PPAI Magazine April 2024

MEDIA.PPAI.ORG 04.24 IN THIS ISSUE Tax Advantages p. 30 PPAI Board The New Class p. 40 Supplier Stars p. 62 Nowhere Fast pg. 36 2023 PPAI Sales Volume Report Promo's Latest Record Year Trailed Inflation

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4 From PPAI Committed To Deliver 7 Creative Calendar Essentials 10 In Style Style On The Green 16 Good Taste Candy Crush 20 Use Case Make A Splash Voices 28 Your Business The Salesperson’s Secret Sauce 30 Responsibility The Tax Man Greeneth 32 Innovation Avoiding Pitfalls Must Read 40 The New Class Meet The Latest Arrivals To The PPAI Board 48 Promotional Products Work Join The Party With Promo Community 70 Buzzworthy 74 Inside PPAI 80 Book Club 82 PPPC Communiqué 84 New Members 87 Datebook 92 Perfect Promo CONTENTS 04.24 VOLUME 48, ISSUE 03 Supplier Stars Learn more about two dozen companies that consistently delivered top-notch products and services to their distributor partners, earning them honors as this year’s PPAI Supplier Stars. 62 Joseph Sommer’s Winning Ways Considered a classic entrepreneur and a change agent by mentors and peers, the 13-year industry veteran opens up about his tumultuous journey to success in promo. 56 Nowhere Fast: Record Year Trails Inflation Promo’s revenue reached $26 billion in 2023, but growth over the previous year was modest. Read about other findings from the annual survey. 36 36 62 56 PPAI • APRIL 2024 • 3

From PPAI Andrew Spellman, CAS Chair of the Board 04.24 PPAI exists to serve its members. That’s as true now as it was before. In concert with the PPAI staff, your board is committed to delivering more value than ever. Committed To Deliver THERE’S AN OLD ADAGE IN LEADERSHIP to deliver good news as soon as possible. I’m hoping that tells you everything about the timing of PPAI’s recent announcement of a refreshed membership structure. This change has rolled out right at the beginning of my term as your board chair. And it is good news. It’s a simplification of a needlessly complicated system, with 16 tiers for members of every type. That outdated membership model taxed businesses as they grew their revenues without actually granting any additional benefits. The simplified new system allows every member a choice of how you want to engage with PPAI, the benefits you’ll receive and the amount you’ll pay for them. The new structure is the result of three years of intense study and debate by volunteers on PPAI committees and the board. Too many people worked too hard on this change, and for too long, for it to not be a positive step. It’s also a long overdue one: Previous efforts date back to at least 2012. Until now, change proved too difficult. It wasn’t easy to find a model that was simpler and fair to everyone. It’s true that some members will experience a modest cost increase, and the PPAI Board did not take that decision lightly. However, this structure preserves affordability and key value for every business. All members continue to benefit from the ongoing PPAISAGE relationship. As our official technology partner, SAGE has significantly expanded and improved its offerings since the last membership price increase, adding project management, CRM capabilities and more. Individually, these are worth far more than the added cost for our industry’s smallest businesses. As those businesses grow, they can choose to take advantage of additional benefits offered by PPAI, such as premium research and education credits, to name a couple. These are two areas of particular focus for PPAI as the Association seeks to enhance and update its offerings for the members who need these resources. PPAI is bringing its Professional members access to macroeconomic tools vital to strategic foresight. The revitalized TAS program will make new hires to the industry better prepared than ever thanks to more digestible content, completely based on member input. In so many areas, we are investing to meet and exceed expectations so that we truly live up to the mission to be the voice and force to advance the promotional marketplace for the benefit of our community. That last part is important to understand: All of this is done with the best interests of the industry, namely our members, in mind. The changes are in line with an important pillar of the organization’s strategic plan: Ensure PPAI’s economic sustainability and scalability. The hard alternative, which we saw in 2021, when the pandemic forced the cancellation of The PPAI Expo, was that the industry’s largest and longest-running trade association might not exist at all. A second year without the show could have bankrupted PPAI. Your board was committed to ensuring the organization could withstand a future catastrophe so that we continue to serve as an asset for the industry. PPAI is a nonprofit, and all the money coming into the Association is reinvested into the industry. Our members are our shareholders. PPAI exists to serve its members. That’s as true now as it was before. In concert with the PPAI staff, your board is committed to delivering more value than ever. 4 • APRIL 2024 • 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 EDITOR Rachel Zoch RachelZ@ppai.org COPYWRITER Sarah Luna SarahL@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 Danah Dean 972-258-3031 DanahD@ppai.org PRESIDENT & CEO Dale Denham, MAS+ 888-I-AM-PPAI DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Lindsey Davis, MAS VICE PRESIDENT, REVENUE AND EXPOSITIONS Ellen Tucker, MAS, CAE DIRECTOR OF FINANCE Renae Ward DIRECTOR OF CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY & SUSTAINABILITY Elizabeth Wimbush DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION CW Karstens DIRECTOR OF HUMAN RESOURCES Doris Sweely BOARD OFFICERS CHAIR OF THE BOARD Andrew Spellman, CAS Therabody IMMEDIATE PAST CHAIR Kevin Walsh, CAS Showdown Displays CHAIR-ELECT OF THE BOARD Denise Taschereau Fairware VICE CHAIR, FINANCE SERVICES Chris Anderson HPG BOARD MEMBERS TERMS EXPIRING 2025 Karie Cowden, MAS Connect the Dots Promotions REGIONAL RELATIONS COMMITTEE DELEGATE TERM EXPIRING 2025 Kara Keister, MAS Social Good Promotions TERMS EXPIRING 2026 Chris Anderson HPG AT LARGE DIRECTOR Lori Bauer iPROMOTEu TERMS EXPIRING 2027 Dan Pantano alphabroder Danny Rosin, CAS Brand Fuel TERMS EXPIRING 2028 Zack Ottenstein The Image Group Erin Reilly Pop! Promos 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 • APRIL 2024 • PPAI

