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  • September 16, 2019 7:20 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    Teamwork in the workplace begins with great leadership. Leaders must know how to encourage their teams to work together and achieve their goals. To inspire this kind of unity and to help team members form bonds, many managers look to team-building activities.

    Studies show that team bonding may be one of the best investments an organization can make. Bonding activities enhance overall productivity, positively impact leadership skills and customer focus, and can even boost the bottom line.

    However, Marcel Schwantes, a speaker, executive coach and podcaster, says that company bonding can be less effective if certain guidelines aren't met. That's why it's important to know the difference between team-building activities that employees are forced to do and those they actually want to do.

    For a closer look at these activities, software company Nulab surveyed 1,000 full-time employees to learn which activities tend to get employees the most excited and their value as long-term investments. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, Schwantes provides an overview of the survey results and how leaders can inspire great teamwork.

    Bring in the food. Nothing brings people together quite like food, says Schwantes, and the same was certainly true among full-time employees polled for this study. Eighty-eight percent of team-bonding exercises included food in some capacity (such as a potluck or team lunches), and in nearly half of examples identified, alcohol was also present for company get-togethers. The second-most popular team-building exercises revolved around holiday events (78%) and gift exchanges (58%). Interestingly, potlucks or company lunches were considered some of the most effective (62%) and most valuable (63%) team-building activities.

    Appeal to your employees' passions. Schwantes reports that the study found volunteer days were considered the most effective and valuable team-building activities, despite being significantly less common than food or holiday events. Only one in five full-time employees had participated in a company retreat, although they were nearly as effective and valuable for team building as volunteering. The secret to company success might not be in measuring employee engagement, but finding opportunities to stoke employees' passions. Research on corporate volunteer and giving programs found that not only do these events help build better relationships among co-workers, but also they give team members an opportunity to engage with organizations they're genuinely passionate about.

    Make team bonding optional. According to the survey, full-time employees were 3.6 times more likely to enjoy team bonding that was optional rather than mandatory. More than half of employees also acknowledged always participating in optional team-bonding exercises offered by their company.

    Make team bonding enjoyable. Schwantes says that crafting enjoyable experiences that employees want to attend may not come easily to some company leaders, but the results can be invaluable. When employees know the purpose of the activity and enjoy the event, they may see a boost in their peer relationships, their ability to communicate effectively and their overall enjoyment.

    While questions surrounding productivity still exist, many employees clearly identified the perks of team bonding. Around 96 percent cited having better relationships with their colleagues, followed by collaboration and open dialogue. To inspire better teamwork at your organization, consider the points above.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: Marcel Schwantes is a speaker, executive coach, podcaster and syndicated columnist drawing more than a million readers per month worldwide. Schwantes is the host of the popular Love in Action podcast.

    This article was originally published in PCT. Used with permission from PPAI.

  • September 16, 2019 7:15 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    John Gautsche

    Account Executive/Sales

    Apogee Commemoratives, Inc.



    What do you like best about your company?

    • I’m no dummy, the owner John Zieska (I think he might read this). Beyond that, everybody’s willingness to help each other. It is an amazing group of people at Apogee. I am super lucky to be part of it.
    How were you introduced to the promotional products industry?
    • I’ve known John Zieska for long time and one day he said, “You’d be great at this job.” A couple weeks later he showed me around the office. Looking back, he did a terrible job explaining everything.
    If you had to pick one, what is your favorite promotional product?
    • Those fancy metal insulated outdoor wine glasses. I score big points with my wife when I bring those home from a show.

    Tell us something about you that most people may not know

    • I am super slow at filling out questioners and a terribel spellar.


  • September 16, 2019 7:11 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    Addison Keane

