PPAI Magazine November 2023

MEDIA.PPAI.ORG 11.23 IN THIS ISSUE Recycled Fabrics p. 22 WFH Efficiently p. 32 The State Of Responsibility p. 44 The Expo Experience p. 74 PREVIEW The PPAI EXPO returns to Las Vegas on January 15 with new features and favorite attractions. pg. 68 2024

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4 From PPAI Evolving Is Essential 8 Feedback Essentials 13 Creative Calendar 14 Good Taste Show Some Love 18 Use Case It’s A Sign 22 In Style What Goes Around Voices 30 Solutions What Would You Do (At Expo)? 32 Innovation Are You Using Work-From-Home Technology Efficiently? 34 Responsibility Sustainability Behind The Scenes 36 Your Business Elevating Leadership And Sales Through Authentic Connection Must Read 60 Promotional Products Work Healthcare Facilities 74 Moments Of Clarity PPAI Expo Experiences Community 84 Buzzworthy 86 PPPC Communiqué 87 Inside PPAI 94 New Members 100 Datebook 104 Perfect Promo CONTENTS 11.23 A Passionate Start Elizabeth Wimbush hopes to galvanize the industry in PPAI’s newly created director of sustainability and responsibility role. 40 VOLUME 47, ISSUE 09 The PPAI Expo 2024 Preview The industry’s largest and longest-running trade show returns to Las Vegas on January 15 with new features and favorite attractions. 68 The State of Responsibility 2023 PPAI research reveals how distributors and suppliers of all sizes are approaching CSR and assigns new high marks to some of the companies doing it best. 44 68 44 40 PPAI • NOVEMBER 2023 • 3

From PPAI Kevin Walsh, CAS Chair of the Board 11.23 As you savor your fall season and prepare for the coming year, don’t fear the unknown. Instead, focus on all that you’ve accomplished this year and what you can do to prepare for success in the coming year. Evolving Is Essential IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN. Beautiful foliage and falling leaves are a clear indication that we’re closing in on the holidays and, with them, the start of a new year. That visual cue of the changing season offers an excellent time to pause and think about the future. Just what does next year hold for the economy, and how do we prepare? I wish I knew. But one thing is for sure, planning for recession leads to certainty it will occur. If promotional firms pause investments, make plans for retraction, and search for areas to cut costs, we risk missing out on opportunities for future growth. One of the strengths of the promotional products industry has always been the adaptability of its offerings and its members. The enduring nature of our medium has been proven over time. As end-buyer preferences evolved, our industry has recognized, embraced, and delivered those preferences. This adaptability has been fundamental to our Association’s relevance, endurance and growth, as well. In his book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, Marshall Goldsmith argues that to be successful in a rapidly changing world, we need to be willing to let go of the old ways of doing things and embrace new ideas and approaches. It’s a challenge for certain, but essential for ongoing success. This practice is true for individuals, businesses and associations. Over time, PPAI itself has proved its ability to evolve. The Association is much different than it was before the pandemic. We’re financially stronger, more nimble and guided by a new strategic plan. That plan has launched new initiatives, led by new faces with expertise in areas such as research, technology and corporate responsibility. All of this is new and different, but it's evidence of the Association’s ability to adapt and evolve with the market and deliver value to our members. As you savor your fall season and prepare for the coming year, don’t fear the unknown. Instead, focus on all that you’ve accomplished this year and what you can do to prepare for success in the coming year. The serial entrepreneurship that is ingrained in our members – and our industry – will continue to power our evolution, and along with it, our success. I’m forever an intentional optimist. But don’t mistake that for meaning my head is in the clouds and I ignore causes for concern. What it really means is that I believe we each have the capability to positively affect our own outcomes, adjusting and adapting as necessary to survive and thrive. serg_dibroval / Shutterstock.com 4 • NOVEMBER 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 alokb@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 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 CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY & SUSTAINABILITY 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 • NOVEMBER 2023 • PPAI

