PPAI Magazine October 2023

MEDIA.PPAI.ORG 10.23 IN THIS ISSUE Chocolate Covered Promo p. 16 It's In The Bag p. 20 2023-24 PPEF Scholars p. 60 The Daycare Market p. 74 The State of Innovation 2023 PPAI research reveals how distributors and suppliers are approaching technology and assigns new high marks to companies doing it best. pg. 46

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4 From PPAI Let’s Not Be Stupid 8 Feedback Essentials 11 Creative Calendar 12 In Style Tees (And More) For Tykes 16 Good Taste Loco For Cocoa 20 Use Case All Bagged Up Voices 28 Solutions It’s (Almost) The Same Color 30 Your Business The Art Of The Interview 32 Innovation Social Media Dos & Don’ts 34 Responsibility It’s OK Not To Be Perfect Must Read 74 Promotional Products Work Daycare Facilities 80 PPAI Woman Of Achievement Award Recipients Brittany David, MAS Patricia Dugan, MAS Community 88 Buzzworthy 90 PPPC Communiqué 91 Inside PPAI 96 New Members 101 Datebook 106 Perfect Promo CONTENTS 10.23 Supporting Students Since 1989, PPEF has awarded over $3.3 million in scholarships to students connected to the promo industry. Meet this year’s recipients in the following pages. 60 VOLUME 47, ISSUE 08 Coded For Success These nine websites are the best in the industry, each earning a PPAI Pyramid Award in Technology for their creative content curation and ingenious navigation. Read how these promo pros are coding websites for success. 38 The State of Innovation 2023 PPAI research reveals how distributors and suppliers of all sizes are approaching technology and assigns new high marks to some of the companies doing it best. 46 38 46 60 PPAI • OCTOBER 2023 • 3

From PPAI Dale Denham, MAS+ President & CEO 10.23 It’s time to finally address the inefficiency problem and stop talking about it. It’s time for every supplier to adopt Promo Data Exchange from PPAI. Let’s Not Be Stupid THE YEAR IS 2023, AND still thousands of phone calls are made daily to check the status of product orders. Thousands more phone calls are made daily to check inventory. It’s stupid. Clients ultimately suffer from these and other inefficiencies in our industry, giving them a bad experience. But the inefficiencies affect us all. Suppliers spend money on staff to support distributors, and distributors spend on staff to make these calls. If each call takes just three minutes on average, and the average wage with benefits is even as low as $15 an hour, the cost of each call is $1.50 total (75 cents for the supplier and 75 cents for the distributor). So, for every 20 calls our industry makes like this, we spend $30. For every 1,000 calls, we spend $1,500. I’m confident our industry makes more than 10,000 calls a day on these basic topics, meaning no less than $15,000 is wasted every day – never mind the opportunity cost from the fact there is better use of these staffers’ time. The inefficiency is staggering. I can hear suppliers saying, “Our website has inventory and order status.” This is valuable. Unfortunately, it is challenging for every person at a distributor (regardless of size) to login to every supplier site to check inventory and order status. The problem is not hard to solve, but we as an industry have not taken the right steps, which has led to expensive IT investments without adoption. It’s time to finally address the inefficiency problem and stop talking about it. It’s time for every supplier to adopt Promo Data Exchange from PPAI. A single integration using PDX makes inventory available to 45,000 people who use SAGE to find products every day. That’s 45,000 people who don’t need to log in to a website or call a vendor to view supplier inventory. Already nearly 100 suppliers have inventory in SAGE, all but eliminating phone calls regarding inventory. Similarly, order status is available with a single integration to SAGE. PDX works because smaller distributors do not need to make an investment to use it, nor do they have to continue investing to keep up with changes. SAGE provides free technical support to all PPAI members who want to integrate using PDX. And integration is quite easy for most suppliers, especially if your data is already available on your website or through other systems such as PromoStandards, a PPAI business services member that has proved an excellent option for large suppliers but hasn’t reached the smaller distributors suited to PDX. Distributors, the next time you or your staff are forced to call a supplier to check inventory or order status, tell them, “This is stupid,” and ask them why they don’t have their inventory and order status in SAGE. As a supplier, if you do have your inventory in SAGE, make sure your team is asking the distributor if they are checking SAGE. If you are not yet using PDX, reach out to your SAGE account manager or Nick DiNicola at NickD@ ppai.org to get started. Together we will provide better service to everyone, and ultimately the buying client. At the same time, we’ll waste less money and enjoy the work more. And that is not stupid. 4 • OCTOBER 2023 • PPAI

PPAI® PUBLISHER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Josh Ellis JoshE@ppai.org DEPUTY EDITOR James Khattak JamesK@ppai.org NEWS EDITORS Jonny Auping JonnyA@ppai.org John Corrigan JohnC@ppai.org ASSOCIATE EDITORS Kristina Valdez KristinaV@ppai.org Rachel Zoch RachelZ@ppai.org MARKET ECONOMIST & SENIOR MANAGER, RESEARCH Alok Bhat 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 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 SUSTAINABILITY & RESPONSIBILITY Elizabeth Wimbush VICE PRESIDENT, REVENUE AND EXPOSITIONS Ellen Tucker, MAS, CAE DIRECTOR OF MARKETING Keith Vincent DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION CW Karstens 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 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 • OCTOBER 2023 • PPAI