    Owner

    Keane Promotional Products


    What do you like best about your company? 
    • I could give the generic answer “that I love helping companies grow their brand”. I find the process of planning and executing a successful campaign is what I love the most. I get engrossed in creating a custom item that resonates the message an organization is trying to leave in the minds of its employees, business partners, investors or consumers.
    How were you introduced to the promotional products industry? 
    • In my previous life as a Talent Acquisition Manager, I purchased tons of promotional items for our job fairs; as well as, quarterly awards and plaques for recruiters and staff. My company was downsizing and I was offered a package to take early retirement. I ran out the door. I traveled for a couple of years but after returning home I realized I was bored and wanted do something. One day I was cleaning out some rooms in my house and discovered I had about 30 company logoed T-shirts, 15 embroidered sweatshirts, assorted polos, jackets, etc. and every promotional item given out at our service awards, job fairs, and employee recognition events you could think of. I had about 200 pieces going back about 15 years. I had an aha moment. Why not check this industry out, I thought? Here I am.
    If you had to pick one, what is your favorite promotional product? 
    • My favorite is the collapsible displays and banners. I am a firm believer in, if you want to get noticed and attract people to you booth, you have to be the 800 pound gorilla in the room. I was the Talent Acquisition Manager for a large hospital network and we had to compete for talent against other large hospital systems. We wanted to be the employer of choice at every job fair we did. And we were… but, we had a massive display. I remember the man-power and time it took to get that huge exhibit put together for a 2 day job fair. It took 5 people, 8 hours, an instruction sheet with drawings, assortment of tools, wire ties, tears and a few ruffled feathers to get that display up and ready. Not fun. Today the collapsible displays and banners are fabulous. One or two people – BAM! It’s up. You are looking sharp and ready to talk to people.
    Tell us something about you that most people may not know. 
    • I am a former Staff Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps and I was part of the Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard. My horse was named Gladys Puller.
  • September 16, 2019 7:06 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)


    The future of promotional products lies largely in the hands of the next generation. In the coming years, it is up to the younger cohorts to harness, leverage and promote brands’ continued use of promo in marketing strategies to strengthen company presence and enhance ROI. It’s Millennials, Gen Z and those who follow who will educate businesses about the wide uses, returns and impressions associated with promo, and it is they who will continue market research into effective advertising, and how promo impacts the consumer experience.

    Perhaps things will change in the future, but in this growing age of technology, promo continues to provide the touch (literally) and sensory experience that consumers look for. To prepare for ongoing success in future decades, suppliers, distributors and business services companies must be working now to pass their knowledge and experience into the waiting hands of the next generation.

    SPARK, PPAI’s annual conference catering to young professionals in the promotional products industry, is designed to do just that. Providing networking opportunities, education about top-of-mind industry topics, discussions of issues facing the promo industry and opportunities to consider new strategies to  strengthen one’s efficiency and accountability, this year’s SPARK, held July 17-19 in Charlotte, North Carolina, attracted 67 attendees, 39 who were first-timers.

    Throughout the conference, industry-related questions, concerns and challenges were discussed from the perspective of young professionals, underscoring the need for companies (and their policies) to remain fluid and open to change in order to meet consumers’ and clients’ needs, and to remain relevant.

    To better understand the perspective of some of the industry’s youngest professionals, PPB asked select SPARK attendees to answer three questions about their role in promo, and how their companies can better prepare for the future.

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    Content strategist, Cap America, Inc., Fredericktown, Missouri
    Years in the industry: 2
    Years attending SPARK: first-time attendee

    How would you describe your job in the industry to your peers? As a content strategist, I help Cap  America’s marketing team create and deliver content through a multitude of platforms—social media, email, industry publications, etc.

    How do you think companies can better attract and retain Millennial and Gen Z employees? I think a very important part of attracting and maintaining employees from the younger generation is allowing and even encouraging individualism—I’ve never met anyone my age or younger who was excited to wear a uniform. I love that this industry doesn’t turn its nose up at tattoos, piercings, bright hair colors and all the other ways that the younger generations have chosen to individualize ourselves. We embrace our differences and rather than being a distraction in the workplace, they are actually a way to bring us together and allow our creativity to develop and flow.

    What do you think is the biggest issue facing the promotional products industry this year, and why? I think one of the biggest issues facing the industry is the recent tariffs. Prices are rising and because of that, demand is dwindling and many suppliers and distributors are really feeling the burn of this. For companies that are well-established enough to survive these turbulent times, the constant turmoil and uncertainty creates unwanted headaches and distracts us from other important responsibilities we would rather be focusing on. For smaller, less established companies, these tariffs could be the death of them.

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    Sales specialist, Gill Studios, Inc., Lenexa, Kansas
    Years in the industry: 1
    Years attending SPARK: first-time attendee

    How would you describe your job in the industry to your peers? I explain my job to my peers and friends as a sales rep for a promotional printing company. I always make sure to let them know the founder of my company actually invented the bumper sticker. This usually helps them understand what kind of printing we do—and it’s a fun trivia fact.

