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HPPA Industry News

  • 15 May 2024 8:26 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    SnugZ USA (PPAI 112982, Platinum) has announced an exclusive partnership with The HYPE Company, a customizable, on-demand sandal provider, bringing the signature slides into the promotional products marketplace.

    The HYPE Company was recently featured on an episode of Shark Tank.

    Barbara Corcoran, one of the show’s “sharks” was impressed enough with the presentation to invest in the company.

    “Co-founder Cheng Kue and I are incredibly excited to be launching our on-demand slides into the promotional products industry together with SnugZ,” says Marc Herzberger, CEO and co-founder of The Hype Company. “This strategic partnership leverages our extensive background in footwear development with brands like Adidas, Fila and most recently Crocs and together allows us to bring a product that the industry has been craving.”

    ‘Master Class Creative Innovators’

    Herzberger says that The HYPE Company redefines what could be possible for the footwear market when it comes to brand promotion. The customizable option of the company’s signature slides creates a blank canvas that SnugZ can apply its promotional products experience.

    “The team at HYPE has been an absolute dream to work with,” says Brittany David, MAS, SnugZ’s chief revenue officer. “They are master class creative innovators, and we are excited to expand their reach into our industry.

    “We are always looking to add cool, high-quality products and brands to the promo world that people want to keep and work with people we like.”

    The partnership will produce one-piece minimums, offering a true on-demand offering.

    Written by: Jonny Auping

    Published with Permission from PPAI

  • 9 May 2024 7:34 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    SanMar (PPAI 110788, Platinum) – the No. 1 supplier in the inaugural PPAI 100 – has been recognized as a 2024 U.S. Best Managed Company, an award sponsored by Deloitte Private and The Wall Street Journal.

    • The award recognizes the achievements of U.S. private companies and the successes of their management teams. SanMar has been a family-owned business since its founding in 1971 and is currently managed by the third generation of the Lott family.
    • The company’s longstanding investments in its employees, operations and sustainability efforts are key drivers for its selection this year.
    • Honorees are selected by an external panel of judges who evaluate applicants based on strategy, ability to execute, culture, and governance and financial performance.

    “We are humbled to receive this recognition,” says Jeremy Lott, CEO of SanMar. “I'm motivated by our team’s unwavering dedication to doing right by each other, our customers and our values.”

  • 7 May 2024 9:55 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    The Texas Spring Swing, a collaborative effort between the Houston Promotional Products Association (HPPA) and the Promotional Products Association Southwest (PPAS), concluded its third annual event last week with resounding success. The week-long extravaganza, spanning across Houston, San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas, brought together approximately 75 exhibitors representing 150 different factory lines and attracted about 800 attendees.

    Reflecting on the event's success, Malik Hemani, CAS, President of HPPA, stated, "The Texas Spring Swing surpassed expectations. It brought together Suppliers, MLRs, and Distributors in a dynamic environment where connections were made and ideas flourished. What set this event apart was its inclusivity, allowing end buyers to participate alongside distributors fostering partnership and creativity. Walking the show floor, I couldn't help but be inspired by the plethora of products and creative displays. It was a testament to the power of face-to-face interaction in our digital age. Kudos to the trade show committee and all industry members for upholding a culture of respect and integrity, ensuring a productive and enjoyable experience for all."

    Chad Rizzo, President of PPAS, remarked, "This was a fantastic week for PPAS and our Texas Spring Show. By all measures, participation from suppliers, distributors, and end buyers was at an all-time high. This is further evidence that the changes the previous PPAS boards have instituted are working. Regional engagement has become an integral part of the promotional product industry, and we are excited for what the future will bring."

    The success of the Texas Spring Swing underscores the importance of regional engagement in the promotional product industry and highlights the value of collaborative efforts among industry associations. As the event continues to grow year after year, it serves as a beacon of innovation and camaraderie within the industry.

    For more information about the Texas Spring Swing and future events, visit https://www.houstonppa.org/ and https://ppas.wildapricot.org/.

