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HPPA Industry News

  • 10 Mar 2022 11:49 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    The people of the promotional products industry are known for sticking together, both in business and in heart. So when the coronavirus pandemic kept many employees at home and physically distanced, a few industry members found a way to ride it out together. Two years later, the #PromoPeloton group is still going strong.

    #PromoPeloton is the hashtag and name given to a group of people in the industry who meet virtually to participate in Peloton bike rides and workout classes together. A fun way to get moving, hold one another accountable and also to keep in regular contact, #PromoPeloton started with 12 participants and has since grown organically to more than 115 members.

    The group’s growth was spontaneous. It began with a post that Josh Goodelman, VP at Hauppauge, New York, supplier Liqui-Mark, shared to a Facebook group in the summer of 2020. The post asked if anyone was interested in joining him for a Peloton bike ride.

    “A few people commented and said, ‘let’s ride together,’” says Johanna Gottlieb, VP of sales for Chicago-based distributor HALO Branded Solutions, a #PromoPeloton ride organizer and lover of cycling. On Peloton machines, the creation of a hashtag allows a group of people to follow each other via the bike’s leaderboard with just a few taps. The hashtag #PromoPeloton was created, and soon after, Gottlieb created a private Facebook group that she moderates with Lisa Sachs, national sales manager at Mason, Ohio, supplier IMAGEN Brands. The group rides together frequently, including every Thursday morning.

    For group members, the rides came to represent a sense of unity, especially during a tough time, Gottlieb says. “There was friendly competition, chatter and encouragement,” Gottlieb wrote in an August 2020 Facebook post. “There was real and virtual sweat…SO MUCH SWEAT. There were Peloton high-fives. There were sore legs. There was inspiration and motivation and, most importantly, we had fun!”

    Peloton isn’t just an avenue for industry pros to stay connected and in shape. The company is also a major believer in the power of branded merchandise, as evidenced by its expansive online store, which offers apparel and accessories.

    Peloton Apparel sells curated promotional products to tie the brand together and allow evangelists of the connected stationary cycles to show their affinity. Peloton’s products include branded activewear and accessories, and allow customers to show pride for the company while they’re powering through a workout and otherwise.

  • 8 Mar 2022 12:25 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    The Partnering Group, LLC, an industry distributor organization, has announced that Dallas-based OrderMyGear (PPAI 704581) has come onboard as a new business service sponsor for the group.

    “We receive numerous inquiries for information on new technologies and services business leaders can implement to improve efficiencies and value,” says Jenny Taylor, executive director of TPG. “By partnering with companies like OrderMyGear, it makes the accessibility of information at our fingertips to help our members make informed decisions.”

    OMG is an online store platform that allows distributors to create sleek, retail‐like online stores for every customer, no matter what type of store they need—company stores, pop‐up stores, team stores and fundraising stores.

  • 7 Mar 2022 5:31 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Polyconcept North America (PCNA) is proud to announce financial support for refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine. PCNA will donate up to one percent of March sales revenue to humanitarian relief efforts benefiting Ukrainian refugees in Poland, where the company’s European counterpart, PF Concept, has operations.

    “We recognize the plight of the Ukrainian people and are eager to lend our support. Amongst the more than one million people already displaced, as well as all those who remain in Ukraine, are the friends and families of our teammates in Eastern Europe. This is our way of showing solidarity,” says Neil Ringel, Chief Executive Officer of Polyconcept, parent company to both PCNA and PF Concept. “Similar to our partnership with 1% For The Planet, which directs one percent of eco-product sales to environmental nonprofits, this allows us to use our business to help those in need.”

    PF Concept operates throughout Europe, including Poland, where the company’s Poznan production facility is located. In addition to financial support for relief efforts, PF Concept continues to donate products including blankets, clothing and power banks for those in need.

    PCNA welcomes participation in this effort by all North American distributors and their customers simply through the course of normal business. Direct financial contributions can be sent to Red Cross Poland.

