PPAI Magazine March 2023

M E D I A . P P A I . O R G 03.23 IN THIS ISSUE Best Of The In Style p. 14 Good Taste p. 24 Pyramid Winners p. 42 Icons: Burnett & Rosin p. 64 2023 p.54

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4 From PPAI Swimming With Sharks 8 Feedback Essentials 13 Creative Calendar 14 In Style Best of The PPAI Expo 2023 18 Use Case Best of The PPAI Expo 2023 24 Good Taste Best of The PPAI Expo 2023 Voices 30 Responsibility Learning From A Leader 32 Solutions Quick Fixes 34 Innovation The Hidden Costs Of Underinvesting In Technology 36 Your Business Top Of Mind Marketing Must Read 50 Promotional Products Work Pride Month Community 72 Buzzworthy 77 Inside PPAI 82 PPPC Communiqué 84 NewMembers 93 Datebook 98 Perfect Promo CONTENTS 03.23 Icons At The PPAI Expo in January, PPAI recognized two members who demonstrate remarkable commitment to the Association and community: Roger Burnett, CAS and Danny Rosin, CAS. 64 V O L U M E 4 7 , I S S U E 0 2 Best Of The PPAI Expo 2023 Here’s a special look back at The PPAI Expo’s 20th anniversary week in Las Vegas, a rousing success for the industry’s largest and long-running trade show. 54 Top Promotional Programs The PPAI Pyramid Awards, sponsored by Pacesetter Awards, recognize these creative client programs, designed to boost business by building relationships, for outstanding achievement. 42 54 64 42 PPAI • MARCH 2023 • 3

Swimming With Sharks IF YOU’VE EVER BEEN CURIOUS what it’s like inside a PPAI Board of Directors meeting, surrounded by titans in our industry and PPAI staff leaders, the conversations and healthy debates are riveting. The Board plays a critical role in shaping the future of the Association. The surroundings themselves typically leave something to be desired, though. Most often we meet for eight straight hours in a room with no windows. We wanted our most recent meeting in Las Vegas to be different. Seeing The PPAI Expo 2023 as a celebration of our re-energized industry, we scheduled the Board’s annual pre-event meeting to be held with an underwater view of the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay. To make the day even more memorable, I made private arrangements to go scuba diving among the aquarium’s marine life. I wanted it to be a surprise and only told our then-Board Chair Dawn Olds. I entered the water with a large sea turtle greeting me. I swam for a while among the different species of predators, like sand tigers and white tip reef sharks – some pretty big ones – and watched the meeting room fill with early arrivals. I saw the board members look into the tank with awe and could see it engage their creative side. I saw them greet one another warmly and eat breakfast together. And then, I saw fellow PPAI staffers looking around nervously and whispering to one another. Later I would find out some had been calling and texting my phone repeatedly. They started to search for me, knocking on the door of my room, asking hotel staff for help finding me. All the while, they never let the board members know anything was wrong. Just as Dawn was preparing to slam her gavel to open the meeting (and begin the official search for a new president and CEO, some teammates must have assumed), I floated up to the window with a sign welcoming everyone to The PPAI Expo. Even then, most of the staff and the Board thought we hired a diver to hold the sign; it wasn’t until Dawn told them that everyone realized I was the diver. We took a great photo together, and I got the incredible memory of diving with those beautiful animals. But for all the wonder and inspiration of being surrounded by sharks, I also came away inspired by my team. My team looked out for me and kept calm trying to minimize the fact I had not arrived. They demonstrated what a strong, close-knit unit we’ve become. We can accomplish so much more when we get to work with people we trust. As I look at all the news about economic challenges and concerns, it’s clear to me that swimming with sharks is a great metaphor for thriving in challenging times. We should be prepared for danger but never forget to look at the beauty all around. Rather than only threats, search for opportunities. Calculate risks and move forward. Most importantly, always surround yourself with good people. From PPAI Dale Denham, MAS+ President & CEO 03.23 4 • MARCH 2023 • PPAI