  • 25 Apr 2024 11:26 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Koozie Group (PPAI 114187, Platinum) – ranked the No. 10 supplier in the inaugural PPAI 100 – has announced that Melissa Ralston is stepping down from her role as chief revenue officer, effective May 31.

    As part of the transition, Trish Daly, currently vice president of sales operations at the Clearwater, Florida-based company, will move into the vice president of sales role and join the executive staff.

    • Daly has been with Koozie Group for nearly 30 years in a variety of sales, marketing and product development roles.
    • She will take on responsibility for the entire sales organization and report directly to CEO Pierre Montaubin.
    • Koozie Group says there will be no changes to the senior leaders in customer operations and marketing, who will now report to the COO and CEO, respectively.

    “The last several years have been a defining period for Koozie Group as we’ve made key investments in people, processes and technology; dramatically improved customer experience and satisfaction; launched a successful social impact and sustainability strategy; and greatly enhanced our product, service and retail brand solutions – all of which have helped to advance important growth targets,” Montaubin says.

    “Melissa has been instrumental in steering many of these advancements, but, perhaps most importantly, in establishing an operational infrastructure that positions us exceptionally well to accelerate our growth trajectory. In many ways, we’ve only begun to scratch the surface in terms of the market opportunity ahead of us. As she moves on to her next personal and professional chapters, we’re grateful for all of her contributions.”

    Ralston’s Impact

    For nearly 20 years, Ralston has worked in the promo industry with global leadership roles across marketing, product management, sourcing and sales.

    She has been with Koozie Group, formerly known as BIC Graphic North America, for nearly a decade, serving as chief marketing officer before becoming chief revenue officer in 2021.

    • Among her many contributions, Ralston spearheaded the launch and served as executive sponsor of the company’s “Keep It. Give It.” social impact and sustainability task force.

    “I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to work with amazing teams and am proud of what we’ve accomplished together,” Ralston says. “The right people and processes are in place, and as I step away, I’m confident that Koozie Group is well-positioned for continued growth and success.”

    Ralston recently served two years as an at-large director on the PPAI Board of Directors that were defined by important board decisions on key investments as the Association worked to scale back up post-pandemic and pursue its new mission and vision

    In Her Blood

    Ralston’s roots in the advertising industry date back three generations, as her grandfather owned an ad agency (where her father also worked), which he later sold to a large firm.

    • While attending the University of Florida, where she earned a bachelor’s in international advertising and a master’s in international business, Ralston dabbled in public relations, communications and sales.

    But years before working in the industry, her earliest brush with promotional products was with T-shirts she’d collect every year from an annual Thanksgiving run in which her family participated together.

    • This experience would come full-circle early on in her 20-year career when she was the marketing communications manager with Chris-Craft Corporation, a Sarasota, Florida-based powerboat manufacturer.
    • There she was responsible for working with a promotional products distributor to purchase branded products for Chris-Craft boat-owners and fans to buy on the company website.

    Written by: John Corrigan

    Published with Permission from PPAI

  • 25 Apr 2024 11:17 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    In April, UPS and FedEx have added new delivery fees in a number the most populous cities in the U.S. Known as a delivery area surcharge (or DAS), the range of fees from both companies is between $3.95 and $5.85 with possibly higher rates for ZIP codes considered “remote” or “extended.”

    • The primary cities impacted are Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston.
    • In total, 82 ZIP codes have been affected.
    • Surcharges will vary depending on whether it is a ground or air transportation and whether it’s a commercial or residential delivery.

    How To Avoid (Or Mitigate) Surcharges

    With both shipping giants adding these DAC fees in the same month, it will be difficult for businesses sending goods into these large cities to avoid them.

    • Among other motivations, it is likely that both FedEx and UPS are attempting to offset the costs of tolls associated with tunnels or bridges that are common in more populated cities.

    Whatever the reason, it can be an immediate headache for businesses that have grown used to being able to plan for increases in shipping costs based on annual rate adjustments.

    DAC fees may represent a costly increase in the price of business depending on the number of packages a company is sending into affected area codes.