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Send feedback on articles in PPAI Magazine or opinions on industry issues to JamesK@ppai.org. Feedback 11.23 Just Be Yourself In his article “Want A Competitive Advantage? Just Be Normal,” Joshua White, head of strategy and general counsel at distributor BAMKO – promo’s fourth leading distributor in this year’s PPAI 100 – and a member of the PPAI Board of Directors, says that authenticity and being yourself is more effective than any phony, “corporate” trick. Excellent piece. Authenticity wins the day every day – hand in hand with transparency. Joe Favre Promotional Division Sales Manager Vanguard Direct New York City PPAI 223977, D3 That’s great writing with a straight-to-the-heart message. Worthy of any business-minded publication. Arthur Battaglia Senior Account Executive Sonoma Promotional Solutions Sonoma, California PPAI 204856, S7 What The People Want PPAI Research’s 2023 Consumer Study identified that Americans increasingly crave, engage with and value promotional products. This study is great evidence of what we know to be true. Promo merch – “sensory media,” as we coined it – is the most human media. Well-crafted gifts and incentives keep the message of connection or appreciation in play like no other media can. Jae M. Rang, MAS Strategist, speaker and author JAE Associates Ltd. Oakville, Ontario PPAI 561178, D4 In Court In September, PPAI Media reported on three men working with Florida-based distributors who had been found not guilty in a case alleging that they had colluded to defraud the United States Army. It’s very unfortunate the case got that far. If the evidence was not there, we can only imagine what the potential consequences could be to all parties involved. I hope their respected businesses can get a bump in business now. Back in the day when technology (software) contracts were being awarded, we found ourselves sometimes bidding against a company that normally does not sell promotional products. The winning bids at times were very close to our actual cost. All these years later, no desire to go fishing there in that swamp, although it did make me wonder. Jim Franklyn Vice President of Business Development Swag Promo Atlanta PPAI 562712, D5 8 • NOVEMBER 2023 • PPAI

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PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS TO BE UNIVERSALLY VALUED Essentials 11.23 CREATIVE CALENDAR p. 13 USE CASE p. 18 IN STYLE p. 22 GOOD TASTE page 14 SHOW SOME LOVE Stand out from the crowd with Valentine’s Day promo that shows how much you care. fotohunter / Shutterstock.com PPAI • NOVEMBER 2023 • 11

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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 December 1 NATIONAL BARTENDER DAY 8 NATIONAL BROWNIE DAY 15 NATIONAL UGLY CHRISTMAS SWEATER DAY January 8 NATIONAL BUBBLE BATH DAY 10 NATIONAL HOUSE PLANT APPRECIATION DAY 19 NATIONAL POPCORN DAY February NATIONAL WRITE A BUSINESS PLAN MONTH Product idea: Connect your client’s brand to the holiday season with a fully customizable Ugly Christmas Sweater. Marketing during the holiday season leads to brand awareness and interaction on social media. Employees will enjoy getting cozy in this sweater. Available in youth and adult sizes, the design is also woven into the fabric. Ugly Christmas Sweater / PPAI 725991, S1 uglychristmassweater.com 6 NATIONAL FROZEN YOGURT DAY 10 NATIONAL UMBRELLA DAY 13 GALENTINE’S DAY Exceptional Promotions NATIONAL HOT TEA MONTH Product idea: This thoughtful Self-Care Gift Set offers a botanical take on traditional gift giving. Enjoy an at-home spa day with a vegan honey and turmeric sugar scrub and an organic citrus and sunflower face mist. Just add water to start growing your own brilliant sunflower plant. Gemline / PPAI 113948, S11 / gemline.com SPECIAL OBSERVANCES CALL FOR NATIONAL LIBRARY LOVERS MONTH Product idea: Featuring 50 questions about love and romance drawn from history, literature, science and pop culture, this sweet little Love Trivia Game is perfect for a cozy, super fun date with a sweetheart, a bridal shower party or a girls’ night in. The Book Company / PPAI 218850, S5 thebookco.com Use these special occasions to ignite your imagination for relevant – and distinct – client promotions. Compiled by Kristina Valdez PPAI • NOVEMBER 2023 • 13

fotohunter / Shutterstock.com Show Some Love Stand out from the crowd with Valentine’s Day promo that shows how much you care. By Rachel Zoch YOU MAY BE SWAMPED with the holiday rush as you read this, but when it comes to promo timelines, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Naturally, candy and chocolate are top of mind when it comes to February 14, but cozy and cuddly blankets or date-night faves like wine glasses can also be a great way to spread the love for your client’s brands among employees and customers. Heart-shaped items can be especially pertinent promo for a cardiologist’s office or a romantic restaurant, too. Amelia Madl, VP of sales with PromoCorner, says a blanket is a great way to show lasting appreciation. “I’m not really a flower or chocolate person – I want diamonds, but they have not come to promo yet,” she quips, “So until that comes, I will take useful items every day that last and are quality.” Whether you and your clients tie promo programs to any holiday depends on your markets, customer personas and marketing goals, but there’s no such thing as a bad time to express gratitude. “You don’t need to show love to a client just around Valentine’s Day. You don’t need to just take them out to lunch because it’s Q4 and Christmas dinner,” says Javier Melendez, a national account executive with Walker-Clay, one of PPAI’s Top Companies To Work For in 2023. “You can say thank you at any time.” It could be a “just because” gift, he adds, or something to mark a company milestone to celebrate along with employees and customers. Here are a few options for creative Cupids. 14 • NOVEMBER 2023 • PPAI Essentials | Good Taste