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Send feedback on articles in PPAI Magazine or opinions on industry issues to JamesK@ppai.org. Feedback 10.23 Building Each Other Up The 2023 PPAI Women’s Leadership Conference brought together women from across the promotional products industry for education, connection and camaraderie. The event, held in Eagan, Minnesota, in June, also celebrated the 2023 PPAI Woman of Achievement recipients, Brittany David, MAS, chief revenue officer for SnugZ USA – ranked the No. 9 supplier in the PPAI 100 – and Patricia Dugan, MAS, vice president of sales and marketing for BUDGETCARD. I was a first-time attendee of the WLC this year, and it was an excellent experience. One fellow attendee described it perfectly when she said it was a “fill your cup” type of event! If you have considered WLC in the past, I highly recommend it. Christine Fischer, MAS Director of Automotive Programs American Solutions for Business Glenwood, Minnesota PPAI 101656, D12 We are so proud to claim Pat as one of our own at BUDGETCARD. Always professional, always dedicated, and always the person that people come to see at the shows. Christopher Roche Owner President BUDGETCARD Attleboro Falls, Massachusetts PPAI 110764, S7 Building Strong Bonds With Staff In the July issue of PPAI Magazine, Lindsey Davis, MAS, PPAI’s director of business development, shared some valuable suggestions in her column titled “Creating Job Joy” to help promo leaders seeking to unlock greater engagement and enthusiasm in their teams. This is a really great and thoughtful article. As a supplier, our sales role is a bit different than that of a distributor, but this article is very helpful in planning out goals and how to retain our staff for the long run. Amy O’Bryant Communication & Operations Manager EMT Indianapolis, Indiana PPAI 110810, S4 8 • OCTOBER 2023 • PPAI

PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS TO BE UNIVERSALLY VALUED Essentials 10.23 USE CASE ALL BAGGED UP Industry pros reveal the products they use, the products they want and the products they would suggest. These picks can hold all the essentials. page 20 CREATIVE CALENDAR p. 11 IN STYLE p. 12 GOOD TASTE p. 16 Gravity Digital / Shutterstock.com PPAI • OCTOBER 2023 • 9


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 November 1 NATIONAL CINNAMON DAY 10 WORLD IMMUNIZATION DAY 20 ODD SOCKS DAY December 2 PLAY BASKETBALL DAY 9 CHRISTMAS CARD DAY 13 NATIONAL COCOA DAY January LUNG CANCER AWARENESS MONTH Product idea: Stand out on Odd Socks Day, founded in 2017 as a way to deter bullying in schools, with jacquard knit Custom Dress Socks in your brand’s colors (up to three PMS, six colors total). Gift boxes, custom tags and upgrade to organic cotton available. Pop! Promos / PPAI 564497, S1 poppromos.com 13 NATIONAL RUBBER DUCKY DAY 15 NATIONAL HAT DAY 22 NATIONAL HOT SAUCE DAY Exceptional Promotions NATIONAL DRUNK AND DRUGGED DRIVING PREVENTION MONTH Product idea: Gift winter warmth with this Cocoa Cozy collection of hot cocoa essentials. The 12-oz. double-wall stainless mug, imprinted stir sticks and an 8-oz. tin of gourmet cocoa mix (just add milk) all come packaged in a customizable box with a personalized note at no additional cost. HPG / PPAI 110772, S11 hpgbrands.com/batch SPECIAL OBSERVANCES CALL FOR NATIONAL BLOOD DONOR MONTH Product idea: Stay out of hot water with this Color Changing Rubber Duck. The PVC duck, available in six colors, turns white when the water temperature reaches 100 degrees. Jornik Manufacturing / PPAI 111065, S6 jornik.com Use these special occasions to ignite your imagination for relevant – and distinct – client promotions. Compiled by Rachel Zoch PPAI • OCTOBER 2023 • 11

Promo blanks for kids are trending softer in both texture and color, but also consider patterns and other details to help your projects stand out. By Rachel Zoch SCHOOL IS BACK IN SESSION, and T-shirts for teams, events, clubs and more are a staple for promo. But what makes a great piece kids will want to wear? Suppliers say softness is the name of the game these days, whether it’s the feel of the fabric or the color palette. Ring-spun shirts and infant bodysuits with a soft hand and tear-away labels for comfort – better yet, with custom pad-printed labeling – are now the baseline expectation when it comes to promo apparel for kids. Softer colors, like pastels and earth tones, are starting to nudge out brighter Y2K hues. A key advantage of these lighter tones, also popular in retail where they are often considered neutrals, is that they are easier to decorate and often don’t require a base layer for a crisp screen print. 1. The tie-dye trend is still going strong with clothing for infants and children, and The Laughing Giraffe offers a large selection of infant pieces and toddler T-shirts in a pigment tie-dye pattern in neutral smoke or latte (both shown). These garments, made specifically for custom decoration, come in sizes newborn through youth XL. KidsBlanks By Zoë / PPAI 264463, S6 / kidsblanks.com 2. Keep the tie-dye trend rolling into the cooler months with this Youth Midweight Tie-Dye Hooded Pullover featuring a jersey-lined hood. The tie-dyeing process gives each garment unique character that kids will love. Available in six color combinations (Sunset Swirl shown) and youth sizes XS-XL. S&S Activewear / PPAI 256121, S12 / ssactivewear.com Tees (And More) For Tykes 12 • OCTOBER 2023 • PPAI Essentials | In Style

