PPAI Magazine June 2024

MEDIA.PPAI.ORG 06.24 Better Together Responsibility progress means worldwide collaboration among suppliers, solutions providers and distributors. p. 36 & 52 2024

Brands That Give Back Eco-Friendly Owner Diversity Responsible Product Sourcing B Corp Partners Sustainability and Social Responsibility Made Easy Introducing, ProudPath refreshed! Explore our site dedicated to supporting your sustainability goals while browsing purpose-driven products with ease. We outlined five pillars detailing the attributes that qualify brands for inclusion in our ProudPath portfolio and made it sortable by those pillars to make it easy to purchase with purpose. Scan to shop ProudPath on PCNA.com


4 From PPAI A Learning Opportunity 9 Creative Calendar Essentials 12 Good Taste Specialty Snacks 16 In Style Fan Gear 20 Use Case Party On! Voices 28 Innovation How PPAI Chose And Implemented Its New ERP System 30 Your Business Making The List 32 Responsibility LCAs: One Ring To Rule Them All Must Read 70 Promotional Products Work From Impulse To Impact Community 88 Buzzworthy 90 Book Club 93 PPPC Communiqué 95 Inside PPAI 97 New Members 103 Datebook 108 Perfect Promo CONTENTS 06.24 VOLUME 48, ISSUE 05 Hiring Right Now PPAI 100 firms report their biggest talent acquisition challenges, most popular recruitment channels and future of work strategies. 76 Worlds Together Two European PPAI members model the partnerships toward sustainability that will be needed to lead our industry through global challenges. 52 Pride Before Destruction A leader in responsibility, PCNA has shown rare willingness to be in front of the changes our industry must make for long-term success. 36 2024 76 36 & 52 PPAI • JUNE 2024 • 3

From PPAI Josh Ellis Publisher & Editor-in-Chief 06.24 A Learning Opportunity WHEN WE RELEASED the inaugural PPAI 100 in 2023, we said that the most important thing for us to do was listen to member feedback. Not surprisingly, we heard plenty of it. We integrated your ideas where it made sense to create improvement, taking it as a duty to continue to perfect the program. There have been several important changes beyond doubling the list’s size to 100 distributors and 100 suppliers. • To incentivize companies reporting truly verified revenue and curb others’ temptations to overinflate their sales, a bonus and penalty system was introduced. • In coordination with PPAI’s recent membership structure change, we are not reporting or scoring revenue figures above the recommended range for a firm’s membership tier. These changes were an answer to the most common request we heard from members – to enhance the veracity of revenue reporting. Because of these and other enhancements, we believe PPAI 100 is now a stronger, more authentic measure. And if our priority in 2023 was to listen, then the most important thing we can all do this year is to learn. We’ve already learned so much about the model PPAI 100 is built on – namely that this will never be your grandfather’s list. Companies will rise and fall, sometimes significantly, because revenue growth over a rolling three-year period is such an important component. A pivot into PPE sales allowed some firms to have a relatively stable 2020. But if they didn’t expand their business as much in the years since, they tended to slip. Companies who rode a rocket ship out of the pandemic show themselves to be stronger by the PPAI 100 measure. As for what the industry should learn from Year 2, consider this a signal for the future: The weight of the Responsibility category doubled in this year’s scoring matrix. And it will only go up from here. Responsibility and all the other categories that represent promo stewardship, such as Innovation, Industry Faith and Professional Development, will only grow in their importance. Over time, we intend for the weight of overall revenue to decline, in the process encouraging positive action in these areas of vital interest to the industry’s future strength. This will create a more level playing field. It’s my hope that more of the industry’s small and midsize businesses will learn to recognize the opportunity to be included and earn the social proof that comes with a place on PPAI 100, or High Marks honors for companies that didn’t quite make the list. Your participation in each of the PPAI 100 surveys is crucial to forming strong benchmarking data that serves companies of all sizes. It also helps PPAI advocate on behalf of our membership. If there is any secret method to improving your company’s standing in the PPAI 100, or cracking the list for the first time, it’s increased participation. We want companies of all sizes to benefit from this massive research effort. As for what I’m learning from the 2024 PPAI 100, here’s the main takeaway: Yesterday’s outcome does not guarantee tomorrow’s result. How many of you are more concerned about the sales you made in 2023 than the one you’re trying to close today, or the prospects for tomorrow? Truly, PPAI 100 is about more than last year’s sales. Its eight unique scoring categories are essentially a measure of an industry company’s trajectory, or how well positioned the firm is for the future. PPAI 100 is about picking up more and more wins with your team and doing things the right way. It’s about leadership. Because of this, we’re all learning that PPAI 100 is the most valuable honor in the industry. As for what I’m learning from the 2024 PPAI 100, here’s the main takeaway: Yesterday’s outcome does not guarantee tomorrow’s result. 4 • JUNE 2024 • PPAI

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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 GRAPHIC DESIGNER Rowel Cristobal RowelC@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 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 VICE PRESIDENT, REVENUE AND EXPOSITIONS Ellen Tucker, MAS, CAE DIRECTOR OF FINANCE Renae Ward CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER Troy Naef 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 • JUNE 2024 • PPAI

