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HPPA Industry News

  • 13 Jul 2023 1:29 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Kaeser & Blair has announced that the fourth generation of Kaesers has taken the helm of the 129-year-old company.

    Mitch and Brad Kaeser, both named PPAI Rising Stars in 2022, have been appointed to the roles of co-CEO of the Batavia, Ohio-based firm. Their father Kurt Kaeser will be transitioning from CEO/president to chairman of the company, which was ranked the No. 42 distributor on this year’s PPAI 100. Along with their father, the two brothers now share one-third ownership in the firm. PPAI has confirmed that the ownership change went into effect last year.

    “We’re incredibly excited to take the reins of Kaeser & Blair,” Mitch says. “Kaeser & Blair has always been led by incredible people. Being fourth generation, we know we have massive shoes to fill, and we’ll continue to run this company with integrity, respect and professionalism.”

    “I look at this amazing opportunity as a huge honor,” Brad adds. “I'm incredibly grateful to the K&B family around us for trusting me and Mitch to take over. Our father, Kurt, has had amazing success as CEO, as did our grandfather, Dick. So, we definitely have some work cut out for us. But Mitch and I are ready for anything that comes our way. Plus, Kurt will still be here as chairman. His knowledge and experience will still play an important role as we continue to grow Kaeser & Blair.”

    It’s A Family Affair

    In 1894, the company was founded in Cincinnati as the Cincinnati Printing and Paper Products Co. The name changed when Dutch Kaeser and Bill Blair acquired the firm in 1923. Representing the third generation of family leadership, Kurt Kaeser became CEO/president in 1996.

    Involved in the industry for as long as they can remember, Mitch and Brad both went to college and gained professional experience in other areas before committing to the family business.

    Mitch, who graduated from Otterbein University with a bachelor’s in graphic design, formally joined Kaeser & Blair in 2016 as a business development executive. Coining himself the “chief officer of fun,” he’s been instrumental in event planning, including organizing the company’s annual Sales Leader Summit. 

    Brad, who graduated from Northern Kentucky University with a bachelor’s in marketing, formally joined Kaeser & Blair in 2011 in order entry. He worked his way up to business development, connecting with new business owners and assisting with the startup process.

    “The position of co-CEO is very fitting,” Brad says. “We work really well together and are always bouncing ideas off one another. We have our own strengths and weaknesses, but when working together, those weaknesses cancel out and let both our strengths really show. We also have an open-door policy. Kaeser & Blair has always been a family business and we extend that sense of family to all of our team. We want to welcome everyone's voice at K&B – the best way to be successful is by truly working together. With everyone at our side, the future looks really good.”

    Mitch adds: “Brad and I believe in the motto of ‘honoring the past and reinventing the future.’ We hope we can lead the Kaeser team into a progressive and successful future, but we can't do it without our amazing team behind us: our sales leaders, the leadership team and our home office team members. We hope this brings some fresh energy to K&B and the industry.”

    With more than a century in business, Kaeser & Blair and the independent salespeople it supports have built a strong reputation in the promotional products industry. In fact, the firm’s attitude towards career education helped the company earn high marks in the PPAI 100 for its professional development.

    Written By: John Corrigan

    Published with Permission from PPAI

  • 12 Jul 2023 10:02 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Orbus Visual Communications just has a more modern ring to it.

    The Illinois-based supplier formerly known as Orbus Exhibit & Display has officially changed its name, effectively immediately.

    According to Orbus, the new name “reflects the company’s expanded capability, offering and commitment to meeting the evolving visual communication needs of its valued clients in events, interiors and retail.”

    “Exhibits & Displays” was not exhaustive enough a description for what Orbus had become. In recent years, Orbus has made a number of growth acquisitions that have allowed the company to evolve its mission to encompass a “dedication to delivering comprehensive visual communication solutions that go beyond exhibits and displays.”

    “Visual communications is essential for organizations to effectively convey their brand and message creatively and visually,” says Gary Keefer, CEO of Orbus Visual Communications. “The name change reflects our commitment to being at the forefront of this dynamic industry, providing clients with a wide range of innovative visual solutions to meet their community needs.”

    If the old name suggested offerings specifically tailored for trade shows, “Visual Communications” is meant to include workplace interiors, retail environments and other non-traditional events.

    • The name change will not affect operations in regard to all clients’ orders and customer service.

    For years, the Orbus company vision has been, “To be the leading innovator of impactful visual solutions.” That led to the development of new products – along with the acquisitions detailed above – and, according to Natalie Whited, vice president of marketing, that vision began to lend itself to endless possibilities and offerings. It was decided recently that the name must better reflect that.

