PPAI Magazine July 2024

IN THIS ISSUE Pumpkin Spice Season p. 10 Back To School p. 18 Professional-Tier Research Benefits p. 30 PPAI's 2024 Women Of Achievement p. 34 MEDIA.PPAI.ORG 07.24 The State Of Growth 2024 PPAI Research has benchmarked revenue growth in promo and awarded new High Marks to 16 suppliers and distributors who are ahead of the curve. pg. 42

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4 From PPAI The Gift Of Presence 7 Creative Calendar Essentials 10 Good Taste Sugar & Spice 14 In Style Scrub In 18 Use Case Back To School Voices 24 Innovation The Tech Juggle 26 Responsibility Clearing The Air Must Read 52 Promotional Products Work Strategic Spending Success With Promo 60 Pyramids Supplier Decorators Shine Community 72 Buzzworthy 74 Book Club 76 PPPC Communiqué 78 Inside PPAI 81 New Members 83 Datebook 88 Perfect Promo CONTENTS 07.24 VOLUME 48, ISSUE 06 30 PPAI’s 2024 Women of Achievement Janet McMaster, MAS, and Joy Smith, MAS, are this year’s award recipients for their outstanding leadership and dedication to the promotional products industry. 34 & 38 Alliance DataCast: A New Benefit For Professional- tier Members Alok Bhat, PPAI’s market economist and research lead, dives into the Association’s new partnership with ITR Economics and the value it brings to Silver, Gold and Platinum PPAI members. 30 The State Of Growth 2024 PPAI Research has examined benchmarking data on revenue growth and other business fundamentals from distributors and suppliers of all sizes and awards High Marks for Growth to 16 new firms.. 42 42 38 34 PPAI • JULY 2024 • 3

From PPAI Andrew Spellman, CAS Chair of the Board 07.24 We come together to share ideas and forge connections, inspire, support and motivate one another. Maybe we take that too much for granted when we pass one another in a hallway or turn the corner around a trade show aisle. The Gift Of Presence OUR INDUSTRY IS NO DIFFERENT than any community. We each play a role in making it strong. We come together regularly for this shared experience or that good cause. We have our friends, our acquaintances and, hopefully, not too many enemies. It is the people and the relationships we develop that make this a strong community. Unfortunately, it is often absence that makes us truly appreciate the gift of our fellow community members. I’ve been thinking a lot about people as our strength since the untimely passing of Brian Haner this spring. As the founder and CEO of Seattle-based PPAI 100 distributor Image Source, Brian was a strong leader for his company, a sharp businessman and an amazing friend to many, as well as a great father. He was a shining spirit with a personality that lit up any room he entered. I know for me, after more than 30 years of attending The PPAI Expo, one of the things I most look forward to is the walk from the hotel to Mandalay Bay Convention Center. I always run into someone I know who I get to reengage with and say hello. That’s the last time I saw Brian – this January. The moment sticks in my mind because it was so commonplace, the kind of interaction any of us might have a hundred times during a major industry event. Heading in opposite directions, we passed each other in the hallway – big smiles, a big hug, ask about each other’s kids and a promise to catch up when we bumped into one another again. But there was no again. I didn’t see him the rest of the week, and lately I’m struck by the lost opportunity to experience the genuine good feelings Brian brought to every meeting. It’s been on my mind in all my work trips since. Nothing is guaranteed, and each moment I have with someone could be the last. Attending conferences and trade shows, seeing many familiar faces, how do we push ourselves to make these interactions more intentional? At PPAI’s fantastic North American Leadership Conference in May, we recognized Brian and others our community lost over the last year – people who crafted careers of commitment and sacrifice, in the process making events special through their presence or volunteerism. These are individuals who improved our industry by making it their life’s work, and today we are all the beneficiaries. Over the past few decades, we have seen remarkable growth and transformation in the promotional products landscape, not because of market forces or technological advancements, but more so the dedication and passion of people who believed in the potential of this industry and worked tirelessly to see it flourish. Someday, a new generation of leaders in this industry will speak about us this way. So many of us give of ourselves in the same way that the industry icons of the past did before us. We come together to share ideas and forge connections, inspire, support and motivate one another. Maybe we take that too much for granted when we pass one another in a hallway or turn the corner around a trade show aisle. In all the events I attend during this long summer travel season, I’ll be honoring the leaders who came before us in this community by making the most of my time with each of you. I hope we can all strive to do the same, to learn and grow together, and in the process ensure that our market continues to thrive. 4 • JULY 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 MARKET ECONOMIST & SENIOR MANAGER, RESEARCH Alok Bhat AlokB@ppai.org RESEARCH MANAGER Robert Fitzpatrick RobertF@ppai.org RESEARCH COORDINATOR Shiella Aparis ShiellaA@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 • JULY 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 AUGUST 6 NATIONAL FRESH BREATH DAY 8 NATIONAL PICKLEBALL DAY 16 NATIONAL TELL A JOKE DAY SEPTEMBER 6 NATIONAL READ A BOOK DAY 9 TEDDY BEAR DAY 25 NATIONAL COOKING DAY OCTOBER 4 NATIONAL GOLF LOVERS DAY 13 BREAST CANCER AWARENESS DAY 28 NATIONAL CHOCOLATE DAY Exceptional Promotions SPECIAL OBSERVANCES CALL FOR ADOPT A SHELTER DOG MONTH Product idea: Veterinarians, groomers and doggie daycares are only a few of the businesses that can benefit from getting their brands in pet parents’ hands. This 7-inch circular Fetch-It Dog Toy is fun to throw and fetch and provides a generous imprint area for your client’s messaging. Ariel Premium Supply / PPAI 161650, Platinum arielpremium.com Use these special occasions to ignite your imagination for relevant – and distinct – client promotions. Compiled by Rachel Zoch SUMMER SUN SAFETY MONTH Product idea: Get your clients’ brands in the swing of the fastest-growing sport with this JOOLA Essentials Pickleball Paddles & Balls Set, which includes two paddles, two balls and a brandable sling bag in a gift box. Hirsch / PPAI 221823, Gold / hirschpromo.com CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS MONTH Product idea: This adorable Plush Bear With Embroidered Paws & Printed T-Shirt is a great brand ambassador. Available with brown or white fur and white, black or blue shirt. Not for children under the age of 3 years. The Magnet Group / PPAI 338534, Platinum themagnetgroup.com PPAI • JULY 2024 • 7

PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS TO BE UNIVERSALLY VALUED Essentials 07.24 grinny / Shutterstock.com GOOD TASTE p. 10 USE CASE p. 18 SCRUB IN These comfortable, functional garments can make great uniforms for a variety of businesses, from medical and veterinary offices to spas, daycares and more. page 14 IN STYLE PPAI • JULY 2024 • 9

Autumn is just around the corner, and with it comes the return of pumpkin spice. By Rachel Zoch LOVE IT OR HATE IT, pumpkin spice has been a fall favorite since before McCormick introduced the first pumpkin pie spice blend in 1934. But pumpkin spice isn’t just a flavor. “It’s an experience – and an emotional one at that, “ says Charity Gibson, chief marketing officer at Proforma (PPAI 196835, Platinum), the No. 3 distributor in the 2024 PPAI 100. As Bailey Fink wrote for Allrecipes in 2022, “The truth is, we don’t love pumpkin spice because of its taste, but because of its smell – and even more than that, because it’s nostalgic. … Our brain perceives it as a warm, happy memory that we enjoy.” Gibson likewise credits the enduring popularity of pumpkin spice to its multisensory appeal engaging smell, taste and touch. “The best brands use all five senses to create a neurological connection between their brand and the community they serve or desire to serve,” she says. Whether you’re talking about sweet treats spiced with a blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves or cozy apparel and hard goods in earthy oranges and browns, it’s a must-have theme for the season. “Pumpkin spice-themed promo could really be perfect for anyone with the right products and messaging, either playing into the love or hate the public has for all that pumpkin spice has become,” says Gibson, adding that it offers plenty of opportunities for self promo. “August/September is the perfect time to double down on creating some sweet self-promo with thoughtful messaging,” she says. “Fun sayings on quality products with branded packaging, delivered at just the right time with a gift card to a local coffee shop? Pair that with a handwritten card and a call to action to enter to win 25 branded coffee mugs if the recipient posts their pumpkin spice selfie to Instagram and tags you in it? Big win. Truly, so many ways to get creative.” Here are a few pumpkin spice options for promo with that cozy fall feeling. Sugar & Spice 10 • JULY 2024 • PPAI Essentials | Good Taste

The Thanksgiving Recipes Spice Gift Set includes three spice tubes – pumpkin spice, nutmeg and poultry seasoning – each with a holiday-themed sleeve or story booklet. The complete set is customized with your client’s logo in full color on the package, spice tube lids and inside lid of the shipping-ready gift box. Le Tour de Spice / PPAI 762815, Standard-Plus / letourdespice.com Create a kit with handmade goodies like Pumpkin Spice Almonds and Pumpkin Spice Crispycake for a double dose of fall flavor. Sweet flavors of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg come together in these two treats reminiscent of pumpkin pie without the post-Thanksgiving food coma. Both comply with FDA guidelines and Prop 65. HPG / PPAI 110772, Platinum / hpgbrands.com/batch Invite recipients on a treasure hunt with this 40-piece Gourmet Chocolate Truffles Gift Box, which includes pumpkin spice truffles – as well as espresso, cookies and cream, chili pepper and sea salt caramel – in a custom screen-printed black glossy box. NC Custom / PPAI 111662, Silver / nccustom.com Gibson recommends the stylish and ecoconscious Perka Guji Recycled Steel and Coffee Grounds Mug (15 oz.) with copper trim. The outer wall and handle are crafted from a blend of recycled coffee grounds and recycled polypropylene, and the inner wall is made of recycled stainless steel. Each purchase includes a donation to Shelter to Soldier to support training service dogs for veterans. Logomark / PPAI 110898, Platinum / logomark.com PPAI • JULY 2024 • 11 Good Taste | Essentials