    How do you think companies can better attract and retain Millennial and Gen Z employees? There are a few ways I know would have worked for me personally, as a young Millennial, including attending career fairs and being more visible online. However, there are two things we talked about in one of the SPARK workshops that I think would help attract younger employees to our industry. First, knowing that our industry, companies and cultures care about their social responsibility. For me, this was a deciding factor when I was picking which company I wanted to work for right out of college. It meant a lot to me that the company I worked for had a purpose and strived to make an impact on their community and/or environment. Along those same lines, the second aspect I know is very attractive to me, and I think a lot of Millennials would agree, is having the environmental impact of their business front of mind. This goes back to social responsibility, but I think it can also stand alone. I know my peers and I hold a lot of importance in products that are organic, reusable and green. So working for an industry that has the environment set as a priority is a huge selling point for a lot of people, and I think will continue to be the case, as society continues to move away from one-time-use products.

    What do you think is the biggest issue facing the promotional products industry this year, and why? I think the biggest problem facing the promotional products industry, including my company as a supplier, is finding a way to provide the same quality of service and product in a shorter amount of time. We have continuously found that customers need their products faster and faster, which has been a trend forever. However, now it’s getting to the point of trying to find a same-day production solution, where just a couple of years ago the same kind of product would have had a 10-working day production. Technology is a great tool at our disposal, but it will take more than technology to find a resolution. It will take the industry working together as a whole, suppliers and distributors, to find ways to make the impossible possible.

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    National sales representative, Raining Rose, Inc., Cedar Rapids, Iowa
    Years in the industry: 1
    Years attending SPARK: first-time attendee

    How would you describe your job in the industry to your peers? My job as a national sales rep is to be an advocate to our customers. I am here to listen to their needs and maybe some obstacles they are facing, and help to develop a solution for them to present to their customers. As an advocate, we are well-versed in the markets they are working with so we can be a reliable resource when they need ideas/applications. I am not just a product pusher; I am an educator, a subject matter expert within our niche line and can deep dive into our products so our customers can feel confident with the products they are presenting. The best part of being an advocate is that I also learn from our customers from the stories and experiences they share, which then helps with building the relationship, as it isn’t one-sided. It also helps develop solutions for other customers facing similar issues.

    How do you think companies can better attract and retain Millennial and Gen Z employees? I think companies first have to take a look at what is important to them. What are their core values? What is their purpose? Then develop a plan surrounding those core values and their needs. At times companies try to do what their neighbors are doing and it fails because they aren’t being true to themselves. From there, poll your employees, go to local colleges, maybe take a look at top local  companies—ask them what they are looking for in an employer and what is needed to ensure they stay with a company. Dive into the information and then see what follows the core values/purpose, see what can be implemented immediately or what might need a long-term plan. Sometimes it is as easy as planning food days, or it could go to developing a voluntary time-off policy because there wasn’t one in place.

    What do you think is the biggest issue facing the promotional products industry this year, and why? I think the biggest issue is sustainability and the environment. We have the issue with the ban on plastics and suppliers needing to find alternative resources, but we also have the issue where if a supplier or distributor isn’t willing to make the necessary changes to become more sustainable or develop a giveback program, customers will not use them. When an item is impactful beyond its use, it resonates with customers; there is a story behind it and they are more apt to use it.

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    Marketing coordinator, Terry Town, San Diego, California
    Years in the industry: 4
    Years attending SPARK: 2

    How would you describe your job in the industry to your peers? I usually have a blast trying to explain what it is we do, exactly, in our industry to my friends and outsiders who may have no idea that we even exist. I like to start off with what we specifically do at Terry Town, which is print and decorate custom beach towels, blankets and spa/home accessories. Then I move onto the bigger picture, where I like to explain the supplier-distributor relationship and how both are mutually beneficial to each other within our little promo ecosystem. As suppliers, we not only provide the products our distributors sell, but we supply the idea: a somewhat tangible message that can be utilized to bring together people from all walks of life. We like to offer more than just a promotional product. We offer success stories of strengthened relationships and a renewed sense of community. We’re all in this together and being able to foster new partnerships from supplier to distributor and distributor to end user is one of the best feelings in the world.

