PPAI Magazine July 2023

MEDIA.PPAI.ORG 07.23 IN THIS ISSUE Promo's Greatest Workplaces p. 66 Follow the Leaders Kevin Lyons-Tarr’s 4imprint & Jeremy Lott’s SanMar top the first-ever p. 40

4 From PPAI What’s In It For Everybody? 8 Feedback Essentials 13 Creative Calendar 14 In Style Red, White and Buy American 18 Good Taste Promo With A Cup Of Joe 24 Use Case Homegrown Promo Voices 30 Your Business Creating Job Joy 34 Responsibility Thinking Upstream 36 Innovation The True Intelligence Behind AI Must Read 60 Promotional Products Work Poppin’ Promos Community 100 Buzzworthy 102 PPPC Communiqué 104 Inside PPAI 108 New Members 113 Datebook 120 Perfect Promo CONTENTS 07.23 PPAI 100 Distributors No. 1 4imprint The Empire Is Here To Help 50 VOLUME 47, ISSUE 06 The 67 Greatest Companies to Work for In the face of labor upheaval last year, these promo companies exceeded employees' expectations. 66 PPAI 100 Suppliers No. 1 SanMar The Making Of A Dynasty 40 50 66 40 PPAI • JULY 2023 • 3

From PPAI Josh Ellis Publisher & Editor-in-Chief 07.23 What’s In It For Everybody Else? DURING A PAST LIFE, I oversaw a business magazine that was sold on newsstands. Unlike PPAI Magazine, which is sent to promo companies as part of their PPAI membership – thank you, by the way – my old publication had to sell itself with each new issue month after month. On newsstands, the most important part of the buyer journey comes after a potential customer has spotted an intriguing cover photo and looks closer to skim the other headlines and flip through the pages. That’s when the reader decides whether there is anything in the issue for them. In the newsstand business, we would say that each magazine cover needed a WIIFM factor: What’s In It For Me? Well, at this juncture in our PPAI 100 rollout, it’s time to explain what’s in it for you if your company didn’t make the list. We want PPAI Research to not only be your go-to for vital data you need to run your business, but also to be a force that causes advancement in the industry as a whole and tracks our collective progress. To do that, we need to recognize more than 100 companies out of the 35,000plus in the industry. Our overall PPAI 100 rankings include revenue as a major factor in identifying the industry leaders, which essentially limited the field of contenders from the start. But not every firm can make tens or hundreds of millions each year, and that’s OK. Companies can be incredible in other important ways, and we want to honor the leaders in those respects, no matter their size. From the beginning, PPAI 100 was created to align with some strategic objectives in promo. These include revenue growth, sure – but also the industry’s digital transformation and improved corporate social responsibility. All three of those were scoring factors in the rankings because we want PPAI 100 to be a driver of industry progress on each front. During the month of July, suppliers and distributors can visit media.PPAI.org/2023-ppai-100-surveys and take the same three questionnaires that went into scoring the overall list itself. This will give us the information we need to honor suppliers and distributors of all sizes. We’ll compare your business to those of roughly the same size and determine each segment’s leaders in innovation, responsibility and revenue change. If you’re a leader among your peers, you’ll earn PPAI honors for your efforts that move the needle with clients and potential new teammates. We’re also excited to announce new recognition for the fastest growing companies in promo. At the same time, we’ll be able to create a variety of benchmarking reports on the key practices of firms of each size to help you compare where you stand and assess how you might level up. As time goes on, this phase of the PPAI 100 project will allow us to compare year-over-year data on industry practices in these important areas, which we will share with you and use as a testament to the progress in promo when advocating on behalf of the industry. I’ve said that the goal for PPAI 100 was to help create a rising tide that lifts all boats. What’s in it for me and my team? We get to help you and the entire promotional marketplace shine. We want PPAI Research to not only be your go-to for vital data you need to run your business, but also to be a force that causes advancement in the industry as a whole and tracks our collective progress. 4 • JULY 2023 • PPAI

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PPAI® PUBLISHER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Josh Ellis JoshE@ppai.org DEPUTY 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 RESEARCH MANAGER Robert Fitzpatrick RobertF@ppai.org ART DIRECTION SPARK Publications SPARKpublications.com 704-844-6080 ADVERTISING MANAGEMENT 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 Sandy Mendoza 972-258-3019 SandyM@ppai.org ADVERTISING CONTACT Joshua Safwat-Taylor 972-258-3043 JoshuaS@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 BOARD MEMBERS TERM EXPIRING 2024 Tom Goos, MAS Image Source AT-LARGE DIRECTOR TERM EXPIRING 2024 Melissa Ralston, Koozie Group TERMS EXPIRING 2025 Karie Cowden, MAS Connect the Dots Promotions 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 • JULY 2023 • PPAI