Pumpkin spice cookies are a perfect way to get into the holiday spirit. Go for something a little different with a dozen (or half) Pumpkin Spice Cookie Shots. Customize with a logo on each cookie, as well as a custom-branded gift box. Dirty Cookie / PPAI 814973, Standard-Base dirtycookie.com Pair a mug or tumbler with Festive Coffee Shop Drinks, a book of more than 50 holiday-inspired recipes for coffee, hot chocolate and more, including pumpkin spice and other seasonal flavors. Customize with a belly band or fullpage insert. The Book Company / PPAI 218850, Silver thebookco.com Get cozy and clean with this Fall Favorites Bath Bomb Box Gift Set, three bath bombs in pumpkin spice, apple harvest and cinnabun that come packaged in a kraft box tied with fabric ribbon plus a full-color custom gift tag. Groline / PPAI 111079, Standard-Plus groline.com Create a cozy atmosphere with a pumpkin spice-scented Aurora Concrete Candle (one of 10 scents available). Laser engrave your client’s brand on this modern, loft-style concrete jar with copper accent that contains a 12-oz. candle that will burn for up to 42 hours. SnugZ USA / PPAI 112982, Platinum snugzusa.com This Cinnamon Walnut Coffee Cake isn’t quite pumpkin spice, but it was chosen to be on Oprah’s O List! Made in the USA, it comes in a silver gift box tied with a satin ribbon foil-stamped with your imprint. It weighs in at 1.75 pounds, serves 10-14 and is shelf stable for up to a week. Certified kosher available. Maple Ridge Farms / PPAI 114165, Gold mapleridge.com Zoch is associate editor at PPAI. 12 • JULY 2024 • PPAI Essentials | Good Taste

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grinny / Shutterstock.com Scrub In These comfortable, functional garments can make great uniforms for a variety of businesses, from medical and veterinary offices to spas, daycares and more. By Rachel Zoch WHEN IT COMES TO SCRUBS, nurses and other professionals who wear them want comfort, durability and easy care. But it might come as a surprise that athleisure style has permeated even this corner of the apparel market, as joggers have become a must-have scrub style. It’s not purely for the look, though. Turns out those fitted cuffs can come in handy for nurses and other pros who never quite know what the job will demand on any given day. “We initially saw joggers as a trend that would fade quickly, but it seems to be here to stay,” says Michele Johnson, marketing coordinator for Houston-based supplier Spectrum Uniforms (PPAI 232515, StandardBase). “For some wearers they are modern and fashionable, but I’ve learned from those who work day in and day out in the trenches, they serve a practical purpose. “For example, an ER nurse told me that several times a day she has to hose down the emergency room floor and was always struggling to roll her pants leg up and hope they didn’t fall down,” Johnson adds. “With joggers, she can easily push them up, and they stay up while ankle-deep in water. Funny how one person’s fashion is another person’s functionality. It’s nice when they can coexist.” Pockets are also a must, and you can never have too many, she says. Other sought-after details include loops to hold badges or pens and hidden zippers. “Scrubs have come a long way with features and designs,” says Mychell Molnar, inside sales 14 • JULY 2024 • PPAI Essentials | In Style

manager for Colorado-based supplier Scrub Authority (PPAI 387935, Silver). “Now more items are fashion-friendly, giving nurses and doctors the choice to have a scrub top with a hidden zipper or pocket and fit a little more snug instead of fitting like a burlap sack.” Hospitals often use different scrub colors for different departments to help staff and patients easily distinguish among a variety of roles. “Various shades of blue will always be most requested, as blue has long been associated with calmness, trust and caring,” says Johnson, “but we have seen colors such as dark gray and black become more sought after, especially in smaller clinic environments. We also see a demand for scrubs that align with a school’s colors for healthcare programs, both on the collegiate level and secondary.” But think beyond hospitals, advises Molnar, because scrubs can make great uniforms for a variety of businesses, from dental and eye-care offices to spas, daycares, dispensaries and more. Scrubs that provide more flexibility and comfort are what wearers want, says Johnson, and today you’ll find more options that offer both. During the darkest days of COVID, she adds, fabrics with an antimicrobial feature became popular. “The benefit touted is that it created an added layer of protection,” she says, “but more matter-of-fact is that it helps to extend the life of the fabric.” Bottom line: Scrubs are far more comfortable and customizable today than they were even a decade ago, making them a great uniform option for more environments. “Fabrics have come so far from the old school cotton/poly and 100% cotton scrubs you used to see,” says Molnar. “Now they have polyester, cotton, rayon, spandex, Lycra, bamboo, CiCLO, etc. There are recycled fabrics, fluid-resistant, antimicrobial for dental and hospital and fabrics that shed hair – think spas and vets.” Here are a few options for scrubs that are both functional and fashionable. These UltraStretch Jogger Scrub Pants offer ease of movement with four-way stretch and roomy legs, as well as two front waist pockets, a back patch pocket and a right cargo leg pocket. Available in 10 colors and women’s sizes XXS-5X and men’s XS-5X. Spectrum Uniforms PPAI 232515, Standard-Base spectrumuniforms.com WYND Scrubs combine the feel of workout gear with an antimicrobial finish and wrinkle resistance. All garments feature multiple pockets, and the line includes tuckable scrub tops that can be worn loose or tucked. Available in six colors, women’s XXS-4X and men’s XXS-4X (some styles to XL only). Spectrum Uniforms / PPAI 232515, Standard-Base / spectrumuniforms.com PPAI • JULY 2024 • 15 In Style | Essentials

These on-trend Evolve Women’s Six-Pocket Terra Jogger Scrub Pants, made with recycled polyester and sustainable CiCLO, are soft, stretchy and breathable for all-day comfort. Available in nine colors and sizes XXS-5X (and petite XS-2X). Scrub Authority / PPAI 387935, Silver / scrubauthority.com Spas can add a touch of contemporary street style with this Healing Hands x Dr. Kwane Women’s Vienna Quarter-Zip Scrub Top. It features a stand-up collar, quarter-zip opening, short dolman sleeves and a high-low hem with side vents, plus three pockets. Six colors; sizes XS-2X. Scrub Authority / PPAI 387935, Silver / scrubauthority.com 16 • JULY 2024 • PPAI Essentials | In Style