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 MAY 4 ANTI-BULLYING DAY 9 EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES DAY 24 NATIONAL COOLER DAY JUNE 8 WORLD OCEANS DAY 17 NURSING ASSISTANTS DAY 27 NATIONAL WORK FROM HOME DAY JULY 1 AMERICAN ZOO DAY 14 NATIONAL TAPE MEASURE DAY 17 NATIONAL HOT DOG DAY Exceptional Promotions NATIONAL CANDY MONTH Product idea: Made from plastic waste reclaimed from the ocean, this Repreve Ocean 12 Can Tote Cooler features a zippered top for easy access and cleaning, as well as large, durable shoulder straps for easy carrying. There’s also a front lash tab to attach accessories. Through a partnership with 1% For The Planet, 1% of sales of this product is donated to environmental nonprofits. PCNA / PPAI 113079, Platinum / pcna.com SPECIAL OBSERVANCES CALL FOR NATIONAL GRILLING MONTH Product idea: The Roadhouse Cooking & BBQ Digital Thermometer provides an ultrafast temperature reading (within five seconds). Its foldable probe is compact for easy storage, and the digital display screen is easy to read and switch between Fahrenheit and Celsius Ariel Premium Supply / PPAI 110772, Platinum arielpremium.com Use these special occasions to ignite your imagination for relevant – and distinct – client promotions. Compiled by Rachel Zoch ANXIETY AWARENESS MONTH Product idea: Help recipients stress less and regain focus with a Cards Against Anxiety Guidebook & Card Set, which includes a guide to helpful techniques and a deck of 25 wallet-size cards. Each card has a focus phrase on the front and a handy reminder of the technique on the back. The Book Company / PPAI 218850, Silver thebookco.com PPAI • APRIL 2024 • 7

PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS TO BE UNIVERSALLY VALUED Essentials 04.24 Pixel-Shot / Shutterstock.com IN STYLE p. 10 USE CASE p. 20 CANDY CRUSH Make an impression that sticks with custom candy promo, whether it’s a retail brand name or one of the industry’s many unique options. page 16 GOOD TASTE PPAI • APRIL 2024 • 9

Style On The Green Expect new colors, patterns and details in golf and polo shirts, as well as more recycled and performance materials. By Rachel Zoch WITH TIGER WOODS LAUNCHING his own athleisure line and streetwear brands getting in the game to appeal to a younger crowd, golf style is evolving more rapidly than ever. Amy Mazur, national sales manager of the corporate division for Perry Ellis International, says golf apparel is gaining athleisure appeal and trending more toward a lifestyle category. “A lot of these pieces are going to be very versatile and transitional,” she says. “That’s really where golf is heading, so these trends are popular for people that don’t even really play golf, kind of like the surf brands or the skate brands.” Mazur sees brighter hues and color combinations, as well as whimsical patterns already popular in retail, finding their way into promo. Perry Ellis, ranked the No. 36 supplier in the inaugural PPAI 100, holds licenses for storied golf brands Callaway and Penguin, and Mazur says both are embracing what she calls “conversational pieces” featuring all-over prints that add interest, like tiny logos or martini glasses. “I think our market in promo has become more open to stepping out of the box,” Mazur says, adding that she sees customers taking a more lifestyle-driven approach for their branded garments so people will want to wear them outside of work. “The more these trends start catching on, I think in our market the more we’ll be able to do as far as colors and prints.” Performance fabrics that offer moisture management and recycled fibers are also on the rise. Mazur says the recycled polyester and eco-blend textiles “are really great as far as silhouette” and drape well for an attractive fit. Plus, the push toward more sustainable products continues to grow. “Recycled fabrics are perfect for selling to corporations or end users that have strong positions on the environment,” says Patrick Noonan, chief product officer for SanMar. The PPAI 100 No. 1 supplier carries more than 15 polos made with recycled content. “Teams are more excited to build, sell and market sustainable options. It helps employees recognize that they are a part of something bigger than themselves or that one transaction. They are making a real difference with the products they showcase.” FORE! Three golf apparel trends on the horizon Combinations: Look for more than one color per garment, as well as multiple textures and finishes. Think mesh and fleece in the same piece, or perhaps a shiny sleeve on a matte body. Tailoring: Seams will become more prominent, and decorative tailoring will add polish and a modern take on streetwear and the oversized silhouettes of the 1990s. Asymmetrical Details: High-low hems and other details will add a feminine touch to women’s golf apparel. 1 2 3 10 • APRIL 2024 • PPAI Essentials | In Style