Send feedback on articles in PPAI Magazine or opinions on industry issues to JamesK@ppai.org. Feedback 07.23 Promo’s On It In his column in the May issue of PPAI Magazine, Kevin Walsh, CAS, PPAI board chair, shared an anecdote about a hotel’s branded umbrellas and how they exemplified not only the value and utility of promotional products, but also PPAI’s role in supporting the industry and keeping it – in a word – covered. Great story, Kevin, and wonderful testimony to the effectiveness of promotional products. It’s fun to see our products in use, especially at non-industry events where promo is being used. I always try to check out the products and listen to the comments people make about them. We know “Promotional Products Work!” Joe Durand Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing LarLu Winona, Minnesota PPAI 113767, S7 Memphis In PPAI Media’s new “Voices” series, Jenna Quaranta, vice president of sales and business innovation at supplier KNOSS Apparel, shared the central role that prospecting for clients has in the sales process and tips to excel at it. This is a great article, and you captured a lot of great points. Getting to know the prospect – the client – is paramount, as you have suggested. And it begins with asking questions. Brian Scott President Le Tour de Spice Buffalo, New York PPAI 762815, S3 Regionals As PPAI Members Most of the regional associations serving the promotional products industry have signed on with PPAI as business service members. They have done so to create an ongoing alignment between the associations that will establish new benefits for them, PPAI and the industry at large. I was fascinated to read the article in the June issue of the magazine on regional associations joining PPAI as business service members. Way, way back, Larry Wright of Vitronic was the board chair who originally really strived to have the national association and the regionals find a way to work together to advance the industry. Politely and not so politely, the regional boards gave him the finger for, as they said, “Trying to take them over.” For an old, old guy, it’s nice for me to read there may be some people today who understand that cooperation and collaboration benefits everyone. Barry Chase Retired, Former PPAI Board Chair Memphis Pack / Shutterstock.com 8 • JULY 2023 • PPAI

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PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS TO BE UNIVERSALLY VALUED Essentials 07.23 USE CASE Homegrown Promo Industry pros reveal the products they use, the products they want and the products they would suggest. These picks are American-made favorites. page 24 CREATIVE CALENDAR p. 13 IN STYLE p. 14 GOOD TASTE p. 18 Miha Creative / Shutterstock.com PPAI • JULY 2023 • 11

Creative Calendar | Essentials 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 August 4 NATIONAL CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE DAY 13 NATIONAL PROSECCO DAY 30 NATIONAL BEACH DAY September 9 NATIONAL TEDDY BEAR DAY 15 NATIONAL ONLINE LEARNING DAY 29 NATIONAL COFFEE DAY October NATIONAL DOG MONTH Product idea: It’s not a beach day without your shades. Recipients will want to keep these Malibu sunglasses handy. Whether driving to work or relaxing on the sand, these glasses fit every need, and they offer 100% UVA and UVB protection. Hit Promotional Products / PPAI 113910, S13 hitpromo.net 4 NATIONAL TACO DAY 11 NATIONAL COMING OUT DAY 28 NATIONAL CHOCOLATE DAY Exceptional Promotions NATIONAL POTATO MONTH Product idea: There’s never been a bottle quite like this one. The Pastel Purple Orb is the perfect bottle to keep your water crisp and cool, and your coffee piping hot all morning long. Its unique shape is sleek and easy to carry, and the twist-off cap also functions as a cup. The Orb comes in a rainbow of colors. Ad-N-Art / PPAI 236926, S4 / adnart.com SPECIAL OBSERVANCES CALL FOR NATIONAL SELF-PROMOTION MONTH Product idea: Taco night just got kicked up a notch with this collection of fiesta musthaves. This fiesta kit comes with expertly blended seasoning, cocktail (or mocktail) essentials, a tool for crafting the perfect guac, flair to help you express your taco pride and a mini piñata just for fun. Batch & Bodega (HPG) / PPAI 110772, S11 batchandbodega.com Use these special occasions to ignite your imagination for relevant – and distinct – client promotions. Compiled by Kristina Valdez Vitaly Korovin / Shutterstock.com PPAI • JULY 2023 • 13

bokmok / Shutterstock.com Red, White and Buy American In addition to higher perceived value, goods made in the USA offer shorter lead times, smaller carbon footprints and added opportunities to sell a story. By Rachel Zoch AS THE FOURTH OF JULY fills our eyes with stars and stripes, it’s a great time to take a look at American-made promo apparel, from classic tees to custom PJ pants. The demand for products made in the USA has grown in popularity over the past few years because of the supply chain problems, embargoes with China and other issues. Although USA-made apparel is less plentiful and often comes at a higher price point than imported garments, interest is growing for reasons that range from wanting to support American manufacturing to sustainability concerns. Lauren Smith, brand merchandiser for Boundless, a distributor based in Austin, says she’s definitely seeing demand for USA-made promo goods and apparel. “Some of these buyers now are in the Gen Z demographic, and they are so into knowing where their products are coming from and how they’re made. That’s really important for them,” she says. “With a lot of people wanting to have a better economy and 14 • JULY 2023 • PPAI Essentials | In Style