BLACK/WHITE DARK BLUE/WHITE DIJON/BLACK MERLOT/WHITE WHITE/BLACK CHARCOAL/WHITE GRAY/BLACK OLIVE/BLACK Special pricing applies to 24 pieces or more. Flat & 3D embroidery pricing includes up to 10,000 stitches. To add patches or appliqués, additional charges will apply. Special pricing good thru December 1, 2024. Please contact customer service for production times. Please see capamerica.com for more information & for additional styles. *SUBJECT TO AVAILABILITY SPECIAL PRICING AVAILABLE FOR THIS STYLE NOW THRU DECEMBER 1ST! Shown with optional Sewn-on Embroidered Patch (additional charges apply) i7256 ATHLETIC ROPE CAP TOP SELLER NEW COLORS Shown with optional 3D Embroidery Stitch Count: 5,466 FLAT EMBROIDERY SALE PRICE ORIGINAL PRICE: $22.00(A) $19.90(A) 3D EMBROIDERY SALE PRICE ORIGINAL PRICE: $28.50(A) $26.40(A) NEW COLORS ADDED TO OUR i7256 SPECIAL PRICING! PPAI 111597

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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 JULY 8 NATIONAL CHOCOLATE WITH ALMONDS DAY 11 ALL-AMERICAN PET PHOTO DAY 17 WORLD EMOJI DAY AUGUST 3 NATIONAL DISC GOLF DAY 9 NATIONAL BOOK LOVERS DAY 16 HAWAIIAN SHIRT DAY SEPTEMBER 7 INTERNATIONAL BACON DAY 12 NATIONAL DAY OF ENCOURAGEMENT 21 WORLD ALZHEIMER’S DAY Exceptional Promotions SPECIAL OBSERVANCES CALL FOR DISASTER PREPAREDNESS MONTH Product idea: Purple is the color of Alzheimer’s awareness, and this Unisex Perfect-T T-Shirt comes in five shades of purple (and 47 other colors) to outfit any campaign. Made with sustainably sourced, USA-grown cotton (some colors include a poly blend) these tees are preshrunk for fit and ringspun for softness. alphabroder / PPAI 156993, Platinum alphabroder.com Use these special occasions to ignite your imagination for relevant – and distinct – client promotions. Compiled by Rachel Zoch INDEPENDENT RETAILER MONTH Product idea: Including a free branded bag with purchase is a great way to advertise any retail business, and this 100% Cotton Canvas Grocery Tote, available in five colors, provides a 9-inch square imprint area to keep clients’ brands visible while users are out and about. Evans Manufacturing / PPAI 110747, Platinum evans-mfg.com NATIONAL GOLF MONTH Product idea: Disc golf can be played by all ages, and there are more than 9,000 disc golf courses in the U.S. alone, with an estimated 4 million people across the globe who play regularly. Get your client’s brand in the game with this 3-Piece Disc Golf Set, which includes a short-range disc, mid-range disc and driver disc in a brandable, eco-friendly bag. PCNA / PPAI 113079, Platinum / pcna.com PPAI • JUNE 2024 • 9

PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS TO BE UNIVERSALLY VALUED Essentials 06.24 Billion Photos / Shutterstock.com GOOD TASTE p. 12 USE CASE p. 16 PARTY ON! Distributors share a few of their goto products for festive events and memorable celebrations, including tried-and-true favorites and new pieces they’d like to try. page 20 IN STYLE PPAI • JUNE 2024 • 11

Plateresca / Melica / Shutterstock.com Specialty Snacks What promo options are available if you’re looking for organic treats or goodies that are allergy-friendly, like gluten-free or nut-free? By Rachel Zoch THE BEST PROMO PRODUCTS are the ones that are kept – or, in the case of food and drink, enjoyed and shared. But food allergies, estimated to affect 1 in 13 children and up to 1 in 10 adults, can make a food gift less than welcome. Everyone loves getting a treat, but it’s frustrating to be left out – and a bad impression is the last thing any promo pro wants to make. The good news is, if you’re working with a client whose promo audience includes children (like a school or daycare) or a specific group that needs allergy-friendly food items, promo suppliers have you covered. “We actually do get requests for organic and allergy-sensitive food quite frequently,” says Nick Lateur, brand director for HPG, the No. 6 supplier in the 2024 PPAI 100, which offers a variety of such treats under its Batch & Bodega umbrella. “Glutenfree is the No. 1 dietary/allergy request. Organic is high on the list, too.” Essentials | Good Taste 12 • JUNE 2024 • PPAI

