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HPPA Industry News

  • 5 Feb 2022 2:34 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 1:37 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    The Pro Towels Family of Companies, including Pro Towels and Superior Decorating is pleased to announce the launch of Palmetto Blanket Company. The Palmetto Blanket Company brings a sophisticated southern charm that provides fashionable blankets and throws for every occasion. Whether you’re traveling by air or by boat, cozying up by the fire or camping with family, Palmetto Blanket Company provides luxury, and comfort all year round. “Southern Charm and elegance are what the Palmetto Blanket Company is all about. “– Kevin Nord President of Pro Towels.

    The Palmetto Blanket Company will continue to make a significant impact on the communities in South Carolina with its giveback program. For every 20 blankets sold, Palmetto Blanket Company has pledged to donate one blanket to a charitable organization in the state of South Carolina. We have current partnerships with the local humane societies and shelters and have donated over $10,000 worth of blankets to The Humane Society of Greenwood and The Greater Abbeville Humane Society, amongst many other organizations.

    To learn more about Palmetto Blanket Company and its giveback program please visit www.protowels.com/
  • 3 Feb 2022 8:09 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Charles River Apparel recently donated 1,500 face masks to Community Captains, a program launched last fall by the New England Patriots Foundation in partnership with Bank of America. The Sharon, Massachusetts-based supplier gifted more than $30,000 worth of Viromasks, a reusable fabric face covering, to Community Captains.

    The Community Captains program was established to build stronger connections with local nonprofits to maximize their impact, and over the next two years, the New England Patriots Foundation and Bank of America will work closely with six organizations to gain a deeper understanding of their mission and help them serve the community most effectively.

    “This new charitable partnership with Bank of America allows us to strengthen our relationships with six local nonprofits that are committed to building stronger New England communities,” says Josh Kraft, president of the New England Patriots Foundation. “The program is all about collaboration, so to have our good friends at Charles River Apparel recognize the value of this initiative and to offer their support to our six Community Captains is humbling.”

    Charles River Apparel’s donation will be distributed to all six Community Captains: Abby’s House in Worcester; La Colaborativa in Chelsea; the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts in Hatfield; Girls, Inc. of the Valley in Holyoke; Sojourner House in Providence, and UTEC in Lowell. In June 2020, Charles River Apparel teamed up with the New England Patriots Foundation and Revolution Charitable Foundation to donate 1,900 pieces of clothing to foster families, homeless shelters, and domestic violence prevention organizations in the area.

    “We are thrilled to partner once more with the New England Patriots Foundation and support their latest program,” says Barry Lipsett, president and CEO of Charles River Apparel. “We know how essential these items are for nonprofits, and we feel honored to be able to help them continue providing key services safely during the pandemic.”

  • 3 Feb 2022 8:07 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    In football terms, the Washington brand has become a personal foul in recent years. The club, which joined the National Football League in 1932 and on Wednesday announces its new team name, Washington Commanders, hopes that the rebranding will usher in a rally.

    In the summer of 2020, only as major corporate sponsors such as FedEx threatened to leave the team, Washington dropped its outdated and offensive former name. That same year, a scandal involving sexist and demeaning treatment of the team’s cheerleaders began to unfold, and ultimately ensnarled team owner Daniel Snyder. The team’s stadium is decrepit—in an incident this past season, a railing collapse nearly took out rival quarterback Jalen Hurts after a game against Philadelphia. And there’s the fact Washington also has only been to the playoffs five times this century, and not to a Super Bowl or even a conference championship game since 1991.

    Time for a rebrand, indeed. In announcing the new name, uniform and logo, Washington aimed for a tone that honored its once proud past while striking hope for the future. The message: One legacy. One unified future.

    During the two-season interim when the club went by the generic moniker Washington Football Team, its helmet logo was a stylized W. The W stays as part of club insignia but has been altered to reflect the Commanders branding. A unique brand element within the NFL, Washington also unveiled a crest symbol that features core elements of the team’s identity and the franchise’s defining moments. 