These melt-in-your-mouth Cinnamon Churro Toffee bites are crafted in small batches from sweet creamery butter and pure cane sugar, then covered with a generous layer of rich white chocolate and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar – and Melendez says they are “probably my favorite guilty pleasure in the industry.” Gift boxes are available in six colors and foil-stamped with your client’s logo. Maple Ridge Farms / PPAI 114165, S8 / mapleridge.com Madl is a big fan of the Foxhill Throw, a 50-by-60 inch plush blanket in sand and gray earth tones. “It’s luxurious, cuddly and something I can wash. I have kids and dogs, so the wash factor is huge,” she says. “It’s super soft. It feels like when you’re petting your favorite puppy.” Towel Specialties / PPAI 113150, S7 / towelspecialties.com For a more traditional Valentine’s Day treat, consider luxurious Lindt Chocolate Truffles in a contemporary glass jar that keeps the treats fresh and can be repurposed when they are all gone. Midnite Snax / PPAI 113793, S3 / midnitesnax.com PPAI • NOVEMBER 2023 • 15 Good Taste | Essentials

Add a personal touch with a custom card like this Natural Thank You For Your Business Card, printed on recycled stock with custom artwork/message inside, available in three sizes and envelopes included. “I think a nice handwritten card can just send a message.” says Melendez, “‘Hey, I thought of you more than just an email.’” Warwick Publishing Company / PPAI 114154, S7 warwickpublishing.com Another brand-name treat that can be customized is the Mrs. Fields Deluxe Cookie Gift Box. This deluxe gift box, emblazoned with your client’s logo, includes 18 delicious Mrs. Fields Chocolate Chip Nibblers, which are packed in threes for freshness and easy sharing. 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! •Made from B-flute (1/8”) corrugated board •No die cut fees! •63 different sizes to choose from •Perfect for sample kits & product packaging •Self-locking & easy to assemble •Digitally printed with 4-Color process 5 piece minimums! MAILING BOXES Matching tissue paper available! 16 • NOVEMBER 2023 • PPAI Essentials | Good Taste

Zoch is an associate editor at PPAI. Melendez says charcuterie boards – like this Charcuterie Collection featuring savory snacks and sweets plus a sustainable, brandable bamboo cutting board – are still very popular gifts that combine delicious treats with a promo item that’s going to last. “That’s going to build a memory so that when I see it or use it, I’ll think of you,” he says. Maple Ridge Farms / PPAI 114165, S8 / mapleridge.com For something the whole family can enjoy, Valentine’s Day Mad Libs can be a great way to spread love and laughter. With 21 fill-in-the-blank stories about roses, Cupid and candies, this book provides a fun activity for ages 8 and up. Customize with onecolor imprint, promo page insert or belly band wrap. The Book Company / PPAI 218850, S5 / thebookco.com PPAI • NOVEMBER 2023 • 17 Good Taste | Essentials

Essentials | Use Case It’s A Sign Industry pros reveal the products they use, the products they want and the products they would suggest. These product picks are attention-grabbers. Compiled by Kristina Valdez REMY FENSTER Owner RJF Marketing PPAI 208082, D2 Rochester, New York Fenster faithfully uses a retractable banner. “My go-to banner is a retractable banner. They are easy to transport and set up.” This custom Econo Retractable is perfect for trade shows, meetings, lobbies and retail points of sale. It’s lightweight and stable. The package includes hardware and print, top clamp bar, support pole and travel bag. Alpha Signs & Displays PPAI 813017, S1 alphasnd.com 18 • NOVEMBER 2023 • PPAI

Use Case | Essentials Fenster wants to try a popular sign or kit. “I’ve always wanted to sell a street/boulevard banner. Nobody buys just one. Or a pop-up wall kit. I think there’s a bit more trust involved in producing the correct style.” This Chip-Shaped Fabric Conference Wall is a lightweight, stylish solution to your meeting space needs. Ergonomically designed, the gently curved frames create a private and cozy conference area within any space. The chip-shaped wall packs easily into one wheeled case for easy storage and transport. Orbus Visual Communications / PPAI 428128, S7 / orbus.com KACY CARLSEN CEO UpDog PPAI 638096, D1 Redlands, California Fenster would suggest a sign or banner that fits its environment. “My sign/banner suggestion is highly dependent on the use. For outside use, I would suggest a basic 3-foot by 5-foot banner or an A-frame sign.” This A-Frame Sign is durable, weather-resistant and maintenance-free, packing all the best A-frame features into a single, compact unit. A molded handle makes it easy to move, and it folds flat for transport. Showdown Displays / PPAI 254687, S11 / showdowndisplays.com Carlsen says her go-to sign or banner changes frequently. “There is never really a go-to, since all uses are different – outdoor versus indoor, or whether the sign will be hung or applied. That being said, the most popular signs are banners, coroplast yard signs, PVC and aluminum composite signs. All these sign types have many uses.” The Contour Arrow Side with a steel plate base is a heavy-duty double-sided sign that utilizes hook and loop connections to make graphic changes quick and simple. The discreet plate base comes with four ground stakes for added stability. Orbus Visual Communications / PPAI 428128, S7 / orbus.com PPAI • NOVEMBER 2023 • 19