    “’Visual Communications’ also aligns with the evolving nature of the display industry,” Whited says. “It positions Orbus as a company that can adapt to modern trends.”

    A name might not tell the whole story, but it leads ahead of everything else, which is why it is a huge decision for any company. There’s a trickle down, and marketing must ensure every department is aligned with the ethos of the new name.

    “While changing signage, logos and appearances of our name on our website and buildings are expected, what you might not consider is messaging and communication changes,” Whited says. “We needed to rewrite and re-phrase our key message that can tell our story and align with our brand identity.”

    Written by: Jonny Auping

    Published with Permission from PPAI

  • 12 Jul 2023 9:58 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Massachusetts-based supplier Pin Machine has acquired GEMPIRE. The move bolsters Pin Machine’s product offerings and fortifies its position as a leading supplier of emblematic jewelry.

    Effective immediately, GEMPIRE is now operating under the umbrella of Pin Machine.

    GEMPIRE CEO Harvey Mackler, a former recipient of PPAI’s H. Ted Olson Humanitarian of the Year accolade, says the partnership came out of a shared vision for both companies.

    “Pin Machine met all of our requirements – they are a perfect complement to what we have accomplished for almost 28 years,” Mackler says.

    • The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
    • Pin Machine has been in the emblematic jewelry business since 1939.

    Mackler will remain with GEMPIRE through the acquisition as an “integral asset in day-to-day operations.” Mackler says he is not retiring.

    Tommy Romero, partner of Pin Machine, says the two companies will combine into something that can accomplish more than either could on its own.

    “By combining our expertise and product offerings, we feel we can continue to deliver excellent quality and great value to our customers,” Romero says. “Both companies have been built with an emphasis on customer service, and we look forward to this next chapter together.”

    Existing GEMPIRE customers should not expect any changes in terms of customer service and will be assisted by a broader range of production capabilities.

    “The values of Pin Machine align perfectly with what we have attempted to do at GEMPIRE,” Mackler says. “Communicate, empathize and humanize with the stakeholders – our employees, customers and vendors.”

    Written by: Johnny Auping

    Published with Permission from PPAI

  • 9 Jul 2023 9:26 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    PPAI officially concluded the 2023 Women's Leadership Conference in Eagan, Minnesota on Tuesday evening, but the experience didn't end there for many attendees. With the event conveniently located near the headquarters of many key suppliers and distributors, a significant number of the women traveling for the conference were able to pay a visit to key business partners.

    The supplier hosting the most visitors was Showdown Displays (PPAI 254687, S11), which on Wednesday morning threw open the doors at its Ramsey, Minnesota production facility and nearby Brooklyn Center corporate headquarters for roughly two dozen industry professionals, including PPAI staff, to tour and ask questions.

    Visitors saw the company's unique processes and printing capabilities, and got to ask questions to leaders including CEO John Bruellman and president and PPAI board chair Kevin Walsh, CAS. Later, the team even had the opportunity to pose for photos with "Dash," Showdown's ninja mascot.

    Walsh explained that the company chose a ninja because it seeks to be a "a silent partner" to its clients, moving swiftly and quietly to fulfill their needs. Showdown's operation in many ways is focused on making the complex looks easy. Consider:

    • Roughly half of the orders Showdown fulfills are for quantities of one.
    • The company is able to create displays in every color across the spectrum rather than being limited to dozens or even hundreds.
    • Ninety-nine percent of orders are shipped on-time, beating the PPAI 100 supplier average, and less than 2% are flagged with printing errors.

    Showdown is the No. 14 supplier on the recently-released PPAI 100 list of industry leaders. It brought in $103 million in 2022 and has seen its business grow 13% since 2019, owing those results in part to the industry's faith in the company to deliver on its promises, for which it earned PPAI 100 high marks. Showdown has an A+ SAGE rating.

    Walsh said Showdown's success is not by accident, emphasizing the key processes and metrics that have created success in every aspect of the business.

    "Keep the welders welding," he says of the philosophy that each job function, whether on the factory floor or in customer service, is clearly defined so that team members can focus on their expertise and deliver for clients through standard operating procedures. The culture has been engineered to incentivize customer satisfaction by rewarding employees, following a formula Walsh calls EX=CX2 which relates employee experience to magnified customer experience. 

    "Our team truly is the difference," Walsh says.

