As SAAC moves forward in reinventing ourselves to continue supporting the vibrant, new members and organizations in our Southern California area, I love the idea of adding a column to our newsletter that reflects on the incredible people and impactful events that helped shape our organization. As a former SAAC president, I have the pleasure of kicking off this column, and it is my honor to do so.
I first attended a SAAC event back in 1982, the year I joined our industry as the “research boy” at the Walter W. Cribbins Company in Woodland Hills, California, working for Preshia Humecke. I quickly became involved with SAAC, serving on committees, taking photos at SAAC dinners, writing for the SAACTimes and helping with The SAAC Show in San Diego. Throughout the 1990s, I was the photographer for SAAC, taking shots with my trusty Canon SLR camera at every event and handing the film over to Joanne for processing and use in the newsletters. Later, for a year I worked as co-editor of the SAACTimes with Steve Tashman and served on more committees until eventually becoming SAAC President exactly 10 years ago.
When I look back on the many decades of service to SAAC and participation in so many wonderful events, I tried to focus on one memory that might crystalize my SAAC experience in this look-back article… and I came up with nothing. No single dinner, show or event came to mind—but what did come back to me, and what brings me the most personal value, are the many, many friendships that I developed in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s because of SAAC.
My very first week in the industry, back in May of 1982, I met multi-line rep Bob Collins, who took me under his wing, bought me a steak dinner at the White Horse Inn in Encino and introduced me to SAAC just before that summer SAAC show at the Town & Country at Hotel Circle in San Diego. Bob took me to meet Jim Smith, Eric Hirschman, Alex Krever, Neil Olinger, Cal Wofford and Bob Haynes—the great reps of SAAC and All Points West. Sadly, most are gone now, but the “Magic Man” Collins still, as ever, a road warrior.
So many of my closest industry friends ended up serving as SAAC president ahead of me, like Tommy Levin, Mikey Bistocchi, David Messe, Craig Spencer, Les Dorfman, Pattimo Lawrence and the great Steve Tashman and Bob Collins—all dear pals and trusted mentors, and all friendships formed weaved their way through SAAC. In more recent times, amazing people continued to enter my professional life via SAAC—wonderful industry pros like Lori Bolton-Herman, Craig Reese, Sarah DeBoer, Missy Kilpatrick, Steve Parker, Brian Padian and Angela Taylor. (If I seem like I’m name dropping, I am!)
Yes, for me SAAC is all about the people and the relationships, the ideas and the creativity, the connections and the friendships. I can never give back as much as I have received, but I’m trying. No matter where I worked, supplier or distributor, sales or management, the one constant has always been SAAC. I am eternally appreciative for my experiences with SAAC, and heartily encourage those who haven’t been around as long as I have to get involved and experience the camaraderie and support that SAAC brings to the fore.
Promotional Products Work! Week (PPW!W) continues as industry professionals at companies and organizations across the country celebrate the power of promotional products and the importance of working with the industry. Running May 13-17, the seventh annual PPW!W is an opportunity for businesses, professionals and organizations in the $24.7 billion promotional products industry to raise awareness on the value and effectiveness of the media.
Several of the industry’s regional associations are taking PPW!W’s message to their members. Among them, the Promotional Products Association Southwest is sponsoring an end-user golf tournament today at Coyote Ridge Golf Club in Carrollton, Texas. The tournament has drawn industry professionals from across the region as players and sponsors. During the tournament’s lunch break, PPAI Vice President of Business Development Alan Peterson delivered remarks on PPW!W and the strength of the industry in Texas. Among his comments, Peterson said, “This strength is a testament to the fact that promotional products work. They help marketers and advertisers get in touch with their employees, their clients and their customers like no other advertising medium. Promotional products help build brands, raise awareness, increase loyalty, support causes and even help save lives.”
Also, as part of PPW!W, the Gold Coast Promotional Products Association (GCPPA) teamed up with Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, to engage with college-level marketing students to introduce them to the industry, so they are aware and knowledgeable of promotional products before entering the marketplace. Tanesha Anderson, the GCPPA board secretary and membership chair, presented to MBA marketing students in the Integrated Marketing Communications class and to undergraduate marketing students in the Marketing Research class. She says, “During both presentations the students were engaging and had a lot of questions about the industry and projects that were being worked on. There were a few students who had entrepreneurial ambitions and wanted advice on finding the right partners to work with and wanted to find out about working with domestic vendors versus buying direct overseas.”
GCPPA also shared gift bags with students filled with products from IMAGEN Brands and Goldstar Pens.
Industry companies are also stepping up for PPW!W. Among them is distributor HALO Branded Solutions, where employees are sporting custom sunglasses for the event to draw attention to its message and share it with their clients. Distributor AIA treated its staff to branded cookies at the start of the week, along with games of Promo Bingo. And industry businesses across the country are highlighting the week and its message in a wide variety of ways on social media.
Throughout PPW!W, PPAI is hosting local Association members at its Irving, Texas, headquarters. Complete with a red carpet, guests are joining PPAI for lunch and to learn more about the Association and the industry’s resouces. Several have also joined PPAI in a series of live videos for Facebook, sharing their experiences in the industry and their perspectives on the power of promotional products.
PPW!W is built on five pillars that exemplify ways PPAI member companies and others can speak up for the promotional products industry and take part in this year’s program, and the fourth pillar calls on the industry to share its impact with legislators, politicians and government officials. Industry professionals are doing that this week on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. as part of PPAI’s Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.)., but it can be done closer to home, too. This week, David Hawes, MAS+, with Geiger, met with Clara Severson, political director for Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN), to discuss how the industry impacts Minnesota's economy with $1.7 billion in annual revenue, more than 20,000 jobs and 947 companies, 95 percent of which are small businesses.
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