Add warmth with a Women’s Long Sleeve Layer Tee, which offers a trim fit to easily layer under scrub tops without extra bulk. Available in four colors and sizes XXS-3X. SanMar / PPAI 110788, Platinum / sanmar.com Perfect for spas and salons, this tailored Ladies’ Sorrento Power Stretch Mock Wrap Tunic includes a Scotchgard finish that protects the fabric and adds soil release properties, and the stretchy, moisture-wicking fabric keeps the wearer dry. Available in black or gray and sizes XXS-4X. Edwards Garment PPAI 198530, Platinum edwardsgarment.com Hospitals and medical offices can be chilly. Keep staff cozy with a Women’s Premiere Flex FullZip Scrub Jacket, made with spandex for stretch. Available in eight colors and sizes XXS-5X. SanMar / PPAI 110788, Platinum / sanmar.com Zoch is associate editor at PPAI. PPAI • JULY 2024 • 17 In Style | Essentials

Essentials | Use Case Back To School SARAH WHITAKER Owner & Client Success Manager Williams Advertising Company PPAI 779854, Standard-Base Hopkinsville, Kentucky Holmes faithfully uses apparel for back-toschool promos. “New kids at school (or new sizes of kids as they grow!) need new clothes for the school year, and it makes a great fundraiser for the school,” she says. “We’ve worked with PTOs and sports groups within the schools to make suggestions, design and produce apparel the kids love to wear – even getting student input in the designs and styles to make it the most successful.” This silky smooth Unisex Tri-Blend T-Shirt provides comfortable stretch and a relaxed drape in a classic fit. Available in 24 colors and sizes XS-3X. Next Level Apparel / PPAI 272027, Standard-Plus nextlevelapparel.com Bring a modern color palette to school apparel with this Midweight Pigment-Dyed Hooded Sweatshirt. The classic-fitting hoodie is made of a ring-spun cotton/polyester blend in a facility that is WRAP certified and meets OEKO-Tex Standard 100. Available in 17 colors and sizes XS-3X. S&S Activewear / PPAI 256121, Platinum ssactivewear.com Distributors share their favorite products for back to school promo, including pieces from successful projects, products they’d like to try, and those they like to recommend to clients. Compiled by Rachel Zoch 18 • JULY 2024 • PPAI

Use Case | Essentials Whitaker wants to try a fun pencil pouch for a back-to-school campaign. “We did the LVL pencil pouch from Pop! Promos for a kid-focused campaign but not a back-to-school campaign. I love that item for a back-to-school campaign because it’s going to hold up tossed around in a backpack or desk all year, certainly, but also because it’s full color PMSmatching capability for the LVL. Pair it maybe with some Shepenco pencils and make it all cohesive, and it’s a nice little gift.” Made from vegan leather and customized with your client’s full-color design, the LVL Pencil Pouch is ideal for storing school supplies and more. The bottom gusset enables it to stand on its own. Choose from 10 stock zipper colors. Pop! Promos / PPAI 564497, Standard-Base / poppromos.com The Monk Color Changing Pencil is a made-in-the-USA No. 2 pencil that changes color when warmed by the user’s hand. Color combos include green to yellow, blue to light blue, coral to melon, orange to yellow and purple to pink. Includes black ferrule and eraser. Shepenco / PPAI 114083, Silver / shepenco.com Whitaker also likes the idea of hydration-related promo, whether it’s a new water bottle or stickers to customize the ones kids and teachers already have. She thinks it would be fun to get students involved in a water-saving campaign. “If you got a whole school or school system to do that, imagine the impact,” she says. The Cupanion Aluminum Bottle is durable, leak-proof and manufactured sustainably in the USA. Bring school spirit to life with eight lid colors, bottle colors and full-color digital print. Add dishwasher-safe stickers for extra customization. Fill It Forward / PPAI 792815, Standard-Base / fillitforward.com Above all, Whitaker recommends getting to know your client and what they’re trying to achieve. “If it’s the school itself, I’d go one direction on school spirit, teacher appreciation, new student welcomes, etc.,” she says, “but for those gifting to the back-to-school audience, I’d recommend quality over quantity and to know your age group and their habits when you choose your items.” She also says it’s important to consider both what’s trending and what the school allows and adds, “Don’t forget us parents when you’re gifting this time of year!” PPAI • JULY 2024 • 19