Essentials | Use Case Carlsen wants to try new applications. “We make custom signs, and there are many types of materials and applications that we would love to try out. The new LED neon lighting is a fun one!” This LED Square Tower Fabric Banner is self-standing, stable and durable. It’s easy to set up in seconds. It’s also washable and reusable and comes with a bag for storage and carrying. Aprons Etc. / PPAI 110868, S5 / apronsetc.com Carlsen would suggest a sign or banner based on three factors. “We make suggestions based on how the sign will be used or where it will be placed. It is important because we need the sign to serve multiple purposes. [A sign or banner] must have a clear message, visibility and longevity.” The popular Economy Retractor is versatile and budget-friendly, making it a great option for the cost-conscious marketer. It has a double-footed design for stability and a lightweight aluminum base. With PVC-free silver-backed media and a recyclable aluminum base, this retractor is an eco-friendly display option. Kelli Brown Meares Owner GoodPeople Flags & Promotions PPAI 798474, D2 Huntsville, Alabama Meares says her go-to sign or banner is perfect for a photo op. “Most of my clients are looking for items for their events, and the most popular item right now is stepand-repeat or backdrop banners. They’re perfect for photo opportunities, easy to put up and take down, and they’re lightweight. There are several sizes and styles available that will fit in almost any budget.” This Step And Repeat Media Wall is adjustable and ideal for photo shoots, red carpet events, trade show displays, events and self-promo. It is lightweight and easy to put together and comes complete with the hardware, full-color dye-sublimated fabric and a canvas carry bag. Rivers Promo / PPAI 467928, S4 / riverspromo.com Showdown Displays / PPAI 254687, S11 / showdowndisplays.com 20 • NOVEMBER 2023 • PPAI

Use Case | Essentials Meares wants to try a unique banner. “I love the GeoMetrix displays from Showdown! They’re so versatile and different from standard banner stands.” The Micro GeoMetrix is a lightweight, compact unit that pops up into a multi-dimensional tabletop display in seconds. This kit includes a 12-quad frame with eight polyester doubleknit panels with dye-sublimated artwork. Showdown Displays / PPAI 254687, S11 / showdowndisplays.com Meares says her suggestions depend on whether they are to be used indoors or outdoors. “It depends on their needs and budget. For my clients who host indoor events, I’d recommend a table drape, retractable banner and a banner backdrop for starters. For outdoor events, custom pop-up tents, table drapes and feather flags.” This 4-by-6-foot polyester Table Throw is the best way to advertise your client’s logo and brand message at trade shows, conventions or any other event. Rivers Promo / PPAI 467928, S4 / riverspromo.com Valdez 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 • Choice of black or white plastic • Multiple shapes and sizes available • Great for bars, restaurants, & more! • Multiple print methods available • 2nd side imprint optional • Made from heavyweight plastic DRINK STIRRERS High quality wood available in select styles 50 piece minimums PPAI • NOVEMBER 2023 • 21

What Goes Around Promo apparel suppliers are offering more recycled fibers than ever, diverting plastic waste from landfills to make soft and stylish garments. By Rachel Zoch OUR INDUSTRY HAS COME A LONG WAY when it comes to providing apparel made with recycled fibers, although there’s definitely still room for improvement. Offering products that are environmentally friendly and ethically produced makes sense, given increasing demand, especially among younger buyers, says Denise Taschereau, and co-founder and CEO of Fairware Promotional Products, a Vancouver, Canada-based distributor specializing in these kinds of products. “As an industry, we want to be getting ready to face the future and be part of what is a more responsible business movement writ large that consumers are asking for, particularly younger buyers,” says Taschereau, a PPAI Board officer, adding that two factors are driving the demand: “There’s kind of a market pull, and then there’s sort of a moral pull of wanting to reduce our impact on the planet.” When it comes to recycled fabric, the trick is finding options that are traceable, since it can be difficult to confirm that the materials that went into it aren’t from virgin plastic, says Elizabeth Wimbush, PPAI’s director of sustainability and responsibility. Did You Know? S&S Activewear, Everywhere Apparel and City Apparel + Merch are just a few of the promo companies that offer garment recycling services to help reduce textile waste. Natali Ximich / Shutterstock.com 22 • NOVEMBER 2023 • PPAI Essentials | In Style