    • While it may take a reorganizing of logistics, it is worth considering consolidating packages heading to the same address into fewer shipments if and when possible.
    • This would require communicating with the recipient about the possibility of negotiating an agreed upon day to receive larger volume orders rather than splitting that amount over multiple shipments.

    FedEx is a Business Services Member of PPAI and has been supporting the Association and its members since the early 2000s.

    • This partnership results in exclusive member discounts with the carrier, including 35% off residential and area surcharge fees, which will help offset the new DAC fees when shipping into the affected area codes.
    • PPAI Members interested in enrolling into the discount program should contact their account manager for enrollment information.

    Published with Permission from PPAI

  • 23 Apr 2024 4:20 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a ban on Tuesday barring employers from imposing non-compete clauses on their employees. The ban passed on a 3-2 vote, with both Republicans on the FTC voting against the ban.

    Non-compete clauses are a contractual term between an employer and a worker that blocks the worker from working for a competing employer or starting a competing business, typically within a certain geographic area and period of time after the worker’s employment ends.

    • The FTC’s ruling leaves existing non-competes with senior executives intact while banning future non-competes for top corporate officials.
    • The rule is intended to go into effect 120 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

    In February, PPAI Media listed non-compete clauses as one of the key employment areas to watch in 2024 after the FTC proposed the legislation that this ban initially stemmed from in January. Last year, Joshua White – then the head of strategy and general counsel at BAMKO and a member of the PPAI Board of Directors – wrote a column for PPAI Media arguing against non-compete contracts as a practice in promo and predicting this week’s outcome.

    “The point here is not to challenge your opinion on non-competes,” White wrote. “I expect the FTC will take that issue out of your hands soon enough. My point is to challenge the way you think about people, culture and the role you play in shaping both.

    ‘Undeniably Impactful’

    Maurice Norris, PPAI’s public affairs manager, states plainly that the ruling has obvious implications for companies in the industry that have non-competes baked into their standard hiring process.

    “This new rule from the FTC is undeniably impactful,” Norris says. “It doesn’t just mandate communications to current employees, but additionally requires companies to eliminate most existing non-competes, with some exceptions. The 120-day effective date is also approaching soon.”

    FTC Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter issued a statement on the topic of non-competes, claiming that they put American workers in a position in which they cannot move freely within an industry they may excel at.

    “It is so profoundly unfree, and unfair, for people to be stuck in jobs they want to leave [as a result of non-compete contracts],” Slaughter says.

    • The ruling that passed Tuesday reflects the draft that was proposed back in January with the exception that existing non-competes specifically with senior executives can remain in place. No future non-competes are allowed, for senior executives or otherwise.

    The two dissenting voters clarified that their issues were with the agency’s authority to issue the ban, rather than the merits of the ban itself.

    Not The Final Word

    Non-compete contracts are unlikely to go away without a fight. It is expected that multiple lawsuits will be filed by business groups questioning the FTC’s ability to issue such a ban.

    “This decision sets a dangerous precedent for government micromanagement of business and can harm employers, workers and our economy,” says Suzanne Clark, Chamber of Commerce president and CEO. “The Chamber will sue the FTC to block this unnecessary and unlawful rule and put other agencies on notice that such overreach will not go unchecked.”

    Norris anticipates that a Congressional Review Act resolution will follow the FTC ruling in the near future.

    • The Biden administration has argued that non-compete contracts ultimately harm individual workers, lower wages and create negative ramifications on the U.S. economy.

    Written by: Jonny Auping

    Published with Permission from PPAI

  • 23 Apr 2024 11:39 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    VisionUSA®, a leading innovator in the promotional products industry, proudly unveils its latest addition to the brand collection: Splitflask.   This groundbreaking tumbler introduces a revolutionary design, featuring a dual chamber that allows users to carry both hot and cold liquids simultaneously.

    In a world where versatility and convenience reign supreme, Splitflask emerges as a game-changer, offering a solution to the age-old dilemma of choosing between hot coffee or refreshing iced tea. With its innovative dual chamber construction, this tumbler empowers users to enjoy their favorite beverages without compromise, catering to their diverse preferences and lifestyle needs.