    How do you think companies can better attract and retain Millennial and Gen Z employees? You’ve got to sell your company in the best light possible and follow through on those promises. Create a company culture that not only fosters hard-working individuals, but those who understand the nature and scope of how our industry operates as well. What we do is fun, and doesn’t have the stress and pressure that other industries may experience. Have a relaxed, but professional approach when it comes to attracting the next generation, and be open and willing to change. Being able to constantly ask, “How can we improve?” will get those new hires of the next gen thinking in the mindset of, “I’m here to shake things up.”

    What do you think is the biggest issue facing the promotional products industry this year, and why? Right now we are in a weird limbo stage where the generation of those who helped shape the industry with a solid foundation [is working with] those who are just getting their feet wet right out of university. You’re going to have a push-pull factor from every direction in terms of what new products will make their way into our catalogs, how marketing will be affected by new technologies and how our entire industry will strive for social responsibility. But it’s not so much a “them against us;” the way I like to see it is more of a friendly challenge among colleagues who you still wouldn’t mind sharing a beer with after a long day on the trade-show floor. Striving for change is comforting. Complacency is scary.

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    Senior account executive, SAGE, Addison, Texas
    Years in the industry: 6
    Years attending SPARK: 3 (second year in the SPARK workgroup)

    How would you describe your job in the industry to your peers? I am a senior sales associate and account manager for the leading technology provider in the promotional products industry. I work with hundreds of promotional product distributors around the country to streamline their business processes using a combination of our tools, such as product research, digital presentations, order management, CRM and websites.

    How do you think companies can better attract and retain Millennial and Gen Z employees? I think one of the best ways companies can attract and retain younger generational employees is acknowledging and empowering some of the values those generations hold in high regard. Salary and benefits, while important, are not the single-most important driving force. Employee engagement, giving them a voice with company decisions, corporate social responsibility, providing mentorship and growth opportunities and a willingness to embrace change, both technological and otherwise, are all factors that will influence the younger generations.

    What do you think is the biggest issue facing the promotional products industry this year, and why? There are a number of issues that are facing our industry: globalization, generational workforce changes, tariffs, etc., but I feel the most prevalent is technological and the willingness to embrace pending advancements. Working as a technology provider provides me with a unique perspective, and the unfortunate truth is many distributors and suppliers (industry-wise and individually) are unwilling or uninformed to adapt to any sort of change. So much has already advanced in the last 10 years.  Companies and individuals that continue to embrace those advancements, push the envelope and are willing to also confront failure, are the ones that are going to be successful.  Those that continue to utilize the same old tools and techniques because it’s what has worked in the past, will see the industry, and business as a whole, pass them by.

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    President, Perfect Promotions & More, Inc., Apex, North Carolina
    Years in the industry: 11
    Years attending SPARK: 3 (first year in the SPARK workgroup)

    How would you describe your job in the industry to your peers? Most jobs you can explain in a few short words or with a title that everyone can relate to. With promotional products, that’s not the case, so I typically explain it through examples. My go-to is: “I work for a marketing agency where our marketing medium is product. We take client events, objectives and problems and turn them into fun product solutions.” I’ll then look around the room and say, “See those bags and that t-shirt over there? Those are examples of the types of products we can help you create for your events and marketing teams.” The on-the-fly examples always help explain what we do.

    How do you think companies can better attract and retain Millennial and Gen Z employees? We have recently hired and are consulting to hire young employees into our company. It is clear that one of the biggest advantages you can provide the younger generation of talent is a clear career path or career path options. Most of this new generation will not be content with the same routine of work, day in and day out, and will look for other workplaces if they do not feel the work they are doing can help them advance in their careers and lives. We also pay attention to the company culture, providing fun team activities, incentives, fun work space—doing things like Spirit Week, holiday parties, community service projects, etc. Having fun in the place you spend the most time of your day is vital.

    What do you think is the biggest issue facing the promotional products industry this year, and why? If it’s just for 2019, there has been no greater impact than tariffs. The increase in pricing and the uncertainty in costs have caused the workflow process to slow down. We have to double- and triple-check pricing for orders that have already been quoted and deal with the constant fluctuation of costs. I don’t think it will truly impact overall sales for us, but I do think it is changing the types of products that are purchased. For example, if the budget my client had was $10 per piece, their budget does not necessarily change with the tariffs, but the types of products they can purchase for $10 may adjust.  