This Retro Geo Print Polo by Penguin brings modern style and brand-name cachet to the course or corporate office. Made with recycled polyester and elastane, the double knit fabric offers moisture wicking. Available in sizes S-3X. Perry Ellis International PPAI 255232, Gold pei-corporateapparel.com Update classic golf style with the All-Over Stitched Chev Polo, featuring the Callaway chevron in a subtle pattern on the fabric, as well as a zipper pull on the ladies’ collar. Its stretch spandex jersey knit fabric offers full range of motion, moisture wicking and UPF 40 protection. Available in peacoat navy or lapis blue and men’s sizes S-4X or women’s S-3X. Perry Ellis International PPAI 255232, Gold pei-corporateapparel.com The new Greatness Wins Athletic Tech Polo brings championship style to promo. This lightweight polo offers stretch, moisture wicking and UPF 30 protection, all in a fabric that is bluesign-approved and certified by the Global Recycled Standard. Available in four neutral colors (navy shown) and men’s sizes S-3X or women’s XS-2X. PCNA / PPAI 113079, Platinum pcna.com The stylish Links 2 Golf Jacket offers a clean athleisure silhouette that can be worn on or off the golf course. The inner micro polar fleece lining provides warmth, and the outer layer has a waterproof membrane for protection from the elements. Available in sizes S-3X and five colors (dark royal shown). Antigua Apparel / PPAI 133110, Silver corporate.antigua.com PPAI • APRIL 2024 • 11 In Style | Essentials

The bestselling Nike Dri-FIT Micro Pique 2.0 Polo will transition to 100% recycled polyester this year. Its soft, stretchable micro pique fabric features moisture management for comfort, and updated design offers an improved fit. Available in five styles, 20 colors and men’s sizes XS4X (tall L-4X in nine colors) or ladies S-2X. SanMar / PPAI 110788, Platinum sanmar.com The cozy, full-zip Ridgeline Fleece Vest, made of 100% polyester anti-pill fleece, features a faced collar that provides wind resistance, and the angled front zipper pockets offer warmth for hands or storage for personal items. Available in black or navy and men’s sizes S-3X or women’s XS-3X. Charles River Apparel PPAI 111644, Gold charlesriverapparel.com PPAI • APRIL 2024 • 13 In Style | Essentials

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Rope details are trending for caps, and this Athletic Rope Cap, available in eight earthy colors, features a contrasting white or black braided rope accent across the brim. Made of 100% polyester performance fabric, the five-panel structured cap offers UV protection and moisture wicking. Cap America / PPAI 111597, Gold / capamerica.com Available in 11 bright colors, the Flexfit 110 Aerated Performance Visor shades the wearer’s eyes with a standard pre-curved visor. Its moisture-wicking 100% polyester fabric and sweatband with stretchable hook-and-loop closure offer adjustable comfort for hours of wear. Cap America / PPAI 111597, Gold / capamerica.com Zoch is associate editor at PPAI. Choose From 6 Shapes Ground Stake Included Carbon Fiber Poles Full Color Imprint Free PMS Color Matches Free Carry Bag Reduced Prices & Below EQP Sale! 9ft, 12ft, 15ft & 17ft Feather Flags Convex Concave Teardrop Angled Flat Blade $138(C) No minimum Valid thru 4/30/24 as low as FREE SETUP PPAI/582106 SAGE/50398 PPAI • APRIL 2024 • 15 In Style | Essentials

SURPRISE AND DELIGHT. Those are top goals for just about any promo, and it’s hard to go wrong with a sweet treat when you want to make a connection that sticks. “Candy and other food gifts are a great way to say thank you and put a smile on your clients’ or employees’ faces,” says Nadav Raviv, a 2023 PPAI Rising Star and senior national account executive with Ohio-based distributor GBS BrandConnect. “One of the best ways to utilize branded treats is through anniversary or birthday programs that drop ship directly from the factory to your soon-to-be happy end user.” Options run the gamut from humble hard candies and classic mints to custom-molded chocolates and brandname treats in promo packaging. Chelsea Williams, a 2023 PPAI Rising Star and owner/ CEO of Spark Branded Solutions in Tennessee, says she “can’t say no to chocolate.” She likes brand names for the trust factor and has had a lot of success with custom M&Ms. “I’ve done them for universities in the university colors – corporate colors, too,” she says. “You can’t beat those, and that brand name is very recognizable.” Williams suggests candy as a natural fit for hospitality clients, or for room drops at events or desk drops for employees. She and her team look for options that mirror a client’s branding or messaging, and she’s excited about the variety of choices from HPG’s SugarSpot line. For a client whose logo is a pineapple, the Spark team is pitching a pillow pack filled with gummy pineapples and labeled with their logo on the packaging. “It’s just a really great touch point and makes their client see that they’re going the extra mile,” Williams says, “and it’s really low cost, but really high impact.” The packaging and decoration can be as important as the contents. For a client celebrating its debut on the stock market with ticker TAFI, the Spark team pitched – what else? – a desk drop of taffy in custom-printed canisters. Williams advises taking full advantage of all available opportunities for customization, as well as pairing an edible gift with reusable packaging or an item that lasts, like drinkware or a bag. “A lot of people are asking for edible items that also have something that they can keep after the gift is gone,” she says, “and I’ve seen suppliers do a much better job of incorporating a hard good, or maybe it’s the way it’s packaged.” Weather is also a factor with anything edible. With 2023 the hottest year on record, even hard candy posed a shipping challenge last summer. “We found that out the hard way with gummy bears,” Williams says. “We were going to have to do two-day shipping with ice on those, too, so I think just about anything edible like that in the summer you have to. If you’re really insistent on having candies or something edible, it’s just non-negotiable.” Candy Crush Make an impression that sticks with custom candy promo, whether it’s a retail brand name or one of the industry’s many unique options. By Rachel Zoch Pixel-Shot / Shutterstock.com 16 • APRIL 2024 • PPAI Essentials | Good Taste