KATHERINE SMITH VP of Operations Bullpen Marketing PPAI 201546, Silver Houston, Texas Smith faithfully uses T-shirts for back-to-school promo at the collegiate level. “Students love free T-shirts! A successful campaign we do each year is first lecture t-shirts,” she says. “A cute design helps ensure this is a T-shirt students will want to wear around campus.” Available in 64 colors and sizes XS-5X, the Gildan 64000 Softstyle Adult T-shirt offers a smooth printing surface and a modern classic fit. Most colors are 100% ring-spun cotton and made with OEKO-TEX certified low-impact dyes. No polybags, except for white shirts. Gildan / PPAI 250187, Platinum / gildan.com Essentials | Use Case Smith wants to try items with NFC technology. “At the start of a new school year, students often refer to the same digital assets – a campus map, class schedule, bus route, etc.,” she says. The NFC Scribe is a sleek executive metal pen with an embedded NFC chip ready to program with your client’s URL for seamless wireless data transfer to smartphones or tablets. The oval-shaped barrel, available in deep jewel tones or matte black with gunmetal trim, offers generous space for laser engraving or full-color imprinting. “This pen would make a great gift for master’s students,” says Smith. “The sleek design makes it feel more executive.” HPG / PPAI 110772, Platinum / hpgbrands.com Add vibrant, full-color graphics on the inside and the outside of Oodlebands, which include your choice of programmable RFID or NFC chip. Hand them out to use as entrance passes, dorm room keys, tap-to-pay and more. “I love the design opportunities for this item,” says Smith. “With a school spirit design, this item can be trendy and useful.” Clothpromotions Plus / PPAI 359202, Standard-Plus clothpromotions.com 20 • JULY 2024 • PPAI

Use Case | Essentials Holmes recommends a branded must-have for lockers or dorm rooms. Holmes says Command Brand Custom Printed Hooks, which can be applied to a variety of smooth, finished surfaces, are great for students moving into a dorm room or apartment. They hold 3-5 lbs., depending on hook size, and they remove cleanly without sticky residue or damage. “It is a low-cost item that is useful,” she says. “The brand visibility on this item is great, too – students might use the Command hook to hang up items they use daily, such as keys, jacket or a towel.” 3M Promotional Markets / PPAI 113638, Platinum promote.3m.com Zoch is associate editor at PPAI. The PPAI Expo January 14-16, 2025 Conference January 13 Las Vegas, NV Product Responsibility Summit September 22-24, 2024 Alexandria, VA PPAI • JULY 2024 • 21

IDEAS TO ADVANCE THE MARKETPLACE Voices 07.24 Alex Kalmbach / TrifonenkoIvan / Shutterstock.com RESPONSIBILITY CLEARING THE AIR Promo firms have several avenues to cut carbon emissions, including in their shipping processes. page 26 INNOVATION p. 24 PPAI • JULY 2024 • 23

Asiya Hotaman / Shutterstock.com Voices | Innovation The Tech Juggle Managing technology projects successfully is a balancing act of urgency, impact and effort for optimal priority. ONE OF MY MANY HOBBIES is juggling. The thrill of being a juggler comes from the intense concentration, coordination and creativity required to keep multiple objects in motion. It’s an exhilarating blend of timing and precision where each successful catch brings a rush of satisfaction. The challenge of mastering new tricks and the artistic expression in creating visually captivating performances add to the excitement. Just like the art of juggling, managing technology projects requires a keen sense of balance, timing and focus. In other words, it can feel like keeping multiple balls in the air. In the world of tech, these balls represent urgency, impact and effort – each crucial in its own right. Successfully juggling these elements is key to setting optimal priorities and achieving project success. Each element plays a crucial role in determining how tasks are approached and executed. Here’s a detailed look at these terms and how they interplay in the context of technology projects and issues. Urgency Urgency refers to the time sensitivity of a task or issue – how soon something needs to be addressed to avoid negative consequences. In technology projects, urgency often arises from deadlines, regulatory requirements or critical system failures. For example, if a server hosting a major e-commerce website crashes during peak shopping season, addressing this issue is highly urgent. The immediate focus would be on restoring service as quickly as possible to By CW Karstens 24 • JULY 2024 • PPAI

Innovation | Voices minimize revenue loss and customer dissatisfaction. Urgency is typically evaluated on a time scale: • Immediate • Short-term • Medium-term • Long-term Immediate issues require action within hours or days, while long-term tasks might span months or years. The key is that urgency focuses solely on the temporal aspect – how quickly action is required. Impact Impact assesses the extent of the consequences if a task or issue is not addressed. It measures the significance of the effects on the organization, customers or stakeholders. Impact can be economic, reputational, operational or regulatory. For instance, a bug in a mobile banking app might have a high impact if it allows unauthorized access to user accounts, leading to financial losses and loss of customer trust. Conversely, a minor typo on a seldomvisited webpage might have a low impact. Impact is generally classified as high, medium or low. High-impact issues can cripple operations or cause significant financial damage, medium-impact issues cause noticeable disruptions, and lowimpact issues have minimal consequences. Effort Effort refers to the amount of work required to complete a task or resolve an issue. This includes the time, resources and staffing needed. In technology projects, effort is often measured in work hours, sprints or complexity levels. For example, implementing a new feature in a software application may require significant development, testing and deployment effort, especially if it involves changes to the core architecture. On the other hand, fixing a minor bug might require minimal effort and be resolved quickly. High-effort tasks require substantial resources and time, medium-effort tasks require moderate resources, and low-effort tasks are quick and easy to handle. All Used To Determine Priority Priority is the overall ranking of a task or issue based on a combination of urgency, impact and effort. It determines the order in which tasks should be addressed to optimize resource use and achieve organizational goals. Priority helps project managers and teams focus on what matters most at any given time. Priority is often assigned using a matrix that considers urgency and impact, and then adjusts for effort. For instance, a high-urgency, high-impact issue (like a critical security breach) would typically have a higher priority than a high-urgency, low-impact issue (like a minor user interface glitch). To illustrate, consider two issues: 1. A critical database failure (high urgency, high impact, high effort) 2. A planned software update (low urgency, medium impact, medium effort) The database failure would be prioritized because its resolution is critical to maintaining operations and preventing significant loss, despite the high effort required. The software update, while important, can be scheduled later when resources are available. Ultimately, effective project and issue management in technology relies on a nuanced understanding of these factors, much like a juggler’s keen sense of balance and timing. By carefully evaluating and balancing urgency, impact and effort, teams can ensure that critical tasks are addressed promptly, resources are allocated efficiently, and strategic goals are met. Just as a juggler captivates an audience with a wellorchestrated performance, tech teams can achieve seamless project execution through skillful prioritization and coordination. Karstens is PPAI’s director of digital transformation. Impact assesses the extent of the consequences if a task or issue is not addressed. It measures the significance of the effects on the organization, customers or stakeholders. Impact can be economic, reputational, operational or regulatory. PPAI • JULY 2024 • 25