    Written by: Josh Ellis

    Published with Permission from PPAI

  • 23 Jun 2023 6:18 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Starline has added Molly Wright to its Key Accounts sales team as inside sales representative for national accounts.

    • She will be working alongside National Accounts Director Brian DeBottis, and Inside Sales Representative Krystal Holstrom.
    • No stranger to promo, Wright grew up around family members who are actively involved in the industry. She resides in Mountain Home, Arkansas, and was recently married to her best friend Tyler. In her free time, Wright enjoys hunting, fishing and being on the lake.

    “Starline is well known for our personal service, and we’ve seen explosive growth in our key/strategic accounts over the past three years. The addition of Molly to our current Key Accounts team is the next natural progression,” says Starline CRO Brian Porter. “Her background in promo, along with a firm understanding of these large distributor partners’ needs, will allow us to continue to do what we do best: deliver amazing products in a stress-free environment.”

  • 20 Jun 2023 11:20 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    The future starts now. For the first time ever, PPAI is unveiling its ranking of the leading suppliers and distributors in the promotional products industry through the research-backed, statically driven PPAI 100.

    As a nonprofit, member-driven trade association with a mission to be the voice and force the advance the marketplace, PPAI is committed to highlighting the best in the business and in the process shedding a light on the practices that make promo's leading companies so strong. 

    Unlike other industry rankings, PPAI 100 considers far more than revenue. While 2022 sales make up the largest share of the scoring matrix, other key factors include revenue growth since 2019 and the industry's faith in each company (SAGE Rating for suppliers, credit rating for distributors. Crucial elements for industry progress, responsibility and innovation are also included. The strength of firms' workforces is taken into account through professional development participation, as is employee happiness, and each company's marketing clout is scored through its online presence.

    The program's full findings will be revealed in the coming days, weeks and months as we roll out benchmarking data on how the leaders measure up to business key performance indicators, as well as their technology and corporate social responsibility tactics. PPAI 100 aims to help businesses of every size understand what they need to do to compete at the highest level and create progress for the branded merchandise medium as a whole. 

           SEE MORE:

    Read on to see which industry suppliers staked a spot on the first annual PPAI 100, and click through to each company to see what makes it strong, as well as the categories for which it earns high marks – a ranking among the best of the best. The 50 distributor companies earning a spot on the first annual PPAI 100 will be unveiled on June 27 in PPAI Newslink

    Supplier No. 1 | SanMar
    2022 Revenue: $3.7 Billion (estimate)
    Three-Year Trend: +51%

    Supplier No. 2 | S&S Activewear
    2022 Revenue: $2.15 Billion
    Three-Year Trend: +62%

    Supplier No. 3 | alphabroder
    2022 Revenue: $2.0 Billion
    Three-Year Trend: +18%

    Supplier No. 4 | Hit Promotional Products
    2022 Revenue: $611 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +23%

    Supplier No. 5 | Gemline
    2022 Revenue: $151.5 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +63%

    Supplier No. 6 | Next Level Apparel
    2022 Revenue: $340 Million (estimate)
    Three-Year Trend: +51%

    Supplier No. 7 | PCNA
    2022 Revenue: $857.3 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +5%

    Supplier No. 8 | HPG
    2022 Revenue: $269 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +31%

    Supplier No. 9 | SnugZ USA
    2022 Revenue: $112.5 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +96%

    Supplier No. 10 | Koozie Group
    2022 Revenue: $319.0 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +3%

    Supplier No. 11 | Cap America
    2022 Revenue: $76.8 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +73%

    Supplier No. 12 | Hirsch
    2022 Revenue: $44.0 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +83%

    Supplier No. 13 | Starline
    2022 Revenue: $57.9 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +68%

    Supplier No. 14 | Showdown Displays
    2022 Revenue: $103.0 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +13%

    Supplier No. 15 | Ariel Premium Supply
    2022 Revenue: $90.4 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +27%

    Supplier No. 16 | Goldstar
    2022 Revenue: $57.0 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +12%

    Supplier No. 17 | Vantage Apparel
    2022 Revenue: $79.7 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +187%

    Supplier No. 18 | NC Custom
    2022 Revenue: $77.0 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +27%

    Supplier No. 19 | Logomark
    2022 Revenue: $106.7 Million (estimate)
    Three-Year Trend: +8%

    Supplier No. 20 | Edwards Garment
    2022 Revenue: $99.6 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +8%

    Supplier No. 21 | Peerless Umbrella
    2022 Revenue: $36.0 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +50%