    “The humanitarian crisis is unimaginable,” Ringel says. “The Ukrainian people need and deserve our support right now.”

  • 5 Mar 2022 5:40 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    On Wednesday, Tampa, Florida-based supplier Koozie Group announced the results for the first calendar year of its social impact and sustainability initiative, “Keep It. Give It.”

    For 2021, the program donated more than $250,000 the nonprofit organizations, the company said.

    Keep It. Give It. Involved cash and product donations as well as enhanced eco-conscious efforts. Three of the company’s facilities earned Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) certifications in 2021. Also last year, Koozie Group became affiliated with the Fair Labor Association, a nonprofit collaborative effort of universities, civil society organizations and businesses promoting adherence to international and national laws.

    “As our company evolved into a stand-alone organization, we recognized the need to transform the way we do business to benefit our people, our customers, our industry, and our communities,” CEO David Klatt said in a statement.“Over the past year, we have been excited to see the many ways in which our vision has been creating positive change in people’s lives, and we can’t wait to discover how that will continue in 2022 and beyond.”

    Keep It. Give It. Launched in late 2020 and is part of a three-year plan, KG2024, that outlines the objectives it wants to achieve. A cross-functional steering committee, working alongside executive leadership, regularly assesses the program’s impact and steers it toward the initiative’s goals.

    “As a leader of the Keep it. Give it. program, I’m very excited about the future of this initiative,” Specialist Trisha Joyce said in the statement. “One year into our three-year plan and we’ve already managed to achieve several of our goals. A lot has been accomplished already through Keep it. Give it. and we look forward to making even more progress in the program’s four key areas in the future.”

    The program is built upon four key focus areas meant to help the company build a foundation for salable, profitable and sustainable growth. These areas include fostering diversity & inclusion, giving back to employees & community, safety and social responsibility, and environmental stewardship.

  • 1 Mar 2022 12:38 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Polyconcept, parent company of New Kensington, Pennsylvania-headquartered supplier Polyconcept North America, has completed the acquisition of Norcross, Georgia, print-on-demand provider Spoke Custom Products. Spoke Custom Products, which has an additional fulfillment facility in Mesa, Arizona, counts many of the largest global marketplaces, retailers and e-commerce platforms among its customers.

    This is Polyconcept’s second acquisition in the print-on-demand space in less than a year. In March 2021, it acquired UK-based T Shirt & Sons Ltd., which serves the European print-on-demand market.

    "With the acquisition of Spoke, we have a great opportunity to leverage our core strengths in product development, sourcing, supply chain and decoration across the fast-growing print-on-demand market,” says Neil Ringel, Polyconcept CEO. “Our recent acquisitions in this industry have provided the technology and operational capabilities to serve customers in the estimated $8 billion print-on-demand channel.”

    Jose Bernal, leader of Polyconcept's new print-on-demand division, says, “Spoke Custom Products was an early entrant in the North American print on-demand market and has built a reputation for offering the industry's highest print quality and service reliability. Polyconcept will greatly benefit from Spoke Custom Products' market leadership while continuing investment to grow the company's capabilities and market presence.

    "Leveraging Spoke Custom Products' capabilities for fulfilling customized products at order sizes as small as one unit will provide customers with the ability to design and sell products personalized to their exact specifications. In addition, Spoke Custom Products will leverage Polyconcept's global product development and sourcing capabilities to create one of the industry's largest print-on-demand catalogs."

    Spoke Custom Products will continue operating from its Norcross headquarters and Mesa fulfillment facility, and CEO John Rogowski will continue leading the company with support from the existing management team.

    Rogowski says, “We couldn't be happier to join the Polyconcept family and believe we can leverage the strengths of both companies to better serve our customers. Polyconcept is the perfect partner to enable Spoke Custom Products to accelerate growth of our business.”