planet Earth and all of that, it’s always nice to support our American-made businesses and to support that job growth. And there are really good companies out there that are making really high-quality products, so I think whenever we can recommend an American-made item, we definitely will.” Sustainability is a stealth benefit of American-made goods that may resonate even more with your clients and their end users. Less transit time means less emissions – and potentially shorter lead times. In May, Taylor Borst, director of marketing, events and public relations for Minnesota-based distributor American Solutions for Business, did a presentation for a PromoCorner “Made in the USA” virtual show in which she highlighted the potential benefits of sourcing promo products close to home. “Ultimately, products that are sourced and shipped domestically require much less gas, much less energy to get it stateside, essentially,” she said, “so that results in a smaller carbon footprint.” American-made goods offer a higher perceived value, too. Consumer surveys show 9 of 10 consumers have a favorable view of products made in the USA and say they would feel good about wearing clothes made with U.S.- grown cotton. Borst noted that over half of American consumers feel more favorable about an organization that gives them a promo product made in the USA, especially one that’s locally sourced, so check with PPAI or your regional association for nearby suppliers. “It’s always a great message when you can say that you are supporting local,” she added, especially for distributors who are servicing small businesses with local clientele. Here are just a few of the available options for Americanmade promo apparel: 1. This Unisex Made in the USA Jersey Short Sleeve Tee checks all the boxes, with sweatshop-free and eco-friendly operations. It’s made in America from 100% Airlume combed and ring-spun cotton and available in 12 colors (red shown) and sizes XS-5X. BELLA+CANVAS / PPAI 304892, S6 bellacanvas.com PPAI • JULY 2023 • 15 In Style | Essentials

2. The heavyweight Volunteer Knitwear All-American Long Sleeve Tee is made in one of the last great textile mills in America with a bit of grit, tough enough to be worn everywhere. Cotton or cotton/poly blend, depending on color. Available in eight colors (true royal shown) and sizes S-4X. SanMar / PPAI 110788, S16 / sanmar.com 3. You can’t go wrong with a hoodie, and this cotton/poly blend Made in USA Unisex Pullover Hoodie features the classic front kangaroo pocket and a double lined hood with matching drawstrings. Available in 18 colors (cardinal shown) and sizes S-6XL. Bayside Made in America / PPAI 213725, S4 / usabayside.com 4. Trucker hats, redolent of Americana, remain the most popular headwear. This Classic Caps USA-Made Trucker Cap features a pre-curved visor with contrast stitching and a performance sweatband. Available in 10 color combinations (navy/white shown). S&S Activewear / PPAI 256121, S12 / ssactivewear.com 16 • JULY 2023 • PPAI Essentials | In Style

In Style | Essentials 5. These lightweight Allover Print Lounge Pants, made in the USA of soft poly/spandex jersey, feature a full-color sublimated print for lounging in style. Available in sizes S-2X. FPS Apparel / PPAI 273314, S3 / fpsapparel.com Zoch is an associate editor at PPAI. 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! 50 piece minimums! GRIP-IT™ JAR OPENERS •Soft, durable texture adds gripping power •Custom shapes available •170+ stock shapes to choose from •Digitally die cut; no extra fee •Multiple color & size options •Digitally printed with 4-Color process PPAI • JULY 2023 • 17

Essentials | Good Taste Promo With A Cup Of Joe Get a buzz going with coffee-themed promo and merch. By Rachel Zoch IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A SURE THING, it’s hard to beat coffee. An eye-popping 3 in 4 Americans drink coffee every day, and most of them are having two or more cups per day. Coffee is a great way to start a conversation, even a metaphorical one between brand and consumer, says Rebecca Klapper, manager of brand marketing and communication for Austin, Texas-based distributor Boundless. “Coffee has that pick-me-up energy,” she says. “Plus, there’s so many ways to build strong messaging around grabbing a cup of coffee with the new contact or getting the buzz and energy around a new product or an offering.” Klapper also sees having a cup of coffee becoming a self-care ritual for some. “It actually makes for a pretty strong emotional marketing piece if you think about consumer behaviors and what people are putting value into, these little rituals in their day,” she adds. Outfitting recipients for those me moments can include everything from coffee itself to drinkware that helps keep your clients’ brands in happily caffeinated hands. A great mug or tumbler also works for any other beverage. “People can use it for coffee, or if they don’t love coffee, they can use it for other drinks – hot tea, hot chocolate and all of that,” Ievgenii Meyer/ azure1 / Shutterstock.com 18 • JULY 2023 • PPAI