3. With the twinning trend – whether it’s mommy & me, just like dad or matching sibling outfits – blanks that offer the same patterns in a wide range of sizes can be a winning foundation for custom-branded apparel. Outfit newborns through toddler size 7 with these Rabbit Skins Toddler Crew Neck Short Sleeve Tees and Infant Lap Shoulder Short Sleeve Bodysuits that come in 96 colors and patterns, including stripes, spots, animal and camo and feature a soft hand, side seam construction and an easy tear label for comfort. LAT Apparel / PPAI 254347, S4 / latapparel.com Jen Oleksik, director of apparel design quality for Georgia-based supplier LAT Apparel, which provides blanks for infants, toddlers and children through its Rabbit Skins brand, says her company recently introduced softer colors like blushes that are increasingly popular in children’s apparel. “Colors like that are really doing well, I think because they’re easy to decorate, but also the pastels in the market have just been doing really well,” she says. “And from our perspective in this business, anybody who is printing it, they don’t have to put an underbase, they don’t have to fight with a dark color.” Clive Rock, president of KidsBlanks By Zoë, a Californiabased supplier specializing in blanks for infants and children, says his company is also seeing more demand for “dusty earth tones” like oatmeal and sage versus brights. For example, KidsBlanks offers a single-color, neutral (gray or tan) tie-dye that has been very popular. Look at what youth-oriented brands are doing, or what major brands are doing in their kids’ lines, says Rock, and “make it interesting for your customers.” Oleksik also sees patterns taking off with children’s pieces, from LAT’s new not-quite-polka dot “spot” pattern to a thin horizontal stripe that comes in blues, pinks, grays or rainbow, as well as the tried-and-true tie-dye. “It’s an opportunity to be a little bit more playful with the garment,” she says. These pages show a few examples of what’s available in promo apparel for children. 4. It’s important to keep school dress code requirements in mind, too. This Youth Girls Relaxed Fine Jersey Tank Top offers coverage with style for a fashionforward garment that can be worn again and again. Available in six colors (peachy shown) and youth sizes XS-XL, as well as ladies S-2X and curvy 1-4. LAT Apparel / PPAI 254347, S4 / latapparel.com PPAI • OCTOBER 2023 • 13 In Style | Essentials

Embellish To Excite Decoration is key to any promo project, and kids’ clothes are no different. Look to retail for inspiration and go for bold, clean graphics to create a garment with high perceived value that a child will want to wear over and over. Chip Stites, partner and graphic designer with SpunkyFuel, a Tampa, Florida distributor that specializes in school spirit gear, started designing for schools because he was disappointed by the shirts his kids brought home. “The goal is to create something that they’d be excited to wear,” he says, “something that resembles maybe something that they would have seen in the store and thought, ‘That’s cool – I want to buy that.’” 5. For a classic hoodie that can also function as a light jacket, this soft poly/cotton Youth Fashion Fleece Zip Hoodie features a metal zipper and front kangaroo pockets. Made in the USA, it comes in 10 colors (heather gray and purple shown) and youth sizes S/8, M/10 and L/12. Royal Apparel / PPAI 269959, S1 / royalapparel.net 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 •White high-density pulpboard •170+ stock shapes available •Custom shapes available •Available in 35/55/80 pt thickness •Digitally printed with 4-Color process 50 piece minimums! PULPBOARD COASTERS Submit your own shape! 14 • OCTOBER 2023 • PPAI Essentials | In Style

6. No promo apparel list is complete without a T-shirt, and this poly/ cotton Youth Heather CVC Short Sleeve Tee fits like a well-loved favorite. Made of ring-spun cotton, it comes in a rainbow of solid, heather, vintage and neon colors (heather blue lagoon and heather mauve shown) and youth sizes S-XL. BELLA + CANVAS / PPAI 304892, S6 bellacanvas.com Zoch is an associate editor at PPAI. Softer colors, like pastels and earth tones, are starting to nudge out brighter Y2K hues. PPAI • OCTOBER 2023 • 15 In Style | Essentials

Essentials | Good Taste Loco For Cocoa Spread joy with a sweet treat known for sparking smiles, serotonin and shared memories. By Rachel Zoch MENTION CHOCOLATE AND you’re likely to see pupils dilate and smiles erupt. While some people might be allergic or otherwise averse, few don’t love chocolate goodies of all kinds, from hot cocoa to candy bars to fine truffles. “It’s hard not to smile if someone gives you chocolate. At least it is for me,” says Laurie Aronoff, director of marketing for Goldner Associates, this year’s PPAI 100 No. 49 distributor. Chocolate also literally triggers warm, fuzzy feelings, thanks to the human body releasing endorphins, serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin – all the happy hormones – when we eat it. That’s just one of the many reasons chocolate and other sweets are a traditional holiday gift. Africa Studio / Shutterstock.com 16 • OCTOBER 2023 • PPAI