The company’s curated kits contain brandable hard goods in addition to food products that meet specific criteria like gluten-free, kosher or organic. You can also build your own kit with the treats of your choice – or even buy them in bulk. “We have had countless requests for bulk organic dried fruit and gluten-free snacks to fit the needs of the recipients,” adds Lateur. Margaret Dengler, director of marketing for Midnite Snax, says her company added gluten-free options to its catalog in 2020, as they were in high demand during the depths of the pandemic. Demand remains strong, she says, so the company added a gluten-free sugar cookie to its product line last year, as well as a nutfree trail mix, another common request. “In fact, we will be announcing our partnership with a well-known retail brand that specializes in gluten-free bakery items in the next few weeks,” adds Dengler. David Miller, president of NC Custom, the No. 71 supplier in the 2024 PPAI 100, says he hasn’t seen as much demand for organic or gluten-free items, but he says his company does field requests for nut-free and kosher treats, and its facility is kosher certified, “so any of our custommolded chocolate offerings, mints, etc. can be selected as kosher options.” Here are just a few of the options for allergy-friendly treats in promo. The Outside the Lines Kit features an assortment of snacks like organic dried pineapple and an all-natural granola bar that meet various allergy-friendly, organic and non-GMO criteria, so there’s bound to be at least one treat suitable for any recipient. “This was requested as an employee celebration for a workforce that had varying dietary restrictions and needs, and as a healthy alternative to candy and other highly processed foods,” says Lateur. The kit comes in a customizable box with a personalized 3-in-1 phone/tablet/pen holder. HPG / PPAI 110772, Platinum / hpgbrands.com/batch The In A Cinch Desk Drop Kit was selected for a corporate employee recognition campaign in which organic food was a key request. “The client wanted to give their employees a ‘better,’ more nutritional snack,” says Lateur. Goodies including organic non-GMO popcorn, tropical punch-flavored lip balm, a customizable pen made from recycled plastic and a personalized note card come packaged inside a brandable drawstring jute bag. HPG / PPAI 110772, Platinum / hpgbrands.com/batch PPAI • JUNE 2024 • 13 Good Taste | Essentials

The Gluten Free Vegan Snack Kit comes in a custom-printed gift box filled with brand-name goodies that are safe for a variety of recipients, including Skinny Pop Popcorn, Good Health Avocado Oil Kettle Chips, Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Straws, Skittles and more. Drop shipping available. Midnite Snax / PPAI 113793, Standard-Plus / midnitesnax.com Delight recipients with a velvety-soft Milk Carton Gift Box filled with eight gourmet cookies, available in a variety of mouth-watering flavors that includes glutenfree sugar or chocolate chip. Cookies are bagged and have a two-week shelf life. Add your client’s logo to a stock design (shown) or create your own custom box. Midnite Snax / PPAI 113793, Standard-Plus / midnitesnax.com When a bank wanted a giveaway that incorporated a nut-free trail mix, custom-printed snack bags of Nassau Candy Caribbean Delicacy Mix fit the bill. The colorful and naturally sweet mix of dried fruits includes raisins, banana chips, pineapple tidbits, papaya chunks and chopped dates. NC Custom / PPAI 111662, Silver nassaucandy.com 14 • JUNE 2024 • PPAI Essentials | Good Taste

Custom-labeled snack packs of Gourmet Popcorn, whether plain and lightly salted or in flavors like kettle corn, caramel corn, white cheddar and caramel cheese, make great giveaways for trade shows and events. Popcorn is naturally gluten-free and dairy-free, although it’s important to ask about added flavors and ingredients when allergens are a concern. Maple Ridge Farms / PPAI 114165, Gold / mapleridge.com Add a Vermont Nut Free Chocolates Small Milk Chocolate Bar to a promo kit for a chocolate treat that’s safe for recipients with nut allergies, one of the most common food allergies and most frequently linked to anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening reaction. Made in the USA in a peanut- and tree nut-free facility. NC Custom / PPAI 111662, Silver / nassaucandy.com For something a little heartier, this gluten-free Wisconsin Favorites gift set includes tangy beef summer sausage and your choice of mild Wisconsin cheddar or shelf-stable mild pepper cheese, plus a sustainable bamboo chopping board that’s fire-branded with your imprint and a mini cleaver for serving. Maple Ridge Farms / PPAI 114165, Gold / mapleridge.com Zoch is associate editor at PPAI. PPAI • JUNE 2024 • 15 Good Taste | Essentials

