    Industry members meetings and connections with lawmakers are especially important this year because of the numerous large issues Congress is trying to address before year’s end.

    The conference committee proceedings on the America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength (COMPETES) Act have effectively stalled.

    • Bipartisan policies relevant to this industry that have been supported by PPAI are at risk of being negotiated out of the final legislation. These policies include requiring the United States Trade Representative to establish a comprehensive and transparent Section 301 exclusion process and reauthorizing the Generalized System of Preferences and Miscellaneous Tariff Bills, among others.

    The precarity of the America COMPETES Act also resurrects a troublesome legislative proposal that PPAI has opposed, specifically the Country Of Origin Labeling (COOL) Online Act.

    • The COOL Online Act, which passed the Senate as an amendment to the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), requires companies to include country of origin labels for products sold on the internet and certify the accuracy of the information provided by product vendors.
    • These requirements are problematic for companies in this industry and others due to practices such as dual sourcing and diversifying supply chains, among other concerns. The specific threat relates to information PPAI has acquired which indicates a movement for the House of Representatives to vote on the Senate-passed USICA bill which includes the COOL Online provisions.

    Also, Senate leadership is negotiating a new budget reconciliation bill that involves potential tax increases for businesses as funding mechanisms to subsidize the various policy proposals. This is a pared-down version of the same reconciliation bill that was deliberated over by Congress last summer.

    PPAI Makes It Easy To Act:

    Considering the possibility of tax increases, the COOL Online requirements and no tariff relief, it is important for Congress to hear from promo industry members this summer. These meetings can take place in a variety of ways, including in-person or virtual encounters, PPAI members’ attendance at various town halls, legislators visiting regional events, and inviting legislators on tours of industry facilities.

    For information about identifying members of Congress and contacting them for a meeting, PPAI's August Recess Advocacy page offers all the tools necessary to plan and execute meetings or worksite tours. PPAI staff is also here to help. Association members can reach PPAI’s public affairs manager, Maurice Norris at mauricen@ppai.org, with questions about Tips For A Successful Facility Tour, help identifying and contacting legislators, or any other available resources.

  • 14 Jul 2022 4:29 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Stran & Company has announced the signing of a definitive agreement to acquire the assets and business of Tomball, Texas-based distributor Trend Brand Solutions (PPAI 479548, D1).

    The Acquisition:

    Established in 2010, Trend Brand Solutions offers clients brand solutions from its headquarters in the Houston suburbs. It ships globally from its distribution center and has international partnerships to source as close to the end user as possible.

    • Trend’s propriety technologies solution, SMART BUY custom sites, has been used to develop more than 100 customer sites and to manage over 35,000 website transactions and shipping over 8,000 orders from inventory.

    The proposed acquisition will expand Quincy, Massachusetts-headquartered Stran’s geographic presence in the South. The agreement also anticipates the retention of all Trend employees and Michael Krauser, chief executive officer of Trend, will become Stran’s regional vice president, leading Stran’s Texas region operations.

    • The acquisition is expected to close in the third quarter of 2022, subject to customary closing conditions.

    In Their Words:

    “We are excited to acquire Trend, as they bring an established platform and customer base,” says Andy Shape, president and chief executive officer of Stran. “This agreement to acquire Trend illustrates our commitment to growth through meaningful and complementary acquisitions. Trend is a perfect fit for Stran as it broadens our presence within the South, especially within the Houston area, which is home to two dozen Fortune 500 companies and ranks third among metro areas in Fortune 500 headquarters locations.

    “Given Mike’s demonstrated track record, along with his team, we are excited to welcome them to the Stran family and look forward to building on Stran and Trend’s histories of success in the market.”

    Krauser says, “This is an exciting time to be joining the Stran team as they have established themselves as a leader within the industry and are committed to growth and expansion around the nation. Trend is proud to become part of this growth and I’m thrilled that I will be leading Stran’s Texas region to create additional awareness of Stran in this growing market.”

  • 14 Jul 2022 4:24 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    NC Custom has acquired the assets of Valdosta, Georgia-based supplier Fresh Beginnings.