“They can be shared, it is not something that the recipient already has, and it is universally enjoyed. When you eat chocolate, your body replicates the chemical your body creates when you are in love,” says David Miller, president of Hicksville, New York-based supplier NC Custom, the PPAI 100 No. 18 supplier and home of the Chocolate Inn brand. Part of the fourth generation to work in the family business in Nashville, Tennessee, Aronoff uses chocolate for her company’s self-promos as well as recommending it to clients as a simple yet versatile – and delicious – giveaway. “You don’t have to worry about the demographics of your audience. You don’t have to worry about the industry. You don’t have to worry about sizing. There’s all different price points you can hit,” says Aronoff. “A lot of them have great packaging where there’s lots of room for messaging, and it just appeals to a lot of senses.” While the industry offers tons of great options, Aronoff advises her fellow distributors to always sample anything new. “Before I put our logo on something, I need to be sure it stands up to the quality, taste, whatever test, she says. “It’s got to be good – and our industry does have some really good chocolate and other products.” Also, she says, be sure to take full advantage of all the customization options, from custom-wrapped candy bars to unique, retail-inspired packaging in different shapes to imprints on the candies or cookies themselves. “The nice thing about some of these chocolates is you can make the packaging relate to whatever the holiday is, whatever the event is,” says Aronoff. “… There’s so much room on a wrapper. It’s not like you’re trying to put an imprint on a pen where you’ve got to tighten the amount of room. You’ve got a lot of billboard space there.” Another benefit of chocolates and other sweet treats is their shareability: Chocolates are often enjoyed in social settings and shared among coworkers, friends and family. “When you provide chocolates as promotional gifts, recipients may choose to share them with colleagues, friends or family members,” says Mitch Silver, vice president of sales and marketing for Chicago-based distributor Printable Promotions. This creates an opportunity for your brand or message to reach a broader audience through word of mouth.” Good Taste | Essentials PPAI • OCTOBER 2023 • 17

Aronoff’s favorite sweet treat is Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels. These rich bites deliver soft, buttery caramel, made with dairy fresh cream and enrobed in dark chocolate, then dusted with a delicate sprinkling of sea salt to create a bold flavor. Maple Ridge Farms / PPAI 114165, S8 / mapleridge.com Aronoff is also a big fan of Chocolate Inn’s Peppermint Bark, with dark chocolate, white chocolate and crushed peppermint candy. “Something about that combination is just to die for, so I love those,” she says. Available in different holiday shapes (trees and stars) and a variety of customizable packaging options. NC Custom / PPAI 111662, S7 / nccustom.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! •Traditional 4-Color process print available •Metallic and neon ink colors offered at no extra cost •Free PMS matching •Pad printed using 1-5 spot colors 100 piece minimums! WHITE PLASTIC PLATES 10” Plate 9” Plate 7” Plate 18 • OCTOBER 2023 • PPAI Essentials | Good Taste

Appeal to the eyes as well as the tastebuds with retail-inspired packaging like the Two-Way Signature Cube Collection, with your choice of fillings from nuts to gourmet chocolates. Cubes also available in singles, threes, six or nine. Midnite Snax / PPAI 113793, S3 / midnitesnax.com Bring in some different flavors to make your client’s brands stand out with custom-labeled SugarSpot candy jars. Bold Bourbon Cordials and Campfire S’mores Bites are just two of the many chocolate-forward options available. HPG / PPAI 110772, S11/ hpgbrands.com For something more traditional but with a wow factor, the Shimmering Tower of Gourmet Treats – including an array of chocolate, cookies, nuts, caramels and more – makes a classic holiday gift perfect for sharing in the office or at a family gathering. Gemline / PPAI 113948, S11 / gemline.com Zoch is an associate editor at PPAI. PPAI • OCTOBER 2023 • 19 Good Taste | Essentials

Essentials | Use Case All Bagged Up Industry pros reveal the products they use, the products they want and the products they would suggest. These picks can hold all the essentials. Compiled by Kristina Valdez MATT SHUCART Owner/President Advertising Premium Sales PPAI 101466, D6 St. Louis, Missouri Shucart faithfully uses a cooler with Shark Tank success. “My No. 1 go-to, if I’m outdoors, is the Kase Mate from Kanga Coolers. If you guys don’t know about them yet, check them out. They’re another Shark Tank idea turned super-successful, and I’ve been using their cooler since before they got into the industry a year or so ago. This is, hands-down, my favorite thing to bring with me to sporting events, barbecues and get-togethers.” This Woody Kase Mate can slide in a 12-pack case of beer or seltzer, keeping drinks cold for up to seven hours. Made for convenience, it is extremely lightweight and comfortable to carry. Kanga Coolers / PPAI 813017, S1 / kangacoolers.com “This is, hands-down, my favorite thing to bring with me to sporting events, barbecues and get-togethers.” 20 • OCTOBER 2023 • PPAI

Use Case | Essentials Shucart wants to try a bag made with recycled materials. “I’m particular about my bags, and so far, I feel like between the shows, vendor meetings, our showroom at the office and my own samples, I haven’t found anything yet that I can’t live without. But more and more bags are being produced with rPET recycled materials, which is great, because more clients have started asking for those options with their green initiatives.” This eco-friendly rPET Canvas Duffel is made from 100% post-consumer water bottles for both durability and sustainability. This lightweight bag has a roomy, zippered interior, allowing for ample space to store clothing, shoes, toiletries and other travel/gym essentials. There are 22-inch matching carry handles with an adjustable shoulder strap that is removable. Ariel Premium Supply / PPAI 161650, S11 / arielpremium.com Shucart would suggest his favorite bag of the moment. “Right now, my favorite bag of choice is the Narvik backpack from HPG. I love all the room inside and the 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 GRIP-IT™ JAR OPENERS Soft, durable texture adds gripping power • 170+ stock shapes available • Custom shapes available • Digitally die cut; no extra fee • Digitally printed with 4-Color process • Multiple colors & sizes to choose from 50 piece minimums PPAI • OCTOBER 2023 • 21