Corepics VOF / Shutterstock.com Show Some Spirit Get in the game with fan apparel or sports-themed gear that taps into the popularity of comfortable and functional athleisure wear. By Rachel Zoch ATHLEISURE IS TAKING OVER, according to Vogue, from everyday style to high-fashion runways, with baseball caps, track suits and yoga pants gracing sidewalks and catwalks alike. Sportswear, whether for athletes or fans, has always been a staple in promo, and the popularity of performance gear that can go from the office to the gym keeps growing. Whether it’s for uniforms, a sports team merch program or corporate apparel, comfort, functionality and style are paramount. Quarter-zip pullovers are one of the most popular athleisure style items, requested for both sports team or fan gear and corporate branded apparel programs, says Lycia Ellis, MAS, national account executive with Massachusetts-based Walker-Clay, the No. 91 distributor in the 2024 PPAI 100. “These items not only display team loyalty but also offer comfort and versatility, making them ideal for both game days and everyday wear,” she adds. Although heavier tees are trending, Ellis says heavy hooded sweatshirts seem to have lost their appeal. “I’ve noticed a significant decline in requests for them,” she says. “Clients seem to be favoring alternatives like crewnecks, quarter zips or lighter weight hooded sweatshirts, which offer more versatility, can be worn more frequently and are less bulky.” A soccer fan herself, Ellis says she hasn’t done a European-style supporter scarf yet but hopes they catch on on this side of the pond. “Whenever I can, I like to show them off because they’re such a fun way to commemorate memorable events and games,” she says. Jacquelyn Bachner, product marketing specialist for Illinois-based S&S Activewear, the No. 5 supplier in the 2024 PPAI 100, says the most requested apparel pieces for sportsthemed projects are T-shirts, hoodies, joggers and headwear. Think beyond the standard left chest, full front chest or full back decoration for more impact, she suggests. “I personally love a decoration that goes down the sleeve,” Bachner says. “It’s unique but eye-catching.” Options abound in promo when it comes to fan gear and sports-inspired apparel. Here’s a sampling of pieces that offer stylish silhouettes, recycled fabrics and performance features like moisture wicking for high perceived value. 16 • JUNE 2024 • PPAI Essentials | In Style

“Hats are undoubtedly one of the most sought-after apparel pieces for sports and fan projects,” says Ellis, “and they typically don’t require specific sizing, making them accessible to everyone.” Ellis likes this Athletic Rope Cap, available in eight colors and made of performance fabric that offers UV protection and moisture wicking. “They are breathable for warm days, work for multiple sports, and the decoration methods are top-notch,” she says. “The athletic rope hat has a bit of retro look, and I’ve been loving it with 3D embroidery.” Cap America / PPAI 111597, Gold / capamerica.com Another versatile athleisure piece perfect for showing off team spirit is the poly/cotton Sport-Tek Long Sleeve Halftime Hoodie, available in five colors and unisex sizes XS-4X. “Lightweight hoodies like these are perfect for day games or cooler evenings, adding both style and comfort to any fan’s wardrobe,” says Ellis, plus there are numerous possibilities for decoration. SanMar / PPAI 110788, Platinum / sanmar.com Heather O’Neill, vice president and co-owner of Walker-Clay, says supporter scarves make a fun and memorable piece. “I have done them for my team and do often get the request if corporate clients are doing sports-themed parties,” she says. This almost 5-foot High Definition Woven Stadium Scarf features a two-sided imprint area for maximum impact and high perceived value, plus fringe for added fun. BamBams / PPAI 255565, Gold / bambams.com Preppy style has been trending lately, and both bombers and old-school varsity jackets are a timeless and sporty way to express both style and spirit. This Varsity Award Jacket features classic elements like contrast sleeves, snap closure and ribknit collar, cuffs and waistband. Available in black or navy and unisex sizes XS-5X. Vantage Apparel PPAI 113235, Platinum vantageapparel.com PPAI • JUNE 2024 • 17 In Style | Essentials

Zoch is associate editor at PPAI. You can’t go wrong with a team T-shirt, and the 100% cotton Comfort Colors Garment-Dyed Heavyweight T-Shirt comes in a whopping 71 colors and unisex sizes S-4X. “This shirt is a staple and has all the best colors,” says Jacquelyn Bachner, a product marketing specialist for S&S Activewear. “It’s fun colors, heavy weight and has a nice relaxed fit that’s trending.” These tees are made by a mill partnered with the Fair Labor Association and dyed with OEKO-TEX certified low-impact dyes. S&S Activewear / PPAI 256121, Platinum / ssactivewear.com Don’t forget bottoms! These Holloway Eco Revive Ventura Soft Knit Joggers are made of a comfy but not clingy recycled poly/spandex blend, and the legs offer plenty of imprint area. Features include moisture management, covered elastic waistband with drawcord and plenty of pockets. Available in six colors and unisex sizes S-3X. S&S Activewear / PPAI 256121, Platinum / ssactivewear.com The clear Game Day Clear Stadium Tote with black or blue trim and handles is the perfect bag for sports fans to carry their personal items – and your client’s logo – in compliance with stadium safety rules. Note: NFL stadium rules require that logo sizes do not exceed 4.5 inches by 3.4 inches. PCNA / PPAI 113079, Platinum / pcna.com 18 • JUNE 2024 • PPAI Essentials | In Style