    "At VisionUSA®, we are committed to pushing the boundaries of innovation and delivering products that enhance everyday experiences," says Felix Soliz, President of VisionUSA®,  "With Splitflask, we are excited to introduce a new standard of functionality and convenience to the promotional products space, offering our clients and their customers a unique solution that aligns with modern demands."

    The  tumbler boasts a sleek and ergonomic design, crafted from high-quality materials to ensure durability and reliability.  With its innovative double-walled, stainless steel dual chamber design,  offers a seamless way to carry two beverages simultaneously, empowering users to indulge in their favorite drinks without compromise.  (See the Splitflask in use, click Here)!           

    Whether it's enjoying a piping hot espresso alongside a chilled fruit-infused water or sipping on a steaming cup of cocoa while keeping an iced latte cold, Splitflask caters to the dynamic preferences of today's consumers. Perfect for on-the-go professionals, outdoor enthusiasts, or anyone seeking a versatile beverage companion, this innovative tumbler is set to redefine the way people enjoy their drinks.


    "We believe that Splitflask will resonate with a wide range of audiences, from busy commuters to outdoor adventurers, offering them unparalleled convenience and enjoyment," adds Soliz.  "As we introduce this exciting addition to the VisionUSA® brand collection, we look forward to empowering our clients to make a lasting impression with their promotional campaigns."

    Whether used as corporate gifts, event giveaways, or promotional merchandise, Splitflask promises to leave a lasting impression, reflecting the quality and innovation synonymous with the VisionUSA®,  brand.

    For more information about Splitflask and other products offered by VisionUSA®, please visit www.vision1usa.com.
  • 19 Apr 2024 10:21 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Chris Babiash, MAS, president and CEO of Minnesota-based distributor Booshie, will be attending PPAI Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.) for the seventh time this year.

    “During my time with L.E.A.D., I’ve seen and learned so much about how Washington, D.C. works and how important it is for our industry to have face time with the leaders running the country,” Babiash says.

    On May 13-14, Babiash will join fellow PPAI members and staff to once again meet with members of Congress and their staff on Capitol Hill to discuss pending legislation and issues relevant to the promotional products industry.

    • As L.E.A.D.’s name suggests, the first objective is always to inform legislators and their staffs about the size and importance of the promo industry, which represents a $26 billion sales market in the United States and employs roughly half a million Americans.

    • Last year, during the first in-person L.E.A.D. since 2019, more than 60 promo pros held over 80 meetings designed to make connections and educate lawmakers on the branded merchandise industry and four key points important to it today.

    Being Informed And Involved

    Babiash, who also serves as president of the Upper Midwest Association of Promotional Professionals (UMAPP), believes many promo pros are like he used to be – unaware and uninterested in the issues impacting the industry unless (or until) they directly impact them.

    “For too many years, I had my head down and only focused on myself and my career, but I’ve evolved and believe we should be doing everything we can to expose, teach and educate people about our industry and its issues,” Babiash says.

    Nowadays, he’s most concerned about sustainability, compliance and importing costs, particularly carriers’ ability to “nickel and dime” customers with fees and “emergency charges.”

    Although Babiash has become a familiar face on Capitol Hill through L.E.A.D., he doesn’t consider himself a political junkie. “I neither love politics, nor do I like to engage with and discuss it,” he says.

    “But I like L.E.A.D. because it allows me to push myself in my comfort zone of seeing and understanding the movement and happenings while staying in the bipartisan world, which is how it should be. I like to see and understand both sides and make decisions based on what is best for everyone.”

    Promotional Products Work!

    As in years past, one of the main points that 2024 L.E.A.D. participants aim to get across to lawmakers is that promotional products are the most cost-effective, memorable and longest-lasting form of advertising.

    • According to PPAI’s most recent Consumer Study, nearly three quarters agree that promo products are a good way to learn about sales and events, and 72% agree that they’re helpful for learning about new businesses in the area.

    “If used correctly, promo is powerful,” says Patricia Dugan, MAS, vice president of sales and marketing at Massachusetts-based supplier BUDGETCARD and a 2023 recipient of PPAI’s Women of Achievement Award.