Look for easily identifiable standards and certifications, she advises, like Better Cotton Initiative, bluesign, Cradle to Cradle, GOTS (the Global Organic Textile Standard) and OEKO-TEX. “Brands that have products certified through these standards have done a lot of legwork to prove they aren’t greenwashing and are taking the sustainability of their goods seriously,” says Wimbush. Taschereau and her team look for rPET certified under the Global Recycling Standard, a voluntary product standard for tracking and verifying the content of recycled materials in a final product. “We want to make sure that it’s got a chain of custody and it can be authenticated,” she says. “If you’re saying that you have recycled poly in your shirt or in whatever it is you’re doing, if a distributor like me asks, you want to be able to say ‘here is the certification document’ so that we have that authenticity through the supply chain.” Taschereau says T-shirts made with organic and recycled fibers are nothing new, and “all the main apparel players have rolled out a lot of sustainable textiles,” but she’s excited to see the product offerings expanding to outerwear. “Seeing really beautiful, cool, functional performance wear and outerwear is pretty new in our space,” she says. “Getting access to sustainable T-shirts has been pretty easy for a while, but starting to see puffies and fleece and shackets and flannels and polos and products outside of that T-shirt and hoodie realm, it’s just really blown up in our industry in the last few years, and it’s awesome.” Versatile outerwear that supports layering can make a person’s wardrobe more eco-friendly overall, says Vicki Ostrom, trend analyst/futurist with supplier SanMar and founder of Trendependent, a trend resource for the promotional products industry. With layering, she adds, “you can have one wardrobe that takes you from January through the whole year round, and it does have to do with sustainability, because even if the fabric itself isn’t organic or recycled, if it helps you not have to have the air conditioner on so high or the heat up,” reducing your carbon footprint. Be sure to share your sustainability story, too, says Ostrom, because customers want to know that you’re trying. “Now, there’s just so many ways that you can try to do better,” she says, “and storytelling is really important.” This Unisex Tri-Blend Tee is a favorite for Taschereau and her team. The supersoft T-shirt, made with 50% recycled polyester (about six plastic bottles), 25% organic cotton and 25% Tencel modal is carbon neutral thanks to offsets via www.carbonfund.org. Comes in 22 colors (deep sea green shown) and sizes XS-L. Allmade Apparel PPAI 743984, S1 allmade.com This Ultimate Fleece FullZip Hoodie, made of a cotton/ poly blend, contains up to 30% recycled polyester and sustainably sourced cotton. Thoughtful details like the dyed-to-match drawcord and print-friendly covered zipper give it a polished look. Comes in 10 colors (army green shown) and sizes XS to 4X. Threadfast Apparel PPAI 622344, S6 threadfast.com PPAI • NOVEMBER 2023 • 23 In Style | Essentials

The Avalante Full Zip Fleece Jacket, made of 75% rPET threads, offers long-lasting cold-weather comfort. The raglan sleeve design provides unrestricted movement, and zippered pockets keep belongings secure. Comes in four colors (granite heather shown), men’s sizes S-6X and women’s sizes S-3X. Stormtech USA / PPAI 260245, S4 stormtechperformance.com The shacket still rules, and this lightweight Artisan Shacket features a 100% recycled polyester shell and lining (Thermolite insulation is 35% rPET), that’s also windproof and waterresistant. “It’s super cute, rPET and super on trend,” says Taschereau. Men’s (olive drab shown) comes in sizes S-3X, women’s (nutmeg shown) in sizes XS-3X, and both also come in black or fatigue green. Storm Creek / PPAI 438091, S6 stormcreek.com 24 • NOVEMBER 2023 • PPAI Essentials | In Style

The Unisex Bogart Eco Packable Half Zip Jacket is made from 40% recycled polyester fabric and recycled zipper tape. Stay comfy and dry thanks to a water-resistant coating and a water-repellent finish, plus it packs away into in the left pocket for lightweight weather protection on the go. Comes in three colors (Invictus blue shown) and sizes XS-3X. PCNA / PPAI 113079, S15 / pcna.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 • Available in 64 sq in. size • 170+ stock shapes available • Handle can be custom printed • Full color digital imprint • 3mm white PVC material • Available with or without handle RALLY FANS 50 piece minimums PPAI • NOVEMBER 2023 • 25 In Style | Essentials

The versatile C-FREE Cotton Blend Pique Polo is made from 60% recycled cotton/40% rPET honeycomb pique performance fabric. The shirts are carbon-neutral thanks to verified, thirdparty carbon offsets through Carbonfund, and they come in seven colors and sizes XS-4X in both men’s (garnet shown) and women’s (dark green heather shown). SanMar / PPAI 110788, S16 sanmar.com Zoch is an associate editor at PPAI. Adidas has pledged to use only 100% recycled polyester by 2024. This Spacer Quarter-Zip Pullover, made of 100% rPET ribbed fabric, features a contrast logo just above the right elbow. Comes in four colors and sizes S-4X in men’s (garnet shown) and S-3X in women’s (dark green heather shown). S&S Activewear PPAI 256121, S12 ssactivewear.com 26 • NOVEMBER 2023 • PPAI Essentials | In Style

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IDEAS TO ADVANCE THE MARKETPLACE Voices 11.23 Romolo Tavani / Shutterstock.com RESPONSIBILITY page 34 SUSTAINABILITY BEHIND THE SCENES Some of the most impactful advancements an organization can make will never be seen by customers. SOLUTIONS p. 30 INNOVATION p. 32 YOUR BUSINESS p. 36 PPAI • NOVEMBER 2023 • 29