    Supplier No. 22 | Gold Bond
    2022 Revenue: $50.0 Million
    Three-Year Trend: -9%

    Supplier No. 23 | BAG MAKERS
    2022 Revenue: $61.1 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +7%

    Supplier No. 24 | Innovation Line
    2022 Revenue: $95.3 Million (estimate)
    Three-Year Trend: +54%

    Supplier No. 25 | Outdoor Cap
    2022 Revenue: $65.1 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +14%

    Supplier No. 26 | Tekweld
    2022 Revenue: $48.2 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +23%

    Supplier No. 27 | OTTO International
    2022 Revenue: $52.0 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +70%

    Supplier No. 28 | BEL Promo
    2022 Revenue: $46.0 Million (estimate)
    Three-Year Trend: +12%

    Supplier No. 29 | Terry Town
    2022 Revenue: $31.5 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +32%

    Supplier No. 30 | Garyline
    2022 Revenue: $64.7 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +20%

    Supplier No. 31 | Sun Coast Merchandise
    2022 Revenue: $109.5 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +12%

    Supplier No. 32 | ADG Promotional Products
    2022 Revenue: $68.4 Million (estimate)
    Three-Year Trend: +31%

    Supplier No. 33 | Powerstick
    2022 Revenue: $13.2 Million (estimate)
    Three-Year Trend: +17%

    Supplier No. 34 | STORMTECH
    2022 Revenue: $57.1 Million (estimate)
    Three-Year Trend: +21%

    Supplier No. 35 | BamBams
    2022 Revenue: $18.6 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +2%

    Supplier No. 36 | Perry Ellis International
    2022 Revenue: $30.0 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +12%

    Supplier No. 37 | Ball Pro
    2022 Revenue: $19.0 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +46%

    Supplier No. 38 | Gildan Activewear
    2022 Revenue: $251.2 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +12%

    Supplier No. 39 | Incentive Concepts
    2022 Revenue:$45.7 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +12%

    Supplier No. 40 | 3M Promotional Products
    2022 Revenue: $98.2 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +11%

    Supplier No. 41 | Staton Corporate & Casual
    2022 Revenue: $159.1 Million
    Three-Year Trend: -7%

    Supplier No. 42 | Pro Towels
    2022 Revenue: $15.7 Million (estimate)
    Three-Year Trend: +12%

    Supplier No. 43 | The Magnet Group
    2022 Revenue: $99.6 Million
    Three-Year Trend: -19%

    Supplier No. 44 | Charles River Apparel
    2022 Revenue: $45.0 Million
    Three-Year Trend: Flat

    Supplier No. 45 | Moderne Glass
    2022 Revenue: $31.7 Million
    Three-Year Trend: Flat

    Supplier No. 46 | Maple Ridge Farms
    2022 Revenue: $11.2 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +20%

    Supplier No. 47 | Spector & Co.
    2022 Revenue: $47.1 Million
    Three-Year Trend: -5%

    Supplier No. 48 | Greater Pacific
    2022 Revenue: $38.7 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +34%

    Supplier No. 49 | Admore
    2022 Revenue: $19.0 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +25% 

    Supplier No. 50 | Cutter & Buck
    2022 Revenue: $72.0 Million
    Three-Year Trend: +6%

    Published with Permission from PPAI

  • 13 Jun 2023 12:13 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Gold Bond  introduces a new Green Gallery line of sustainable products designed to promote environmental consciousness and sustainability. Plus, for every order received from the line, one to 10 trees will be planted through its partnership with One Tree Planted, a nonprofit organization that plants trees around the world.

    “We are proud to support One Tree Planted’s remarkable reforestation efforts through our Green Gallery line,” says Britney Godsey, chief revenue officer. “By partnering with One Tree Planted, we are taking a significant step towards fulfilling our commitment to life on land and promoting a greener future. We encourage our distributor clients and their customers to join us in supporting this worthy cause.”

  • 13 Jun 2023 12:11 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    OrderMyGear has teamed up with Sports Inc. in a multi-year, renewed partnership, making it the official technology provider of the sporting goods buying group.

    Under this agreement, OMG remains Sports Inc.’s preferred provider of online team stores and group ordering for members, offering a seamless platform to streamline team gear ordering processes. This extended collaboration will enable team dealers within the Sports Inc. network to leverage OMG's cutting-edge technology, empowering them to expand their digital presence and provide unparalleled convenience to their customers.

    With its vast network of Sporting Goods Retailers and Team Dealers, Sports Inc. is the largest team buying group in North America. From humble beginnings at seven outdoor stores, Sports Inc. now has more than 200 accounts with OMG.