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    Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.

    This article was originally published in PPB Magazine. Used with permission from PPAI.

  • August 23, 2019 8:51 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)


    The Specialty Advertising Association of California’s (SAAC) annual SAAC Expo brought the promotional products industry to San Diego, California, earlier this month. Held August 6-8 at the San Diego Convention Center, the SAAC Expo drew more than 700 attendees to experience its 200-exhibitor trade show, networking and professional development opportunities.

    “I feel honored to have been part of such a successful show for SAAC,” says Jennifer Bingham, SAAC executive director. “The members, the SAAC board and the numerous volunteers that made the event possible also helped to breathe new life into our association. The energy and excitement felt on the show floor made for an incredible experience for all involved. This was just a glimpse into what the future holds for SAAC members and I’m excited for the next chapter. We’re just getting started.”

    The SAAC Expo featured education opportunities for attendees throughout its run. On August 7, before the show floor opened, PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE, delivered a town hall-style keynote on current issues and opportunities facing the promotional products industry. The following morning a series of select suppliers delivered fast-paced presentations on case studies and marketing strategies. The bulk of the SAAC Expo’s education, however, took place in an area alongisde the trade-show floor. Sessions included panel discussions on building a strong community of empowered women in the industry, generational differences and their impact on businesses, the end-buyer/distributor relationship, developing successful websites with SAGE Website Professional Plus, and Prop 65 and state regulations.

    “What stood out to me at the show was the optimism for SAAC and the future, and our sense of community,” says Craig Weiss, vice president of sales and marketing and distributor Initial Impression. “For me, it’s always the quality of the suppliers and distributors that come. It’s never about quantity. A standout for me were the breakout sessions off the show floor. They were short but sweet and you could pop your head in and didn’t have to make the commitment of getting there early or staying late.”

    Steve Parker, regional sales manager at supplier Starline, says, “This year’s show was amazing on all levels. We as part of the supplier community want more touches and contacts with people and the show outperformed expectations. It’s a great community, and in typical fashion, the SAAC show had a great atmosphere that was warm and friendly. The quality of participants on both sides made for a great promo atmosphere and place to do good business.”

    The SAAC Expo allowed attendees and exhibitors to connect and celebrate each other’s successes at the SAAC Awards reception, held at the San Diego Convention Center at the end of the show’s first full day, and a meet-and-greet opportunity at the Stone Brewing Tap Room a short walk away.

    “The SAAC show is a great opportunity for distributors to pick their suppliers’ brains in a casual and fun setting,” says Kaitlin Kennedy, West Coast business development and event specialist at supplier Orbus. “Without these face-to-face interactions, we’re all just sitting behind a computer screen. My favorite moment from any show is when the doors open for the first time. There’s an electric feeling that’s buzzing through the air. I see curiosity and excitement in the attendees’ eyes and it reassures me that I’m in the right industry.”

    Kennedy adds, “I haven’t talked to one person about their start in the industry with ‘I’m going to sell mugs for a living.’ They’ve all said that they wanted to help others and there’s nothing wrong with earning a living while doing it. I believe attending SAAC as a supplier or distributor will help grow your brand.”

  • August 23, 2019 8:50 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    When you're not properly using your time, you end up losing money for yourself and your company. Nearly all workers (89 percent) admit to wasting time at the office, but that's just through distractions or momentary diversions. Structural time lost through bad time management can lead to hours, weeks or months of waste.

    John Hall, co-founder and president of Calendar, says that an effective schedule goes a long way toward improving work-life balance. When you better manage your time, you get more work done and the work is better. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Hall's perspective on why it's important to get your schedule under control.

    Increased productivity.Hall says that a daily schedule doesn't just tell you what you're going to be working on during the day—it can help maximize your productivity, too. One of the biggest drags on workplace productivity is an unfocused working style, constantly switching from task to task as new problems need addressing. While it's important to stay flexible and dynamic in your role, endless task-switching is likely to result in a massive productivity dip. Use your schedule to safeguard against this. Organize your day into time blocks, with each focused on one specific type of activity. Keeping each of these blocks highly focused and limited to 90 minutes is shown to raise peak productivity overall.