    The Acquisition:

    For 30 years, Fresh Beginnings has served the auto dealer and promo markets with cookies and brownies, featuring premium ingredients and a “home-made” appeal. NC Custom plans to continue using the company’s ingredients and practices, and is rebranding it under the Tincredible Treats banner.

    Fresh Beginnings, with its customized baked goods manufacturing capabilities, expands Hicksville, New York-based NC Custom’s existing food-based offerings—such as confectionery and edible products—in the promotional products market.

    NC Customs expects the acquisition to create new custom manufacturing options for it and its customers, including:

    • The opportunity to offer cookie kits, edible/hard good combinations, mailers, etc.
    • The addition of Fresh Beginnings’ individual fulfillment and program support.
    • The utilization of Fresh Beginnings custom engineered platform for single order fulfillment to support the expansion of NC Custom’s program and drop shipment business.
    • In December, NC Custom acquired ACE USA, a wholesale supplier of custom-designed apparel and hard goods for the gift and tourist industry. The ACE USA brand joined Chocolate Inn, Lanco and Taylor & Grant under the NC Custom umbrella.

    Fresh Beginnings’ manufacturing will be relocated from Georgia to New York with capabilities up and running in time to fulfill Holiday 2022 orders.

    In Their Words:

    “We have tremendous respect for the Fresh Beginnings business, and the product quality and taste of their freshly baked goods. We are excited for NC Custom to expand its footprint in the baked goods space,” says David Miller, president of NC Custom. “This addition complements the success of several recent bakery category offerings, and further solidifies our current position as a market-leading manufacturer in what we see as an untapped segment in the marketplace.”

    Lance Stier, CEO of NC Custom, says, “Fresh Beginnings and NC Custom share common values—a passion for customer service and made-in-the USA product excellence. Since the company’s founding, the business has been laser-focused on delivering a top-notch customer experience—we are excited to ‘bake it happen’ by building upon that legacy plus add a range of our products to create new, unique and exciting experiences.”

    Recent Expansion:

    In July 2021, Chocolate Inn/Lanco rebranded as NC Custom. The name reflects parent company Nassau Candy, a manufacturer and wholesale supplier of confectionery, gourmet food, and private label/customized travel and resort products.

  • 13 Jul 2022 8:30 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    OrderMyGear (PPAI 704581) has announced leadership changes and new financing to secure future growth. Since 2008, the Dallas-based service platform has worked with team dealers, promotional products distributors and decorators to create retail-like online stores for diverse customers selling branded products and apparel.

    Leadership Transition:

    Leonid Rozkin, previously OrderMyGear’s chief financial officer, has stepped up into the chief executive officer role at the company. He will assume day-to-day management and join the OrderMyGear’s board of directors.

    Rozkin has more than a decade of private equity, investment banking and financial experience.

    • During his time at JPMorgan, Rozkin helped several software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies go public and advised on the largest SaaS transactions at the time, totaling $8 billion.
    • Prior to OMG, Rozkin was Vice President at Francisco Partners, a technology-focused private equity firm with $14 billion of assets raised to date, where he was responsible for nine software investments, representing more than $4 billion of enterprise value.
    • In May, it completed its integration with distributor American Solutions for Business, which positions ASB to offer customers a quick and simple solution for credit card and gift card online stores.
    • In March, the company joined The Partnering Group, LLC, an industry distributor organization, as a new business service sponsor.
    • Supplier Vantage Apparel integrated with OrderMyGear in July 2020, allowing distributors to access to the supplier’s merchandise and live inventory feeds.

    “Leo brings the experience and attitude required to help lead OMG into the next stage of our business as we expand offerings to clients and accelerate growth,” says Dave Dutch, who has served as OMG’s CEO since 2019. “I look forward to the next set of milestones OMG accomplishes under Leo’s capable leadership.”

    Moving from his previous role, Dutch has been named executive chairman. He will continue to coordinate with Rozkin, but his focus will be on developing and enhancing partnerships that bring enhanced solutions to clients.

    New Financing:

    OrderMyGear has also secured a debt facility from CIBC Innovation Banking to support its growth and accelerate the launch of strategic partnerships and products.