PPAI® PUBLISHER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Josh Ellis JoshE@ppai.org DEPUTY EDITOR Rob Phillips RobP@ppai.org SENIOR DIGITAL EDITOR James Khattak JamesK@ppai.org NEWS EDITOR Jonny Auping JonnyA@ppai.org ASSOCIATE EDITORS Kristina Valdez KristinaV@ppai.org Rachel Zoch RachelZ@ppai.org RESEARCHMANAGER Robert Fitzpatrick RobertF@ppai.org ART DIRECTION SPARK Publications SPARKpublications.com 704-844-6080 ADVERTISINGMANAGEMENT ACCOUNT MANAGERS Connie Brazil 972-258-3064 ConnieB@ppai.org Taylor Coward 972-258-3033 TaylorC@ppai.org Heather Mangold 972-258-3067 HeatherM@ppai.org ADVERTISING CONTACT Amy Weisman 972-258-3080 AmyW@ppai.org PRESIDENT & CEO Dale Denham, MAS+ 888-I-AM-PPAI DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Lindsey Davis, MAS SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT Alan Peterson DIRECTOR OF FINANCE Brigitte Rousseau, CPA, MBA VICE PRESIDENT, REVENUE AND EXPOSITIONS Ellen Tucker, MAS, CAE DIRECTOR OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY Paul Elfstrom DIRECTOR OF MEMBER ENGAGEMENT Anne Stone, MAS, CAE DIRECTOR OF MARKETING Keith Vincent BOARD OFFICERS CHAIR OF THE BOARD Kevin Walsh, CAS Showdown Displays IMMEDIATE PAST CHAIR Dawn Olds, MAS HALO CHAIR-ELECT OF THE BOARD Andrew Spellman, CAS Therabody VICE CHAIR, FINANCE SERVICES Denise Taschereau Fairware BOARDMEMBERS TERM EXPIRING 2024 Tom Goos, MAS Image Source AT-LARGE DIRECTOR TERM EXPIRING 2024 Melissa Ralston, Koozie Group TERMS EXPIRING 2025 Noah Lapine Lapine Associates Andrew Spellman, CAS Therabody TERMS EXPIRING 2026 Chris Anderson HPG Denise Taschereau Fairware TERMS EXPIRING 2027 Dan Pantano alphabroder | Prime Line Joshua White BAMKO REGIONAL RELATIONS COMMITTEE DELEGATE TERM EXPIRING 2027 Kara Keister, MAS Social Good Promotions PPAI HEADQUARTERS 3125 Skyway Circle North, Irving, Texas 75038-3526 Phone: 888-IAM-PPAI (426-7724) www.ppai.org, pubs.ppai.org READER RESOURCES SUBSCRIBE TO PPAI MAGAZINE: Subscribe online at pubs.ppai.org or send your name, title, company name and mailing address, along with phone and fax, to PPB Subscriptions, 3125 Skyway Circle North, Irving, Texas 75038. Or phone in your subscription to 972-258-3019. Include payment with your order. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are accepted, along with checks. Additional member subscriptions are $58 for PPAI member companies (U.S.), $70 (Canada and Mexico) and $75 (international). Nonmember subscriptions are $72 (U.S.), $82 (Canada and Mexico) and $92 (international). Please allow four to six weeks for start of subscription. ADVERTISE IN PPAI MAGAZINE: Download a media kit with rates and specs for all PPAI print and digital publications at media.ppai.org, or call 972-258-3019 or email mediasales@ppai.org. WRITE FOR PPAI MAGAZINE: The magazine regularly accepts articles from both professional writers and industry experts – like yourself. Find out everything you need to know about submitting an article or an idea by reading PPAI’s Writer’s Guidelines available at media.ppai.org/submit-content. Promotional Products Association International 6 • MARCH 2023 • PPAI

Send feedback on articles in PPAI Magazine or opinions on industry issues to JamesK@ppai.org. Feedback 03.23 Celebrating Industry Icons During the Chair’s Leadership Dinner at The PPAI Expo 2023, the Association and industry honored industry icons whose unique entrepreneurial spirit and devotion to philanthropy have moved the industry and their communities forward. The event recognized Carol D. Aastad, MAS, and Mary Ellen Sokalski, MAS, as the 2023 PPAI Hall of Fame inductees; Roger Burnett, CAS, as the PPAI Distinguished Service Award recipient, and Danny Rosin, CAS, as the PPAI H. Ted Olson Humanitarian Award recipient. That is what I call a “who’s who” in our storied industry. Amazing grace how time flies. There is a special place in my heart for the forward-thinking and entrepreneurial spirit all four of these legends bring. Congratulations to each of you for welldeserved accolades. Jim Franklyn Vice President of Business Development Swag Promo Atlanta, Georgia PPAI 562712, D5 Changing Hands In December, supplier Galaxy Balloons announced that founder Terry Brizz, MAS, was retiring and handing the role of company president to longtime promo veteran Les Dorfman. My mom, both my brothers and myself have all worked for Galaxy Balloons. Growing up, my oldest brother would chase us around the warehouse as kids on the weekends, when it was shut down, while my dad was working in his office. Everything I have or ever will accomplish is due to my father leading by example, and I want to thank him, as well thank all the Galaxy associates throughout the years! Chris Brizz Marking Two Decades In Las Vegas 2023 is The PPAI Expo’s 20th year in Las Vegas and at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. InDecember, PPAI Magazine told the compelling story behind how the promo industry’s preeminent trade showmade themove fromDallas to its newhome. Thanks, Jonny, for capturing a memorable time in the Association’s history. Your article brought back many good memories of a really solid and strategic decision, with terrific board/staff collaboration and support, with exceptional staff execution, despite some legitimate doubts, and a remarkable result. If my memory serves me, we reported a 40% increase in distributor attendance that first year. Leading up to the 2003 Expo and waiting for the Mandalay Bay Convention Center to be complete, I had visions of exhibitors crammed into and under “tented structures” in a paved parking lot. MGM Resorts delivered, as promised, and here PPAI is 20 years later. There was a lot of hard work to make everything happen as hoped, and a great deal of luck along the way. Steve Slagle Past President and CEO (1996-2012) PPAI Seneca, South Carolina Recognizing The Winners In January, PPAI announced the recipients of the Association’s annual PPAI Pyramid Awards. The awards honor excellence in the promotional products industry and recognize dependable suppliers, outstanding promotions, creative campaigns and exceptional craftsmanship. I am a proud recipient [of a 2023 PPAI Pyramid Award]. These two awards mark my 41st and 42nd PPAI Pyramid Awards. Thank you, PPAI, for making this venue available to all industry practitioners. My friends, enter next year. When you win, market that success to gain valuable PR for your business. To all the other winners, a huge congratulations! Well done! Cliff Quicksell, MAS+ President and CEO Cliff Quicksell Associates Walkersville, Maryland PPAI 140922 8 • MARCH 2023 • PPAI

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PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS TO BE UNIVERSALLY VALUED Essentials 03.23 BEST OF THE PPAI EXPO SPREAD THE LOVE page 24 CREATIVE CALENDAR p. 13 IN STYLE p. 14 USE CASE p. 18 SNeG17 / Shutterstock.com The PPAI Expo 2023 reconnected an entire industry, and savory and sweet spreads were central to these serendipitous reunions. With promo, you can create a spring spread that’ll spark connections. PPAI • MARCH 2023 • 11