Add your client’s logo to delicious chocolate from a globally recognized, socially responsible brand with a Tony’s Chocolonely Bars Custom Window Box. Each fully customized box includes three different flavors and fullcolor printing. Choose from six stock window shapes or create your own custom shape. Midnite Snax / PPAI 113793, Standard-Plus midnitesnax.com The SugarSpot line from HPG offers everything from classic hard candies like lemon drops to clever newcomers like these Pineapple Gummies or Champagne Gummy Drops. Choose from 1.3-oz taster packets or 3-oz. or 7-oz. reusable jars, all with custom labels. “I really like how they have all the different price points,” says Williams. “You can’t go wrong between all their different flavors and packaging options.” HPG / PPAI 110772, Platinum hpgbrands.com/sugarspot Crafted from American beechwood and decorated with a firebrand imprint, this elegant almost 4-inch Hardwood Pen & Pencil Cup filled with chocolate covered almonds, Jelly Belly jelly beans (shown) or cocoa dusted truffles will be a lasting and useful reminder once the sweet treats are gone. Maple Ridge Farms / PPAI 114165, Gold / mapleridge.com Make an impression with a 2-oz. Full Color DigiBag of customprinted Reese’s Pieces, chocolate buttons (14 colors available) or other sweets for branding inside and out. The 5-by-4-inch bag features a digital print of your client’s logo or message, and the candy itself is decorated for added fun and impact. Compostable bags are also available. NC Custom / PPAI 111662, Silver nccustom.com PPAI • APRIL 2024 • 17 Good Taste | Essentials


Inside every Sweeter Card is a delicious bar of fair trade-certified sea salt caramel dark chocolate, hand-packed by adults with disabilities. Choose a stock card like this Two-Pack Housewarming Gift, perfect for real estate agents or leasing offices, or create your own fully customizable greeting card. Sweeter Cards / PPAI 810735, Standard-Base sweetercards.com Classic mints are still in demand, but Williams says you have to find a way to make it stand out, like a custom shape or clever package, like the tasty Custom-Shaped Mints in full-color tins, made in the USA by Promotunity. Promotunity / PPAI 622381, Standard-Base promotunity-usa.com Zoch is associate editor at PPAI. PPAI • APRIL 2024 • 19 Good Taste | Essentials

Essentials | Use Case Make A Splash Two distributors share their favorite poolside promo products, including their own must-haves, things they’d like to try, and items they are quick to recommend to clients. Compiled by Rachel Zoch NADAV RAVIV Senior National Account Executive GBS BrandConnect PPAI 812585, Silver North Canton, Ohio Raviv faithfully uses a portable speaker, custom slides and a giant insulated mug at the pool. “Gotta have tunes! The JBL Xtreme 3 Portable Bluetooth Speaker from HPG Brands puts out the perfect tunes to soak up that hot summer sun,” he says. The barrel-shaped speaker delivers massive sound with four drivers and two pumping bass radiators for 15 hours of play time. It’s waterproof and dustproof for outdoor durability. HPG / PPAI 110772, Platinum / HPGbrands.com “Most people would probably prefer to flip-flop themselves into the pool,” Raviv adds, “but I would much rather slide right in with the Slides from Sock101.” These sporty summer slides offer two printable panels: the microfiber leather upper and the lightweight, flexible EVA sole. SOCK101 / PPAI 625402, Silver / sock101.com 20 • APRIL 2024 • PPAI

Use Case | Essentials “I don’t want to refill my drink every 30 minutes,” Raviv says. “With the 40-oz. Stanley Quencher from Starline, I can keep cool in the pool sipping on my favorite – Tito’s and soda with an orange.” The superpopular double-wall vacuum insulated mug keeps drinks cold up to 11 hours (and ice for two days), and its three-position lid features an opening for the reusable straw, a sip-through opening and full closure. Starline USA / PPAI 112719, Gold / starline.com Raviv wants to try a fold-up wagon to tote his gear. “You won’t have to worry about carrying all your stuff anymore, and it’s a great way to stay organized,” he says. This red Compact Folding Wagon, made of sturdy oxford cloth, can carry up to 176 pounds and folds easily into a carry bag for convenient storage. A 6-by-4-inch imprint on the wagon is included, with an optional added 8-by-5-inch imprint on the bag. AAA Innovations / PPAI 110972, Standard-Plus aaainnovations.com Raviv would suggest sun protection with a convertible bucket hat and a sunscreen/lip balm combo. “My mom hates when I don’t wear a hat,” he says, “so make her happy and your doctor happy by covering your head with a nice bucket hat. Make your friends happy, too, by flipping the bucket hat upside down and turning it into a mini cooler!” The multi-purpose Custom All Over Print Cooler Bucket Hat functions as both a hat and a drink cooler thanks to an insulated inner where you can stash your drinks and ice to keep them cool. Available in 15 standard colors or choose from 140 stock colors with a one-color all-over print. AZX Sport / PPAI 224494, Silver / azxpromotions.com PPAI • APRIL 2024 • 21

Essentials | Use Case This travel-friendly Duo Bottle + Carabiner includes broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen that is unscented and reef-safe, plus SPF 15 lip balm. Both are made in the USA and free of oxybenzone, PABA and gluten. Customize with your choice of six carabiner colors, 22 lip balm flavors and a full-color label. SnugZ USA / PPAI 112982, Platinum / snugzusa.com CHELSEA WILLIAMS Owner/CEO Spark Branded Solutions PPAI 793840, Standard-Plus Mount Juliet, Tennessee Williams faithfully uses a slim can cooler and insulated backpack to keep refreshments cold. “I always make sure to have my BrüMate Hopsulator Slim Can Cooler to keep my High Noons cold at the pool,” she says. “Summer days are hot in Tennessee, but this insulator keeps my drinks ice cold.” This triple-insulated stainless steel can cooler, designed exclusively for 12-oz. slim cans, features push-lock technology that makes inserting and removing cans a breeze, and the noslip base keeps them upright. Available in six colors with laser engraving. Hirsch / PPAI 221823, Gold hirschpromo.com “I also use the Koozie Olympus 36-Can Cooler Backpack to load up our drinks and snacks. I’ve tried dozens of coolers, but this one is by far my favorite,” Williams adds. “I’ve had it for at least five years, and it’s still in perfect condition. I also love wearing it as a backpack because my arms are usually full with a bag and my children’s pool toys.” It’s easy to wipe clean and offers a choice between the wrapped top and side carry handles or padded shoulder straps. Available in six colors. Koozie Group / PPAI 114187, Platinum / kooziegroup.com 22 • APRIL 2024 • PPAI

