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  • October 13, 2022 9:00 AM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    The labor agreement between railways and workers’ unions may be in jeopardy.

    Members of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division, part of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, representing nearly 23,000 railway workers, voted to reject a tentative agreement the two sides reached in September.

    The Negotiations

    There is no immediate threat of a strike. In a statement, the National Railway Labor Conference, which represents the railroads in the negotiations, said, “The parties have agreed to maintain the status quo as they discuss next steps. As such, the failed ratification does not present risk of an immediate service disruption.”

    The unions involved in the labor dispute represent approximately 115,000 workers. So far, four labor organizations have ratified agreements to resolve the national bargaining round. Tentative agreements with seven other labor organizations remain subject to ratification, with votes scheduled before November 20.

    • The two largest labor groups, the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, Transportation union, which represents conductors, and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, which represents engineers, have not yet voted.


    The tentative agreement announced in September included raises and bonuses for workers, and revised railroads’ rigid attendance policies. The BMWED’s rejection of the deal was, reportedly, not based on refusal of the financial terms, but anger at management’s policies regarding work schedules and other issues.

    “The majority of the BMWED membership rejected the tentative national agreement and we recognize and understand that result,” says Tony D. Cardwell, union president. “I trust that railroad management understands that sentiment as well.

    “Railroaders are discouraged and upset with working conditions and compensation and hold their employer in low regard. Railroaders do not feel valued. They resent the fact that management holds no regard for their quality of life, illustrated by their stubborn reluctance to provide a higher quantity of paid time off, especially for sickness.”

    Published with Permission from PPB

  • October 06, 2022 7:08 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    Questions, questions and more questions. Naturally, the more you ask, the more you can learn about your prospects. While there are many ways you can speed up the sales process, question-based selling (QBS) remains a favorite among many sales teams. Thomas Freese introduced the concept in his book, “Secrets of Question-Based Selling.” According to Freese, achieving success in sales doesn’t come down to making the right pitch, but asking the right questions.

    Shawn Finder, founder and CEO of Autoklose, says that QBS is a sales approach that involves asking a series of open-ended questions to gain valuable insight into prospective buyers.

    Some of the biggest benefits of QBS include:

    • Knowing exactly what your prospects want and need
      Engaging prospects early in the process by slowly building trust with them
      Showing potential buyers that your main goal is to help them

    Finder says that successful QBS means not only developing the right questions but tying them to different stages of the sales process. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share his ideas on how to effectively structure your sales questions to get the best results.

    Invite prospects to talk through their goals. It’s important to understand a prospect’s pain points, but Finder says the more you know about their goals, the better. When you can discern their ulterior motives, you can close sales more successfully. To get to the heart of the matter, Finder recommends asking questions like:
    • What are your main long-term goals?
    • How will solving this problem bring you closer to your overall business objectives?
    • What happens when you achieve this goal?
    • Are your employees and the entire leadership aware of the importance of this goal? Are all of you on the same page?

    The more you can get your prospects to talk about their goals, the easier it becomes for you to make a more specific pitch. It then becomes easier for prospects to understand how your solution can help them achieve their goal.

    Discuss potential roadblocks. There’s a good chance your prospects know what challenges they may face when trying to achieve their goals. When you get to the bottom of things and identify the bottleneck, Finder says you provide guidance that isn’t so generic.

    The key to selling successfully is knowing your customer. Question-based selling can be a great way to dive deeper into your prospects’ worlds and engage in more meaningful and productive conversations. Remember to use open-ended questions and talk through not only pain points, but their bigger-picture goals and any obstacles that may stand in the way.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: Shawn Finder is founder and CEO of Autoklose. He’s also a keynote speaker and advisor.

    Published with Permission from PPB

  • October 06, 2022 7:06 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    Coaches and mentors both provide valuable services when you want to elevate your career. Coaches typically provide guidance in the moment or teach you how to overcome a specific challenge. They may give you assignments or projects to work on and then discuss with you later. Mentors, on the other hand, often create longer-term relationships with their mentees. These relationships may last years or even decades and tend to involve more informal interactions.

    Wondering whether you may benefit more from a coach or a mentor? Writer Tamara Franklin has provided some guidance, which we share in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

    When To Work With A Coach

    • If you want to develop a specific skill.Maybe you want to get better at public speaking or working with international clients. A coach could help you grow these skills and work with you over a determined period of time.
    • If you don’t know what you don’t know.Knowing that you need help is one thing, Franklin says, but knowing exactly what you lack is another. A coach can help identify areas where you need improvement, set goals and create action plans.
    • If you need someone to help you stay accountable.When you work with a coach, you’ll have someone not only guiding you, but also checking in with you to review your progress and obstacles.