    According to a press release, “The slanted elements of the stripes bordering the "W" are inspired by military rank insignia, helping to infuse the familiar mark with elements of the team's new identity. In the word mark, "WASHINGTON" introduces the tall and proud letters of the team's name. The cuts of the "C" lead the eye across the mark and the two stripes that frame the name pay homage to the D.C. flag and give the mark a sense of power and authority.”

    New merchandise went on sale in the team store at FedEx Field and online Wednesday morning. New merchandise will include t-shirts, long-sleeve shirts, sweatshirts for men, women and children, and hats.

    Washington had undergone an extensive process to choose its new team name and identity. In September, the team’s co-CEO Tanya Snyder announced eight finalists for the new name: Armada, Presidents, Brigade, Red Hogs, Commanders, RedWolves, Defenders and Football Team.

    Whether the new name will reverse the reputation of the franchise remains to be seen—the Commanders still have work to do in repairing their off-the-field image, as well as on-field product. Washington finished 7-10, third place in the NFC East this season.

  • 3 Feb 2022 8:03 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    The Buffalo Wild Wings labeled cup dances across a desk—on top of a book, next to some old papers—then jumps to the floor. Moving with the flick of a fingerprint or the slight cocking of the wrist, it is like magic or a vision of the future. The team who developed the augmented reality tool displaying the cup believes that future is now.

    Swagar, announced by SnugZ USA (PPAI 112982, S11) in January, works similarly to the smartphone game Pokémon GO, try-it-on-virtually applications deployed by retailers such as Warby Parker, or even puppy dog filters often seen on social media stories. Looking through a smartphone’s camera, one can view a branded product in the ambient environment to get a feel for its size and quality when one is not on hand.

    It’s not the first time a promotional products supplier has dabbled in augmented reality (AR), but SnugZ hopes it’s the tool that will stick.

    “I didn’t want it to come off as a marketing gimmick,” says Jeff Anderton, director of content for SnugZ, who led the creation of the tool. “This really has value and utility outside of the wow factor. We want this to be seen as a useful tool that can help in the actual doing of business to show that product better than you could before.

    “I think at the end of the day, this will be a tool that we look back on and say ‘What did we do before this?’”

    Swagar was demonstrated for distributors in Las Vegas at The PPAI Expo, Jan. 10-13. Products are available for display via the supplier’s online catalogue in true AR on smartphones or as moveable 3D displays when viewed on a desktop.

    The tool’s initial rollout includes over 20 products, largely from SnugZ USA’s drinkware line, and the company plans to add more products and customization capabilities over time so that a distributor might be able to show a client how a logo will look on a product that is still being conceived.

    The idea was kicked around at SnugZ’ West Jordan, Utah, headquarters for years, picking up steam as technology evolved even through the last year and the team modeled ways AR could be made applicable to branded merchandise.

    From the standpoint of SnugZ’ own brand within the promotional products industry, Vice President of Marketing Brandon Brown says it was important to be early to market in AR, even before it is widely used by the public, citing brand names like ChapStick or Kleenex that are synonymous with the products they sell.

    “Even though we may not have all of our bells and whistles rolled out right now, being first to market with these 20 or so products definitely gives us that part of it,” Brown says. “From a financial and ROI standpoint, those are always difficult questions. The ability for us to have this as a differentiator, to have this be another sales tool… to provide something that is a memorable experience, we’re going to eventually stand out in a crowded space.”

    When the decision to go forward was made, SnugZ went to work building out the virtual “objects,” an intensive process that begins with creating digital 3D models and layering textures to make the products appear as photorealistic as possible. All of the virtual models are created in-house by Anderton.

    “The culture of SnugZ, the creative freedom, the trust put into the marketing department, is the reason I’m here,” Anderton says. “They don’t just let us do it, but then they support it after the fact.”

    Brown credits CEO Brandon Mackay, MAS, for creating a culture of risk-taking, with backup from Brittany David, MAS+, the chief revenue officer, as well as SnugZ’ sales team.