Zoch is associate editor at PPAI. “And of course, you can’t forget a pool bag to haul all of your items,” Williams says. “I really like the Sol Mate Tote Bag because it’s made of a rubber material that’s quickdrying and easy to clean. Its generous size can easily fit your towels and sunscreen, and the long handles make it easy to throw on your shoulder and go.” Available in five colors with a 7-by-4-inch imprint area. Hit Promotional Products / PPAI 113910, Platinum / hitpromo.net Williams wants to try this cap designed especially for women. “I’m excited to try the Infinity Her Women’s Pigment-Dyed Cap. Finally, a cap made for women!” she says. “This cap will keep my face shaded and has a concealed ponytail opening so I can keep my hair up (and dry) at the pool. This specific cap style is also makeup-resistant, breathable and has a moisturemanagement sweatband.” The 100% Better Cotton pigment-washed twill Cassie cap comes in 15 colors with fun under-visor patterns (cashmere blue/floral shown). S&S Activewear / PPAI 256121, Platinum / ssactivewear.com Williams would suggest an oversized beach towel. “You never get rid of a great beach towel. The ROI is incredible, and your brand will be associated with fun beach and pool days,” Williams says. This 100% cotton Oversized Velour Beach Towel provides a 26-by-48-inch imprint area and comes in 11 colors. Decorate with print or embroidery. Terry Town / PPAI 230911, Gold / terrytown.com 24 • APRIL 2024 • PPAI Essentials | Use Case

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IDEAS TO ADVANCE THE MARKETPLACE Voices 04.24 Romolo Tavani / Shutterstock.com RESPONSIBILITY The Tax Man Greeneth The Inflation Reduction Act offers tangible benefits for promo firms looking to prioritize eco-friendly practices. page 30 HAKINMHAN / Shutterstock.com YOUR BUSINESS p. 28 INNOVATION p. 32 PPAI • APRIL 2024 • 27

Voices | Your Business Follow-Up: The Salesperson’s Secret Sauce Follow-up is the often unrecognized hero of the sales process, and following up on an initial or ongoing conversation is taking the next important step in any business relationship. By Lindsey Davis IT CAN BE A BREATH OF FRESH AIR when someone new joins the team – energizing and invigorating. I had a moment like that earlier this year when Michele Schwartz joined PPAI’s business development group as sales manager. Michele hit the ground running. I mean that, literally. We flew her out to Las Vegas for The PPAI Expo on her very first day. But Michele’s a trouper, with a deep well of experience to draw on, including almost a decade in sales leadership at industry supplier Fossil Group. Nothing brings a team together like working an event the scope and scale of The PPAI Expo. The same goes for PPAI’s own staff. As I was getting to know Michele better, the discussion frequently turned to sales tactics and philosophies. She’s an expert, so it would be foolish not to take the opportunity to learn from her. One of the things that immediately stood out to me in our conversation was how important follow-up is as part of the sales process. On the face of it, that’s a silly thing to say. It’s obvious that after you meet a new contact or Nothing brings a team together like working an event the scope and scale of The PPAI Expo. inspiring.team / Shutterstock.com 28 • APRIL 2024 • PPAI

Even if what we hear is negative, it’s important. We hope our customers tell us when they didn’t have a good experience with the company or when the product arrived broken or an imprint didn’t look right. Your Business | Voices after you have a first order with someone, you follow up. We all know that, but it’s so fundamental that we can also forget how doing it right takes some forethought. We all get busy. We go to the next meeting, on the next trip, move on to the next prospect. But follow-up is too important to be taken for granted. It’s not just to do it, but to do it well. From A Person I Don’t Know To A Person I Know. When you’ve just met someone, be it at a trade show, through a mutual acquaintance or however, effective follow-up is an important part of cementing that connection. Try these email greetings: • “It was nice to meet you.” • “Regarding that thing we were talking about…” • “Here’s that article I mentioned last night…” Regardless of what territory it covers, following up on an initial conversation is taking the next important step in a business relationship. Keeping Us All On The Same Page. The next time follow-up comes into play, it’s likely just after a meeting. Whether you’re a supplier presenting your line to a distributor or a distributor sharing ideas on a promotional products campaign with an end buyer, one thing is universal: You won’t remember everything that went on during that conversation. That’s why giving a good recap of the discussion is vital. It’s not a hard sales approach. It’s making sure we’re all at the same place. Michele is a big advocate for the quality recap. Following Up On The Follow-up. We’ve made the connection and had the meeting and set next steps, and then we … wait. And we all get busy. And maybe we don’t want to hear “no”, so we don’t check back in or make that extra touch. But we should! Following up on the follow-up makes sure the issue stays top of mind and that deadlines get met. It’s very likely that the person you haven’t heard from does want to work with you, they just have a lot on their plate too, and responding got lost in the shuffle. It’s often that one last reminder that seals the deal. Once The Deal Is Done. You’ve completed the sale! Now, follow up! Following up after delivery is a great way to get feedback, learn and cement your relationship with the client for future collaborations. Even if what we hear is negative, it’s important. We hope our customers tell us when they didn’t have a good experience with the company or when the product arrived broken or an imprint didn’t look right. They should do that. We need to know so that we can make it right. Often, people will think that after the deal is completed, it’s over. Their job is done. But it’s just the beginning. Your sales job might end when delivery is made, but your merchandising job has just begun. A distributor might share ideas on how to stage the product or use it most effectively. A supplier can give a heads-up on what would be a great tie-in to that product for next quarter. Share something that gets the client thinking ahead. Follow-up is the often unrecognized hero of the sales process. It has done wonders for PPAI. I’m so glad we followed up with Michele when she reached out about a position at the Association. Davis is PPAI’s director of business development. PPAI • APRIL 2024 • 29