    “Dutch has gone above and beyond for the team at OMG, and his commitment to the company’s success has made a lasting impression on so many,” Rozkin says. “My hope is to propel OMG forward, and to continue driving innovation accelerated with our new funding from CIBC Innovation Banking that helps our clients break into new markets and remain competitive in a rapidly evolving industry.”


    OrderMyGear works with several companies and organizations operating in the promo marketplace. Examples of which include:

    The company has also collaborated with PPAI on several occasions. First opening its doors to the Association in August 2019, OrderMyGear is a 2022 Pyramid Award winner and in May took part in a “digital dialogue” with industry service providers hosted by PPAI at the Association's headquarters.

  • 30 Jun 2022 8:45 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Dear HPPA,

    Thank you so much for choosing me as the Ted E. Dennison, MAS Scholarship recipient this year. This scholarship will allow me to purchase books and continue my education without having to bear the weight of financial stress. I am also excited to play beach volleyball at a higher level at TCU and this wouldn’t be possible without generous donors like you.  If you are ever in the Fort Worth area in the spring, you should come by and watch a game!  Again, I appreciate your kindness and support in my future education.


    Kaitlyn Bradley

  • 29 Jun 2022 10:42 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    American Solutions for Business, together with Patriot-level partners, OtterBox and Gold Bond, donated drink wear to students of Glacial Hills Elementary in Starbuck, Minnesota. After receiving a donation request from Glacial Hills for sufficient water bottles for children, ASB began the search for a durable and long-lasting solution.

    ASB’s partner, OtterBox, graciously stepped up to donate the product as part of the company’s mission “We Grow to Give.” This mission is largely supported through the OtterCares Foundation, founded 2009 to support innovative education and empower youth to create lasting change through philanthropy and entrepreneurship.

    “Our company and employees are dedicated to giving back in meaningful ways to support our communities,” said David Baldwin, Business Development Manager for OtterBox. “We appreciate American Solutions’ leadership and Gold Bond’s partnership in making this donation possible.”

    These bottles not only provide a solution for children who may not have the means, but provides them with something they feel proud to carry with school spirit. The Glacial Ridge logo, along with the American logo, is prominently laser-engraved onto the tumbler thanks to our partner, Gold Bond, who waived fees on decoration.

    Gold Bond is honored to partner with American Solutions and their continued efforts and support of the local community in Glenwood,” explained Kim Newell, VP of National Accounts for Gold Bond. To be just a small part of a project that helps children and families we are incredibly thankful for the opportunity and our hope is that this small donation will bring joy to the children that receive the items.

    “They are absolutely fantastic!” expressed Jodee Lund, Director at Glacial Hills Elementary. “We are going to put the kids’ names on the water bottles and hand them out. We are so thankful for the support!”

  • 20 Jun 2022 9:46 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Maple Ridge Farms presented a check for $7,500 to Habitat for Humanity of Wausau.  The donation was the result of the company’s “Give Back” program for 2021.  In that program, Maple Ridge Farms donates a percentage of the profits from a specially selected line of gifts. 

    Presenting the check were Jodie Schillinger, Executive Vice President, and Shana Gardner, one of the main architects of the program.

    Kim Tallitsch, Operations Director of Habitat for Humanity of Wausau, explained how thrilled they were to receive the contribution: “With continued support from incredible partners like Maple Ridge Farms, Habitat for Humanity of Wausau is currently aiding our 70th family in making their dreams of home ownership a reality. Our important work continues because of their generosity and together we are building homes, communities, and hope!”

    Schillinger stated, “Affordable housing and employment are very intertwined.  Affordable housing can significantly impact employment opportunities, and in turn has the potential to create sustainability for a family and one’s career path.  We are thrilled to partner with Habitat for Humanity.”

  • 15 Jun 2022 9:09 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Promotional Products Education Foundation (PPEF; www.ppef.us), a nonprofit founded to recognize and encourage scholastic excellence and academic performance among promotional products industry employees and their college-aged children, today announced 162 recipients of $299,000 in college scholarships for the 2022-2023 academic year, bringing the total amount awarded since PPEF’s founding to more than $3 million.