    When To Work With A Mentor

    • If you’re just starting out.A mentor can provide advice and connect you with resources and contacts, Franklin says. This is especially helpful for recent college graduates or professionals starting a new role.
    • If you’re trying to scale.Own a business and want to take it to the next level? A mentor can help you get there. Look for someone who has had success in what you want to achieve and let them be your inspiration.
    • If you need a sounding board.A mentor can also provide some perspective. Consider, for example, that you and your co-founder disagree on things. A mentor can be a listening ear and share insight on how they navigate difficult business situations, Franklin says.
    • If you’re facing a particular challenge.A coach can help you refine your skills with hands-on help, but a mentor can help you with bigger-picture challenges, like whether you need to seek funding.

    Sometimes, you can benefit from working with a coach and a mentor simultaneously. For example, you could work with a coach to help you set goals in your current career or teach you how to hone different skills for a new job. You may work with a mentor at the same time to define your brand voice or map out your career path. Working with a mentor can help you think of scenarios you haven’t considered in the past and help you avoid problems before they start, Franklin says.

    Whether you decide to go with coaching or mentoring — or take advantage of both — you’ll benefit from having a helpful support system and personalized attention.

    Compiled by Audrey Sellers

    Source: Tamara Franklin is a writer who helps tech brands drive organic traffic and increase conversions through customer-driven content marketing.

    Published wtih Permission from PPB

  • October 06, 2022 7:02 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    Eye On Apparel: Sustainability Or Bust

    Demand for sustainable products remains high and cannot be ignored, even in the face of inflation and rumors of recession. Survey after survey shows that consumers want sustainable products and practices.

    A 2021 global consumer survey conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value and the National Retail Federation found that 40% of consumers seek products and services aligned with their values. Further, 60% are willing to change their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact, and of the 80% who say sustainability is important for them, nearly 3 in 4 would pay a premium for sustainable and environmentally responsible brands.

    From the employer/employee perspective, sustainability is also a great retention strategy, as younger workers are especially likely to expect their employers to be responsible corporate citizens. Although millennials are leading the way as both consumers and employees, the desire for sustainability tracks across all age groups.

    Suppliers and distributors of promo products must pay attention or risk falling behind the curve. But there’s good news, particularly when it comes to sustainable branded apparel, as more and more eco-friendly fabrics and garments have become available in recent years.

    So, “sustainability” is clearly important – but what does this big, buzzy umbrella term mean on a practical level? Key elements of a sustainable business model include:

    Circularity: What Goes Around Comes Around

    Ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns is No. 12 on the list of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, adopted in 2015, with specific targets including “substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.”

    Irys Kornbluth, CEO of Everywhere Apparel, a supplier of recycled cotton garments (mostly made in Los Angeles), says the promo apparel market is uniquely suited to adopt a circular model of production, usage and recycling.

    “Companies want to clothe their employees in their branded merchandise and spread the word about their brand, but to do so in a way that’s sustainable and circular,” she says. “This is really a great area to do that in, because there’s a lot of repeated production, a lot of the same goods that are being produced on an ongoing basis.”

    Everywhere makes all its garments from recycled cotton yarn, and the company offers garment recycling as a service as well. This doesn’t only keep unwanted or discarded garments out of the landfill – by some estimates, the average American throws out 80 pounds of clothing a year – but gives those materials a new life.

    “If we’re doing a custom run for a distributor or whatnot in the network and they end up having a few pallets leftover or merchandise that didn’t get sent out to the field, we can help them recycle that back into new products,” says Kornbluth. “So it’s minimizing the risk of overproduction and also helping to address those problems if they do come up.”

    Cleaner Operations: Reduce Energy And Water Usage, Emissions

    Cleaning up production operations in your supply chain also makes a big difference. The more garment suppliers and distributors expect their business partners to participate in sustainable initiatives, the easier, less expensive and more accessible these processes will become for everyone in the industry.

    Doug Jackson, president of Minnesota-based supplier Storm Creek, tried dipping his toes into recycled fabrics about a decade ago. At first, it was slow going because he didn’t have enough volume to demand sustainable yarns and fabrics from Storm Creek’s suppliers. But he kept asking, and eventually more options became available.