says Kaylee Shields, a business development specialist with California-based distributor Image Masters. She particularly likes the new, eco-friendly tumblers made from recycled coffee grounds and other materials. “You get to blend your coffee into the product,” she says, “and it’s also, just from that sustainability standpoint, nice to know that there are additional ways for products and items to be used.” Shields also sees ceramic mugs back in the mix. “For a while those were not as popular, and now with people being able to be at home or in their own space and not having to necessarily get in a car to go somewhere, you don’t need that travel mug in the same way that you used to,” she says. “That said, I still sell tons of the travel coffee mugs, because you can still use those at home or on the go or anything.” When it comes to higher-end drinkware, think brand names and sleek, modern design. “I really love Asobu. Their coffee cups are ceramic-coated on the inside, so it’s this pretty sand color, and it just has that visual appeal of a higher-end product,” says Lauren Smith, brand merchandiser for Boundless. “I use mine almost every day.” For a low-cost branding option that also makes great coffee shop merch, consider coffeethemed stickers. It’s a great way to personalize someone’s favorite drinkware, says Klapper. “Wooden stickers and tech tattoos are great ways to have pride in your local coffee shop,” she says. “People want to make things their own,” she says. “I think part of it probably came post-pandemic, too, where it’s like, ‘This is my bottle, and I know it’s mine because I have all my favorite stickers on it.’” Stickers allow brands to lean into that consumer behavior with a super-affordable, super-customizable option that gets brand colors and logos out there with fun messaging. “And people love to hold on to that because it has a little bit more personality also,” says Klapper. Here are a few promo picks with that morning brew in mind: Add your client’s branding on a Custom-Labeled Bag of Folly Coffee. “Our coffee can be branded with all sorts of ‘mugnificent’ messaging. You can espresso yourself by using ‘brewtiful’ taglines provided by Logojojo – puns intended!” says Ellie Bathe, CAS, chief caffeinator of Minnesota-based supplier Logojojo. “Coffee makes a great gift because craft coffee is becoming a much a part of American culture as locally brewed craft beer,” she adds. Logojojo / PPAI 786980, S1 / logojojo.net Baked fresh to order, these Individually Wrapped Biscotti Cookies with custom labels are sure to spark a smile. Choose from chocolate chip, vanilla or almond flavors (which can also be dipped in chocolate). Midnite Snax / PPAI 113793, S3 / midnitesnax.com PPAI • JULY 2023 • 19 Good Taste | Essentials

Go for a sweet surprise with a branded Window Tin Filled With Chocolate-Covered Espresso Beans. Your client’s logo silkscreened on the lid will remind recipients where the reusable tin came from when the goodies are gone. NC Custom / PPAI 111662, S7 / nccustom.com A coffee-themed kit like the Kick Start is great for room drops, meetings, welcomes or thank-you’s. Contents include a coffee pour-over pack, gourmet granola and cacao protein bar, all packaged in a customizable box with a personalized journal and slate coaster. Batch & Bodega (HPG) PPAI 110772, S11 hpgbrands.com/batch Invite users to decorate their own tumblers, bottles or whatever with a custom, full-color Select Your Sticker Sheet. Add your client’s brand art to one of four layouts of six to 10 waterproof, fade-resistant and ultra-removable vinyl stickers. Gill Studios / PPAI 114157, S11 gill-line.com 20 • JULY 2023 • PPAI Essentials | Good Taste

The 14-oz. Nayad Infinity Tumbler features a removable outer sleeve made of recycled coffee grounds and recycled plastic for a rich coffee color, and the coppery peek-a-boo inner tumbler is made of insulated stainless steel to keep beverages hot for up to 10 hours and cold for up to 20 hours. Ariel Premium Supply / PPAI 161650, S11 / arielpremium.com The Asobu Ultimate Coffee Mug gives you a classic tumbler combined with the unique features of a travel bottle and the feel of a classic mug. Made with a copper lining, double-walled stainless steel and ceramic inner coating, it provides full insulation plus an adjustable spill-proof lid and an easy-hold round handle. Ad-N-Art / PPAI 236926, S4 / adnart.com No Minimums FREE SETUP 9 - 12 - 15 or 17ft High Includes one side imprint w/ground stake Feather Flag EQP Sale! PPAI/582106 SAGE/50398 Go To DiscountMarketingProducts.com to see all Sale Display Kits 9ft Regular Price $164 (C) Now Just NOTE - All flags are shown with optional cross base Must use Promo Code PP0723 $145 (C) Valid thru 8/31/23 Convex Concave Teardrop Angled Flat Blade Choose From 6 Shapes Ground Stake Included Carbon Fiber Poles Full Color Imprint Free PMS Color Matches Free Carry Bag PPAI • JULY 2023 • 21 Good Taste | Essentials

The old faithful ceramic coffee mug has seen a resurgence recently, thanks to remote work. Take it up a notch with a two-tone model like this 16-oz. Color Coded Bistro Ceramic Mug. The matte black exterior contrasts with a bright interior in one of eight color choices. ImprintID / PPAI 576424, S5 / imprintid.com Metal camping mugs are surging in popularity as people continue to crave the great outdoors – or at least the gear for it. This 16-oz. Speckle-It Camping Mug fits the bill, with its enamel finish, speckled exterior, white interior and stainless steel rim. Evans Manufacturing / PPAI 110747, S11 / evans-mfg.com Zoch is an associate editor at PPAI. 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 50 PIECE MINIMUMS! WHITE BEVERAGE NAPKINS • Multiple print methods available • 3 ply facial quality material • Free PMS matching • Metallic and neon ink colors oŽered at no extra cost Perfect for almost any event or budget! 22 • JULY 2023 • PPAI Essentials | Good Taste