    The release of Swagar is only one of SnugZ’ major plays recently; in December, it announced the acquisition of California-based Sweda Company (PPAI 113914, S11).

    David says the decision to move forward with Swagar was shaped in large part by increasing digital uptake by consumers during the pandemic.

    “COVID has opened the door for a lot more interactions virtually,” she says. “How do you get product or engage with people in an online platform when you’re not person to person? A big thing about our industry is touching and feeling samples or seeing the quality of materials. How can you try to replicate that so people can actually sample something virtually that isn’t through the normal lens of a website or a PDF? And what’s the cool factor?”

    A major part of the appeal, David says, was to create a tool for SnugZ’ distributor customers, something they can use for their businesses to stand out in the minds of end buyers.

    “It’s something different,” she says. “How do you make promotional products sexy and create an experience people are talking about? So far we consider it successful.”

  • 27 Jan 2022 9:23 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Outdoor Cap announced today that it has promoted current chief sales officer, Jeanelle Harris, MBA, to president of the Bentonville, Arkansas, supplier, effective immediately. She succeeds Jim Haworth who announced his upcoming departure from Outdoor Cap to act as executive chairman to NOW Diagnostics.

    Harris has served in multiple leadership roles throughout her 17-year career in the consumer products industry, having joined Outdoor Cap in 2019 as the senior vice president of retail sales, before being named chief sales officer in 2021. Prior to joining Outdoor Cap, she spent 14 years at Olivet International where she was an executive vice president overseeing sales and operations and president of its sustainable subsidiary, Ecotech. In her time at Outdoor Cap, she has been responsible for the restructuring of the sales, supply chain and customer success departments, reorganizing them to accelerate sales, promote collaboration and prioritize the customer experience.

    “Outdoor Cap is extremely fortunate to have had someone of Jeanelle’ s capacity and expertise within our organization prepared to take on this role. I know she looks forward to getting started, and I am excited for the energy and vision she will bring to the total organization,” says Outdoor Cap Founder and current Chairman Paul Mahan in an announcement to employees. “I am thankful for Jim’s contributions to Outdoor Cap. He has been instrumental to expansion during his tenure, helped steady our company through a very difficult time in the world, and for that I will always be grateful. I wish him the best in his future endeavors, professionally and personally."

    Haworth says, “I’m proud of the way Outdoor Cap and the team here have responded to the challenges of the past couple years and thrived under unprecedented circumstances that came our way during my time here. Jeanelle has proven herself to be an incredible asset to Outdoor Cap and I look forward to seeing where she leads this organization in the coming years.”

    Harris says, “I am humbled by the opportunity to walk alongside the Outdoor Cap teams as we lead forward based on a strong foundation set by Mr. Mahan and a trajectory of growth set in motion by Jim Haworth. I’m excited and grateful for the opportunity to serve our customers in this elevated capacity.”

  • 27 Jan 2022 6:16 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    SnugZ USA has introduced an augmented reality (AR) product experience, Swagar. The West Jordan, Utah-based supplier’s Swagar product experience allows users to view and interact with digital objects in the real world through a smartphone or tablet without an app or additional download. With the scan of a QR code with the phone’s native camera, customers are able to view the product in a three-dimensional space and then enter into a real-life AR environment to view and share. The software works with iOS and Android phones and tablets.

    ”We know AR is coming. Being the first to market was important as we’ve been able to set the stage on how it’s utilized, marketed and branded,” says Jeff Anderton, director of content. “I strongly believe the future of promo will be a blend of physical product with digital experiences. We are continually striving to be a leader in intelligent innovations and know our new suite of Swagar sales tools will help differentiate our distributors from their competition. And this is only the beginning.”

    Swagar is live on the company’s website and is available for 20 products with plans to expand product offering extensively over the next couple months.