    “At that point we decided that we could, as a company, start putting a big force toward trying to do everything recycled,” Jackson says. “Once we realized that we could do that, we started looking at the whole supply chain and saying, OK, can we as a company start saying that we need certification from all of our fabric mills, from all of our dyeing mills, from all of our yarns, from every part of the channel?”

    Although it was still “a big boys’ game,” he adds, awareness and demand were growing, and the kinds of recycled and eco-friendly materials he was looking for were getting easier to come by. It’s all about volume, he says – there has to be enough demand to make it worth the effort for everyone in the supply chain.

    Storm Creek also started asking all of its suppliers to commit to earning Bluesign and OEKO-TEX certifications, both of which reduce harmful chemicals and wastewater pollution

    “We want all of our mills to be OEKO-TEX certified or Bluesign certified, and really what that means is that they just use better chemicals for the environment,” Jackson says.

    Certifications: What To Look For In Your Suppliers And Their Products

    In fact, there are multiple certification programs and other measures of sustainability to look for. Here are four of the biggest:

    • Bluesign helps manufacturers better manage dyes and water usage. The company conducts on-site assessments to help clients understand the environmental and chemical management status of their facility, and a specific action plan is created to close any gaps observed during the assessment.
    • OEKO-TEX develops test methods and standards to support sustainable measures in the textile industry. Compliance with OEKO-TEX Standard 100 can earn your garments a label indicating that every component – from threads to buttons to printings and coatings—has been tested for and cleared of harmful substances.
    • EcoVadis is a universal sustainability ratings provider that helps companies manage program and performance reviews, supplier selection and onboarding, procurement process changes and more, including tools to help promote your company’s green initiatives.
    • You may have seen the B Corp logo on a company website recently and wondered what it means. B Corp Certification, managed by the nonprofit B Lab, is a CSR designation that a business can earn by meeting standards for performance, accountability and transparency on factors from employee benefits to supply chain practices.

    Communicate: Make Sure Your Customers Know About Your Sustainable Efforts

    The IBM study authors suggest that to do sustainability right, companies need to recognize consumer demand, incorporate sustainable initiatives like those described above throughout your operations and earn customers’ confidence through transparency and traceability.

    Once you’ve taken these steps toward sustainability, be sure to promote your efforts and certifications with messaging and product/packaging labels to inform buyers and end users. For example, supplier Gildan reports its sustainabilitycircularity and environmental achievements online. Everywhere and Storm Creek also highlight their sustainability practices on their websites.

    “Younger people are becoming more of an influence, and they just look at things in a different way that made more people want to think about it,” says Jackson. “We all can do more nowadays. The price is not as crazy as it used to be, and it’s more available.”

    The 100% GRS Certified Recycled Cotton Unisex Crew Tee from Everywhere Apparel is a soft and sustainable T-shirt designed to be recycled at end of life and reincorporated into the company’s supply chain. Available in white or black, sizes XS-3X. Each shirt includes a QR code to help wearers recycle it and other clothes.
    Everywhere Apparel / PPAI 795141, S1 / www.everywhereapparel.com

    Like Everywhere’s tees, the company’s 100% Recycled Cotton Unisex Pullover Hoodie is made of recycled fibers and without dyes, bleach, fertilizers or pesticides. This classic hoodie sweatshirt features a kangaroo pocket and a lined hood without drawstring. Available in white, gray or black, sizes XS-3XL.
    Everywhere Apparel / PPAI 795141, S1 / www.everywhereapparel.com

    Don’t forget your tootsies! Go for a total custom product with the ability to knit complex logos and patterns on these Sustainable Custom Knitted Dress Socks. Recycled cotton yarn from old garments or leftover fabrics prevents additional textile waste and requires far fewer resources than conventional or organic cotton. Socks are woven from 80% recycled cotton, 18% nylon and 2% spandex.
    SOCK101 / PPAI 625402, S6 / www.sock101.com

    Storm Creek offers a variety of button-down dress shirts made from recycled yarns, including the Men’s Influencer Gingham Shirt. The four-way stretch lets you move with ease and keeps the fabric wrinkle-free. The quick-dry fabric also features UV protection. Available in blue or black (shown) and sizes S-5X, as well as L-2X tall.
    Storm Creek / PPAI 438091, S6 / www.stormcreek.com