    Dugan, who says she attended a previous incarnation of L.E.A.D. several decades ago, will be attending this year to represent the New England region. “L.E.A.D. is very important, especially regarding Prop 65,” she says. “We need to know about and fight for certain issues. Look how long we worked on the independent contractor issue!”

    Throughout her nearly half century in the promo industry, Dugan has served in dozens of board positions within PPAI, as well as Promotional Products Education Foundation chair from 2015-2017, leading the nonprofit through a defining period of change that ultimately led to increasing scholarships.

    • Under her guidance, PPEF increased scholarships from $25,000 to $150,000, the highest dollar amount ever awarded in a single year at the time. 

    So, it should be no surprise that education on the importance of promo products is important to her. “Government shouldn’t limit the sale or use of promo products because they do solve problems, especially with getting people to vote,” Dugan says.

    Written by John Corrigan

    Published with Permission from PPAI

  • 19 Apr 2024 10:17 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Proforma (PPAI 196835, Platinum) – the No. 5 distributor in the inaugural PPAI 100 – has announced that Meg Erber’s responsibilities have expanded to leading sales, coaching and recruitment efforts at Proforma’s Worldwide Support Center.

    A 25-year veteran of the promotional products industry, Erber joined the Ohio-headquartered company as director of sales in February.

    Her fingerprints are all over the promotional products world. Coming to the industry after a career in the U.S. Navy, Erber has made her mark by creating or contributing to promo channels beyond just the scope of her official job title.

    Proforma Promotions

    Erber will be keeping her title even though her role has expanded due to Greg Armstrong, formerly chief sales officer at Proforma, being promoted to president of Proforma GPS (PPAI 176728, Standard-Plus), a Nevada-based distributorship owned by Steve and Donna Raucher.

    “It has been incredible to serve alongside the dedicated team at Proforma’s Support Center,” Armstrong says. “As I embark on this new role, I’m grateful for the support and camaraderie that defined my journey there and that will undoubtedly continue as I pivot to a new position within the Proforma family.”

    Proforma CEO Vera Muzzillo adds that “Greg's leadership has been instrumental in shaping Proforma's success, and I’m confident that Proforma will continue to flourish under Meg's leadership. We congratulate Greg on his new role and look forward to a continued partnership as we forge ahead in our mission to empower businesses worldwide.”

    Written by John Corrigan

    Published with Permission from PPAI

  • 17 Apr 2024 10:34 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    ePromos Promotional Products (PPAI 212648, Platinum) – ranked the No. 19 distributor in the inaugural PPAI 100 – has announced that Heather Sanderson has joined the St. Cloud, Minnesota-based firm as its new vice president of sales.

    With more than 20 years of experience in the promotional products industry, Sanderson cited ePromos being a certified Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) company as one of the reasons she joined.

    “The benefits of being a female-owned business are immense,” Sanderson says. “Women entrepreneurs have access to federal contracts, networking, educational opportunities, new clients and business partners, and significant roles in transforming industries, contributing to the economy and empowering communities across America.”

    Sanderson’s Background

    Sanderson was one of the three founding members of Overture Promotions –ranked the No. 15 distributor in the inaugural PPAI 100 – where she worked in sales and operations before becoming CEO.

    • During her tenure, she helped grow the company to 150 employees and $60 million in sales.
    • At Overture, Sanderson spearheaded a strong mentorship program supporting team growth and development.
    • Like ePromos, Overture is a WBENC-certified business.

    “We couldn’t be more excited for Heather to join the ePromos team,” says Adam Rosenbaum, president of ePromos. “Heather is a perfect fit for our culture and her success scaling the sales team and company during her tenure at Overture speaks to our commitment of providing best-in-industry leadership for our sales team and the expansion of our business development efforts.”

    “ePromos continues to be uniquely positioned in our industry to service enterprise, mid-market and e-commerce clients,” Rosenbaum adds, “and Heather’s depth of experience will be instrumental in achieving our omnichannel growth plans.”

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