If this calendar is helpful or if you have ideas for ways that we can better provide this information, email the editors at magazine@ppai.org Creative Calendar | Essentials Exceptional Promotions SPECIAL OBSERVANCES CALL FOR Use these special occasions to ignite your imagination for relevant – and distinct – client promotions. Compiled by Rachel Zoch EARTH MONTH Product Idea: Satisfy your sweet tooth and celebrate with custom-branded bags of Copper Kettle Caramel Corn, a rich, traditional caramel popcorn cooked in real copper kettles from scratch. Made in the USA. Each snack-sized bag is 3.75 oz., with a four-color process imprint on a 2.75-inch round label. Maple Ridge Farms / PPAI 114165, S8 www.mapleridge.com 6 NATIONAL CARAMEL POPCORN DAY 19 NATIONAL POKER DAY 6 NATIONAL NURSES DAY 18 NATIONAL NOTEBOOK DAY Product Idea: Show you care about the environment as well as your recipient with this 2-oz. Happy Reef Sunscreen. This eco-friendly coconut-scented lotion offers SPF 30 coverage and contains only natural ingredients – no oxybenzone or parabens. HPG Brands / PPAI 110772, S11 www.hpgbrands.com June PRIDE MONTH 1 NATIONAL OLIVE DAY 18 INTERNATIONAL PICNIC DAY 21 INTERNATIONAL YOGA DAY Product Idea: This Collapsible Picnic Basket comes equipped with a heatsealed PEVA liner and double zippers for easy access to chilled drinks and snacks, as well as a built-in bottle opener. It’s lightweight for easy carrying and collapses flat for convenient storage. Available in four colors (lime shown) with 3x2.5-inch imprint on the front pocket. Koozie Group / PPAI 114187, S13 www.kooziegroup.com April 27 NATIONAL BRING YOUR CHILD TO WORK DAY 27 NATIONAL SUNSCREEN DAY May NATIONAL PHYSICAL FITNESS AND SPORTS MONTH Ermak Oksana / Shutterstock.com PPAI • MARCH 2023 • 13

Essentials | In Style 3 Apparel Must-Haves Spotted At The PPAI Expo Walking The PPAI Expo showfloor, attendees sampled the biggest style trends of the year as exhibitors debuted new favorites, reflecting the latest in fashion and lifestyle. by Kristina Valdez TODAY’S CONSUMER IS DEVOTED TO COMFORT, style and sustainability. The idea that “less is more” has never been more relevant. People want clothes that waste less and last longer. This means that the garments they choose will remain fashionable and become favorites, delivering a lifetime of impressions. Caius Olowu, director of merchandise and design at California-based supplier Next Level Apparel, says clients are looking for pieces made with premium quality, comfort and fit. “These garments will hold their shape wash after wash. Comfort comes from garments made from the highest quality fabrics, and fit ties back to cut and construction,” says Olowu. “We use live-fit models and thoughtfully tailor each garment to provide that premium ‘retail’ fit. All our T-shirts have side-seams, which prevent torquing and maintains the original shape after repeated washings.” Consumers are setting boundaries, choosing high-end brands and eco-friendly products, and gravitating toward the softest materials. Apparel trends for 2023 reflect changing lifestyles. Before quiet quitting and The Great Resignation, the soft life trend called for eliminating stress and making peacebased decisions. This online movement began with Black women denouncing the hustle culture on social media, and now the tag #softlife on TikTok has over 543.6 million views and counting. Whether it’s quitting a dead-end job or wearing pajamas most of the week, soft living says do what brings you peace. The Urban Dictionary describes it as “making decisions that leave you feeling stress-free and vibrating higher. Less about wealth (though it helps) and more about making good choices.” Next Level Apparel launched its 3600SWUnisex Soft Wash T-shirt in March 2022, and Olowu says it represents what’s popular this year: “There’s something familiar about our cotton T-shirt. It feels super soft, broken in and slightly faded in all the right places.” Here are three trends your catalog should have this year: 1. Sustainably Made Olowu says sustainability is a marathon, not a sprint: “Every small step we make toward sustainability today counts and has long-term effects on our environment for years to come. People feel good when they know they’re wearing good … and who doesn’t want to feel good?” The 3600SW unisex cotton T-shirt is made with a proprietary soft wash process, using less water and electricity. This also uses fewer chemicals than garment pigment dye processes for less impact on the environment. It’s made from premium, midweight, combed ring-spun cotton and preshrunk. Next Level Apparel / PPAI 272027, S3 / www.nextlevelapparel.com Best Of The 14 • MARCH 2023 • PPAI

In Style | Essentials This women’s Pacesetter quarter zip shirt shown in gray is made with fabric spun from nine recycled water bottles. Super soft with incredible stretch, it’s sure to be a go-to. Storm Creek PPAI 438091, S6 www.stormcreek.com 2. High-End Retail Brands Clients and end users want to see name brands. Gina Barreca, director of marketing at New Jersey-based supplier Vantage Apparel, says, “We choose brands that are highly recognized and known for providing quality products. Market-leading retail labels like Polo Ralph Lauren, Greg Norman Collection and Gap bring instant credibility to promotional apparel and help establish the quality of our labels, Vansport and Vantage.” Barreca says it’s all about comfort, versatility and trust: “Higher-end brands tend to focus on classic styles and quality products that are made to last.” With a supple diamond-quilted shell designed to resist water and provide warmth when you need it, this Brooks Brothers quilted jacket delivers unbeatable performance and unmistakable style. SanMar / PPAI 110788, S16 / www.sanmar.com Level up your outerwear game with the contemporary and comfy women’s Ninja jacket. Barreca says this jacket got the most attention among their new products at The PPAI Expo. It has a 100% polyester woven front panel, a stand-up collar, raglan sleeves and covered zipper pockets. Vantage Apparel / PPAI 113235, S10 / www.vantageapparel.com

