PPAI Magazine April 2024

doing, and most importantly, the people,” Bauer says. Bauer had an accomplished track record at Koozie Group. While in marketing, she oversaw the launch of hundreds of new products. After transitioning to sales, she led a team responsible for over $120 million in sales. And yet, comfort doesn’t always lead to contentment. A New Frontier Early during the pandemic – when most of us were pushed toward moments of self-reflection – Ross Silverstein, a friend of Bauer’s and then president and CEO of iPROMOTEu, the No. 13 distributor in the inaugural PPAI 100, reached out about a senior position he was hoping to fill. After some back and forth, Bauer decided to step away from the supplier side of promo in 2021 and join one of the most recognizable distributor names in the industry as senior vice president of affiliate sales and support. It turned out that those 23 years were building toward such a switch. Distributors had been her customers at BIC/Koozie Group. Now, she could draw on what she had learned in those partnerships. “I built strong relationships with my clients, came to understand their business interests as entrepreneurs and commissioned salespeople and what they needed to succeed,” Bauer says. When Silverstein initially approached Bauer, he knew retirement was on the horizon for him. Bauer will admit that her ultimate goal was to someday lead iPROMOTEu – one doesn’t leave a company they love without higher ambitions. Last December, Bauer was officially named CEO of iPROMOTEu following Silverstein’s retirement. She says she’s fully aligned with her predecessor’s vision. But she brings her own experience and expertise to the future. “iPROMOTEu is in the strongest business position in the organization’s history,” she says, “and we have an outstanding staff in place, led by our executive leadership team.” As she leads iPROMOTEu, Bauer will also align with some of the industry’s other top voices as part of the PPAI Board, continuing her journey in promo. Zack Ottenstein Entering A Golden Era By Jonny Auping One can go from Rising Star to industry veteran in what feels like the blink of an eye. The promotional merchandise field moves fast. It may not be as cutthroat as some industries, but promo is constantly evolving and requires growth from those within it. Zack Ottenstein, president of The Image Group, knows something about that. In 2018 – then serving as senior director over a branch of the distributor – he was named a PPAI Rising Star. This year, he takes a seat on the PPAI Board of Directors. It was a circuitous route to the promo industry for Ottenstein. Having graduated top of his class from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, he initially began a career as a network TV reporter before transitioning into a role leading marketing for Welltower, a real estate investment company. Looking for a new entrepreneurial chapter in his life, he joined The Image Group in 2016. Six years later, Ottenstein is still surprised by how natural the shift was to promotional products, but he has approached this career with similar goals. New PPAI Board Members | Must Read PPAI • APRIL 2024 • 43