MADE IN THE USA Homegrown Promo Industry pros reveal the products they use, the products they want and the products they would suggest. These picks are American-made favorites. Compiled by Kristina Valdez JOSEPH SOMMER President Whitestone Works PPAI 666851, D4 Austin, Texas Sommer faithfully uses a quilted blanket. “We take our two dogs to the park almost every day, but every weekend we faithfully take with us Numo’s Quilted Blanket with us to sit down on as we just hang and chill for a couple hours. It’s nice to sit down on, it’s big, and the quality is exceptional. It’s become an essential piece and conveniently packs into a branded matching drawstring bag.” This puffy quilted blanket works great indoors or out, and it conveniently packs down into its included matching drawstring bag. The sustainably produced nylon material is lightweight and washable, and it sheds beach sand or baguette crumbs with a simple shake. It’s definitely a staple piece for the beach or that special spot under the big tree at the park. Numo / PPAI 112597, S9 / numomfg.com Sommer wants to try something sweet. “Filling people’s bellies is the fastest way to their hearts, which is why I love supporting Maple Ridge Farms and encourage all our customers to think about how to incorporate gifting delicious treats to their staff, customers and raving fans. I have yet to try their Churro Toffee, but I imagine that it’ll be a 10 out of 10 like everything else that comes out of their kitchen.” Miha Creative / Shutterstock.com 24 • JULY 2023 • PPAI Essentials | Use Case

Cinnamon churro toffee, covered in rich white chocolate and topped with a special blend of cinnamon and sugar, is paired with signature English butter toffee. This toffee is made the old-fashioned way with plenty of dairy-fresh Wisconsin butter for a flavor that’s almost impossible to find anymore. The sustainable wooden collector’s box contains 11 ounces and bears your client’s logo fire-branded or foil-stamped in your choice of color on the lid. Maple Ridge Farms / PPAI 114165, S8 mapleridge.com Sommer would suggest comfort and sustainability. “We are huge fans of Marine Layer, and whenever we get the chance, we talk about their brand with customers. We share how incredible their Re-Spun program is and that you can produce seven different styles of custom Pantone-colored garments. The quality is unbeatable, they are a B Corp, and they proudly produce in the United States. Win, win, win!” Not only is this signature customdyed crew the most absurdly soft shirt recipients will ever wear, but it’s also made with recycled beechwood, so it’s sustainable, too. It’s the shirt of dreams: soft, never see-through. Marine Layer / PPAI 690355, S1 / marinelayer.com 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! 25 piece minimums! SOLO® PLASTIC PARTY CUPS •Sidewall edges add cup strength & safety •Same cost for 1 side, 2 side or wrap imprint •Metallic and neon ink colors available at no extra cost •Multi-layered and crack resistant design •Free PMS matching •Multiple print methods available PPAI • JULY 2023 • 25 Use Case | Essentials

TRICIA WILLIAMS CEO My Tribe Print & Promo PPAI 769794, D3 Lake Park, Georgia Williams faithfully uses products to empower and advocate. “As a Native American and a survivor of domestic violence, domestic violence awareness stickers tailored explicitly for Native American tribes hold significant personal benefits for me. [I’m working with Gill Studios to help a client create] stickers that will effectively convey the message of domestic violence awareness within our communities. I can help raise awareness and educate others about the pressing issue of domestic violence within Native American tribes, fostering a culture of support, understanding and empathy. The stickers serve as a visual tool to spark conversations, encourage victims to seek help and empower survivors by reminding them that they are not alone.” Gill Studios / PPAI 114157, S11 / gill-line.com Williams wants to try something that's handcrafted. “Wendell August Forge has got some gorgeous materials that we’ve witnessed at trade shows. I love the fact that we can literally custom-create pretty much anything that we’d like to highlight for our clients. From Christmas ornaments to commemorative pieces, each item is handcrafted specifically for the client that we’re working with. Personally, I think their pieces are beautiful, and each one is unique to the person who has created it.” Toast to the perfect gift. This beautiful floral-inspired wine glass can be personalized with the recipient’s first or last initial. Each monogrammed initial is uniquely adorned with florals, as well as a border of hammered flowers. It makes a great gift for Mother’s Day, wedding parties, your best clients or something special just because. Wendell August Forge / PPAI 236082, S1 wendellcorporate.com Wendell August Forge has got some gorgeous materials that we’ve witnessed at trade shows. I love the fact that we can literally customcreate pretty much anything that we’d like to highlight for our clients. 26 • JULY 2023 • PPAI Essentials | Use Case