3. Ultra-Soft Merri Gleckler, CEO and owner of Arizona-based supplier Kashwere, says comfort is here to stay because people want apparel that feels good and is easy to care for, as well as quality that lasts for years. Consumers are seeking out quality, timeless and sustainable pieces. Gleckler says, “We believe beauty and comfort go hand in hand, comfort being an emotional and tactile experience. We’re not a product but rather an experience.” Gleckler says consumers want apparel to feel good on their body. “Who does not want to be comfortable? Kashwere Apparel is not only apparel that is ‘comfortable’ but is apparel that is also ‘comforting,’ like giving yourself or someone else a hug. We help celebrate the happy times, the not-sohappy times and everything else in between.” Whether working from home, running errands or getting cozy for a movie night, recipients will reach for this pullover hoodie. Made of Kashwere’s signature Chenilla yarn, wearers will stay extra cozy with the double-lined construction. Kashwere / PPAI 642505, S6 / www.kashwere.com Essentials | In Style PPAI: 111248 | ASI: 35375 | SAGE: 50327 | UPIC: ACCENTS | DC: 101273 Made & Printed in the USA Quick Turn Arounds Low Minimums www.americanaccents.com | 888.287.7883 Scan for pricing! •Made from renewable resources •Made with 20% recycled fibers •2 ply facial quality material •Metallic and neon ink colors offered at no extra cost •Free PMS matching •4 imprint methods available 100 piece minimums! COLORED BEVERAGE NAPKINS 16 • MARCH 2023 • PPAI

Essentials | Use Case Top Picks Distributors share which newproducts they foundmost appealing and memorable fromThe PPAI Expo. Sustainable and functional items top their lists, followed closely by items with strong sensory appeal. by Rachel Zoch WHILE INDUSTRY SUPPLIERS UNVEILED DOZENS if not hundreds of new products at The PPAI Expo, a few themes emerged when it came to which ones attendees found most appealing and memorable. We asked a handful of distributors – including several judges of the first-ever “The Pitch” event – what were their favorite new products from the show and why. DANNY ROSIN, CAS Co-President, Brand Fuel PPAI 277900, D8 Raleigh, North Carolina He also points to Parker Clay, another B Corp, whose high-quality leather items are sure to wow clients and recipients alike – such as this gender-neutral Bale Sling Bag. Handcrafted from full-grain Ethiopian leather, the versatile bag features a durable strap and two zippered pockets. Available in rust brown (shown) or black. Parker Clay / PPAI 816759, S0 www.parkerclay.com Rosin and his team love this cotton/rayon blend Corbet Quilted Full Zip Hoodie with poly insulation. “Marine Layer is a fellow B Corp that has put massive effort into responsible sourcing,” he says. “Couple that with it being a recognizable retail brand, and we are super excited.” Available in heathered navy (shown) or olive, sizes S-2X. Marine Layer / PPAI 690355, S1 www.marinelayer.com A member of the judging panel for “The Pitch,” Rosin conferred with his team at Brand Fuel to find out what they liked best overall. “The Brand Fuel team was blown away with suppliers’ efforts to introduce sustainable and designfocused products,” says Rosin. “Each of these comes with a powerful story that we believe clients will respond to with, ‘Heck, yes!’” Best Of The 18 • MARCH 2023 • PPAI

Use Case | Essentials For “a community-building charcuterie experience we can get behind,” Rosin suggests an Acacia Cheese Board. These beautiful and unique pieces blend acacia hardwood and an eco-friendly epoxy to create one-of-a-kind serving boards. Available in nine colors, gift box included. Lynn&LianaDesigns / PPAI 811786, S0 / www.lynnliana.com Lively Root, a plant gifting service, caught the attention of more than one of our sources for this piece. Rosin appreciates that the company “offers a living, breathing gift and also donates to the Arbor Day Foundation and global reforestation with every purchase.” Design your own plant kit for individual or bulk gifting – or make it your signature welcome or thank-you gift with their on-demand service. Lively Root / PPAI 813817, S0 www.livelyroot.com/pages/live-plant-corporate-gift MEMO KAHAN President, PromoShop PPAI 204997, D11 Los Angeles, California Kahan, another judge, says he had a blast doing “The Pitch” and was impressed by the featured products, particularly these two designed for outdoor experiences that bring people together: The 3-in-1 Frost Backpack Cooler Chair from Trailform “is fun, useful, creative and actually works,” says Kahan. Simply open the top, bottom and middle zippers, set up the chair frame, attach the anchor points on the pack to the chair frame, then sit back and relax. With built-in insulated cooler pockets, expandable storage capacity and an ultra-lite chair, you get maximum versatility and comfort, all packed into a product that weighs just 3 pounds (and supports up to 300). Trailform / PPAI 813617, S0 / www.trailform.com Whether you’re hiking the trail or just enjoying a cool evening on the porch, the S’mores Night Pack includes everything you need to make four s’mores – including a portable bonfire, handmade with nontoxic materials inMaryland. This creative kit engages the senses for a lasting impression, says Kahan. City Bonfires / PPAI 814515, S1 / citybonfires.com PPAI • MARCH 2023 • 19