    Each bestselling Men’s Front Runner Vest contains seven recycled bottles with 40% of the outer shell and 35% of the insulation from recycled materials. The water-resistant, windproof, quilted vest provides warmth without bulk and includes zippered chest/front pockets and an interior embroidery pocket. Available in six colors (shown in jet/black) and sizes S-5X, as well as L-3X tall.
    Storm Creek / PPAI 438091, S6 / www.stormcreek.com

    Adidas has pledged to use only recycled polyester in all its products by 2024. The Adidas Golf Basic Short Sleeve Sport Shirt features classic athleisure style in 100% recycled polyester with UPF 25 protection and a moisture wicking finish. Available in 16 colors (shown in Amazon) and sizes S-4X.
    S&S Activewear / PPAI 256121, S12 / www.ssactivewear.com

    With its C-FREE line, SanMar measures the carbon footprint of each style and purchases verified carbon offsets to remove an equivalent amount of emissions elsewhere in the environment. The Port Authority Ladies Recycled Performance Polo Shirt is made of certified recycled materials, from the 100% recycled poly pique fabric to the thread. These shirts also provide snag-resistance, moisture-wicking and UV protection in five colors (shown in rich red) and sizes XS-4X.
    SanMar / PPAI 110788, S16 / www.sanmar.com

    The lightweight, brushed fleece Cutter & Buck Adapt Eco Knit Stretch Recycled Womens Half Zip Pullover is made of certified eco-friendly 88% recycled polyester – with an average of 16 recycled plastic bottles in each garment – plus spandex for stretch. Sizes XS-3X, 12 colors (shown in red).
    Cutter & Buck / PPAI 196156, S11 / www.cbcorporate.com

    Rachel Zoch is an associate editor at PPAI.

    Published with Permission from PPB

  • October 06, 2022 6:53 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    The holidays are a great time to show appreciation for clients, customers and employees with thoughtful gifts. Items and messages that make your recipients feel valued help build relationships and cultivate loyalty, which is especially important for employees, both due to the sometimes isolating nature of remote work and the ongoing challenges of hiring and retaining talent.

    Although a Wall Street Journal article suggested in August that some companies plan to cut back on gifting due to anxiety about inflation and potential recession, a report by Coresight Research, based on a survey of 300 corporate gift buyers in the U.S., suggests that corporate gifting is on the rise and that the upward trend will continue through 2024.

    Perhaps most importantly, the report highlights improved relationships with customers and employees as the top advantage of corporate gifting.

    “Employees today need to feel appreciated more than ever, particularly with remote work,” says Mike Brugger, president of Fully Promoted, a global promo products distributor with individually owned franchises nationwide. “Companies have got to step it up. People want things that they wouldn’t buy themselves.”

    Choose Your Gifts With Care

    Choosing the right gifts is a layered process that requires not only knowing your budget but also the needs and preferences of your intended recipients. Gifts should be useful, personal and memorable. You don’t want to simply send a thing with your logo on it.

    Give some thought to who your recipients are and what they need and want. Choosing a gift that’s relevant shows that you understand who your employees and customers are. A gift that is useful, high-quality and relevant to the recipient means something they can and will use for a long time.

    New options for customization can add an extra layer of personalization for even more impact, and as 3D printing becomes more affordable, consider creating a truly unique, customized gift that only your recipients will have.

    Messaging matters, too – be sure to include a thoughtful thank-you note or a card expressing appreciation for the employee’s contribution or the customer’s business.

    “Get into some creative decoration or personalization, really dive into that thank-you holiday message or create a fun theme,” around your branded gifts, says Katie Kahler, a marketing specialist with distributor American Solutions for Business. “It shouldn’t just be putting a logo on something and sending it to your team.”

    Show Off Your Sustainability

    If you’re going to give sustainable items, make sure to say so, advises Brugger. “You want to point that out so somebody doesn’t get a gift and think, ‘Oh, this is a waste,’ because that devalues their experience,” he says. Consumers want goods made from recycled and sustainable materials, so it’s important to make sure they know when they receive a green gift. It’s easy to do with a simple sticker that costs a few cents – a small investment with a big payoff when it comes to spreading goodwill for your brand.

    Make It Memorable

    You want your gift to be memorable, something that people will be excited to receive and use. Although gift cards are the most purchased gifting category, they don’t reflect the level of care and thought that can truly build lasting loyalty. Look for something with a wow factor, advises Brugger.

    “The gifts that surprise people, I find, last longer,” he says. “When it gets delivered to your customer or your employee, they’re like, ‘Wow, this is cool!’ and they keep it and they like it.”