branding aspects of the zipper pulls. It just adds an extra bit of pop for you and your clients. I had one made up for myself with my branding on it, and it came out looking great.” Adventure awaits with this Narvik Pack, an eco-friendly bag designed for active living. Made with rPET recycled-post consumer plastic, this lightweight backpack is stylish, durable and waterresistant for new journeys in daily life and beyond. HPG / PPAI 110772, S11 / hpgbrands.com LORI KRASNOWSKY Owner/President Image Matters Promotions PPAI 241169, D1 Milwaukee, Oregon Krasnowsky faithfully uses a travel cooler. “I do take part in long day trips and love the variety of bags in our industry. The one I use and love is the Oniva Travel Backpack Cooler from Picnic Time. It holds a bunch, and I love the outside pockets for holding things like my phone. The outside water bottle holder is also convenient.” “I love all the room inside and the branding aspects of the zipper pulls. It just adds an extra bit of pop for you and your clients.” Essentials | Use Case IN YOUR FACE! CALENDARS WON’T BE IGNORED SAGE/57590 PPAI/114154 Your ad seen everyday for less than a penny a day! Style #955 Valoy PPAI/114154 SAGE/57590 3 Custom Imprint Areas FREE! Coupons Rate Charts Products Branch Locations Over 25 sq. in. of Ad Space! 22 • OCTOBER 2023 • PPAI

Explore the world with the Turismo Backpack Cooler with a water bottle carrier. This travel bag is made from durable polyester canvas and features numerous interior and exterior pockets, specially designed to hold everyday items, plus nonslip, extra-comfort backpack straps and two large insulated interior compartments. Picnic Time Family of Brands PPAI 143980, S6 / picnicpromotions.com Krasnowsky wants to try this shoulder bag. “I’d love to try the Metro Sling bag from Cosmo Promos. I’ve sold these to clients, and they love them. I think their size is right, they’re comfy to carry and hold just enough to not need a backpack.” This Metro Sling Bag has a spacious main compartment with two quick access zipper pockets. Its padded back and wide, adjustable crossbody strap make for comfortable carrying. Available in black or gray. Cosmo Promos / PPAI 111334, S6 cosmopromos.com Krasnowsky would suggest this duffel. “I think the Half Dome bag from OGIO/SanMar is terrific. It’s extremely well-made, holds up well, and I love the guarantee that OGIO has with its products. It’s a terrific overnight or long weekend bag.” Sized to fit the gym locker, this Half Dome duffel opens wide to reveal a roomy interior that holds shoes and a change of clothes. Thoughtful details include a front zippered digital media/audio pocket with a headphone exit port and a side grab handle. Available in six colors (pink shown). SanMar / PPAI 112605, S1 / sanmar.com “Their size is right, they’re comfy to carry and hold just enough to not need a backpack.” Use Case | Essentials PPAI • OCTOBER 2023 • 23

KATE IVORY Owner GIDI Promotions PPAI 254422, D3 Portland, Oregon Ivory faithfully uses this campsite lifesaver. “One of my favorite bags for camping is the Atlantis Waterproof Gear Bag from Stormtech. Living in the Pacific Northwest, camping is often wet and a bit messy. This waterproof bag is fabulous at keeping my gear and clothing dry and clean, not to mention that it wipes down nicely when I am unpacking gear. Stormtech’s quality is fabulous, and the durability means that my investment will continue to work for me for years to come. On a side note, it’s not too large, helping me to not overpack.” Constructed for maximum durability and versatility in both outdoor and industrial environments, this Atlantis Waterproof Gear Bag is designed to weigh less and keep your contents dry and safe. This heavy-duty duffel is made with waterproof fabric and has fully adjustable padded shoulder straps. Stormtech USA / PPAI 260245, S4 stormtechperformance.com Ivory wants to try this statement piece. “The bag I would love to try is the Tumi Just in Case Corporate Backpack. It is sexy as heck and makes a statement. I love that it is sleek and understated and not so large and bulky as a traditional backpack. There’s just enough room for necessities, and it has a trolley slip on the back for traveling.” Essentials | Use Case Say Happy Holidays with... Now EQP Sale Priced The Smoothest Writing Gel Ink Pen Valid thru 12/31/23 Minimum 100 pieces Must use code PP1023 FREE Gift Box! Style #BL407 PPAI/113818 SAGE/56440 PentelImprint.com 24 • OCTOBER 2023 • PPAI

The Tumi Just In Case Backpack is perfect for work and travel. Made of nylon, it folds flat to be completely packable. Recipients can quickly and easily add another travel piece with the add-a-bag sleeve. Laser engraving available in white. Hit Promotional Products / PPAI 113910, S13 / hitpromo.net Ivory would suggest this über-useful tote. “The bag I have been suggesting this summer is the Sol Mate Tote Bag from Hit Promo. It has a fun look similar to the popular Bogg bag. It is durable, reasonable and has a long life of usefulness. I think it is perfect for summer or just life in general. I personally love how much it holds, and it is super easy to keep clean.” The Sol Mate Tote Bag is perfect for the beach or any outdoor activity. This sturdy tote is made of tough but soft EVA, so it has a rubber look and feel and is super-easy to clean – simply wipe it off. Its tipproof design keeps your stuff from spilling out. Hit Promotional Products / PPAI 113910, S13 / hitpromo.net Valdez is an associate editor at PPAI. Use Case | Essentials 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 • Choice of cardstock or Grip-It™ material • Several colors to choose from • Digitally printed with 4-Color process • 20+ stock shapes available BOOKMARKS 50 piece minimums Great for book fairs and school events! PPAI • OCTOBER 2023 • 25