Zanna Art / Shutterstock.com AVERY MANKO Owner The Manko Company PPAI 221758, D4 Mendenhall, Pennsylvania Manko faithfully uses this kitchen tool. “I eat a ton of oranges and grapefruit, and I use the citrus peeler on the end opposite of the spreader. It works great. I use the spreader to fish out peanut butter when I’m at the bottom of the jar. This item is so handy.” This is a great kitchen tool for spreading cream cheese on bagels or for making the perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich. There is a citrus peeler on the opposite end to help you remove the peel from your favorite citrus fruit with ease. Evans Manufacturing / PPAI 110747, S11 evans-mfg.com Manko wants to try this sports bottle. “I sold the item sight-unseen and will order a sample. I drink protein shakes at lunch instead of having a full meal. This item looks like quality, and I’ll bet it does a great job mixing the protein shakes.” This 20-ounce transparent shaker bottle with drink-through lid comes in a classic straightwall cylinder design with rigid construction for superior durability. It’s ideal for athletic facilities, sports, schools, travel agencies and gift shops. Garyline / PPAI 112004, S10 / garyline.com Manko would suggest something everyone could use. “Many of my customers are business-tocustomer, so I recommend kitchen items. Everyone needs a chip clip. My customers distribute them quickly, and I get reorders for them regularly.” This 4-inch bag clip, available in four colors, helps keep food fresher longer and your client’s brand top of mind. Hit Promotional Products / PPAI 113910, S14 hitpromo.net Valdez is an associate editor at PPAI. PPAI • JULY 2023 • 27 Use Case | Essentials

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IDEAS TO ADVANCE THE MARKETPLACE Voices 07.23 RESPONSIBILITY page 34 THINKING UPSTREAM A search for the ultimate answers to promo’s problem of plastic packaging waste YOUR BUSINESS p. 30 INNOVATION p. 36 Dernkadel / Firn / Shutterstock.com PPAI • JULY 2023 • 29

Master1305 / Shutterstock.com Creating Job Joy Happy workers have greater confidence and give more effort. Here are the do’s and don’ts for promo leaders trying to unlock higher levels of team engagement. by Lindsey Davis, MAS IF YOU’VE EVER BEEN IN A PERSONAL FUNK, you know that it makes it hard to be your best in your work. Likewise, during the times when you’ve been killing it in your promo business, you probably feel more satisfied and less anxious in other areas of your life. In an age when most professionals carry their entire job in their hip pocket, the idea of work/life balance is toast. Instead, we should focus of finding ways to create happiness that spills over into all areas of life. More than ever, our job and our joy are not only connected but intertwined. Employees want joy in their jobs for the obvious reasons – I mean, half of our waking hours during the week are spent on the clock – but also for more personal reasons, such as knowing their work has meaning. As a sales leader, I want my employees to have joy in their work because I care about them and also because job joy can ignite the two things that I believe make salespeople great: confidence and effort. Confident salespeople are better salespeople. A confident pitch inspires trust and closes more deals. But more importantly, salespeople simply aren’t as good when they aren’t confident in their company’s ability to deliver. Job joy creates a level of trust in an organization that generates confidence in its mission, its integrity and its ability to deliver. As for effort, it’s required of everyone on some level. Good salespeople put in plenty of effort. But the secret to really unlocking a person’s true potential is in inspiring discretionary effort, the level of effort people will Voices | Your Business 30 • JULY 2023 • PPAI

Your Business | Voices give above and beyond the minimum required. This doesn’t mean more time spent working, but rather more engagement during their working time. It might mean asking better questions during a discovery call, seeking out referrals for new business, writing personal thank-you notes or getting quotes out quickly. Because discretionary effort is strongly correlated to employee engagement, it is another benefit to any leader who makes a conscious decision to grow the job joy of their teams. Creating joy at work doesn’t require a massive overhaul. It can happen with simple actions every day. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to help you inspire job joy in your team. Communicate On Purpose What doesn’t work? • Mass communication about important topics that isn’t preceded by personal conversations from leaders. This is especially true for the people directly impacted by the news you are sharing. • Low or poor communication in general. If you aren’t talking with your teams regularly, too much is left up to speculation and assumptions, which is rarely positive. What works? • Being transparent and honest. When your team understands the why behind a decision – or better yet, helped you make it – they will be more confident and engaged. • Share information intentionally. Before you shoot off a quick note on messaging platform, ask a few questions. Does my team need to act on this information immediately? If yes, that quick message is probably a good choice. Will my team need to find this information again later? If yes, you might want to consider an email instead. Is this topic complicated or requiring more conversation? If yes, consider holding off until your next team meeting. Provide Real Balance What doesn’t work? • Work hard, play hard. It is impossible to give 100% to everything. Extended effort toward this impossible platitude creates burnout. PPAI • JULY 2023 • 31

Voices | Your Business • Trying to make things equal. Providing balance for your team members won’t always look the same for everyone. Fair isn’t always equal, and that’s OK. What works? • Give trust and create clarity. Fully understand that expectations, goals and boundaries help build confidence and the ability for your team members to own their work. • Be flexible. Encourage time off when someone needs a break, offer flex hours to help people avoid heavy traffic, and support that occasional long lunch or late morning. Value Their Work What doesn’t work? • Messy systems slow salespeople down. Time spent searching for the right file or relearning a difficult process is time wasted, and a lack of improvement can leave your team feeling less valuable. • Pizza parties. If after a hard project or a big goal, your team recognition is another catered lunch, you aren’t being intentional enough in your recognition of their work. What works? • Investing in each team member’s development not only shows you value them, but also that you see them as a long-term contributor to the success of your organization. • Recognizing your team members’ efforts is vital and should include kudos from you and other leaders on your staff. Using incentives and bonuses can be a great way to show longer-term recognition, but don’t forget to use our unique marketing medium to make memorable connections with your own team – a great promo product always creates joy. Joy at work leads to strong and lasting engagement, which can build confidence and effort from your sales team. This doesn’t mean there won’t be hard days, missed goals and failed projects. Instead, for people and teams with high job joy, those inevitable stressors are not major disruptions but minor distractions on the path to success. Davis is the director of business development at PPAI. 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 • Full color digital imprint • White high-density pulpboard • Made from renewable resources • Available in 35/55/80 pt thicknesses • No additional die cut fee 50 PIECE MINIMUMS! PULPBOARD CAR COASTERS 32 • JULY 2023 • PPAI