  • 19 Jan 2022 2:53 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Last week at its booth on The PPAI Expo show floor, supplier Sweda celebrated another banner year of support for the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) with a $115,000 donation. On January 11, Sweda Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Kellie Claudio presented Julie Soares, warrior support/corporate partnerships/ resource development manager for the WWP, and Dan Nevins, Basecamp® and WWP Brand Ambassador, with the donation surrounded by Sweda and Snugz USA team members, distributors and friends. To date, Sweda has donated more than $285,000 in money and product to support the WWP, helping over 1 million veterans reclaim their lives and bring independence back to the nation’s most severely wounded.

    Nevins, an Iraq war veteran and double amputee, conducts retreats all over the country for veterans and their families. A nationally recognized yoga master and motivational speaker, Nevins shares his practice with warriors giving them a safe space to heal mentally and spiritually. He is also the official brand ambassador for Basecamp, a Sweda adventure brand featuring products like backpacks, bear-tested coolers, drinkware, multi-tools, weatherproof Bluetooth speakers, hammocks and tents.

    Wounded Warrior Project is a charity and veterans service organization that offers a variety of programs, services and events for wounded veterans of the military actions following September 11, 2001. It operates as a nonprofit 501 organization.

    Earlier this month, it was announced that Sweda had been acquired by West Jordan, Utah-based supplier SnugZ USA (PPAI 112982, S11). SnugZ USA President and CEO Brandon Mackay, MAS, will serve as CEO of the combined company while Jim Hagan will stay on as president of Sweda. Business is expected to be “as usual” for both companies.

  • 13 Jan 2022 11:30 AM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Cintas Corporation has been named to Newsweek’s 2022 America’s Most Responsible Companies list. The magazine’s corporate social responsibility ranking is based on a “holistic view of corporate responsibility” and considers equally businesses’ environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) rankings.

    “We believe that ESG is central to Cintas and it’s influenced our sustainable business model since our company’s origins during the Great Depression,” says Todd Schneider, Cintas president and CEO. “Environmental, social and governance concepts are engrained in our company and we appreciate the recognition for our recent performance in these areas.

    The 2022 edition of the list marks the company’s debut on Newsweek’s third-annual rankings, which began in 2020. Cintas was selected for Newsweek’s list following a four-phase review of the 2,000 largest public companies in the U.S.

    “Cintas has made a tremendous effort to reduce our environmental impact; foster an inclusive, supportive atmosphere for our employee-partners; and establish ourselves as a moral and ethical company,” adds Schneider. “Our corporate culture is based on doing what’s right and using positive discontent to push ourselves to be better. Being recognized for our success to date is certainly gratifying, but we also acknowledge that we must continue to challenge ourselves to make stronger impacts in these areas while continuing to do so in an admirable way.”

  • 11 Jan 2022 1:11 PM | Cassondra Franze (Administrator)

    Monday evening, during the Chair’s Leadership Dinner at The PPAI Expo in Las Vegas, PPAI awarded its highest honor, induction into the Hall of Fame, to Sherri C. Lennarson, MAS, retired senior vice president of business development at Bankers Advertising Company and Cliff Quicksell, MAS+, president of Cliff Quicksell Associates.

    The annual award gives permanent recognition to individuals selected for their generous and monumental contributions of time and talent to the Association and industry. Eighty-nine individuals have previously been inducted into the Hall of Fame since its formation in 1977.

    In addition to the Hall of Fame Awards, PPAI also presented its H. Ted Olson Humanitarian Award to Peter Hirsch, MAS, president of Hirsch Gift, and its Distinguished Service Award to Brandon Mackay, MAS, president of SnugZ USA and David Regan, MAS, vice president of sales and marketing at The Vernon Company.

    Also celebrated posthumously at the event were the 2022 recipients of PPAI’s Promotional Products Pioneers with trophies provided by supplier Bruce Fox. Those honored were Tom Constantino, who formed Noteworthy Co. in 1954, Ronald L. Cook of Glass Graphics and Edward Halperin of Perin Product Corp. Since 2016, the program has honored individuals whose business acumen or technological skill played a key role in the advancement of the promotional products industry.