    Kits are also a great way to up the wow factor and demonstrate that a lot of thought and care went into the gift. It’s also a way to provide a variety of items so you’re better able to appeal to a broader range of tastes.

    “I would say kitting is more popular than ever. I would create a custom branded box with something like a Bluetooth speaker inside, as well as a food item and a card,” says Greg Miller, president at Brand-Tastik Promotional Marketing, an Illinois-based distributor. “Each box can be personalized. I believe the presentation and packaging is very important these days with gifting, and it gives the giver a huge canvas for custom branding.”

    Choose Your Own Adventure

    Letting employees pick their gift is a huge trend that makes the annual holiday gift more fun, says Kahler, who is helping some clients create pop-up web shops featuring a curated selection of branded gifts. “That allows us to copy and paste the concept across the company, but it still feels really personal to the person who’s receiving the gift,” she says.

    Stay Ahead Of The Supply Chain

    Also, make sure the gifts you choose will be available and delivered in time. With the ongoing supply chain issues worldwide, your first choice might not be ready when you want it.

    “Holiday timelines must be extended by at least two weeks,” says Tim Duffy, president of New Jersey-based distributor Siegel’s Corporate Gifts and Promotions. “Labor shortages may be to blame for some of the poor service, but mergers have led to layoffs, and multiple customer service departments take 24-48 hours to respond to emails.”

    If you haven’t already secured your orders, do it now, says Brugger, who predicts that the most popular items will be sold out by November.

    “Orders need to be placed in October,” he says, “and the earlier in October the better.”

    It’s not too late! Here are 22 desirable gifts in a handful of popular categories that clients should consider for 2022 holiday gifting programs, from big-ticket items to smaller pieces that make great kit components:

    Tech Toys

    The Vivo Combination Speaker & Wireless Charger delivers beautiful sound and keeps your mobile devices charged. Bluetooth technology provides wireless connectivity, and the powerful battery supports more than 44 hours of playback time. Qi-enabled devices can be charged wirelessly on top of the speaker or via the USB-C port with the charging cable provided. The Vivo comes with a lifetime warranty, and a tree is planted for every order. Packaged in a white gift box with a customizable sleeve.
    PowerStick.com / PPAI 383252, S8 / www,powerstick.com

    Kahler says the WALLY Mini Wall Charger from Nimble is one of her favorite new tech items. In addition to the fast charging provided via dual USB-C and USB-A ports, this device checks a ton of sustainability boxes, from its certified recycled plastic housing to its plastic-free retail packaging. Plus, like all Nimble products, this charging pad is Climate Neutral Certified and supports environmental nonprofits through 1% for the Planet.
    Hirsch Gift Inc. / PPAI 221823, S10 / www.hirschgift.com

    Video meetings are here to stay, and you can help your employees and customers show themselves in the best light with the Online Meeting Adjustable Ring Light. Its 36 bright white LED lights and low, medium and high settings provide the perfect lighting for meetings, photos and videos. The compact light clips on to most devices and has a rechargeable lithium-ion battery (micro-USB input, cord included). Available in black, red, blue or white.
    Hit Promotional Products / PPAI 113910, S13 / www.hitpromo.net

    Apparel & Accessories

    Fun socks in colorful patterns continue to be popular, like the custom-knitted Dress Socks (shown) or Fuzzy Socks from SOCK101. Design something unique and Instagram-worthy that your recipients will be eager to show off. Add custom tags for an additional fee and added messaging, or include them in a themed kit for extra impact.
    SOCK101 / PPAI 625402, S6 / www.sock101.com

    Stick with name brands during the holiday season, advises Brugger, especially when it comes to apparel. This North Face Canyon Flats Fleece Hooded Jacket, made in part from recycled fabrics, provides name recognition along with warmth. The durable fleece zip hoodie includes multiple zippered pockets to securely stash your stuff. Available in black or “asphalt grey reign camo” print (shown), sizes S-3X.
    SanMar / PPAI 110788, S16 / www.sanmar.com

    Custom shoes are popular this year, says Kahler. Get cozy with these Kozi Sherpa Slippers, made of faux suede with faux sherpa fur lining and a rubber sole. Customize on top with your imprint or a woven patch. Available in tan or black, sizes S (women’s 6-7.5) to XXL (men’s 13-14).
    The Kanata Group / PPAI 111063, S7 / www.thekanatagroup.com