secrid.com Original pocketwear since 1995 Kleerwest & Secrid WARRANTY & REPAIR In case of any quality issues, we provide fantastic service no matter where the wallet was bought. 100% MADE IN HOLLAND Our products are produced in Holland, assembled in local sheltered workshops and C02 compensated. PERSONALIZED GIFTING Add your own design to the aluminium Cardprotector of any wallet. Our large collection ensures we have a wallet style for everyone. GIVE A PERSONALIZED GIFT THAT LASTS A high quality design wallet featuring our iconic patented mechanism, providing a simple and fast way to access your cards with one movement. Protecting your cards against bending, breaking and unwanted wireless communication (RFID safe). Made in Holland, assembled in local sheltered workshops and C0 compensated. A gift for every occasion which you bring to every occasion - designed to last. Contact our partner KLEERWEST, for a range of our Secrid wallets and options. (510) 558-8525 | sales@kleerwest.com | kleerwest.com MAKE A LASTING IMPRESSION BY GIFTING A SECRID WALLET TO YOUR COLLEAGUES, CLIENTS AND RELATIONS. The original Cardprotector was launched in 2009 and awarded with a Red Dot Design Award. On register.secrid.com Secrid wallets can be registered for a 3rd year of warranty and a certificate of authenticity.

Voices | Responsibility Thinking Upstream IMAGINE YOU AND A FRIEND are taking a nice walk along a river when suddenly you see a little girl floating through the rapids, calling for help. You both jump in to rescue the child and get her to safety, only to spot another child floating down the river. You save that one. Then you spot two more kids in the river. Expecting you’ll each take one of the kids drifting through the water, you dive in again, only to turn around and discover your friend is running upstream. You scream at her, “Why are you running away instead of helping!?” She yells back, “I’m going to tackle the lunatic who’s throwing children in the river!” This is the parable that opens a great book by Dan Heath, Upstream: The Quest To Solve Problems Before They Happen. According to Heath, humans get stuck in a cycle of response. They focus on addressing problems and putting out fires. People rely on response and reaction because it is easier to see and measure than seeking to identify the root cause of the problem. The concept of upstream thinking applies to virtually all areas of your professional and personal life, but that type of root cause analysis is particularly relevant to work in sustainability. You can seek to measure and reduce waste all day long, and you will have positive but incremental results. What could those results look like if you instead took an upstream approach and sought to eliminate waste from being created in the first place? Our industry tends to get labeled as “brandfill”. We’ve all heard the term. But when I look at waste in the industry, I am confident that, when done right, promo does not fall into this unflattering category. However, even the best promo contributes to waste through its packaging. We aren’t alone in that. A few days ago, I received an Amazon delivery. It was a relatively small item packaged in a brown paper shipping bag, inside a larger plastic bag. Why did the paper shipping bag need to be protected from the elements by the plastic bag,? I wondered, while throwing the plastic bag in the trash and the brown paper mailer in the recycling bin. That just took a moment, but my dissatisfaction from the experience has lingered. Can we focus on elevating the products we sell while simultaneously eliminating the waste associated with the packaging? The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a thought leader in sustainability, has produced an Upstream Innovation Guide focused on root-cause A search for the ultimate answers to promo’s problem of plastic packaging waste by Anne Stone, MAS, CAE Access a glossary of sustainability terms at ppai.org/media/ 7691/glossarysustainableterms.pdf. Dernkadel / Firn / Shutterstock.com 34 • JULY 2023 • PPAI