IDEAS TO ADVANCE THE MARKETPLACE Voices 10.23 YOUR BUSINESS page 30 THE ART OF THE INTERVIEW The interview is your best chance to get to know an applicant and determine whether they’ll be a successful part of your team. SOLUTIONS p. 28 INNOVATION p. 32 RESPONSIBILITY p. 34 Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock.com PPAI • OCTOBER 2023 • 27

I put a disclaimer on the order approval and art approval that PMS colors may not be an exact match due to the color of the substrate, curing methods and ambient temperatures. All those can be a factor in the final color. The color of the substrate can even affect how our eyes perceive the color, even if it is an exact match. RAMA BEERFAS, MAS, CTSM Owner Lev Promotions Santee, California PPAI 218331, D1 Suppliers should be able to match PMS colors on totes by underbasing with white if it’s a dark substrate with a light color print. If it’s a light color tote with a dark imprint, it may not be needed. If you paid for a PMS match, you should get it. If you didn’t pay, then yes, the color can vary slightly from the PMS color you asked for. ERIC LEVIN Executive Vice President alphabroder New York, New York PPAI 781237, S12 Talk to the supplier first and tell them she’s not happy. Show them a photo of the bag, they may just look at it and tell you they will redo it. They may offer a discount to the client to keep them. JULIE WOODALL Account Executive HALO Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin PPAI 716629, D1 It’s (Almost) The Same Color Industry pros are quick to share expertise, insights and opinions on all things promo. Amid this batch of answered questions, distributors share how they handle color matching fiascos, client complaints and refund requests. Compiled by Kristina Valdez Q A Distributor Asks: My client ordered totes and is not happy with the color of the logo. The logo imprint method was silkscreen, and we paid for PMS matching. The color of the proof looked perfect, and I will admit the color on the tote is slightly lighter/more neon. It is not way off, and personally, if I were the client, I wouldn’t have had an issue. However, it is slightly off. Should I respond to the client and say that color varies slightly due to the material in which it is printed or take this up with the supplier? What is considered the industry norm in terms of color variation allowance, particularly if you paid for a PMS match? How would you respond to this client? SKT Studio / Shutterstock.com 28 • OCTOBER 2023 • PPAI Voices | Solutions

Q A Distributor Asks: I got a new customer, and she orders 30 zipper hoodies for her son’s bar mitzvah. There’s a DTF on the left chest and full back. I cut the price to do her a favor, as she was a referral from my designer. The order was printed six weeks before the party. She never opened the box until the party. Some of the shirts had the left chest printed upside down! It was a very weird combination of the initials, so I can see how it could happen. She tells me 12 are wrong, but seven of those 12 are with people who live out of state, so she doesn’t want them reprinted, she wants her money back – all of her money back. I explained to her that we do not refund money for orders that were, first, placed almost two months ago and, second, we offered to reprint all of the ones that were bad. Along with the reprint, we would offer her a credit of $105. She still wants her money back. Now, she’s taken to social media and thinks that she should get the money back for the whole order and a reprint of all the shirts. What a headache. You were fair. Re: your policy question, my terms and conditions state, “It is client’s responsibility to notify [Distributor Name] of any defects or discrepancies in writing within 72 business hours of order delivery.” Whether or not it’s read or happens may vary, of course, but at least it’s covered. On another note, I tend to shy away from social orders. Usually these types of issues are handled professionally and reasonably when it’s B2B. RYAN FEIGNENBLATT President The Boca Ratonian Boca Raton, Florida PPAI 586034, D1 I have a clear note on my invoices, and I remind my clients when I send them the tracking number to check to make sure their order is complete and damage-free. If she wants a full refund, tell her to send all of them back to you. Tell her she’ll get a refund for each one sent back to you within one week. KATHRYN MCDONALD CEO The Global Toy Box Cardiff By The Sea, California PPAI 637758, D1 Q A Distributor Asks: There seems to be a major disconnect with most graphic designers when it comes to apparel and branded merchandise. Some of our clients have rebranded recently, and now they’re having to come to terms with the fact that their new logo and style guide will not work for many of the branded products they’d like to purchase due to line size, number of colors in the logo, inability to get a good onecolor version, etc. I’m wondering how any of you are handling aspects of design like this. I know you larger firms out there are creative agencies as well. For those that aren’t, are there graphic design firms who specialize in branding from an apparel/product/engraving standpoint as well? Any respectable graphic designer – not necessarily with a degree – knows that any logo should look good in black and white or in any one color. Any company that doesn’t have their logo in several versions, including a one-color option, hired an amateur designer. MARIA RUDNEV President Pro-File Marketing Las Vegas, Nevada PPAI 439909, D1 If the new logo is created by a professional graphic artist, there would be a version of the logo to be used for branded products, uniforms and such. But so many times, people work with self-taught designers who might have a good sense of design but don’t know the fundamentals. So, if there isn’t a suitable logo version, you can offer to create it for them and charge, if appropriate. It’s what we did back in my distributor days and never had an issue. GLORIA LAFONT Owner Action Marketing Plantation, Florida PPAI 656637, D1 PPAI • OCTOBER 2023 • 29 Solutions | Voices