Essentials | Use Case AMANDA CLAY Vice President Sales and Marketing, Walker-Clay PPAI 109398, D6 Hanson, Massachusetts Clay, another member of the judging panel, marveled at the number of new products on display at the PPAI Expo – but there's one she says she just can’t put down. “I get lots of pen samples,” says Clay,” however, the new Wizzard Pen from Hub Pen is becoming my favorite. The fidget spinner at the top is addicting.” Who says executive pens can’t be fun? This twist retraction metal stylus pen features a fun fidget spinner on top that whizzes around with a flick of your thumb, plus a jumbo barrel for ergonomic comfort and black anti-fraud (ballpoint) ink for writing excellence. Add your client’s logo with an engraved silver imprint (or full color on the white pen). HPG / PPAI 110772, S11 / hpgbrands.com Clay was also excited to see hot retail products meeting their promo match on the trade show floor. “If you have been on TikTok, you have seen the Stanley Tumbler. It was one of the hottest items this holiday season,” she says. “The Intrepid from Hit is a perfect alternative to the Stanley. I love that they used the chunky handle. I already have a self-promo on this in the works.” The 40-oz. Intrepid Stainless Steel Tumbler is BPA-free and vacuum insulated to preserve hot or cold liquids. Its screw-on, spill-resistant lid helps keep things tidy on the go, and the large handle provides easy carrying. Available in five colors (shown in light blue). Hit Promotional Products / PPAI 113910, S14 www.hitpromo.net 20 • MARCH 2023 • PPAI

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Use Case | Essentials LIZA SACHS Director of Sales and Vendor Relations, Kaeser & Blair PPAI 103148, D12 Batavia, Ohio Sachs consulted her team of “masterminds” to find out what they were most excited about. Cleverly packaged snacks and a useful tech product topped their list. They loved the Happy’s gift boxes of snacks and other items, curated for eight occasions (including welcome, birthday, thank you and more) and ready to customize with your client’s message on the enclosed greeting card. “It’s a great tool for new employee onboarding,” says Sachs. Hit Promotional Products PPAI 113910, S14 / www.hitpromo.net For a super functional tech item, Sachs and her team like the ChiCharge Stack Foldable 3-in-1 Fast Charge Mat for Apple and Android. This compact device can wirelessly charge a compatible phone, watch and earbud case all the same time. Available in black or white. Twintech Industry / PPAI 261545, S6 www.twintechpromo.com For a sweet treat, Sachs points to Sweeter Cards, a women-owned business that employs adults with disabilities to package its all-inone greeting cards and gourmet chocolate bars. “Love the chocolate and the imprint/messaging ideas,” she says. Each batch is handmade in St. Louis using Fair Trade Certified ingredients, and you can choose from their retail selection or design your own custom card (shown). Sweeter Cards / PPAI 810735, S1 www.sweetercards.com PPAI • MARCH 2023 • 23

Essentials | Good Taste Spread The Love The PPAI Expo 2023 reconnected an entire industry, and savory and sweet spreads were central to these serendipitous reunions. With promo, you can create a spring spread that’ll spark connections. by Kristina Valdez FOR ONE WEEK OF THE YEAR, promo pros swap out emails and phone calls for dinners and parties. The PPAI Expo 2023 was the industry social event of the year. Exhibitors and attendees were eager to build fulfilling and impactful connections. To break the ice, shareable and interactive food lured promo pros into their comfort zones. Food is everyone’s common denominator; it’s a global language. Studies show that meal sharing is a kind of social glue. Breaking bread together strengthens communities by building trust and boosting morale. Dawn Pilon, account executive at Washingtonbased supplier Chocolate Chocolate, says, “Good food is one of the most memorable senses – you remember where you were, the great taste, who you were with and the fun you had. The creativity behind these fun food products is a strong part of that equation.” This year’s show pony was chocolate. Crowds swarmed wherever chocolate was available on The PPAI Expo 2023 trade show floor. The most popular chocolate products demand that the recipient interact with the SNeG17 / Shutterstock.com Best Of The 24 • MARCH 2023 • PPAI

Good Taste | Essentials Keep all your beverages and snacks cool with this cooler backpack chair. It’s the perfect lightweight alternative to a separate large chair and cooler. Koozie Group / PPAI 114187, S13 www.kooziegroup.com Deborah Gaspar, marketing director at New York-based supplier NC Custom, says experiential gifting is a huge trend for 2023. “We love the idea of an experience with food. It is something people remember! Interactive experiential items like smash chocolate and hot cocoa bombs, or even DIY baking kits, all play into that theme,” she says. “We have also found it is super important to include a keepsake hard good, which is why, for our smash chocolate, we include a custom keepsake mallet. Or for our DIY kits, we have kitchen accessories like an apron or board, so once you experience the gift, you have a wonderful sentiment left behind.” This two-pound chocolate bottle is filled with 16 ounces of candy “champagne bubbles.” NC Custom / PPAI 111662, S7 www.chocolateinn.com treat. Whether it’s dropping a ball of chocolate into hot water or cracking open a chocolate heart, chocolate is food everyone will want to play with. “As the COVID fears fade away, I think people are leaning back toward being together and sharing a meal or treat. Our cookies remain popular,” says Pilon, “either a chocolate Oreo cookie or a sugar cookie topped with Belgian milk. They have been popular during COVID, as they are individually packaged. But we have several packaging options for them, from one to 24.” Shareable food experiences like these will dominate 2023: This cookie gift pack features six cookies with Belgian chocolate and five packets of Sorrento Chocolate Truffle gourmet hot chocolate mix. Chocolate Chocolate PPAI 111668, S5 www.chocolate2.com PPAI • MARCH 2023 • 25