Creative rabbit hole / Shutterstock.com Voices | Responsibility The Tax Man Greeneth IN TODAY’S BUSINESS LANDSCAPE, sustainability isn’t just a trend – it’s a strategic imperative for companies seeking long-term success. For suppliers and distributors, embracing sustainable practices is not only about doing what’s right for the planet, but also about seizing opportunities for growth and innovation. Enter the Inflation Reduction Act, landmark legislation signed into law in the United States in August 2022. While its primary focus may be economic, its potential impact on sustainability is profound, offering tangible benefits for businesses looking to prioritize eco-friendly practices. (Don’t think I’ve forgotten about my fellow Canadians – we’ve got some tax tips for you, too.) The IRA allocates approximately $369 billion toward energy security and climate change programs over the next decade, representing a significant investment in sustainability initiatives. This presents a unique opportunity for promotional products companies to access financial support for their sustainability efforts. Here’s how: The Inflation Reduction Act offers tangible benefits for promo firms looking to prioritize ecofriendly practices. By Elizabeth Wimbush 30 • APRIL 2024 • PPAI

Responsibility | Voices 1. Energy Efficiency Upgrades With the IRA’s tax credits and grants, businesses can invest in energy-efficient measures such as upgrading lighting systems, installing smart thermostats and improving insulation. These upgrades not only lower energy bills but also reduce carbon emissions, contributing to sustainability goals while improving the bottom line. Canadian companies can take advantage of similar incentives offered by the Canadian government, such as the Energy Efficiency Grants for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises program or the Energy Savings Rebate program. 4. Job Creation In Green Industries The IRA aims to create millions of quality jobs in green industries such as manufacturing, installation and development of clean energy technologies. By embracing sustainability initiatives and supporting green businesses, promo firms can contribute to job creation and economic growth while reducing their carbon footprint. Canadian firms can also play a role by investing in green technologies and supporting sustainable industries within their communities. 2. Renewable Energy Installations The IRA’s Investment Tax Credit offers up to 30% back on the cost of installing solar panels or other renewable energy systems. Promo firms can leverage this incentive to transition to clean energy sources, powering their manufacturing facilities or offices with solar or wind energy and reducing reliance on fossil fuels. Similarly, Canadian firms can benefit from incentives such as the Canadian Renewable and Conservation Expenses program, which provides tax credits for investments in renewable energy projects. 3. Sustainable Material Sourcing By prioritizing locally manufactured sustainable materials, businesses can reduce carbon emissions associated with transportation. The IRA’s focus on incentivizing domestic manufacturing further encourages promo firms to source eco-friendly materials and components from within North America. Canadian companies can also benefit from government initiatives promoting sustainable sourcing, such as grants for sustainable forestry practices. 6. Transition To Electric Fleets The Clean Fuel Vehicle Tax Credit offers incentives for businesses to transition to electric vehicles by providing tax credits for new EV purchases. Don’t have a fleet? There are incentives to install charging stations at your office location, too. In Canada, businesses can benefit from similar incentives, such as rebates for electric vehicle purchases and grants for installing EV charging infrastructure. The Inflation Reduction Act presents a unique opportunity for promotional products companies with a footprint in North America to prioritize sustainability while driving economic growth and innovation. By leveraging the IRA’s incentives, businesses can position themselves as leaders in sustainability while receiving some great tax benefits. Embracing sustainability isn’t just a moral imperative – it’s also a smart business decision. Wimbush is the director of sustainability and responsibility at PPAI. 5. Waste Reduction, Recycling And Composting Programs Canadian businesses can take advantage of incentives for implementing sustainable practices such as waste reduction, recycling and composting programs. By participating in government-sponsored initiatives like the Zero Plastic Waste Initiative and the Circular Economy Leadership Coalition, businesses can access funding and support to implement sustainable waste management strategies and reduce their environmental footprint. PPAI • APRIL 2024 • 31

