PPAI Magazine April 2024

“I didn’t expect such a seamless experience,” Ottenstein says. “My role at Welltower focused on helping the company tell its story. Now, I focus on building The Image Group’s platform to help clients tell their stories.” A Growth Mindset Growing in this industry means adapting to circumstances and evolving your mindset. Having the results to prove that growth takes hard work. There’s no way around it. Ottenstein took a quote by entrepreneur Ben Horowitz and made it an unofficial mantra at The Image Group: “There is no silver bullet that’s going to fix [a problem]. We are going to have to use a lot of lead bullets.” The point isn’t that hard work can ward off innovation. It’s that hard work is often more efficient than the search for greater efficiency. If you treat the goal as a priority, then more efficient ways to approach problems will present themselves. In the meantime, you’ll be getting the job done. The proof is in the results. Under his helm, The Image Group has been named to 2023’s inaugural PPAI 100 ranking (coming in as the No. 41 distributor). From 2019-2022, the company grew in revenue by an average of 14%. With four offices across Ohio, Michigan and Virginia, The Image Group expanded in 2017 with its merger with Target Marketing, bringing new technological know-how to the firm. If there was any doubt that bypassing silver bullets still yields innovative progress, The Image Group received PPAI 100 High Marks in Innovation, Responsibility, Professional Development and Industry Faith. “We believe everything hinges on building the best team, and I’m really proud of ours,” Ottenstein says. Promo’s Future Is Diverse Ottenstein’s 2018 Rising Stars nod provides the benefit of a glance at the priorities of a past version of the man. Asked then what sort of change he’d like to see in promo, he responded, “I want to see the industry invest the time, energy and resources necessary to recruit top talent from diverse backgrounds.” Ottenstein is now positioned to help influence that change. And in 2024, those priorities stand firm. “Across the world, the leading companies are embracing rigorous, comprehensive CSR initiatives,” Ottenstein says. “They’re measuring environmental impact and investing to mitigate. Additionally, they’re embracing ambitious social impact initiatives. As a result, I believe our customers will expect us to follow suit, especially the largest buyers of promotional products, with consumer purchasing behavior following soon after.” A Golden Era Looming Speaking of his colleagues on the PPAI Board, Ottenstein says, “it’s an impressive group of people. I feel fortunate to volunteer with them. I hope in working together with the PPAI team we can make a lasting difference on this industry and the customers we all serve.” The promotional products industry has been thriving for more than a century, but Ottenstein is not joining the board to preserve the old. He has his sights on the future of this industry and all the people who will benefit from it. “I believe we are at the very beginning of a promotional products golden era, when you consider new decoration technologies and consumer trends,” Ottenstein says. Erin Reilly Promo’s Next Generation By John Corrigan For some people, their promo story begins almost by accident. And that accident becomes a successful career that leads to election to the Board of Directors of promotional products’ longest running and most impactful trade organization. As a senior at Johns Hopkins University, Erin Reilly and her best friend, Sterling Wilson, started making Pantone-matched sunglasses, inadvertently falling head over heels into the promotional products industry. Launching College Glasses in 2012 and rebranding to Pop! Promos a year later, Reilly has worn just about every hat at the Philadelphia-based supplier, scaling the firm from a small startup to an award-winning organization with more than 125 employees in offices across the globe. “I’m drawn to the creativity and collaboration within our industry,” says Reilly, CEO of Pop! Promos and a previous volunteer to the PPAI Women’s Leadership Committee. “Each project brings a distinct challenge, providing the opportunity to craft something both memorable and effective.” Now Reilly begins her next project: a four-year term as a member of the PPAI Board of Directors. Must Read | New PPAI Board Members 44 • APRIL 2024 • PPAI