    “With this year’s recipients receiving the most money we’ve ever awarded, $299,000, that takes us over the $3 million mark for total scholarship awards since the inception of PPEF,” said Matt Bertram, chair of the PPEF Board of Trustees. “Continuing to help the next generation is possible due to the generous support of companies and individuals within the industry. Thank you to all of the donors who believe in the power of education and generously support PPEF’s mission.”

    This year, PPEF is awarding 130 new and 32 renewal scholarships to selected recipients who have displayed remarkable academic achievement, extracurricular participation and community service. Each will receive between $1,000 and $9,000 to support their college education.

    Funded by Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) and generous donations from companies and individuals within the promotional products industry, the scholarship program enables youth and professionals to continue their education at the collegiate level. The Association and industry patrons have a long-standing commitment of service to the promotional products industry, and this fund supports those who demonstrate the same commitment.

    The list of 2022 scholarship recipients is at www.ppef.us/winners-showcase/.

  • 15 Jun 2022 6:10 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    SanMar Corporation, a leading supplier of wholesale accessories and apparel, today joined Vice President Kamala Harris’ Call to Action initiative, a multi-industry effort that has announced new commitments of $1.7 billion in new private-sector investments in Central America.

    In May 2021, the Vice President launched the Call to Action for businesses and social enterprises to make major commitments to promote economic opportunity for people in Central America, as part of the current administration’s Strategy to Address the Root Causes of Migration.

    The announcement from the Vice President builds on 2021’s foundation of more than $1.9 billion in private-sector commitments, bringing total investments for Call to Action to $3.2 billion. The initiative will be deployed to build greater opportunities and support better livelihoods for the people in this region, with a focus on enhancing employment opportunities for women.

    “We are honored to join Vice President Harris’ Call to Action initiative,” said Jeremy Lott, CEO of SanMar. “We are thrilled to invest alongside like-minded partners and smart policymakers to grow our commitment to make a positive impact in the communities where we do business.”

    SanMar’s investments in Central America bolster the sourcing strategy that allows the company to deliver value to customers, maintain product inventory levels and support jobs in the United States. At the same time, the company’s regional operations strive to empower women in the workforce as another avenue of bolstering local economies.

    “SanMar’s dedication to our communities doesn’t stop at the border,” said Melissa Nelson, General Counsel at SanMar. “When we invest in Central America, we invest in a cycle that benefits everyone, bringing much-needed employment and economic growth that elevates lives across the region.”

    The company’s investment in Vice President Harris’ Call to Action will also diminish its environment footprint through enhanced sustainability practices. For example, shipping a container from Central America to the United States versus from China can cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80%.

    Learn how SanMar is writing the next chapter of the apparel industry at Canvas for Good.

  • 15 Jun 2022 6:09 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Logomark – the industry‐leading promotional product supplier’s second sponsored service dog has been entered into the Shelter to Soldier® training program. The recently rescued dog is a 2‐year‐old male Labrador and Shepherd mix and has been named “Lucky” through Logomark’s online Dog Naming Contest. From the hundreds of entries submitted, AnyPromo’s Danielle Castro was the grand prize winner and American Solutions for Business’ Barbra Apple was the runner‐up prize winner as the second entrant to submit the name “Lucky”.

    The grand prize winner Danielle Castro won a Perka® Roak 24 oz. Double Wall Stainless Steel Bottle and an iCool® Aspen 24‐Can Cooler Bag. The second‐place winner Barbra Apple won a Perka® Roak 24 oz. Double Wall Stainless Steel Bottle.

    “I would like to thank both Danielle and Barbra in helping name our second sponsored service dog! We’re looking forward to following Lucky’s progress through the Shelter to Soldier® program and I’m especially grateful to be able to help such an amazing organization”. says Trevor Gnesin, CEO, Logomark.

    Lucky will now enter the intensive training phase of the Shelter to Soldier program and is expected to graduate next year. Once he graduates, Lucky will be matched with a veteran in need and they will finish the program together with handler training.

    The Perka®, iCool® and Work® brands are all official sponsors of Shelter to Soldier® and a portion of all proceeds are donated to the organization. Logomark continues to employ veterans at all levels of the organization, from production to the executive team. To learn more about this and other Logomark Cares give back programs, please visit logomark.com/cares.

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