INTERVIEWS HAVE NEVER BEEN my favorite thing. I have an innate ability to find a connection with anyone. That is an asset in my personal and professional life – but it has always felt like a liability in interviews. Recently though, I’ve realized this isn’t necessarily bad, because it taught me an important lesson: Gut instinct isn’t enough when making a new hire. Anyone can be impressive for an hour or let nerves get in their own way. Here are a few questions I’ve picked up that help me create a clear picture and make the right hiring decision. Question 1: Why [your organization]? At first blush, this sounds like a pretty basic question, but it can reveal several fundamentals about a candidate. For starters, it tells me if they’ve done their research on the company they’re applying to. You’d think that would be a basic first step for applicants, but not always! Asking why also lets me know, well, why they want to work with us. It’s important to know what attracts an applicant to your company and the open position. This question also gives me some insight into the candidate’s thinking. How do they view the position in terms of a career path? Are they thinking about us in the long term? Also, it tells me why they want that particular job, and not just a job. Question 2: Tell me about a time when… Here, I want to draw out the applicant’s own experiences and background. It can tell me a lot about how they think and their attitudes. Are The Art Of The Interview The interview is your best chance to get to know an applicant and determine whether they’ll be a successful part of your team. Having the right questions ready can make the conversation effective and illuminating. By Lindsey Davis, MAS Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock.com 30 • OCTOBER 2023 • PPAI Voices | Your Business

they honest and self-aware? Hopefully, I’m not just hearing what they think I want to hear. This question also helps me understand what they’d be like as an employee. It can give me a look at how they see themselves in the context of a project or a team and whether they have the kinds of skills that I’m looking for. It can also give me clues regarding their problemsolving skills and approaches. Question 3: What feedback would you give your current leader? What feedback would they give you? This two-part question can tell me a lot about the applicant’s needs from a manager and what they want in a leader. It gives me a chance to learn more about their strengths and weaknesses as an employee, such as their ability to think objectively and in what areas they need to grow. It can also identify red flags in an applicant. If they don’t really reveal any growth areas, if they bad-mouth their boss or if they avoid the question altogether, those are all indicators that this person might not be the right fit for your team. Question 4: What questions do you have for me? This is a great place to end your interview. It can take the conversation in new directions and reveal more about your applicant. And it doesn’t really allow a “no” on their part. How an applicant handles this can reveal quite a bit. If they don’t have any relevant or specific questions, I’m going to wonder how well they understand what we’re looking for in the position. And if their questions are relevant, I’m likely to come away knowing more about their skills and experiences. It’s a win-win. I’m still not a perfect interviewer with questions like these in hand, but I am more objective. Tell me about your dog, where you’ve traveled or a great book you just read and I am still pretty sure we could be best friends, but the right questions give me a much better idea of your ability to be successful on my team. Davis is PPAI’s director of business development. No Minimums FREE SETUP Looking for Display Products? High quality full-color display products at an affordable price from a trusted supplier We Have What You Need! PPAI/582106 SAGE/50398 Go To DiscountMarketingProducts.com & Click on Promotions for Sale Pricing 147 Table Cover Styles Now available in Stain-Resistant and Sustainable Eco-Friendly Fabrics 28 Display Wall Styles PPAI • OCTOBER 2023 • 31 Your Business | Voices

8 4 guteksk7 / Shutterstock.com Voices | Innovation Social Media Do’s & Don’ts PPAI’s digital transformation manager shares the social media faux pas that make him cringe. By Nick DiNicola I FOUND MYSELF at the airport recently with a delayed flight and a lot of time to kill. I did what most of us inevitably do in that scenario: I scrolled. Once I was caught up on emails, I was deep in the depths of social media, where I saw countless promo businesses promoting their events, products and initiatives while interacting with followers and growing their brands online. What also struck me, though – as I sat in my terminal waiting to return home – was how many business accounts could be confused with personal accounts, which can work if you’re running a side business selling crafts to neighbors, friends and family, but it can be confusing and ineffective for a legitimate, professional business. Don’t get me wrong: A casual or informal voice can help a social brand rise above the noise, but it’s a delicate line to walk, and there are so many spots to slip up along the way. I decided to share a few do’s and don’ts for social accounts in the promo world: Do’s: 4 Define your brand and develop a style that aligns with your business values. You want to ensure that your posts maintain a cohesive and professional tone. 4 Engage and respond promptly. This might be the most tedious part of social media, but in some ways it’s the easiest, and it’s sort of the whole point. Social media is about interaction. It channels you directly to the people you are trying to reach. It’s actually great that they are asking questions or leaving comments. Reward them and keep that conversation going. 4 Use visual content. Talking about a great product only gets you so far. They say “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and no place is it truer than with social media. And please, use a decent-quality picture. 4 Be authentic. Give them something they can’t see anywhere else. Show some behindthe-scenes glimpses of your business. Before and after images of an event are great ways to tell the story of a project accomplished. 4 Promote positive interactions. It can be difficult to pull off, but the best thing social media can do is create a positive community. You can do little things that push your account in that direction. Encourage discussions, conduct polls and ask for opinions to create engagement. 32 • OCTOBER 2023 • PPAI