Essentials | Good Taste For spring spreads on a picnic blanket or dinner table, choose products that are shareable, unique and fun. The Montecito Picnic Blanket with harness is an easy-carry, water-resistant and cozy picnic blanket. Picnic Time Family of Brands / PPAI 143980, S6 www.picnicpromotions.com For a spread to leave invitees raving, you’ll need more than chocolate. “Focus on kits and items that people can use together, share together (even virtually), experience something together and then have keepsakes to remember the event by,” says Gaspar, “like charcuterie boards, kitchen items and hard goods, etc.” This Wine Picnic Table is the perfect companion for any open-air occasion, whether you’re savoring the weather in your own backyard or taking in the sights at your local park. True Brands / PPAI 531435, S4 www.truebrands.com PPAI: 111248 | ASI: 35375 | SAGE: 50327 | UPIC: ACCENTS | DC: 101273 888.287.7883 www.americanaccents.com Scan for more info! Made & Printed in the USA Quick Turn Arounds Low Minimums • Metallic and neon ink colors offered at no extra cost • Great for hot & cold beverages • Multiple print methods available • Free PMS matching • Interior is poly coated COLORED PAPER CUPS 25 PIECE MINIMUMS! 7 different colors to choose from! 26 • MARCH 2023 • PPAI

Good Taste | Essentials Charcuterie boards were a huge trend for 2022, and their popularity continues. This charcuterie kit includes sweet and crunchy nuts, gourmet Wisconsin shelf-stable cheese and sausage, and much more. The feast comes packaged with a sustainable bamboo board, fire-branded with your client’s logo for an experience that every recipient is guaranteed to remember. Maple Ridge Farms / PPAI 114165, S8 www.mapleridgefarms.com No spring spread would be complete without a picnic basket. Even if you ditch the great outdoors, this Belmont picnic basket will set the tone for any feast. The deluxe wicker English picnic basket set is loaded with full wine and cheese picnic service for four and plenty of romantic vintage charm. Picnic Time Family of Brands / PPAI 143980, S6 www.picnicpromotions.com PPAI/582106 SAGE/50398 Regular Price $621 (C) NowJust Valid thru 4/15/23 Must use Promo Code PP0323 Style #DDP05100 $550 (C) No Minimums FREE SETUP IntroductoryEQPSale Pop-Up Display Podium Go To DiscountMarketingProducts.com to see all Podium Table styles NEW FOR Industrial strength plastic top and base already attached, nothing to assemble Sturdymetal cross-braces with hydraulic springs for NO-TOOLS set-up and takedown Size 27”w x 16”d x 37”h Full Color Imprint 8oz Stretch Polyester Free Carry Bag PPAI • MARCH 2023 • 27

IDEAS TO ADVANCE THE MARKETPLACE Voices 03.23 page 34 INNOVATION RESPONSIBILITY p. 30 SOLUTIONS p. 32 THE HIDDEN COSTS OF UNDERINVESTING IN TECHNOLOGY One way or another, you’ll pay. Here’s why it’s worth the price to stay modern, and how to get ahead before the bill comes due on your outdated systems. Your Business Top Of Mind Marketing p. 36 PPAI • MARCH 2023 • 29 Butusova Elena / Shutterstock.com

Voices | Responsibility Learning From A Leader There can be no trade secrets in our shared journey to forging a planetpositive industry. by Anne Stone, MAS, CAE I RECENTLY HAD the privilege to sit down with Denise Taschereau, a member of the PPAI Board of Directors and the CEO and co-founder of Vancouverbased distributor Fairware. Denise is one of the pioneers of sustainability in the industry. Despite developing the secret sauce of corporate social responsibility that drives her business, Denise is remarkably generous in sharing the recipe. Before she launched Fairware, Denise served as the director of sustainability and community for Mountain Equipment Co-op, Canada’s largest outdoor retailer. A significant part of her role was overseeing the company’s environmental programs and community grant-making, and she was struck by how difficult it was to get promotional products that reflected MEC’s sustainability values. Realizing this challenge was not unique to MEC, Fairware was born with a mission to source promotional merchandise that reflects the social and environmental priorities of the brands and organizations she admires. It’s not an easy task now, but it was significantly more difficult back in 2005. Part of Fairware’s magic formula is doing the research to protect the client’s brand. And they don’t focus exclusively on sustainability. They examine all the CSR pillars – diversity, equity and inclusion; community impact; and environmental responsibility – to make sure the products align with the client’s brand and values. I shared with Denise my concern that when it comes to sustainability in the promo industry, not every PPAI member is prepared with the right product and message to compete on the CSR stage. There are likely to be winners and, unfortunately, there are likely to be losers as well. Perhaps unsurprisingly, while sharing the concern, Denise had a very pragmatic response: The idea of winners and losers is not unique to CSR. There will be winners and losers relative to digital transformation as well. Companies that embrace technology are going to win, and those who don’t will lose. CSR, technology, business strategy and all the things that drive innovation and resilience will position companies to be more successful and relevant. Denise is most concerned about our industry ending up on the wrong side of history. She rightly doesn’t want our industry to be perceived as out of date, out of touch and unsustainable. This isn’t related only to sales – it also applies to your recruiting potential. If you don’t evolve, you will be left behind by clients, which everyone fears. But more importantly, you will lose the talent war and be unable to attract younger, cooler and more interesting people to your team. Denise gave me a key piece of advice. She warns that if you are going to go down this road, you have to invest in the process, noting that this is not Denise Taschereau Boyko.Pictures / weniworks / Shutterstock.com 30 • MARCH 2023 • PPAI