Alex Kalmbach / TrifonenkoIvan / Shutterstock.com Voices | Responsibility Clearing The Air Promo firms have several avenues to cut carbon emissions. One of the most impactful can found in their shipping processes. By Elizabeth Wimbush IN OUR DYNAMIC INDUSTRY, sustainability is becoming increasingly important. While much attention is given to the environmental considerations of the products themselves, one significant contributor to our carbon footprint often flies under the radar: air freight. (Yes, I did just use that pun. Thank you for noticing.) For anyone looking to drastically reduce their carbon footprint, a great place to start is grasping and actively mitigating the environmental consequences of air freight. The Impact Of Air Freight Air freight, with its unmatched speed and efficiency, is one of the most carbon-intensive modes of transportation. Consider this: Air freight emits around 1.1 pounds of carbon dioxide per ton-mile, whereas shipping by sea emits only about 0.022 to 0.088 pounds of CO2 per ton-mile. That’s 12 to 50 times more carbon intensive as soon as your branded merch gets on a plane. Once products land on North American shores, we have more opportunities for positive impact. When we look at domestic freight, the carbon emissions from air freight versus truck or rail transport can vary significantly. In fact, truck and rail transport tend to have lower carbon emissions per ton-mile for domestic shipments. Riveted by this and want to learn more? Check out the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Fast Facts on Transportation Greenhouse Gas Emissions page, which provides valuable data on emissions factors for different modes of domestic freight transport. 26 • JULY 2024 • PPAI

Responsibility | Voices Strategies For Promo Distributors Distributors are in a unique position to influence the supply chain and promote more sustainable practices, especially if you’re in sales. Here are several meaningful steps that can be taken to reduce reliance on air freight and mitigate its environmental impact, both domestically and internationally. First, educate your clients on sustainable transport options, offering them insights into the environmental impact of each. Infographics can be helpful to illustrate the benefits of choosing loweremission options like truck or rail transport for domestic shipments and sea transport for international shipments. Highlight not only the reduced carbon footprint, but also the cost savings associated with these alternatives. Second, promote locally sourced products and emphasize their benefits. This can be as simple as being conscious of choosing a decorator partner closest to the final delivery point and asking your blank garment supplier to ship from a nearby warehouse. It might seem obvious, but don’t assume this is the default. By reducing the distance traveled from production to distribution, you can minimize the need for long-haul transportation. Bonus points for highlighting local partnerships, as the positive impact on communities can resonate with purpose-driven clients. Third, collaborate with suppliers and logistics partners to optimize supply chain efficiency. Ask questions about what your options are. By reducing unnecessary packaging and consolidating shipments, you can minimize the need for expedited shipping methods like air freight. Encourage clients to plan ahead and place orders in advance to avoid rush shipments. (I know, you’ve heard this one before, but it’s worth repeating for its potential impact.) Lastly, explore opportunities to invest in sustainable logistics practices, such as using hybrid or electric trucks for local deliveries or supporting rail transport for long-distance domestic shipments. If that’s not something you have any say in, do some research and work with transport companies that prioritize reducing their carbon footprint. Partnering with carriers that focus on reducing their environmental impact can enhance your brand’s reputation and attract environmentally conscious clients. We All Play A Part Regardless of your job title or company type, each of us holds the power to inspire positive change. Our actions have the power to shape the trajectory of sustainability in our industry. Educating ourselves and advocating for lower-impact transport options, along with collaborating with environmentally responsible partners, allows us to play a crucial role in advancing sustainability across the promotional products supply chain. Every effort, no matter how seemingly small, contributes to the larger goal of reducing carbon emissions and mitigating environmental impact. The industry’s shift toward sustainable practices, including the adoption of lower-impact transport options, ensures our long-term relevance and competitiveness in a changing market landscape. Let’s unite in steering promo toward a future where sustainability isn’t just an aspiration but a guiding principle in every aspect of our operations. Together, through innovative solutions and collaborative efforts, we can forge an environmentally conscious supply chain that drives business growth and significantly reduces our carbon footprint, safeguarding the health of our planet for generations to come. Wimbush is the director of sustainability and responsibility at PPAI. Let’s unite in steering promo toward a future where sustainability isn’t just an aspiration, but a guiding principle in every aspect of our operations. PPAI • JULY 2024 • 27