  • 28 Feb 2022 12:43 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Joshua Lapsker, founder of Grand Island, New York-based supplier Starline passed away on Feb. 24. He was 79.

    Starline has been a family-owned and operated business for more than 50 years, and Lapsker’s grandson, Mason Lapsker, will carry on the family’s leadership role within the company in the position of president.

    A statement from the company on Lapsker’s passing says, “Joshua was known and admired for his powerful work ethic and passion for success. His family and co-workers remain dedicated to honoring his memory by carrying on his mission.”
     
    Lapsker started his career in the promotional industry by designing and constructing machines used for pen decoration. Soon thereafter, he opened Starline Industries in Canada in 1969. He expanded the company to the United States (Starline USA) in 1992 in neighboring Buffalo, New York.

    Originally born in Russia, Lapsker and his family immigrated to Israel when he was a young boy and then to Montreal, Quebec. No stranger to hard work, at 12-years-old, he would swim in the bay in Israel and collect timbers that fell off cargo boats to sell on.

    Throughout his career, he designed and registered over 40 patents. Lapsker’s business background included a printing company rooted in the pharmaceutical industry and he was widely recognized for his role in the invention and application of advertising inside of medical prescription pads.

    Lapsker leaves behind three children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
  • 22 Feb 2022 3:10 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    This, the sixth annual #Online18 list of key social media influencers is formed from the personal opinion of PPAI President and CEO Denham, MAS+. It includes both companies and individuals, with an emphasis on engagement and driving value to their followers and the industry as a whole.

    For 2022 Denham’s list includes five first-time honorees, with Denham noting the rise of short-form video content across social platforms, including TikTok.

    18. Joelly Goodson (First Time)
    The only person on this list because of a podcast. I have listened to a few of her episodes, and they were great. I enjoy her work and the guests she brings on. Joelly is demonstrating the value of grit as she launched the show in January 2021 and has consistently produced podcasts with interesting content and guests. Getting started is difficult, sticking with it as consistently as Joelly has is harder and ultimately leads to success. Enjoy her podcast and learn from her persistence as well.

    17. Alex Symms (First Time)
    Alex has just recently become more visible to me, but is not a stranger to many people as evidenced by his engagement on social media. Many people are just now starting to realize the value of LinkedIn and Alex demonstrates a great path for those looking for ideas to engage.

    16. ASICentral
    Vin Driscoll leads the ASICentral account for ASI but is surrounded by a team of people who engage with others as well as post meaningful content. My favorite to follow is Michele Bell (who wisely never joined Facebook) because she brings far more to social than the typical engagement, and I often find something new from following her. No discussion of ASI would be complete without mentioning Tim Andrews, who is actively posting on multiple channels to ensure the ASI message gets heard, along with Theresa Hegel.

    15. Mitch Silver (First Time)
    I have known Mitch for years, yet only recently have I become aware of his social posts. I am seeing his posts consistently, especially on LinkedIn, and the quality is excellent as evidenced by the growing engagement. Perhaps more importantly, Mitch is doing a great job engaging with clients, friends and industry people by adding meaningful comments to their posts. Mitch goes well beyond liking a post, and his comments help keep him top of mind with everyone he interacts with. Anyone wanting to see a great approach to LinkedIn should follow and engage with Mitch.

    14. Brandon Pecharich / PromoCorner (First Time)
    Brandon is a name many people have known either through his own social channels or the work he does at PromoCorner. Brandon is persistent and is leveraging numerous tools to engage with customers. Like a few others on this list, Brandon’s social engagement goes well beyond his posts and reflects the importance of engaging with others online and offline in authentic ways.

    13. Charity Gibson
    A former No. 1 and No. 2 on the #Online18, Charity continues her high engagement on social media. As always, Charity focuses more on business engagement for brands that she represents than she does on her own social media, although she is very active and engaging on social personally as well. One of my favorite business posts that Charity has done in the recent past is her catalog challenge, which inspired many and created significant engagement as well as value for the readers.