    Maximized synergy. An effective schedule isn't just one that fits your needs—it needs to fit the needs of those around you as well. In the modern workplace, it's nearly impossible to work at maximum productivity if you and your team are on completely different pages. Scheduling meetings and calls can transform from a never-ending back-and-forth dialogue to a simple assessment of available time slots. Shared schedules also allow others to know exactly what project you're working on, reducing the need for constant "catch up" meetings, according to Hall. Getting ahead professionally means surrounding yourself with people just as prepared for success as you are, and a team of people with well-managed schedules is one ready for any professional challenge.

    Side hustle development. As valuable as a side hustle can be, you never want your second job to impact your primary job. Lazy scheduling can leave you juggling responsibilities across jobs at the wrong times. Use your schedule to keep your hustles from intermingling, allowing you to focus specifically on what needs to be done at exactly the right time.

    Personal assessment time. One of the best ways to become more productive is also one of the most forgotten: sitting down, taking a look at your slate and thinking about what could work better, Hall says. Plenty of workers are so slammed with professional and personal responsibilities that they never really have the time to make long-term plans for themselves or their careers. Getting your schedule under control can give you the time you need to sit down and make a strategy.

    To keep advancing in your career, you don't need to sacrifice your time and happiness. Often, all you must do is turn your schedule into a pathway for success.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: John Hall is the co-founder and president of Calendar, a scheduling and time management app. He's author of the best-selling book Top of Mind.

    This article was originally published in PCT. Used with permission from PPAI.

  • August 23, 2019 8:44 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)


    Beverly Walter
    Vice President, Western Region
    Brown & Bigelow Inc.


    • What do you like best about your company? I love that we are family owned and I love that my boss and the CEO of B+B, Bill Smith, trusts me to do my job and knows my heart is always in the right place! I feel like the people I work with and for at B+B are "truly" my "family" and that is VERY important to me!
    • How were you introduced to the promotional products industry? Can you believe that I got my first job in the industry as a CSR at Geiger thru a TEMP agency?
    • If you had to pick one, what is your favorite promotional product? Hands down the phone wallet..... COULD NEVER LIVE WITHOUT IT NOW!
    • Tell us something about you that most people may not know. That I used to be deathly afraid of speaking in public but was ALWAYS ready to sing if you gave me a microphone.... and I have the worst singing voice ever, but everyone knows that ;-)

  • August 23, 2019 8:41 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

     

    Steve DeMars
    Western Regional Sales Manager
    Clegg Promo



    • What is your title/role within your company? Western Regional Sales Manager. I oversee the outside sales duties in six western states and manage a handful of Key National Accounts as well.
    • What do you like best about your company? We have a great inside sales and customer support team. I love our product line as well. It is constantly evolving and very relevant to what is selling well in the industry.
    • How were you introduced to the promotional products industry? I began working as a Distributor back in 1997 for Pro Pacific. I had been selling blank electronic media (yawn) for a local manufacturer when a high school friend of mine introduced me to the insane world of promotional products.“You mean I can make money selling hats, tees and golf balls? And … I get free samples?” I have been in the industry ever since as a Distributor, Importer and Supplier.
    • If you had to pick one, what is your favorite promotional product? Those of you that have patiently sat through of one of my sales presentations, know this well. I am a HUGE fan of the Clegg Retractable Charging Cable (625501). It’s Functional, Lights Up, Big Imprint Area, Great Price … what’s not to love?
    • Tell us something about you that most people may not know. I am a card carrying member of Raider Nation. Just Win Baby!
  • August 23, 2019 8:37 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    We’ve lost another member of the SAAC past presidents family, and this one really stings.

    Richard “Rich” Anderson was president of SAAC in 1996 and worked as a supplier rep in our industry for more than a decade. Rich was a tall, lanky guy with a thick mustache and a winning personality. He worked for both Benchmark and Earl Butler in the late '80s and the '90s and later left the promotional products industry to become a Christian minister with his wife—which he did for the rest of his life.

    The reason this hurts so much is that even 20 years after he left, he still maintained many friendships in our promo world, because Rich was one of the good ones. A great guy, a loyal friend and a deeply spiritual and honest man. He cared about his lines, about our industry and his many, many friends. Rich made friends every single place he went, exuding warmth and genuine care for those around him.