See all the details at Infinityforher.com The baseball cap market is slotted to be at 24.1 billion by 2026.* One of the main growth drivers is IMPROVING THE DESIGN AND STYLES. AND HERE’S WHAT THAT LOOKS LIKE: *www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210804005532/en/Global-Baseball-Cap-Market-Research- Report-2020-to-2026---by-Material-Gender-Application-Distribution-and-Region---ResearchAndMarkets.com 69% of consumers own promotional headwear. With women being over HALF the population, we will let you do the math - but that’s a lot of impressions! The Rosie The Gabby The Cassie The Daisy The Janet The Josie The Hattie The Tess The Charlie NEW NEW

STORIES TO KEEP AND USE Must Read 07.24 PPAI PYRAMID AWARDS page 60 SUPPLIER DECORATORS SHINE AlexanderTrou / Shutterstock.com Creativity, problem-solving and collaboration are just a few traits needed to deliver campaigns worthy of the PPAI Pyramid Awards. NEW BENEFIT: ALLIANCE DATACAST p. 30 PPAI’S 2024 WOMEN OF ACHIEVEMENT p. 34 THE STATE OF GROWTH 2024 p. 42 PROMOTIONAL PRODUCTS WORK! p. 52 PPAI • JULY 2024 • 29

Must Read | Alliance DataCast Alliance DataCast: A New Benefit For Professional-tier Members Alok Bhat, PPAI’s market economist and research lead, dives into the Association’s new partnership with ITR Economics and the value it brings to Silver, Gold and Platinum PPAI members. By John Corrigan AS PART OF PPAI’S COMMITMENT to premium research as a benefit to Professional-tier members, the Association has entered into a new partnership with ITR Economics, one of the oldest privately held economic research and consulting firms in the United States. Established in 1948 and known for its 94.7% forecast accuracy, ITR Economics’s business-minded economists offer unbiased and apolitical insights, leveraging the organization’s powerful datasets to provide objective forecasts and analysis tools. Through the new partnership, Silver, Gold and Platinum PPAI members can now enjoy free access to a quarterly newsletter with top industry forecasts and Alliance DataCast, a robust data analysis tool. Typically, an ITR subscription costs more than $1,200 annually for forecasts alone. However, PPAI is proud to include these forecasts, along with full access to DataCast, as a member benefit. The first quarterly report was sent out in May to Professional-tier members’ primary PPAI contact and voting members. Alliance DataCast was formally introduced to attendees of PPAI’s North American Leadership Conference in Salt Lake City that same month. PPAI Media spoke with Alok Bhat, market economist and research lead at PPAI, to learn more about the new partnership, how Professional-tier members will benefit from the quarterly trends newsletter and Alliance DataCast and how the tools will assist members with their strategic planning and decision making. Established in 1948 and known for its 94.7% forecast accuracy, ITR Economics’s business-minded economists offer unbiased and apolitical insights, leveraging the organization’s powerful datasets to provide objective forecasts and analysis tools. 30 • JULY 2024 • PPAI

Alliance DataCast | Must Read PPAI Media: What is the significance of the new partnership between PPAI and ITR Economics? Alok Bhat: In our industry, staying proactive and ahead of the curve means deeply understanding market trends and economic conditions. We recognized that traditional methods of account planning, budgeting, demand forecasting and strategic data analysis often rely heavily on personal perceptions and predictions. Given the current economic fluctuations, supply chain uncertainties and the upcoming elections, we saw a critical need for robust tools that provide deep analytical insights. Our search led us to ITR Economics, whose proven track record made it the perfect partner. PPAI Media: What are some of the key challenges PPAI members face that Alliance DataCast aims to address? Bhat: In our daily operations, we all tackle crucial tasks like account planning, budgeting, demand forecasting and strategic data analysis. Traditionally, these processes have been guided by our own perceptions and predictions. However, there’s always been a desire for more concrete data to back up our decisions. Alliance DataCast addresses these challenges by offering real-time data visualization, customized dashboards and access to thousands of economic and industry-specific indicators. This comprehensive tool helps our members make informed, data-driven decisions. PPAI Media: What sets ITR Economics apart from other economic forecasting firms? Bhat: ITR Economics stands out for several reasons. Firstly, it has been a pillar in economic research and forecasting since 1948, demonstrating its credibility and expertise. Secondly, it boasts an exceptional forecast accuracy rate of 94.7%, even during challenging times like the COVID-19 pandemic. Its predictions are free from Navigating Alliance DataCast PPAI’s Professional-tier members can access the Alliance DataCast platform and create an account using the firm’s unique six-digit PPAI member ID. Once logged in, each company’s two-year forecast can be unlocked in just four steps: S T E P S T E P S T E P S T E P Download The Data Template After logging in, download the data template from the Alliance DataCast interface. This template provides a structured format for your company’s data, ensuring compatibility with the tool. Upload Your Data Use the “Upload New Data” option to import your company’s data into Alliance DataCast. Run The Analysis Once the data is uploaded, select “Run Analysis” to process and analyze the data. View The Findings Review the findings and explore the insights provided by the analysis. davooda / Shutterstock.com PPAI • JULY 2024 • 31