Avoiding Engage employees to see the benefits of new technologies, foster collaboration and understand the balance between cost and efficiency. By CW Karstens NAVIGATING THE LANDSCAPE of the promotional products industry requires careful consideration and strategic planning to avoid common pitfalls that can hinder progress and success. Here, we explore five key challenges and provide insight into how businesses can steer clear of these hazards while fostering innovation. Overreliance On Traditional Methods And Reluctance To Embrace New Technologies This industry, like many others, is evolving with advancements in technology. Businesses that fail to adapt to these changes may find themselves falling behind competitors. It is essential for companies to stay informed about emerging technologies and be willing to integrate them into their business processes. Embracing new technologies, such as enterprise resource planning tools or customer relationship management software, can provide a competitive edge and open up new possibilities for innovation. Avoiding Significant Added Costs Can Hinder Progress Budgets tend to focus on expenses versus revenue, and the important link between investment compared with productivity and its impact on revenue is often not studied enough. The sticker shock that comes with many software solutions often results in a decision not to implement new tools. Make sure to take the time to really think about and quantify the hidden benefits of enhanced efficiency once the new tools are in practice. Incorrectly Prioritizing Where To Innovate Choosing the wrong innovation opportunities could be due to an employee or department quietly doing large amounts of manual procedures out of sight of those looking for areas of improvement. Or maybe the organization is making changes in areas that are reported due to a disgruntled employee rather than real issues. It is imperative to periodically review how work is getting done. Pitfalls Gannvector / Shutterstock.com 32 • APRIL 2024 • PPAI Voices | Innovation

Forcing staff to use new tools without buy-in can also increase resistance and reduce the benefits achieved. Reduced Price & Below EQP Sale! Industrial Strength 10’ x 10’ Hex Aluminum Frame 40mm Frame, 1.2mm Thick 600 Denier Polyester FREE Wheeled Carry Bag FREE PMS Matches Full Color Imprint FREE SETUP $735 (C) No minimum Valid thru 4/30/24 $1,231 (C) No minimum Valid thru 4/30/24 PPAI/582106 SAGE/50398 TCT11100 - Standard w/Canopy Also available w/half side walls and in 10’x15’ & 10’x20’ sizes. TCT11200 - Standard w/Canopy & Rear Wall Karstens is PPAI’s director of digital transformation. Lack Of Collaboration And Communication Collaborative processes often involve input from various departments and teams. Siloed organizational structures can impede the flow of ideas and hinder communication that promotes the development of inventive solutions. To avoid this pitfall, businesses should foster a culture of collaboration and open communication. Encouraging crossfunctional teams, hosting brainstorming sessions and creating channels for idea sharing can help break down silos and promote a more creative environment. Poor Communication And Training Implementing New Tools And Processes It’s important to take an iterative approach when implementing new solutions. A deliberate and thorough plan helps build buy-in among employees, as well as ensuring that everyone understands why the solution was adopted and how it works. Skipping steps such as understanding how and why tasks are done, creating plans for enhanced changes that meet the needs of the organization and providing overviews of upcoming changes can cause resentment and workplace dissatisfaction. Forcing staff to use new tools without buy-in can also increase resistance and reduce the benefits achieved. Innovation, when approached thoughtfully and strategically, can be a powerful tool for driving growth and staying ahead of the curve. Navigating the path of innovation requires a strategic approach to avoid common pitfalls. Businesses should engage employees to see the benefits of new technologies, foster collaboration and understand the balance between cost and efficiency. By addressing these challenges head-on, your company can position itself for success in a dynamic and competitive promotional products market. PPAI • APRIL 2024 • 33 Innovation | Voices

STORIES TO KEEP AND USE Must Read 04.24 Ardea-studio/ Molesko Studio / Shutterstock.com page 48 2023 PPAI SALES VOLUME ESTIMATE p. 36 THE NEW CLASS p. 40 JOSEPH SOMMER’S WINNING WAYS p. 56 SUPPLIER STARS p. 62 JOIN THE PARTY WITH PROMO Drum up unforgettable experiences at fairs and festivals with branded merch. PPAI • APRIL 2024 • 35

Must Read | 2023 Industry Sales Report 2023 PPAI Sales Volume Report Nowhere Fast: Record Year Trails Inflation Billion Photos / Varunyuuu / Shutterstock.com Promo’s revenue reached $26 billion in 2023, but growth over the previous year was modest. Read about other findings from the annual survey. By Jonny Auping & Michaela Mora 36 • APRIL 2024 • PPAI

Figure 1 10-Year Industry Performance 2023 $26,094,912,163 2022 $25,522,419,472 2021 $22,077,935,415 2020 $19,617,112,147 2019 $24,223,484,868 2018 $24,746,578,839 2017 $23,285,980,409 2016 $21,304,931,457 2015 $20,808,170,722 2014 $20,042,228,931 $26.1 In Billions 2023 2017 2015 2019 2021 2014 2018 2016 2020 2022 $20 $20.8 $21.3 $23.3 $24.7 $24.2 $19.6 $22.1 $25.5 2023 Industry Sales Report | Must Read (Editor’s Note: Since 1965, PPAI’s Distributor Sales Volume Estimate has been the most trusted, directionally accurate measure of the size of the U.S. promotional products market and trends in the industry. Selected charts displayed in this article are taken from the full report, available to members at PPAI's Professional membership tiers – Silver, Gold and Platinum. Last year, when the 2022 Distributor Sales Volume Estimate was published, it was a cause for celebration. For the first time ever, the promotional products industry accounted for $25 billion in revenue and, even with plenty of factors to attribute to that number, it was a record that showcased promo’s tremendous growth and economic recovery. The 2023 Distributor Sales Volume Estimate shows that last year’s promo revenue topped $26 billion in revenue. While another record year in total revenue, it represents a modest growth rate over the previous year. The results reflect similar trends reported on by PPAI Research’s bi-monthly survey. While 2023’s revenue total is nothing to sneeze at and shows the large presence that the promotional products marketplace holds, promo professionals might not be popping champagne. The growth rate for 2023 was 2.24% and did not outpace the rate of inflation, which has not dipped below 3% since March 2021 according to the Consumer Price Index report. “Promo’s revenue totals in 2023 show that the industry is healthy, but growth has tapered off since 2022’s explosive returns,” says Alok Bhat, market economist and research lead at PPAI. Source: PPAI 2023 Sales Volume Estimate Figure 2 Market Share by Distributor Size, 2014-2023 Over $2.5 Million Under $2.5 Million 2023 2017 2015 2019 2021 2014 2018 2016 2020 2022 50 56 52 55 56 58 57 53 54 54 50 44 46 46 48 45 44 42 43 47 “Business strategy will be important going forward and capitalizing on upward trends is advisable.” The Sales Volume Estimate also tracks the measured progression of several promo industry trends over the past year. These include larger distributors’ capture of a slightly larger share of sales than they did in 2022, and the continued climb in prominence of online sales and sustainable products in the market. For more than 50 years, PPAI has been collecting, analyzing and reporting distributor sales, and this study is the most definitive and comprehensive of its kind in the industry. It is a valuable resource for understanding the current landscape for promotional products companies and as a potential tool in any attempt to try to prepare for the future. Key Findings As mentioned above, in 2023, the promotional product industry demonstrated a 2.24% growth rate over 2022. While positive, this is a significant step back from 2022’s growth rate of 15.6% and 2021’s growth rate of 12.5%. Growth has slowed, but it’s worth noting that those two years were part of a recovery from the 2020’s revenue totals, which was an outlier year due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the market. PPAI • APRIL 2024 • 37