Responsibility | Voices solutions to plastic waste. Their focus is on elimination, reuse and material circulation. According to the foundation, the demand for plastic packaging is expected to double over the next 20 years. They argue that only a circular economy approach will help us solve the plastic pollution problem. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, to create a circular economy for plastic, three actions are required: • Eliminate all problematic and unnecessary plastic items. • Innovate to ensure the plastics we do need are reusable, recyclable and ultimately compostable. • Circulate all the plastic items we use to keep them in the economy and out of the environment. I don’t want the recipients of promotional products to have the same experience I had with my Amazon delivery. We must begin to systemically apply upstream thinking to reduce waste while protecting the integrity of the product, the imprint and the end-user experience. When evaluating packaging, the first question you should ask yourself is, Is it necessary? So often, I see products encased in both a polybag and a cardboard box. Do you really need both? Certainly, there are some items for which packaging could be eliminated entirely. If the packaging is not necessary but simply expected or customary, what would happen if you got rid of it? Would it still meet customer expectations, or would you need to invest time in changing those expectations? If the packaging is necessary, can you identify recyclable packaging solutions to replace the plastic packaging? Or is it possible to create packaging that can be reused by the recipient and potentially even extend the branding opportunity of the product itself? And after that reuse, can we design the packaging to ensure it can be recycled in an infinite loop? We can do all of those things, as some thoughtful companies are already proving. I’m not going to pretend this is easy, but I am confident that our industry can apply its inherent creativity and ingenuity to the problem and stop the lunatic from continuing to throw children in the river. Stone is the director of member engagement at PPAI. 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 B-flute (1/8”) corrugated board •No die cut fees! •Interior print optional •Perfect for sample kits & product packaging •Self-locking & easy to assemble •Digitally printed with 4-Color process 5 piece minimums! MAILING BOXES AVAILABLE IN 63 DIFFERENT SIZES! Matching tissue paper available! PPAI • JULY 2023 • 35

Voices | Innovation BUNDITINAY / GhostDesigner / Tartila / Shutterstock.com The True Intelligence Behind AI WHEN IT COMES TO ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, you can blame the sci-fi movies for making our imaginations run wild. Some people are downright scared of AI taking over the world and enslaving the human race; other people have wildly exaggerated the utopia that these learning programs will help us create. As with most things, the answer is surely somewhere in between. It’s true – there is some reason to fear the unknown that comes with the AI revolution we are just beginning to enter. Yet, most of us cannot Promo businesses can take steps now to be among the first to capitalize on the AI revolution. by Dale Denham, MAS+ prevent any of the significant harm that we imagine. We should be more concerned about what AI won’t do. The hype surrounding AI is nearing its peak, as the news loves to feed on both our fear and our desire to focus on something new. This creates excitement that leads to inflated expectations, quickly followed by disappointment. My suggestion for avoiding the “Trough of Disillusionment” and enjoying the benefits of AI without setting yourself up for disappointment? Focus on what you can get out of AI today, while also preparing yourself for the future. The tools already available are fascinating, but very few are operational yet that are going to dramatically change your promotional products business. Some can make your business better overall as software products build in functionality, such as SAGE adding AI to the Idea Wizard. Some AI functionality will make you more efficient by automating simple 36 • JULY 2023 • PPAI

Innovation | Voices tasks, like writing job descriptions or improving artwork processes. Microsoft will soon launch Copilot, which will likely create some efficiencies for most users of Office. But the most impactful improvements are yet to come, as new tools become available to solve problems specific to your business. The most value from AI will be unlocked in the years ahead by those who are prepared to take advantage of the AI tools that are yet to be developed. The secret to unlocking the value of artificial intelligence is data. AI needs quality data, and businesses of every size need to prioritize data management if you want results beyond the tasks that are available today. You can use AI without your own data and still have gains, but you won’t have an advantage. AI with general data is useful, but AI with your own structured data is powerful. Data is the true intelligence behind AI. There are numerous insights that AI can give you, but unless you have good data, the insights will be limited. The more data you have, the more likely AI will give you a better answer. If you only have one year of data, your AI potential is more limited than if you have 10 years of data. This mirrors the typical learning curve with humans, except AI doesn’t forget like we humans do. Further, the more your data is structured, the more context you are giving AI to understand how to use the data. The data you have in your order management system is likely to have some structure that will help AI. However, the way most distributors create orders will limit the ability to use standard AI tools, and unfortunately these old-fashioned practices create a lot of other challenges for the industry today. Consider that the typical line on a purchase order description contains item details such as the color of the item, the size(s) and often imprint information, including imprint color. This creates challenges for suppliers to use automation to bring this information into their system and for distributors to be able to run basic reports. More importantly, this lack of context for data will make it more difficult for AI to know with certainty whether a color is the product or the imprint. There is so much data we are losing because we are not capturing it. AI may figure this out PPAI • JULY 2023 • 37

Voices | Innovation at some point, but the more we provide context, the sooner and more effectively we can use AI. Many salespeople make and receive calls without logging the call into a CRM. Even when they do, the reason for the call may be poorly cataloged. AI may understand a call was made, but without logging the reason along with the result of the call, the AI will be at a disadvantage. If salespeople log the reason as well as the outcome of calls today, the AI can help answer questions, such as which customers are more costly, to help you understand your true costs or identify the clients you need to provide better service to in advance. The future power of AI will be unlocked when your data can be fed into AI tools and leveraged by you. Until then, leverage the tools available to you now while improving your approach to data management. Denham is the president and CEO at PPAI. There are numerous insights that AI can give you, but unless you have good data, the insights will be limited. The more data you have, the more likely AI will give you a better answer. BUNDITINAY / GhostDesigner / Tartila / Shutterstock.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 25 PIECE MINIMUMS! GRIP-IT™ PLACEMATS Made from soft, durable triple layered PVC • 170+ stock shapes available • Custom shapes available • Digitally die cut; no extra fee • Available in 7 di‘erent colors • Digitally printed with 4-Color process 38 • JULY 2023 • PPAI