What Would You Do (At Expo)? Industry pros are quick to share expertise, insights and opinions on all things promo. Amid this batch of answered questions, distributors share their best tips for thriving at The PPAI Expo. Compiled by Kristina Valdez QA Distributor Asks: I’m going to Las Vegas for The PPAI Expo 2024. Any suggestions or tips? 7. Set a limit of how many samples you want to bring back each day from the floor. I limit myself. Of course, your first year is a little harder, but after that it gets easier to pick up fewer samples unless you have a specific client in mind for that sample, etc. 8. Attend the PromoKitchen party! QUIANNE PERIN-SAVOY Co-owner Moore & Moore Merch Clinton, Maryland PPAI 766098, D2 Don’t take every catalog you’re handed, otherwise you’ll have an entire backpack full by the time you get out of there. RENEE HOLMES Sales Coordinator Brand Fuel Raleigh, North Carolina PPAI 277900, D6 Create a draft in your emails of your top clients’ logos. When you see something you like, get an email address and email right then for a virtual. That way when you return to the office, it will be in your inbox. JERI MORAVITS Senior Account Representative BMP Partners Houston, Texas PPAI 102164, D6 Bring comfortable shoes! You will walk miles. Plan your route each day. Don’t have long conversations. Bring your shipper number. DAVID BLOOM President Good Catch! Miami, Florida PPAI 278470, D1 2024 Here are several! 1. Snap photos of products next to the name of the booth so that when you look back at it later, you will remember where you found the product. 2. Take tons of video content and photo content for your social media and the year to come. I normally leave with about 1,500 pictures while on the show floor. 3. Let your clients know that you will be attending and ask them if they need anything special or upcoming that you should be on the lookout for. This helped me land at least six orders, and it’s one of those soft touches that doesn’t feel really salesy. 4. Go to a fabulous dinner at least one night while there! 5. Reach out to other distributors/ suppliers that you engage with on social media so you can try to meet up in real life. Even if it’s just for a quick photo! 6. Ship any samples that you pick up instead of adding to your luggage. 30 • NOVEMBER 2023 • PPAI Voices | Solutions

QA Distributor Asks: From people who have attended before, should I prioritize the education session day or skip it if I can’t do all of the days? Any advice on attending? Education is always beneficial, if I can fit it in. For me, skucon is the best education day. It’s the Sunday before The PPAI Expo begins and has some of the most progressive and innovative education in the industry. The PPAI Expo show floor is massive and requires pre-planning to optimize your time. I spend all three show floor days exploring with my preferred suppliers and learning about new products. If you elect to stay at Luxor or Excalibur, note that they have shuttles to drop you off at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Have a great Expo! NENETTE GRAY Owner Lemonade Creative Marketing Baton Rouge, Louisiana PPAI 468267, D1 I would look at the education and see if it makes sense. At the show, I always start with the new products pavilion and then go to the suppliers’ booths that have the most relevant stuff to what I think my customers are going to be interested in. I try to avoid suppliers who come into our office to present and focus on those that I don’t get to see outside of the shows. I also would spend time in the smaller booths around the perimeters … always some good nuggets there. NATHAN GOLDBERG President Specialized Office Systems Phoenix, Arizona PPAI 259575, D3 The PPAI Expo show floor is massive and requires pre-planning to optimize your time. PPAI • NOVEMBER 2023 • 31 Solutions | Voices

Voices | Innovation StonePicturesr / Shutterstock.com Are You Using Work-From-Home Technology Efficiently? PPAI’s business systems analyst explains how tech tools can enhance communications, but only if used strategically. By Tanaisha Dunbarger IT’S NO BIG REVELATION that the modern work landscape has changed dramatically since 2020. The advent of work-from-home arrangements has transformed the way we work, and technology plays a pivotal role in making this shift possible. As the global workforce continues to embrace remote work, it’s crucial to harness technology efficiently to maintain productivity, communication and work-life balance. That technology is here to stay, and the smartest companies are using it in some capacity to help employees communicate in ways that are both convenient and efficient. Speaking as a business systems analyst, I’ll admit that there are plenty of projects in which my preferred work environment is remote, away from the office. That’s to say nothing of the debate between colleague camaraderie versus cutting down on commute times; both arguments have plenty of value. But I’m referring to efficiency, productivity and mitigating errors. Let me explain. Often my interactions with colleagues, especially when I’m in the “requirements gathering” phase of a project, boils down to a lot of scrolling through systems with them. I’m watching them click through different screens. But it’s not passive watching. I need to be very attentive, as they are also verbalizing their processes. When working in the office, the most natural approach is to stand over or sit near my colleagues as they work through the system. In a 32 • NOVEMBER 2023 • PPAI