In total, promo’s revenue reached $26.09 billion in 2023. Taking a macro-perspective, this shows promo revenue has grown by $6 billion over a 10-year period. (See Figure 1) Company Size Comparisons One year ago, we were talking about the strides made by small businesses – companies reporting under $2.5 million in annual sales – an encouraging trend after the hit such distributors took in the initial stage of the pandemic. In 2023, the share of total sales by small distributors took a slight dip to 46.3% (down from 46.8%). Large distributors (over $2.5 million) captured $14,019,015,692 of the industry sales volume – a 53.72 percent share. It should be noted that the large-company segment also includes large franchise distributors that report for their franchisees. Sales from smaller distributors as a group amounted to $12,075,896,471. (See Figure 2) Changes in sales volume showed high variability in 2023. Within the small distributor segment, companies with sales between $250K and $500K experienced the greatest sales growth, while distributors at each end of that segment saw a decline in sales. (See Figure 3) The average revenue for the small distributor segment slightly increased to $524,722 in 2023, up from $519,043 in the previous year, indicating steady performance within this cohort. (See Figure 4). The significant increases in 2022 and 2023 could potentially be a result of consolidation among the smaller parts of the industry, with distributors buying out their competitors’ books of business following challenges exacerbated by the pandemic. Online Sales In 2023, online sales – which include transactions completed through online stores or distributor websites – amounted to $5.03 billion ($5,027,614,753), making up 19.3% of the promotional products industry’s total sales. In 2023, 81% of large distributors and 58% of small distributors reported engaging in online sales. Sustainable Products Continue To Rise In 2023, sales in the sustainable products category, which includes items recognized for their eco-friendly attributes at various stages of their lifecycle – from production and usage to disposal – reached an estimated $3.09 billion. (See Figure 5) Accounting for 12.2 percent of the promotional products industry’s total sales, the sustainable products segment saw an 8% increase from 2022’s figure of approximately $2.86 billion, underscoring a growing consumer preference for environmentally responsible options. Must Read | 2023 Industry Sales Report Figure 3 Segmenting Industry Sales By Company Size 2018-2023 2023 $26.1 +2.2% 1.6 2.1 2.9 5.4 14.0 2022 $25.5 +3.3% 1.7 1.7 2.9 5.8 13.6 2019 $24.2 +26.2% 2.0 2.0 2.3 4.3 13.6 2018 $24.7 -2.6% 1.8 1.7 2.6 4.9 13.8 2021 $22.1 -6.2% 1.8 1.8 2.4 3.4 12.7 2020 $19.6 +3.2% 1.8 1.5 2.6 3.6 10.2 <$250K $250K -$500K $500K-$1M $1M-$2.5M $2.5M+ Over $2.5M Under $2.5M In Billions Figure 4 Sales Average Mean By Under $2.5 Million Distributors 2014-2023 2016 2021 2014 2019 2017 2022 2023 2015 2020 2018 449,835 409,477 430,563 422,465 430,912 519,043 524,722 417,846 423,943 469,833 431K 418K 450K 431K 470K 519K 525K 422K 424K 409K Figure 5 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 10% 11% 11% 11% 9% 13% 13% 13% 12% 12% Percentage of Sustainable Promotional Products Sales 2019-2023 Figure 6 Sales Volume Distribution by Product Category Wearables / Apparel..................26.1% Drinkware............................................10.3% Bags/Travel...........................................7.9% Caps/Hats.............................................7.2% Wearables/Fashion Accessories.......................................... 5.0% Writing....................................................4.5% Technology...........................................4.2% Office....................................................... 3.5% Event......................................................... 3.3% Awards.................................................... 3.3% Automotive.......................................... 2.6% Recreation............................................ 2.3% Buttons & Badges........................... 2.2% Date & Time........................................ 2.0% Labels........................................................ 1.8% Food & Beverage.............................. 1.8% Cards......................................................... 1.7% Packaging............................................... 1.7% Home / Kitchen.................................. 1.5% Personal. ................................................. 1.4% Health & Beauty................................ 1.4% Magnets. ................................................. 1.0% Games & Toys....................................0.7% Pet..............................................................0.6% Jewelry....................................................0.4% Other......................................................... 1.4% 38 • APRIL 2024 • PPAI