JOELLY GOODSON Senior Account Manager Genumark PPAI 261066, Platinum Toronto, Ontario Essentials | Use Case Party On! Distributors share a few of their go-to products for festive events and memorable celebrations, including tried-and-true favorites and new pieces they’d like to try. Compiled by Rachel Zoch Goodson says the products she suggests always depends on the specifics of the event, but she says look for “something that’s fun, relates to the event, has a great message and is useful so the recipient will hold on to it.” Goodson faithfully uses balloons to parties and celebrations because they offer both a low price point and a big impact. “When people see balloons, they automatically think ‘celebration,’ so they create excitement,” she says. The 100% biodegradable 9-inch USA Crystal Latex Balloons are a cost-effective and highly visible decoration for any event. Available in 10 colors with silkscreen printing. Their estimated float time of 10-14 hours with proper helium inflation (actual time may vary). Galaxy - More Than Balloons / PPAI 113835, Silver / galaxyballoon.com Goodson says the best party giveaway she’s used has been a small teddy bear wearing a T-shirt for a client who wanted something warm and fuzzy to give their staff at a Christmas party. The 6.5-inch tall Junior Cooper Bear, made of huggable plush material that’s soft to the touch, makes a cute party gift that makes people smile. Each bear features a T-shirt in your choice of colors with a custom imprint on the front (other clothing options also available). Soft Stuff Promotions / PPAI 413041, Standard-Base softstuffpromo.com 20 • JUNE 2024 • PPAI

Use Case | Essentials Goodson wants to try custom, light-up ice cubes for an event. These festive Imprinted LiquidActivated Light-Up Ice Cubes feature pad-printed logos and built-in LED lights that activate when they’re placed into a drink, creating a fun look and conversation piece for any party. Use them as decorations in water-based centerpieces, too. Brighter Promotions PPAI 111657, Standard-Plus brighterpromotions.com A party giveaway Goodson wants to try is colorful candy in a customdecorated, compostable bag. Made from certified compostable materials, the 2-oz. DigiBag of Gummy Bears bag shows off a colorful digital print of your client’s logo or message, and the candy inside engages the senses with bright colors, sweet flavors, a fruity scent and a chewy texture. (Other candy options available.) NC Custom / PPAI 111662, Silver nccustom.com SAVANAH ALPERT Managing Director Boundless PPAI 658677, Platinum Denver, Colorado Alpert started her career as an event planner and quickly became fascinated with incorporating promotional products into event marketing campaigns. Alpert says one of the best giveaways she’s done was a customdecorated tin for collecting cookies at a trade show. “I’m all about helping customers create an experience at their event,” she says. “Anytime we can incorporate interactive elements with promo products, I get excited!” Alpert used a custom-branded tin like this Round Tin with Starlight Peppermints for a customer who hosted a stroopwafel bar at their booth. “We created custom tins with a full color wrap that each attendee could fill with as many stroopwafels as they could fit,” she says. NC Custom / PPAI 111662, Silver / nccustom.com PPAI • JUNE 2024 • 21

For the best party favors, Alpert says she’s “still thrilled” with how the goody bags she created for her own wedding guests turned out. “I went all out – I created my own logo and went shopping for a mix of bright, colorful items,” she says. “It was so fun seeing my guests around the resort with their goodies!” Here’s the bag she chose, plus a few of its contents: The neoprene All Day Tote with nylon webbing handles and an internal zippered mesh pocket can be customized with your own design via four-color process sublimation imprint covering the entire exterior. Choose from dozens of colors for the trim and handles, too. Numo / PPAI 112597, Gold / numomfg.com Help guests keep germs at bay with a 1-oz. triangle bottle of Hand Sanitizer Gel With Moisture Beads, which comes with a convenient loop to attach to a purse, backpack or belt loop. The sanitizer, made in the USA with 62% alcohol, contains moisture beads in your choice of fragrance. HPG / PPAI 110772, Platinum / hpgbrands.com/mixie Give the gift of sun protection on the go with a Duo Bottle of Sunscreen + Lip Balm + Carabiner that includes broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen (reef-safe and unscented), plus SPF 15 lip balm in your choice of more than 20 flavors. Both are made in the USA and free of oxybenzone, PABA and gluten. SnugZ USA / PPAI 112982, Platinum / snugzusa.com PPAI • JUNE 2024 • 23 Use Case | Essentials

For a travel-related party or event, a Leeman Venezia Sightseer Luggage Tag debossed with your client’s logo offers a colorful reminder of good times – and the brand that hosted them. Made of durable thermo polyurethane leather with a detachable steel cable, it comes in eight colors. alphabroder / PPAI 156993, Platinum / alphabroder.com For an event with a variety of seating options, Alpert wants to try custom throw pillows in different shapes, sizes and logo versions to place throughout the venue. These can double as decorations and takehome favors for party guests. Make a lasting impression with Spun Polyester Throw Pillows, available in sizes from 14x10 inches to 26 inches square. Each pillow is printed all over with your custom design – choose matching front and back or a unique design for each side. BamBams / PPAI 255565, Gold / bambams.com Alpert also wants to try this compact camera with a customizable case. The Paper Shoot Camera, made entirely from repurposed, biodegradable and recycled materials, makes an eye-catching giveaway at promotional events or a memorable employee recognition gift. The stone paper exterior can be printed edgeto-edge with your client’s brand colors and logo, the event theme or any other design. Paper Shoot Camera PPAI 827467, Standard-Base papershootcamera.com Zoch is associate editor at PPAI. Essentials | Use Case 24 • JUNE 2024 • PPAI