    In addition to his spiritual endeavors and his work in our industry, Rich was a dedicated musician, playing in several rock-and-roll bands over the years, and playing with a SAAC group at several SAAC shows in San Diego and Long Beach. He was also, late in life, an entertainment industry voice-over artist, landing several national television spots for brand name products.

    We lost Rich last month in June after a year-long battle with leukemia. He was born in 1953. Rich visited us at several SAAC shows in recent years and attended the funeral for Reg Ross several years ago. Patti Lawrence was SAAC president in 1995 and Rich was vice president. She said, "To tell you I am heartbroken about hearing the news about Rich's passing would be an understatement. I have known Rich since the early '80s and was honored to serve on the SAAC board with him in the '90s. He became my confidant, supported me as my vice president and, as in the attached picture, he always had my back. Over the years we lost touch but when he was the officiant at the memorial service of another friend and fellow board member, Reg Marsh, a year- and-a-half ago, it was like all those years melted away. We spent quality time talking about old times and shared memories of those good ol' days. RIP my friend. You are missed."


  • August 23, 2019 8:36 AM | Dara Cormany (Administrator)

    Distributor Bensussen Deutsch and Associates, LLC (PPAI 109381, D14) has entered into an agreement with BrandVia (PPAI 105536, D11) to acquire the San Jose, California-based distributor. The news was first reported in a Breaking News alert on Wednesday. With this acquisition, Woodinville, Washington-headquartered BDA significantly expands its operations in California and its portfolio of major technology clients and increases resources to further support high-performing industry sales professionals and the ever-changing needs of their clients.

    The deal marks the latest in BDA’s growth strategy; in 2017 the company acquired SwervePoint, Dukes of London and Sports Merchandise Global. BDA operates out of over 40 domestic and six international offices serving clients such as Bank of America, Dell, ExxonMobil, FedEx, Johnson and Johnson and Major League Baseball.

    Speaking to PPB Newslink, Jim Childers, founder and CEO of BrandVia, says, “Jay and I have been friendly for years and developed a great relationship dating back to the early ‘90s. We’ve stayed in touch and often run into each other at industry events. We’ve talked off and on about vision and what could be and decided to explore the specifics of what a deal would look like a few months back.”

    Jay Deutsch, co-founder and CEO of BDA, says, “The team at BDA is both ready and excited to work with BrandVia. Jim and I share the same vision for client value creation, and how we will drive client value via BDA’s world-class suite of services. From BDA’s creative and merchandising teams to innovative sports sponsorship activation strategies and global assignments, we see this as a tremendous platform for growth and an example of what the future holds for leading client-side business models.”

    BrandVia’s clients, including well-known technology giants like Adobe, Facebook, Oracle and Salesforce, will gain access to BDA’s global fulfillment and supply chain, award-winning creative team and comprehensive e-commerce, merchandise and marketing solutions.

    “BrandVia has long been recognized as an innovative company with great people and great clients,” says Deutsch. “They’ve built a tremendous culture of customer service that is a natural extension of our BDA Tech division. We now have an even larger presence in Silicon Valley with a talented team that will only further enhance our compelling offer to high-tech enterprise clients who need a true merchandise agency partner.”

    BDA and BrandVia will be one brand in the future to create clarity, Childers says, although this process will take some time. He adds, “Our plan is to work closely with the brand team at BDA to be thoughtful about the character and promise of the BrandVia brand and to try and incorporate the things that our clients and employees have loved about BrandVia, where it makes sense within the BDA brand system.”

    On what the acquisition means for staff at the two companies, Childers says, “We expect more opportunities will be available for professional training and education, promotions, earning potential, recognition, travel opportunities, brand opportunities and fun. There will be a lot of new client assignments which will create growth personally and professionally for our employees. It’s obviously in the early days and we’re focused on trying to communicate as clearly as we can about what the future holds while doing the practical work that comes along with bringing two companies together.”

    As for what’s up first for BDA and BrandVia, Childers says, “We have goals and timelines across all functional areas of the business looking out over the next 30, 60, 90, 120 days and beyond to ensure that we are capturing best practices to operate the combined entity the best way we can for clients, employees and our supplier partners. We see tremendous opportunity to scale and deliver more value, not just in the technology sector where we’ve been primarily focused, but we see a path to take that playbook into other vertical markets on a global level.”

    This article was originally published in PPB Newslink, August 15, 2019. Used with permission from PPAI.

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