political or ideological influences, providing clear, unbiased economic insights. Moreover, its team consists of businessminded economists who focus not just on data but on delivering practical and profitable insights. This combination of experience, accuracy and objectivity makes ITR Economics a trusted partner for us. PPAI Media: Learning new systems can often be confusing and tiresome. How easy is it to use Alliance DataCast? Bhat: One of the standout features of Alliance DataCast is its design, which caters to non-economists. The interface is intuitive and user-friendly, making it accessible to all team members, regardless of their economic expertise. Additionally, ITR Economics provides ongoing support and guidance, ensuring users can maximize the tool’s capabilities for their business needs. PPAI Media: Can you elaborate on the features and benefits of Alliance DataCast? Bhat: Alliance DataCast offers a range of powerful features, including real-time charting for instant data visualization, customizable dashboards tailored to specific business needs and access to thousands of economic and industry-specific indicators. This comprehensive support ensures our members can effectively leverage the tool for strategic planning, budget planning, sales and demand planning and more. PPAI Media: How can PPAI members access and start using Alliance DataCast? Bhat: Accessing Alliance DataCast is straightforward. Members can visit the link provided on the PPAI Media site or in the email that PPAI sent out. Once there, they need to complete a brief form using their six-digit PPAI member ID to log in. After logging in, they’ll have full access to all the features and functionalities of Alliance DataCast. The tool also comes with a simple fourstep process for uploading data and running analyses, making it easy for members to start leveraging its capabilities right away. PPAI Media: What impact do you anticipate Alliance DataCast will have on PPAI members’ strategic planning and decision-making? Bhat: We believe Alliance DataCast will be a game-changer for our members’ strategic planning and decision-making. By providing real-time data, detailed economic insights and comprehensive analysis, the tool will enable members to make more informed, data-driven decisions. This will help them stay ahead of market trends, optimize their operations and ultimately drive their business growth. We’re excited to see the positive impact this tool will have on our industry. PPAI Media: Is there anything else you would like to share about the partnership with ITR Economics and the introduction of Alliance DataCast? Bhat: We’re thrilled to bring this powerful resource to our members and confident that it will provide significant value. The partnership with ITR Economics and the introduction of Alliance DataCast is a testament to our commitment to supporting our members with the best tools and resources available. We encourage all our members to take advantage of these offerings and reach out to us with any questions or feedback. Together, we can navigate the future with confidence and success. Corrigan is a news editor at PPAI. One of the standout features of Alliance DataCast is its design, which caters to non-economists. The interface is intuitive and user-friendly, making it accessible to all team members, regardless of their economic expertise. Additionally, ITR Economics provides ongoing support and guidance, ensuring users can maximize the tool’s capabilities for their business needs. Must Read | Alliance DataCast Professional members can access Alliance DataCast by visiting promotions. itreconomics.com/ alliance-ppai. 32 • JULY 2024 • PPAI

SPONSORED CONTENT Revolutionizing The Industry How DTF Printing Is Changing The Game IN THE RAPIDLY EVOLVING world of apparel decoration, Direct To Film (DTF) printing has emerged as a groundbreaking technology, revolutionizing the industry and surpassing previous methods like Direct To Garment (DTG) in a remarkably short period. This innovative process is transforming how decorators approach their craft, offering unprecedented lexibility and quality. Unmatched Versatility And Quality One of the most compelling advantages of DTF printing is its unparalleled versatility. Unlike traditional methods, DTF works on any shirt material, providing decorators with the ability to print on cotton, polyester, blends and more. This versatility ensures high-quality results regardless of the fabric used. DTF prints are renowned for their soft hand feel, which is crucial for maintaining the comfort and wearability of apparel. The prints are not only soft but also incredibly durable, standing up to repeated wear and washing without fading or cracking. This combination of softness and durability is a key reason why DTF has quickly become the preferred choice for many in the industry. No Limits On Creativity DTF technology breaks down the barriers of color limitations that have constrained traditional printing methods. With DTF, decorators can use unlimited colors in a single print, making it perfect for complex, vibrant, and detailed designs. This capability has opened up new creative possibilities, allowing designers to bring even the most intricate visions to life. Moreover, DTF excels at producing extremely ine details, making it ideal for intricate logos and designs that require precision. The technology’s ability to capture small details with high accuracy ensures that every print is a true representation of the original design. Rapid Industry Adoption And Growth The rapid advancement of DTF technology has seen it surpass DTG in popularity and application. The superior versatility, quality and creative freedom offered by DTF make it a more attractive option for both decorators and distributors. One notable example of the industry’s shift toward DTF can be seen in the signi icant growth experienced by leading companies. For instance, Hightech Gra ix, a pioneer in DTF printing, is experiencing a remarkable 135% increase in growth over the previous year, a testament to the rising demand and customer satisfaction with DTF technology. Innovative Developments In DTF As the DTF revolution continues, new and exciting options are being developed, such as Glitter DTF. This innovation adds a dazzling effect to prints, offering customers more choices and enhancing the aesthetic appeal of decorated apparel. Such developments are further cementing DTF’s position as the go-to technology for apparel decoration. Conclusion As DTF continues to revolutionize the decoration industry, it is clear that this technology is here to stay. With its exceptional versatility, quality, and creative possibilities, DTF is setting the new gold standard. Companies at the forefront of this revolution, like Hightech Gra ix, are driving the industry forward, providing decorators with the tools they need to excel. For those looking to stay ahead in the competitive world of promotional products, embracing DTF technology is the way forward. Explore the endless possibilities of DTF printing with Hightech Gra ix and see how they can help you elevate your apparel business to new heights. More Information Email: sales@hightechgra ix.com Phone: 855-270-6534 Website: hightechgra ix.com PPAI • JULY 2024 • 33