Innovation | Voices remote scenario, the colleague shares their screen with me. I find this is a more effective approach. There are less distractions on my end, and my colleague is able to click through the system more naturally, as they would on their own. Screen sharing allows me to see the system – and a common approach – through my colleague’s eyes. Now, if you are operating from a work-from-home or hybrid environment, a number of practices should be put in place to ensure that the team remains organized. My team does a weekly status call. That’s just checking in with everyone to hear their statuses and roadblocks. Both progress and setbacks to a project could occur in a week’s time, and you want to stay on top of those developments. We also have a “technology roadmap” meeting where we discuss the details of upcoming projects as they relate to our organization objectives, things that are in the pipeline, their impact on the organization and so on. These are not things that require sitting in a room together with a whiteboard. There are apps for that. So, let’s talk about basic communications. I get quite a few “simple, quick” questions from colleagues. If the question pertains to a specific project, I prefer to initiate a quick video call if possible. It might seem like overkill, but typically, that one “simple, quick” thing is anything but once you start really digging and fleshing it out. One misconception might be rooted in a larger misconception, and five minutes to achieve clarity can save a lot of time down the road. As I mentioned before, I like video calls for these purposes. I find them to be a focused view of a topic, especially in one-on-one environments. We can stimulate each other’s thoughts, which can drive more questions and solve more problems. When the question pertains to a day-to-day or “keep the lights on” issue, typically, a quick chat through Microsoft Teams or Slack can be perfectly suitable. There’s a big caveat, however. When it comes to those daily issues, I would prefer that the questions be tracked or logged for reference through our ticketing system. That information can later be used for metrics and possibly highlight bigger issues that need to be remedied. More importantly, managing chat interactions is a huge factor as it relates to efficiency. If you are not mindful, chat can prove to be a major distraction. Efficiently using workfrom-home technology is essential for remote workers and organizations. By leveraging collaboration and communication tools and staying organized with time management solutions, remote work can be as productive as working in a traditional office. Embrace the power of technology to make the most of the work-from-home revolution and achieve a healthy work-life balance. Dunbarger is PPAI’s business systems analyst. PPAI • NOVEMBER 2023 • 33

Voices | Responsibility THE CONCEPT OF SUSTAINABILITY has become increasingly prevalent within the promotional products industry. For many, it’s easy to focus on the end product – the environmentally friendly packaging or the branded merch item made from recycled materials. However, true sustainability is more than just a greener end product. It’s a conscious, behind-the-scenes effort that spans an organization’s operations, a foundational pillar of environmental, social and governance criteria. My article in last month’s PPAI Magazine underscores the importance of embracing imperfection on the ESG journey. The environmental component, in particular, is a complex system of concerted efforts to minimize the negative impacts and maximize positive influence on our surroundings. We often think of sustainable products as the result we hold in our hands. In reality, being truly sustainable and environmentally friendly requires examining every step of the production process and, often, thinking much deeper. What We Did At Redwood Classics Apparel, we’ve placed environmental sustainability at the heart of our operations. To prepare for a carbonconstrained future, we invested in an energy-efficient steam boiler in 2018 to reduce water and natural gas use while leaving room for growth. As first demonstrated in our Impact Report, this investment reduced our water use by 6% over the past two years. However, environmental sustainability doesn’t stop at water conservation. We took it a step further and created a novelty knit fabric program that helps reduce our carbon footprint by focusing on lower minimums and using raw materials manufactured near our Toronto-based factory. In an industry known for its long, complex supply chains, this is a noteworthy accomplishment and an example to other businesses of what is achievable. These are just some of our company’s behind-the-scenes wins. Others have found more creative ways to make a dent in their environmental footprint. Incremental progress adds up, and there are steps you can take. What You Can Do The first step is to understand the necessity of rethinking traditional processes. The environmental implications of each operation, from sourcing materials to manufacturing processes, should be evaluated. Solutions like local sourcing or implementing renewable energy sources can significantly reduce environmental footprints. Pela, makers of compostable phone cases, set out to do this with their 2022 reduction plan. In it, they laid out their plans to streamline transportation Sustainability Behind The Scenes Some of the most impactful advancements an organization can make will never be seen by customers. By Kathy Cheng Romolo Tavani / Shutterstock.com 34 • NOVEMBER 2023 • PPAI