    Since The PPAI Expo 2021 was not held, the dinner also marked the first opportunity for in-person recognition of PPAI’s 2021 award winners. Each award winner was recognized, including Hall of Fame recipient Teresa Moisant, MAS; Humanitarian Award recipient Bob Waldorf, CAS; and Distinguished Service Award recipient Mark Ables, MAS. Ables was on hand to thank PPAI again for the recognition.

    Held in the ballroom of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, the elegantly appointed occasion drew an influential crowd of who’s who among industry and business leaders, volunteers, former recipients and friends and family of this year’s winners. PPAI’s Chair Todd Pottebaum, MAS, was the evening’s master of ceremonies.

    “Volunteering brings many levels of satisfaction. One opportunity to volunteer almost always leads to another,” Sherri Lennarson said in accepting the Hall of Fame trophy crafted by St Regis Group and presented by Anne Stone, CAE, PPAI’s director of advocacy, engagement and education.

    “Universally, we must ask ourselves, if not me, then who? And if not now, then when? I believe each of us is prepared and ready to serve for such a time as this. And to quote lyrics from the musical Wicked, ‘People come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn, and we are led to those who help us most to grow, if we let them and help them in return.’ I’m who I am today because of you—the countless industry peers and friends, members, volunteers and staff who have indeed helped me to grow. You’ve left a handprint on my heart.”

    Lennarson began her career nearly 40 years ago with Bankers Advertising Company and went on to lead the company as president, along with key leadership roles with PPAI, including board chair in 2009. Read more about Lennarson’s career and contributions in PPB’s January issue.

    Paul Kiewiet, MAS+, a previous Hall of Fame inductee and Cliff Quicksell’s nominator, presented the award to honor his friend’s nearly four decades of service on both sides of the industry as well as numerous contributions as an industry speaker and consultant. Read more about Quicksell in PPB’s January issue. During his acceptance, Quicksell spoke about why he volunteers and thanked the many who helped him along the way. “One day, I read a quote by Lily Tomlin where she said, ‘I always wondered why someone didn’t do something about that, and then I realized, I am someone.’ That quote had an amazing impact on me. I wanted to become an agent of change, a disruptor, and I made the conscious decision, at that point, to start giving back, so I can help people succeed.

    “I believe we can do something to make change happen by helping others succeed. It is an overall game changer—for our industry, for the individual and it lifts us up, too,” Quicksell said.

    The H. Ted Olson Humanitarian Award and its custom trophy by Visions were presented to recipient Peter Hirsch, MAS, by nominator Leslie Roark, CAS, president of PromoPros, in recognition of his passionate commitment and generous contributions to his community and industry, especially during times of great need. Read more about Hirsch in PPB’s December issue.

    PPAI’s Distinguished Service Award recognizes individuals who give back to PPAI and the industry by volunteering their time and talent. This year’s recognition of Brandon Mackay, MAS, and David Regan, MAS, reiterated the value and importance of volunteers to PPAI’s success.

    Eric Ekstrand, MAS, regional VP at HALO and Mackay’s nominator, introduced Mackay, noting his extensive volunteer commitment as a former member of PPAI’s board of directors and his service on numerous committees including the Terminology, Technology and Standards Committee and the Suppliers Committee, among many other activities.

    Nominator Chris Vernon, MAS, chairman/CEO of The Vernon Company, presented the honor to David Regan, MAS, to recognize his many years of selfless volunteerism on multiple PPAI committees including the Leadership Advisory Committee, Distributors Committee and as a member of the North American Leadership Conference Workgroup, as well for his involvement in PPAI’s legislative activity and as a frequent industry speaker and presenter. Regan could not be in Las Vegas but gratefully accepted the award via a pre-recorded video.

    Both individuals received a custom trophy provided by St Regis Group. Read more about the contributions of both Distinguished Service Award recipients in PPB’s March issue.

    The Chair’s Leadership Dinner was also the setting to commemorate the landmark PPAI membership anniversaries of 79 industry companies with the presentation of PPAI’s Milestone Awards.

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