Responsibility | Voices a marketing initiative – it must be baked into your organization’s DNA and operations. Savvy clients expect you to know how a product is made, where it’s made, what it’s made of, who made it and how they are treated, and what happens to it when you are done with it. Gathering and maintaining this data takes commitment. There are many roads to incorporating CSR as a fundamental element of your business. One road is to decide it is a brand differential and go all in. But that is not the only option. For most distributors, a more reasonable approach is to take small steps to curate products that align with your client’s brand. Here are a few tips for you to begin sourcing products that reflect your clients’ brands: • Use the FTC Green Guides as a script for what you can and cannot say. • Conduct an internal review of your key clients and determine if CSR is reflected in their corporate values. If it is, identify the CSR pillars that are most relevant and begin aligning product recommendations with those pillars. • Gather data about the products you sell. Start with the suppliers you do the most business with and begin to collect answers to the kinds of questions mentioned above. • Ask your supplier partners to indicate what they are particularly proud of and tell those stories to clients. Denise is quick to say there is no perfection in the journey toward sustainability. However, the scrapes and hiccups are powerful stories in the journey to improve. • Begin to analyze your own corporate footprint. This alone will make you more sensitive to the environmental impact of the products you source for your clients. There is no easy button for CSR. It takes time, it takes effort and, just like product responsibility, it is a journey, not a destination. But it is a journey of continual improvement that at the end of the day will benefit your client, your conscience and your planet. Stone is the director of member engagement at PPAI. PPAI: 111248 | ASI: 35375 | SAGE: 50327 | UPIC: ACCENTS | DC: 101273 Quick Turn Arounds Low Minimums www.americanaccents.com | 888.287.7883 Scan for pricing! Printed in the USA •Biodegradable •Digitally die cut; no additional fee •Custom shapes available •Digitally printed with 4-Color process •Made from 1/8” fine grain cork •170+ stock shapes available 50 piece minimums! CORK COASTERS PPAI • MARCH 2023 • 31

LEE ANN PETER President FIF Marketing Barrington, Illinois PPAI 313094, D1 I have a SAGE website. People can request quotes through the website, but I don’t let them place orders on the site. Orders are placed via email after official quote is given. HEATHER NELSON Owner Image Inkers Rigby, Idaho PPAI 698549, D2 QA Distributor Asks: When someone asks what you do, what’s your quick response? Most always, someone is wearing something with a logo on it, so it doesn’t take long to explain. DOTTIE BESSETTE, MAS Project Manager Lahlouh Inc. Burlingame, California PPAI 803510, D5 “I can put your logo on anything.” MELISSA CAM Owner It’s Magic Ink Thousand Oaks, California PPAI 766985, D1 QA Distributor Asks: What website are you using for your business? How are your clients able to order? SAGE is connected with PPAI, our nonprofit professional industry association. Personally, I prefer it. ASI is a for-profit company to sell you goods. While not a terrible thing, I choose to support the professional association that works for us. I also like SAGE better than ESP. SAGE also creates blogs and other things for social media. Voices | Solutions Quick Fixes Industry pros are quick to share expertise, insights and opinions on all things promo. Amid this batch of answered questions, one distributor explains how they weed out time-wasting prospects. compiled by Kristina Valdez QA Distributor Asks: A longtime client had me do hours of research on a bag only to tell me, “I ordered them online because they are on sale and free shipping.” I wasn’t even given the opportunity to match or beat the price. Although I refuse to be in a bidding war (in a race to the bottom), it would have been nice of her to give me a shot. And her business is about empowering other women in business. How do you weed out the time-wasters, looky-loos and other non-profitable people? First step is to self-check if you have a relationship that includes open communication. Could you call this client and ask about this situation? Could you both discuss how she can support you as another woman in Illusart / VECTOR FUN / Shutterstock.com 32 • MARCH 2023 • PPAI

business? Can you be candid, and would you be open to hearing why she may not have thought of you before ordering elsewhere? If your answers are NO, then how would a client know the value of working with you? Not judging, just saying that trying to demonstrate value just by implication, assumption and hope is not going to be as successful as finding out what she thinks is valuable and mutually determining whether you can provide that. Also, to offer what you think is valuable, and she may learn or reconsider what she really could gain. Before you write her off, pick up the phone and see if you can establish a different bond. If not, nothing lost, and you can decide if you do move on or if you do want to offer what she seeks. If the call does establish a new and different, then you can both give that a try! ISA COCALLAS Owner 3Koi Kihei, Hawaii PPAI 240572, D2 QA Distributor Asks: Why does it seem like so few suppliers have online portals where we can view previous orders/details? As a distributor, we maintain our own history that is searchable by supplier, project, product, customer and contact name. All information, art, proofs and communications related to the project are instantly available rather than logging into suppliers and looking at their chosen format. For those who would like to make that customerfacing, there are ways. We tried it. Our clients did not like that they had to look up information rather than just have us provide it. BRUCE REISSAUS, MAS Co-owner Advertising Specialties Alliance Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania PPAI 222672, D2 Turning the question around: Does your distributor website have a login where your customers can view order status, prior order history, prior approved art or art on file, etc.? Before I sound too snarky, ours does not! But I’m with you. With a few exceptions, I work only with suppliers who have distributor login, live inventory, order history, status and every possible piece of production information I could ever need right there on the site. I want to push for a similar setup for our clients via our site, because clearly this is the new normal/expectation. ALLISON BENDIS, MAS Account Manager Klondike Advertising Anchorage, Alaska PPAI 591557, D5 We should be charging an hourly rate for our time. That weeds them out. Offer a no charge for time if they order. That is the way this industry should have been set up from day one. I have tried to change our platform, but it’s too late. ELLEN CASTALDO Co-owner Promo Xperts Yorktown Heights, New York PPAI 194482, D2 “Client” and “wants the lowest price” do not go together. She’s not even a customer – set her free. “Clients” are exclusive with you – just like they are with their attorney, CPA, heating/AC guy, etc. This is the equivalent of having you prepare her tax return, then taking the docs and filing online “because it’s free.” She has stiffed you for your work. I’m sorry that happened, but you do have the power to make sure it doesn’t happen again with that customer or any other. Client curation keeps many issues away from your front door, and this issue is at the top of that list. CRAIG SAHLI CEO Graphics Network Tulsa, Oklahoma PPAI 670721, D1 PPAI • MARCH 2023 • 33