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IDEAS TO ADVANCE THE MARKETPLACE Voices 06.24 Romolo Tavani / Shutterstock.com NextMarsMedia/ beboy / Shutterstock.com RESPONSIBILITY LCAs: One Ring To Rule Them All Taking a page out of J.R.R. Tolkien’s opus, we can use The Lord of The Rings to describe one of the most powerful tools in sustainable business practices. page 32 INNOVATION p. 28 YOUR BUSINESS p. 30 PPAI • JUNE 2024 • 27

Hulinska Yevheniia / Mika Besfamilnaya / Shutterstock.com How PPAI Chose And Implemented Its New ERP System Making the shift from legacy software to an integrated enterprise resource planning system offers the Association a more holistic approach to managing resources and operations. By CW Karstens OVER THE PAST FEW MONTHS, I have covered what innovation is, where innovative ideas come from, how to build a culture of innovation, common pitfalls and measuring success when implementing innovation. But as PPAI’s director of digital transformation, I think it’s time I brought all that together and explain how the Association has actively put those philosophies into action – how we put our proverbial money where our mouth is. In those same months that I’ve been preaching about the foundations of innovation, PPAI was preparing for a logistical undertaking that requires some degree of cooperation from basically every department: the implementation of a new enterprise resource planning system. The biggest motivation was somewhat simple: PPAI had an aging financial system. At some point, something was going to have to change. We looked at migrating to the suggested replacement software solution but felt a thorough search of alternatives would be wise. Why Choose ERP? Eventually, we looked beyond financial software – which focus specifically on managing financial processes and transactions – and expanded our search into ERPs, which provide a comprehensive suite of integrated applications that cover a wide range of business functions. ERP systems offer a more holistic approach to managing resources and operations, making them better at streamlining processes and improving efficiency across departments. That comprehensive nature that ERPs aim for makes choosing the right one crucial. In that decision-making process, an organization has to factor in a potential ERP’s strength, 28 • JUNE 2024 • PPAI Voices | Innovation

what the organization most needs and also what other software might be needed to complement or integrate that choice. PPAI’s final selection was Oracle NetSuite. Some of the key advantages we gravitated toward include: • Comprehensive business management. • Real-time visibility and insights. • Scalability. • Cloud-based deployment. • Improved efficiency and productivity. • Enhanced collaboration. • Customization and flexibility. • Regulatory compliance. NetSuite has amazing promotional product industry-specific solutions tailored to the needs of various promo companies, including manufacturing, retail, wholesale distribution, professional services and more. It also supports multicurrency, multi-language and multi-subsidiary operations, making it suitable for businesses with global operations or expansion plans. Its global capabilities enable businesses to manage diverse operations efficiently. Innovation Partners The implementation of NetSuite – or any ERP – can be a daunting task. There’s no way around it. To ensure the best integration and customization of NetSuite for our needs, we partnered with eXtendTech. They were extremely professional and efficient, having 30-plus years of experience with NetSuite and specializing in the promo industry. My colleague, digital transformation manager Nick DiNicola, likes to say that things run more smoothly and efficiently when everything can talk to each other. That’s where Celigo was a huge asset for us. It further enhanced the capabilities of NetSuite by enabling seamless connectivity between NetSuite, our customer relationship management software and SAGE. Celigo’s integration platform as a service (aka iPaaS) allowed us to integrate third-party applications, facilitating the flow of data across our entire software ecosystem. An outdated financial system led PPAI to consider a new ERP, and that process can make shopping for a new car look like picking out a new pair of shoes. It takes careful planning, and the less tech-savvy members of your organization should be warned of the incoming changes and the possibility of brief hiccups. But big-picture changes inevitably have innovative solutions. The integration of Oracle NetSuite with the help of eXtendTech, and the implementation of Celigo, were significant factors that streamlined processes, enhanced operational efficiency, improved decisionmaking and are now driving sustainable growth. We couldn’t be more satisfied with the seamlessness of the execution – although my team specifically is glad to exhale and be on the other side of a brand-new ERP. Karstens is PPAI’s director of digital transformation. An outdated financial system led PPAI to consider a new ERP, and that process can make shopping for a new car look like picking out a new pair of shoes. It takes careful planning, and the less tech-savvy members of your organization should be warned of the incoming changes and the possibility of brief hiccups. PPAI • JUNE 2024 • 29 Innovation | Voices

Making The List Recognition lists represent a wealth of opportunity in business, not only as a source of pride for the recipient, but as a benchmarking and prospecting resource for everyone else. By Lindsey Davis, MAS PROFESSIONAL RECOGNITION can pay dividends in more ways than one. For the recipient, it’s an acknowledgement of business success, talents and accomplishments. For their peers, it’s an example to learn from. For those of us in business development, it’s a reason to reach out – but only if we do it right. Have you been named to a list? You get these emails saying, “Congratulations on being named (insert accolade here)! I’d like to book a meeting with you to sell you this thing …” Is there anything worse? Let me tell you how to do this better. At the very least, No. 1 should be personalizing the message to include the recipient’s name and something unique to them so it doesn’t feel like spam – as much – and No. 2, explain how your offering can complement their achievement to make it relevant. Do you want to go a step further? There are several things you can do to make recognition programs a better prospecting tool. Leverage the networking opportunity: Be where the winners are. Are they being honored at a ceremony or event? Be there! Use the gathering to network and build relationships. Pro tip: Arm yourself with a great question for the winners to get them talking. Tailor your solutions: Recognition programs typically include quite a bit of data on the recipients and why they earned their honors. Spend time researching the specific challenges that the award-winning companies face. This might be something they all have in common or something unique to each of them. Be prepared to pivot – naturally! – in conversation to demonstrate how your product or service can address these issues and contribute to their ongoing success. 30 • JUNE 2024 • PPAI Voices | Your Business