     12. Javier Melendez
    Short form video remains his specialty and he makes it look so easy. I’m confident his posts take more than a few minutes to conceptualize, film and edit, but the engagement and awareness is likely worth it. In a recent conversation with Javier, he shared how many people he hears from directly who see him on social but rather than commenting online, mention his latest post as they see him in person. Creating consistently engaging content impacts both online and offline engagement when done right. He has a lot of TikTok followers, but also leverages the content well on other platforms to increase his reach.

    11. Britney Godsey
    One of the first people that I engaged with on Instagram, Britney continues to expand her influence online and offline with her creative videos, photos and content. Fun and engaging to interact with, but also ensuring a message gets across, Britney is someone we can all learn from—especially on Instagram.

    10. Maple Ridge Farms
    The team at Maple Ridge does a great job building R&D content—rip off and duplicate—for distributors: beautiful photos, along with engaging copy fit for any distributor social media posts to promote Maple Ridge Farm products. Even if you don’t use it for R&D, the content will inspire you and keep their brand top of mind. Their engagement shows I am not the only one who finds their social media a valuable source.

    9. Kirby Hasseman & Bill Petrie
    OK, I am cheating on this one a bit because both are engaging on social individually. But there are only 18 spots, and these two are highly engaged with each other on social, including their weekly Promo UPFront podcast, so I am sneaking them in together for one year only. Despite a horrible intro song, the podcast does a good job of covering important industry topics in a meaningful way. The podcast combined with their individual content and engagement is why they made the list.

    8. Logojojo (First Time)
    Ellie Bathe is engaging and has fun content. She has a great consistency to her branding. Once you engage with her on social, you will have a tough time having any other supplier top of mind for coffee. We can all learn a lot from her strategy of focused content with just the right amount of additional content to keep accounts from becoming too salesy.

    7. Danny Rosin
    Danny holds a special place on this list as someone who continues to engage me personally nearly every week. Danny manages to cover an incredibly wide range of interests on social, while keeping his brand (personal and business) top of mind for me. What he does is incredibly difficult for most of us: he balances personal life, interests, and business posts in a very meaningful way. Whether his content is right for you or not, he sets a great example of keeping relevant while covering broad concepts.

    6. Nick Lateur
    Still the best part of Mondays, Nick has kept the brand going and remains top of mind. In addition to great consistency, he finds new ideas regularly to keep us engaged. I love that he has managed to maintain this for so long, although his engagement from followers has declined. I know I still see many of his posts, but just don’t engage as much as I used to with them. I suspect I’m not alone. If you haven’t been following Nick, follow soon and look back at some really great past posts. Nick is very creative in his approach as well as consistency which extends his awareness while softly reminding us of the products and business he represents.

    5. commonsku
    commonsku engages on multiple social channels through multiple staff members. While the approach is not completely unique, they are doing it well. I love that each individual appears to be making their own posts and reaching their own audience. The strategy allows a broader reach and a better chance at connecting with individuals who might have different tastes. Engagement is highest on Instagram; here are a few of the accounts that deliver high engagement: commonskuDavid ShultzAshley Colautti.

    4. Jeremy Picker
    Jeremy is one of the most engaged industry people on Twitter and has a loyal group of followers who love his content. I highly recommend following Jeremy to see how to engage on Twitter well, which is something very few seem to do in our industry. He is also great on Instagram for those who don’t care for Twitter. I love the content he provides almost as much as the engagement he offers with others on Twitter.

     3. Megan Erber
    Megan has a following on so many channels and approaches so many different topics. She is involved in multiple efforts while also ensuring that she is putting her firms brand front and center. Megan provides significant content that receives great engagement, but also engages a lot with others’ content, delivering a really valuable 1-2 punch.