Innovation | Voices Don’ts: 8 Don’t overpromote. Posting the same message six times in a week is the recipe for convincing followers to tune you out. You can annoy a follower to the point of unfollowing. Find a balance of promotional and valuable content. 8 Don’t feed trolls. Ignore negative feedback unless it’s something you can clearly provide a solution to. We all know that the internet is made up of more than just the good-faith posters we would prefer to interact with. It’s fine to answer a complaint, but you don’t want to validate someone who otherwise wouldn’t be taken seriously. You’d be surprised how many of your followers will read through an argument between a brand and one upset follower if you let it get to that point. Consider taking that discussion to a private message. 8 Don’t overuse hashtags. A hashtag should be used to build momentum for a marketing initiative, a new project or something you want the world to talk about. Don’t just throw a dozen arbitrary hashtags on a post, unless you want it to be immediately processed as spam. 8 Don’t neglect regular posting. You know what thought enters the mind of someone who checks a business’s social account and sees the last post was months ago? They wonder if the company went out of business. Create a schedule and stick to it. 8 Don’t forget to proofread. Social posting can require rapid reactions, but typos are considered a sign of unprofessionalism in pretty much any context. 8 Don’t overshare. I read some posts in the same way I watch a scary movie: with my fingers slightly parted over my eyes. Remember, you want to give a peek behind the curtain, but don’t give away information that will put your team members in a difficult position. Not everything is for everyone to see. DiNicola is the digital transformation manager at PPAI. Matching lids available! 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! •No extra cost for 1 side, 2 side or wrap imprint •No need for double cupping or sleeeves •Ideal for hot & cold beverages •Multiple print methods available •10 sizes available •Metallic and neon ink colors offered at no extra cost FOAM CUPS PPAI • OCTOBER 2023 • 33

Voices | Responsibility Art-is-Power / Shutterstock.com It’s OK Not To Be Perfect When it comes to advancing ESG goals, favor progress, not paralysis by analysis. By Kathy Cheng ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL AND CORPORATE GOVERNANCE, better known as ESG, is a term gaining more and more attention in the promotional products community, and with good reason. This concept originated from the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and has been used by investors to analyze their organizations and how they measure up to the new frontier of socially conscious business practices. The UN Sustainable Development Goals were created with the express purpose of making the world a more equitable, hospitable and healthy place by 2030. Arguably, our industry has focused on the environmental aspect as its top priority, but we need to approach these 17 goals holistically. ESG plays an integral role – its existence will enable us all to get on the same page, work toward the same goals and implement the same operating standards, regardless of where we fit on the supply chain. However, there is still one big problem: There needs to be a gold standard for accurately measuring key performance indicators across the board to determine if we are meeting these goals in our companies and as an industry. For example, at my company, Redwood Classics Apparel, our factory undergoes frequent audits by our brand 34 • OCTOBER 2023 • PPAI

Responsibility | Voices partners. But, depending on the brand, the auditor and the standards used, our factory could score very differently in each audit, even if they were conducted in the same week. So, while it is a very positive step that we are discussing ESG and working toward it, there is still so much work to be done. To make it easier to understand, I look at ESG like a three-legged stool: One leg is about people, one is about the planet, and one is about profits. All three legs need to be appropriately balanced for us to succeed. The three Ps are not negotiable. They are all inextricably linked and must be adequately nourished and balanced within a business to be stable. Focusing too much on profit at the expense of the planet and people is not sustainable in the long run. We must balance these three pillars for our businesses to thrive. While it is natural for business leaders to want to focus on the bottom line first above all else, I promise you that taking care of the other two pillars of people and the planet will help your bottom line in the long run. It’s not just from a consumer perspective that we need to examine ESG, however. As mergers and acquisitions continue to be strong in our industry, the social factors in ESG are likely to become even more critical to investors and stakeholders. These are key to retaining talented employees, and they have a direct and measurable impact on a business’s bottom line. End-buyer stakeholders will look for social metrics to include in nonfinancial disclosures to help better measure and compare distributor performances. It has been shown over the past couple of years that companies with strong social metrics who give ESG the attention it deserves are in far better positions to weather difficult times. HALO, ranked No. 2 on the PPAI 100 list of leading industry distributors, has shown its commitment on these topics, appointing PPAI’s immediate past chair Dawn Olds, MAS, to senior vice president of industry relations, meanwhile rebounding from the pandemic as well as any company. In January, HALO announced that it had crossed the $1 billion revenue mark for the first time in 2022. People, planet and profit can indeed coincide. If this feels daunting, it is essential to acknowledge that we do not have all the Consumer Preferences 85% have a more positive image of a product or company when it supports a cause they care about. 92% want to buy a product that supports a cause. 72% believe companies should have a legal responsibility to people and the planet. Source: Aflac answers, and it is OK not to be perfect. ESG is a journey, not a destination. It requires community support to succeed. Lean on your peers, networks and memberships in organizations that promote supplier diversity to help you. ESG is a journey of learning and growth that will ultimately benefit us all, so let’s start this journey together. Cheng is the president of Redwood Classics Apparel and an industry advocate for corporate social responsibility. She earned Ascend Canada’s Woman of Distinction Award for 2022. I look at ESG like a three-legged stool: One leg is about people, one is about the planet, and one is about profits. All three legs need to be appropriately balanced for us to succeed. PPAI • OCTOBER 2023 • 35