Follow up with connections that have gone quiet: Use award announcements as a reason to follow up with prospects you’ve previously engaged with. Congratulate them on their achievements without asking for something. If they really did just forget about you or got too busy, they’ll take the opportunity to re-engage with you. Create content: Position yourself as a thought leader by sharing insights and analysis of recognition lists within your industry and the people and companies they celebrate. It’s a great way to attract attention from those seeking expertise and guidance in their decisionmaking process – and it will draw new business your way. Gain new industry insights: Award lists are a great resource to scrutinize for new insights into emerging trends, areas of innovation and segments that may be in decline. Are the winners doing something different? Are they moving toward similar business models or following similar trends? Are they moving away from others? Award lists also give you something to benchmark your own performance against. Last month saw the launch of the 2024 PPAI 100, our industry’s most audacious and insightful recognition program. Whether your company made the list or not, it represents an opportunity that you can leverage for your own business. It contains data points you won’t find anywhere else in promo – like three-year growth rates instead of just sales – and it shows you what companies care about and invest in – sustainability, innovation, their employees, etc. PPAI 100 is a valuable resource for those of us in the promo business. It brings together numerous industry trends and data points we can use to align our efforts. This year, PPAI 100 recognized 200 promotional merchandise businesses, but everyone in our industry benefits. Davis is PPAI’s director of sales and professional development. PPAI • JUNE 2024 • 31 Your Business | Voices Waiting for a Feather Flag Sale? ...Lucky You! Below EQP Feather Flag Sale! Free PMS Color Matches as low as $111(C) PPAI/582106 SAGE/50398 NEW LOWER PRICES! Ground Stake Carbon Fiber Pole FREE PMS Matches No Minimum Full Color, Full Coverage Imprint Sale Prices Include: No Set Up Charges Angled Blade Rectangle Concave Convex Teardrop Sizes: 9, 12, 15 & 17ft high choose from 6 Shapes

NextMarsMedia/ beboy / Shutterstock.com Voices | Responsibility LCAs: One Ring To Rule Them All Taking a page out of J.R.R. Tolkien’s opus, we can use The Lord of The Rings to describe one of the most powerful tools in sustainable business practices. By Elizabeth Wimbush IN THE REALM of sustainable business practices, there’s a powerful tool that often goes unnoticed, much like the ring in the pocket of a certain hobbit. It’s called a life cycle assessment, and it holds the key to understanding the environmental impact of our everyday actions, including the production and distribution of promotional products. What’s An LCA? An LCA is a comprehensive analysis of the environmental impact of a product or service throughout its entire life cycle. This includes everything from the extraction of raw materials and manufacturing processes to distribution, use and disposal. At the heart of the life cycle assessment lies the concept of the “One Ring,” a symbol of power and responsibility. Just as the ringbearer must bear the weight of their burden, so too must we, as stewards of the Earth, acknowledge the impact of our actions. The LCA serves as our guide, revealing the hidden paths and pitfalls of our supply chains, from the mines of Moria to the forges of Mordor. But fear not – like Frodo and Sam on their journey to Mount Doom, we’re not alone. With the fellowship of stakeholders by our side, we can navigate 32 • JUNE 2024 • PPAI