Responsibility | Voices routes, decrease end-of-life waste and help manufacturing facilities shift to renewable power sources. Secondly, waste management can’t be overlooked. Our approach to waste – viewing it as a resource rather than a byproduct to dispose of – can be replicated across this industry and many others. With innovative thinking, companies can discover ways to repurpose waste, bringing them one step closer to a circular economy. Genumark, one of Canada’s leading branded merchandise distributors and No. 38 on the PPAI 100, provides a great example of this idea. They’ve applied considerable effort behind the scenes to reduce their environmental footprint, including using recyclable and biodegradable materials for shipping. They go one step further, though, offering their clients options that take their packaging and materials for shipping to the next step, including more compostable and recycled options. Finally, companies should not shy away from difficult changes. Sustainable transformation is not an easy task – it requires investment, time and resilience. But it’s worth the effort for your bottom line and our shared environment. What This Means For Our Planet The journey to sustainability and achieving the E in ESG is not straightforward, and as I’ve said before, it’s OK not to be perfect. The key is to take that first step, no matter how small, and to consistently strive for improvement. Sustainability is not a destination but a continuous journey of evolving practices, innovation and commitment. Incorporating environmental sustainability into business models goes beyond achieving greener end products. It involves a systematic change, a behind-the-scenes transformation, that can positively impact our shared environment and future generations. So, as you continue your ESG journey, remember that the behindthe-scenes effort counts. It’s the will to strive for continuous improvement, the courage to embrace imperfections and the determination to make a difference. It’s about being environmentally friendly on the surface and instilling sustainability deep within the core of your business operations. Cheng is the president of Redwood Classics Apparel and a leading industry advocate on corporate social responsibility. She earned Ascend Canada’s Woman of Distinction Award for 2022. 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 • NOVEMBER 2023 • 35

Voices | Your Business Elevating Leadership And Sales Through Authentic Connection Interpersonal relationships can acutely influence successful leadership and sales outcomes. By Ellen Tucker, CAE, MAS I RECENTLY HAD THE PRIVILEGE of attending PPAI’s Product Responsibility Summit, an event that brought together industry leaders in corporate responsibility, specifically sustainability and compliance. The three-day Summit was a thoughtful reminder of the transformative power of genuine connections and the shared values and passions that bind us. In the whirlwind realms of leadership and sales, where metrics and targets often dominate discussions, the profound influence of authentic connections can sometimes be overlooked. Yet, it is these connections that serve as the bedrock of success, transcending mere transactions and propelling individuals to become catalysts for positive change. Summit was a poignant illustration of this truth. Among industry leaders, united by a shared commitment to sustainability and compliance, I witnessed firsthand the extraordinary impact of authentic connections. It was impossible to leave the conference without feeling inspired, having been in the company of leaders who, by virtue of their shared values and passions, forged connections that ran deeper than professional ties. At the heart of both effective leadership and sales, there exists a fundamental truth: The ability to build authentic, enduring relationships is paramount. It goes beyond mere transactional interactions – it’s about caring genuinely for those you lead or serve and fostering connections that extend far beyond the confines of the office or sales pitch. The notion that leadership is a journey, not a destination, holds true not only for individuals but also for what effective leadership embodies. In our ever-evolving world, leadership has evolved to embrace vulnerability. Gone are the days when leaders were expected to be infallible figures. Modern leadership embraces the courage to admit mistakes, the humility to acknowledge uncertainty and the comfort to reside within the realm of discomfort. This shift toward vulnerability is not a sign of weakness but a testament to strength. It fosters trust and metamorworks / Shutterstock.com 36 • NOVEMBER 2023 • PPAI

Your Business | Voices connection, making leaders more relatable and approachable. Vulnerability, however, is only half of the equation. Authenticity, the other vital component, is what solidifies trust and connection. When you live your values and remain true to yourself, you not only nurture a positive culture but also forge genuine connections. In both leadership and sales, the power of connection is undeniable: • Trust and Rapport: Strong relationships are rooted in trust and rapport, creating an environment of openness and mutual respect. • Listening and Understanding: Prioritizing active listening to truly understand the perspectives of others, even when in disagreement, is crucial in building connections. • Empowerment: When people feel heard and acknowledged, they are inspired to go the extra mile, whether in achieving a shared goal or closing a sale. • Authenticity and Alignment: Authentic leaders and salespeople, aligned with their teams or clients in values and direction, generate a magnetic force that fuels a collective sense of purpose. • Innovation and Collaboration: Authentic connections breed environments where creative solutions thrive, making meaningful change more attainable. The journey of leadership and sales should be a continuous one, not just a pursuit of a destination. With relationships as the sturdy foundation and shared values and passions as the propellant, you have the potential to elevate your leadership and sales endeavors to unprecedented heights. In embracing authentic connection, you not only achieve professional success but also become a beacon of positive change in a world that craves genuine human connection and shared values. Tucker is PPAI’s vice president of revenue and expositions. Your ad seen everyday for about a penny a day! Free white mailing envelopes included Looking for a gift that’s seen everyday all year long! PPAI/114154 SAGE/57590 #957-01DP as low as $2.85(C) Full color imprint w/13 mo.memo date pad, available with black or white trim #311-09DP Full color imprint w/13 mo. memo date pad, in black as low as $3.04(C) #315-09DP Full color imprint w/13 mo. large memo date pad, in black as low as $3.98(C) Full Color Desk Calendars PPAI • NOVEMBER 2023 • 37