Voices | Innovation The Hidden Costs Of Underinvesting In Technology One way or another, you’ll pay. Here’s why it’s worth the price to staymodern, and how to get ahead before the bill comes due on your outdated systems. by Nick DiNicola IN TODAY’S WORLD of business, we’re all familiar with the customer’s “need it now” mentality. Most of us have that mentality ourselves. Investing in technology can help you move faster and deliver on those expectations. But many people get stuck in the “if it works, don’t fix it” mindset. And let’s face it, system modernization projects can be costly, time-consuming and disruptive to everyday operations. Remember the fiasco that Southwest Airlines was in over the recent holiday season? Thousands of people became stranded at airports all over the country, and Southwest had no immediate solutions. If reports are to be believed, the whole ordeal was caused by antiquated systems. The engine holding the airline together was, essentially, the tech equivalent of duct tape and twine. You can bet that they’ll be investing more in the technology required to handle current operations, but at a great cost to their reputation. Southwest – an otherwise successful and admired company – learned a painful lesson that ought to be instructive to companies in every other industry, including promotional products. There are many problems that can arise from underinvesting in technology. Let’s talk about some of the costlier ones. Losing Customers To The Competition This one is obvious. In our own industry, we need to be timely. Getting a quote to a potential client in an urgent manner can be the difference between a sale and a missed opportunity. And if it’s easier to order with a competitor than from you, that can also sway potential clients to someone else. Productivity Takes A Hit As devices age, they tend to run more slowly and crash more often. This takes a toll on our productivity as individuals, obviously. But spread the same issue across several people, dozens or hundreds of employees, the negative consequences of that lost productivity can become exponential. We have all watched our computer’s hourglass icon empty its sand, turn over and repeat the process for what feels like an eternity. Maybe you have been on the phone while this is happening, Butusova Elena / Shutterstock.com 34 • MARCH 2023 • PPAI

Innovation | Voices asking a client to bear with you because your computer is being slow today. How uncomfortable! Newer products and programs are built with integration in mind. Do you really want to enter the same data two or three times in different programs? Even if you did have the time for that, think of the errors that can occur. You’re Vulnerable To Security Threats Older hardware and software programs lack critical security updates that keep the user and the company safe. Sure, some will offer updates and patches, but at some point they all become a muddled mess. Is it really worth keeping an older version of Windows in order to stay compatible with your 12-year-old graphics program or your 10-year-old version of QuickBooks? Duct tape and twine can make for effective patches in a pinch. But that only gets you so far. We know all too well how important security is – or should I say the lack of security. We risk compromised credit cards, virus attacks and computer crashes that can cripple a business. Now that you see what can happen when technology is neglected, let’s highlight what you should try to do to stay ahead of the curve: Be agile: Focus on being able to respond to changing demands of clients to support growth. Remember, Southwest Airlines was not agile; it not only encountered a crisis that will take time to come back from, but it’s probably also impacting their ability to grow. The company estimates that its holiday snafus cost it upward of $825 million. Many people have a Plan B, but what about Plan C, Plan D and so on? Take time to learn: Since the world changes at the speed of light, you must always be learning to stay up to date with technological developments and new concerns. Take advantage of trainings and education sessions. Listen to relevant podcasts, and talk to your friendly competitors. Chances are they are facing the same challenges and may be willing to help. Make plans: It can be painful to undergo upgrades, but once you do you will reap the benefits. Remember, there are costs to investing in technology as well as costs to not investing in technology. Take time to look at what will happen if you invest, as well as what will happen if you don’t. My advice? Set aside the money, hire the right people, and don’t derail yourself by inaction. DiNicola is the digital transformation manager at PPAI. Duct tape and twine can make for effective patches in a pinch. But that only gets you so far. We know all too well how important security is – or should I say the lack of security. PPAI • MARCH 2023 • 35

Voices | Your Business everything bagel / Shutterstock.com Top Of MindMarketing Use these proven techniques to keep customers engaged and thinking about howto growtheir businesseswith you. by Ellen Tucker, MAS, CAE AS ANY GOOD MARKETING PROFESSIONAL KNOWS, building a brand and staying top of mind is crucial to the growth and success of any business. We live and breathe this stuff in the promotional products industry, whether it’s educating clients on the power of promo in achieving their marketing goals, consulting with them on strategy or product choices for specific campaigns. A primary reason that promotional products work so well is the connection and engagement they create between the consumer and the brand. It’s easy to get lost in the work of your business, the day-to-day of helping other companies be at the forefront of their customers’ minds. But it’s important for us to remember to take time to think about our own marketing strategies and how we will go about creating that connection and engagement with our customers. You need to have a marketing strategy in place that will keep your business top 36 • MARCH 2023 • PPAI