Responsibility | Voices the treacherous terrain of sustainability, armed with the knowledge provided by the assessment. Why Do LCAs Matter? LCAs offer valuable insights into the environmental footprint of promotional products. By examining each stage of a product’s life cycle, we can identify areas where environmental impacts are most significant and develop strategies to minimize them. This not only benefits the planet but also enhances the reputation of companies as environmentally responsible. Life cycle assessments also help companies comply with environmental regulations and standards. With governments worldwide tightening regulations on carbon emissions, waste management and resource conservation, LCAs provide valuable data to ensure compliance and avoid costly penalties. But perhaps most importantly, LCAs empower companies to make informed decisions that drive positive change. Armed with data on environmental impacts, companies can identify opportunities for innovation and resource efficiency, leading to cost savings and reduced environmental footprints. Start Your Own LCA How can a company go about launching its own life cycle assessment? Here are some simple steps for your quest: 1. Define Your Goals: Clearly outline what you want to achieve with the assessment. Are you looking to reduce carbon emissions, minimize waste or improve resource efficiency? Setting clear goals will help guide the rest of the process. 2. Gather Data: Collect information on the materials, energy and resources used at each stage of your product’s life cycle. This may involve reaching out to suppliers, conducting surveys or using existing data sources. 3. Assess Impacts: Analyze the environmental impacts associated with each stage of the life cycle. This includes assessing factors such as greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, air pollution and waste generation. 4. Identify Opportunities: Use the findings of the LCA to identify opportunities for improvement. Are there areas where you can reduce energy consumption, switch to more sustainable materials or optimize transportation routes? 5. Take Action: Implement changes based on the findings and recommendations from the assessment. This may involve redesigning products, perfecting processes or investing in renewable energy sources. 6.Monitor And Review: Continuously monitor the environmental performance of your products and revisit the LCA periodically to assess progress. Use feedback from stakeholders and customers to refine your approach and drive further improvements. Seek Assistance When it comes to conducting a life cycle assessment, you may want to enlist the help of a specialized consultancy or environmental research firm. These companies have the expertise and resources to conduct comprehensive LCAs tailored to your specific needs. Look for firms with experience in sustainability consulting, environmental science or life cycle assessment. They can guide you through the process, provide technical ability and help you interpret the results of the LCA to drive meaningful change within your organization. Although it’s not quite as perilous as a journey to Mordor, having the right companions makes all the difference. In essence, life cycle assessments serve as our Gandalf, guiding us through the darkness of uncertainty toward the light of quantifiable, data-driven sustainability decisions. By embracing this powerful tool, our industry can embark on its own quest. Let us heed the call to adventure, armed with the knowledge and wisdom provided by LCAs, and pave the way for a greener, brighter tomorrow in our own Middle-earth. Wimbush is the director of sustainability and responsibility at PPAI. PPAI • JUNE 2024 • 33

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Must Read | Suppliers Liz Haesler Neal Ringel Holly Brown 36 • JUNE 2024 • PPAI

Suppliers | Must Read PCNA's headquarters in western Pennsylvania was originally the home of supplier Leed's, which merged with Europe's PF Concept in 2005. Four years later, after the acquisition of Bullet Line and JournalBooks, the company began going to market as PCNA. SUPPLIER NO. 3 PCNA Pride Before Destruction A leader in responsibility, PCNA has shown rare willingness to be in front of the changes our industry must make for long-term success. by Josh Ellis The trouble with publishing any kind of list is that someone is inevitably going to be disappointed. I felt it earlier this year after being told a contact from PCNA had inquired about why the company was left off PPAI Media’s #Online18 list of standout organizations on social media. And I’ll feel it again when the questions come from suppliers who slipped in this year’s PPAI 100 ranking while seeing the same PCNA jump from No. 7 to No. 3. It’s tops among all hard goods suppliers, despite its revenue being down more than $160 million from 2022 to 2023. The difference is found in the strength of PCNA’s sales growth percentage over the specific three-year period that PPAI 100 considers. Its revenue was up 5% from 2019 to 2022, not overwhelming compared to many competitors, which cost it points in the Growth category last year. Because PCNA didn’t chase PPE products in 2020 and 2021, many other suppliers grew at a faster rate. But from the roller coaster that was 2020 up through 2023, sales jumped 34% at PCNA, and it is riding high in Year 2 of this measure of industry leadership, which counts revenue growth over three years as the most important factor second only to the previous year’s total sales. On the flip side, some companies who benefitted from a strong 2019-2022 growth window in the first PPAI 100 came back to Earth this year. As for the #Online18 thing, PCNA’s argument – a strong one – would be that the key function of social media for any company is to bring people to its website and convert sales. And, true enough, the supplier has just picked up PPAI • JUNE 2024 • 37

Must Read | Suppliers new PPAI 100 High Marks this year in the Online Presence category, which counts a website’s pageviews. Stack that atop its five other High Marks, rewarded for 2023 Revenue, Growth, Professional Development, Responsibility and Innovation. It’s hard to say that the company’s social media approach is failing in any way. But the #Online18 is curated from past winners and the companies or colleagues that they and other marketing experts from the industry recommend. The simple fact is that no one nominated PCNA. And when looking at its channels, this isn’t hard to believe. That list tends to reward promo brands’ quirks, their personalities and a firm’s willingness to put itself out there and lower its guard. That’s just not PCNA. To my mind, it has always been something of a Stepford supplier. It is manicured in its presentation and perfect in its communication, a polished but faceless corporate monolith. Here I am, though, sitting at the same table as CEO Neil Ringel, Chief Revenue Officer Holly Brown and Global Chief Merchandising Officer Liz Haesler. They all have faces, and those faces even have smiles on them. These are real people, and in talking to them, one quickly realizes that they care very much about other people, too. Their strategies are built not only with sales in mind, or to grind out margin for their private equity owner, but to serve their employees, their distributor customers, their communities and people in need around the world. There’s a cultural reason PCNA is an industry leader on sustainability and efficiency, and why it is so enduringly successful. It’s the same reason, I think, it has developed this thick corporate veneer: It’s not about PCNA – it’s about what PCNA can do for others. Inspiring Pride In advance of my mid-April trip to company headquarters in rural western Pennsylvania, about 45 minutes outside Pittsburgh, I’m sent 38 • JUNE 2024 • PPAI