     2. Goldstar USA
    Goldstar continues to reinvent its social media strategy with new ideas. Charles Duggan is the online face of Goldstar, and his energy is unmatched. Distributor and supplier firms alike can learn from how Goldstar engages multiple internal and external people via video, as well as general posts. One of the things I love about the approach that Goldstar has is that it is consistent online and offline so when I’m engaging with anyone online, I have a very similar in-person experience.

    1. American Solutions for Business
    ASB continues to innovate on social with extremely high engagement and great quality content. Last year, Taylor Borst made the list on her own, but Katie Kahler joined ASB in 2021 and has been extremely impressive in a short amount of time. It could be the mentoring by Taylor, but Katie has added significant value online to the ASB efforts. Both are worth following and learning from on how to engage on multiple channels—a dynamic duo if there ever was one. Along with others, they are leading the way on social media as demonstrated by the significant engagement from their followers.

  • 10 Feb 2022 11:30 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Raining Rose Promos has announced that it will donate 1% of its annual profits to Heifer International, a global nonprofit that supports local farmers and their communities. The Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based supplier's donations will directly support honeybees, supplies and training for beekeepers.

    “As a supplier of natural and organic personal care products, we sustainably source beeswax from across the globe,” says Lindsey Davis, MAS, director of promotional sales at Raining Rose Promos. “Partnering with an organization like Heifer International that is doing so much good in the world is a special opportunity for us to give back to communities similar to those we source from.”

    As a part of a Certified B Corporation, Raining Rose Promos has committed to high standards of business conduct. Through an independent audit, the company is evaluated for its support of employee and community well-being, supply chain responsibility, and climate-friendly practices. The commitment to donate 1% of profits to Heifer International is a way that Raining Rose Promos is working to balance business objectives with a positive impact on people and the planet.

    “We are grateful for Raining Rose Promos’ and its customers’ support of our work ending global hunger and poverty,” says Liz Ellis, corporate brand partnerships manager at Heifer International. “With the support of Raining Rose Promos and other like-minded organizations, Heifer International works with more than one million families around the world every year, helping them to build thriving communities with sustainable futures.”

  • 5 Feb 2022 4:10 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    On Monday The Magnet Group announced Linda Vollmer as the 2021 recipient of its Fran Ford Award, given annually to exceptional TMG teammates since 2018.

    Vollmer serves in order entry at the Missouri-based supplier.

    The award is bestowed based on nominations from colleagues who are described as friends and mentors displaying kindness and generosity, and who have participated in a volunteer capacity either inside or outside the promotional products industry during the calendar year of their nomination. 

    In describing why Vollmer was chosen, Aaron Gunderson, SVP Sales & Fran Ford Award Committee Chair, says “Linda embodies the outstanding characteristics that defined Fran, being a great friend, mentor, volunteer, passion for the company, kindness and generosity. Her commitment and dedication to her family, friends & TMG is second to none.”

    Included with the honor is a donation to Promotional Products Education Foundation (PPEF), a passion for Ford, who spent 40 years in the industry until his death in 2018.

  • 5 Feb 2022 2:41 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Prime Line®, the hard goods division of alphabroder, the leading supplier of branded apparel and accessories in North America, is pleased to announce the addition of two new retail brands to its already wide assortment of drinkware products: Under Armour Drinkware and Columbia Drinkware. This new offering, which is already live and in-stock at www.primeline.com, includes eight unique pieces.

    “These unique, Prime Line exclusive pieces, give us over 200 drinkware items.” Said Andrea Routzahn, Chief Merchant. Routzahn went on to say, “we know these retail brand names will serve to enhance any customer’s pitching process. Additionally, they pair well with our existing apparel line on the alphabroder side of our business.”

    Eric Levin, Executive Vice President, Decoration Operations, said: “Our Columbia drinkware has been so well received we have added new products and expanded our reach with the additional FOB point at our West Coast facility in Fresno, California. Offering East Coast (in Harrisburg) and West Coast options along with 4-color process imprinting (Vibtatec) makes the line a great option for those looking for quality branded drinkware.”

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