  • 13 Jun 2023 12:09 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Koozie Group has promoted Phil Gergen to chief information officer, effective June 1.

    Gergen has been with Koozie Group for 20 years, most recently as senior vice president of technology. Under his leadership, the company has introduced industry-leading technologies that support first-in-class customer service.

    In his new role, Gergen will lead the digital, technical and IT systems teams to continuously improve the customer service experience, increase the company’s integrations with its customers and align the organization’s digital tools and presence.

    He has also been involved with PromoStandards since its inception and currently serves as treasurer.

  • 9 Jun 2023 6:21 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    The resumption of in-person interactions with congresspeople was a welcomed return on Thursday during PPAI’s Legislative Education and Action Day, held live on Capitol Hill for the first time since 2019. But the industry’s talking points on the day also had a familiar feel.

    As LEAD’s name suggests, the first objective is always to inform senators and representatives about the size and importance of the promo industry. It represents a $25 billion sales market in the U.S. and employs roughly half a million Americans. Of the industry’s 38,000 companies in the U.S., some 98% are considered small businesses.

    Beyond those important figures for representatives to understand, the industry’s advocates drilled down on four primary talking points that have been vital to the industry going back to L.E.A.D. 2022 and earlier. Along with reading material on PPAI’s positions, volunteers left sample products with representatives and their staffs, including Promotional Products Work branded tumblers, hand sanitizer and more.

    A mix of regional association representatives from industry companies of all sizes and types, as well as PPAI staffers, L.E.A.D. participants brought up the same key messages in each meeting.

    Promotional Products Work

    Promotional products are the most cost-effective, memorable and longest-lasting form of advertising, participants told their representatives. The same marketing medium legislators use as part of their election campaigns can make a profound difference in the lives and businesses of constituents. Included in the message:

    • Promotional products are ranked the No. 1 most effective form of advertising to prompt action across all generations.
    • According to PPAI’s most recent Consumer Study, 88% of people remember the advertiser on a promotional product, and 85% of recipients do business with the advertiser on a promotional product.

    Country Of Origin Labeling (COOL) Online Act

    The nature of this industry’s complex supply chains and quick orders make compliance with the COOL Online Act (S. 1421) practically impossible. PPAI understands the importance of traceability. The Association has numerous resources available to help its members conduct their own supply chain mapping. However, adhering to these requirements poses challenges relating to dual sourcing, diversifying global supply chains, and fluctuating supply chains.

    • It is common for a single SKU number to be applied to multiple products found in different countries, especially in the case of apparel where the same shirt may be dual sourced based on various size or color preferences.

    The Industry’s Ask: We appreciate the bipartisan spirit and Congress’ intent to increase visibility into supply chains. PPAI understands and supports transparency as well. We have been educating our members about supply chain mapping and traceability. However, PPAI asks Congress to provide for the flexibility to identify multiple countries of origin for unfinished products sold online.

    Independent Contractors

    In this industry, salespeople willingly and intentionally choose to be independent contractors instead of employees. Promotional sales consultants have the ability to be their own boss, run their own business, and control their own destiny.

    We’re not in the gig economy and we take no issue with a majority of the PRO Act (H.R. 20). Our only concerns with the bill involve the ABC test and the broad definition that classifies all workers as employees. Unlike the members of the gig economy on which similar labor law proposals have focused, the relationship between independent contractors in the promotional products industry and their distributors is mutually beneficial for both parties.

    The Industry’s Ask: Uniformly applying the worker reclassification provisions, or ABC test, will have a devastating impact on tens of thousands of jobs and businesses in the promotional products industry, depriving them from earning an income. Our industry is not the focus of the proposed policy change, therefore, we request an exemption.

    Global Value Chains

    Most of our products’ value is added domestically in pre‐production and post‐production

    • Production overseas of the base inputs is where the least amount of value is added. Although some promotional products are manufactured overseas, once in the U.S., these products are decorated and sold by American workers, and used to promote American goods and services.
    • At least half of the value of our products is added in the U.S. by American workers. A recent study commissioned by the S. Global Value Chain Coalition found that the U.S. adds as much as 75% value to the final retail price for apparel made overseas.

    The Industry’s Ask: Please keep the unique needs and interests of the promotional products industry in mind when considering legislation that impacts the success of our industry, for example trade policy that unintentionally raises costs for small businesses and consumers.

    Written by: Josh Ellis

    Published with Permission from PPAI

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