    Home Goods

    Blankets are always big, says Kahler. She suggests opting for an all-over print for something a little different from the traditional embroidered blanket, like the Sublimated Grab-N-Go Travel Blanket from Terry Town, which gives you over 2,000 square inches of plush polyester to fill with your own creative design. It also comes with a 13.5” x 10” carry bag designed to fit retractable luggage handles.
    Terry Town / PPAI 230911, S10 / www.terrytown.com

    Spread a little (artificial) sunshine with the Happy Daylight Desk Lamp designed with three light colors – white, natural and warm – to provide a daily boost of sunshine and help keep recipients energetic and focused. A foldable bracket makes it easy to set up anywhere, and the built-in automatic timer makes it easy to choose a session in 15-minute increments up to an hour.
    Gemline / PPAI 113948, S11 / www.gemline.com

    Candles can work well in a kit, especially paired with fuzzy socks and snacks to create a cozy experience. Consider the Seventh Avenue Apothecary White Tea and Fig 11 oz. Glass Jar Candle, made with food-grade soy wax (phthalate- and lead-free) for a burn time of 65 hours. Through a partnership with 1% For The Planet, 1% of sales are donated to environmental nonprofits.
    PCNA / PPAI 113079, S15 / www.pcna.com


    The Ember Mug is hot – pun fully intended. Simply plug it into your USB port, and the new Ember Mug (Generation 2) does more than simply keep your coffee hot. This 10-oz. smart mug allows you to set and maintain an exact drinking temperature for 90 minutes, so your coffee is never too hot (or too cold). Available in black, white or gray.
    Castle Merchandising Inc. / PPAI 269808, S5 / www.castlepremium.com

    Tumblers are always popular, but with the Valhalla Copper Vacuum Tumbler Gift Set, you can give your recipient something they can share for a more memorable experience. This pair of 16-oz. tumblers features double-wall stainless steel construction with copper insulation to resist condensation and keep beverages cold for 24 hours or hot for eight hours. The skid-proof cork bottom helps prevent spills, and they come in an attractive gift box. Available in white, black or gray.
    PCNA / PPAI 113079, S15 / www.pcna.com

    Stuff a classic clear tumbler with a sweet treat and a thank-you message for a mini-kit. The Tervis Classic Tumbler - 16 oz. is conveniently microwave, dishwasher and freezer safe and is great for hot or cold drinks. The snap-on travel lid with slide closure is available in eight colors, and Tervis offers a limited lifetime guarantee.
    Koozie Group / PPAI 114187, S13 / www.kooziegroup.com

    Bags & Totes

    Pouches are on trend, says Kahler, especially if you fill them with cool snacks or tech goodies. “If you gave me a tech item inside a tech pouch inside a cool box, that’s a really different gift than if you just gave me a tech item,” she adds. The LVL Gusset Pouches, available in three sizes from Pop! Promos, are made from vegan leather and can be printed with any full-color design, with the option to print a different design on the second side for added messaging.
    Pop! Promos / PPAI 564497, S1 / www.poppromos.com

    It’s hard to beat a duffel bag when it comes to functionality, especially one that can convert to a backpack when needed. The Urban Peak 70L Waterproof Backpack/Duffel Bag from Starline features adjustable straps that can be connected using the padded hook-and-look handle to carry as a duffel bag or slung over each shoulder for the backpack option. With a storage capacity of 4,285 cubic inches and multiple zippered pockets, there’s plenty of space for your gear.
    Starline USA, Inc. / PPAI 112719, S10 / www.starline.com

    Eco-conscious recipients will appreciate the Igloo Daytripper Dual Compartment Tote Cooler, a reusable insulated tote perfect for trips to the grocery store or a picnic at the beach. This PVC- and phthalate-free bag is leak resistant, and dual compartments provide both insulated and dry storage. Other features include a bottle opener, zip front pocket and adjustable straps to secure a blanket or towel.
    Gemline / PPAI 113948, S11 / www.gemline.com

    Food & Drink

    Thank your employees for rising to the challenge and making your company shine with the Rise & Shine gift box from Batch & Bodega. The deluxe kit includes pancake mix, maple syrup, herbal tea, peanut butter, honey sticks and organic vegan, gluten-free granola – as well as a brandable oven mitt and spatula – all in a festive gift box ready to be branded in a 3-inch circle. Each box also comes with a note about the contents and the option to add your own custom message for a personal touch.
    HPG / PPAI 110772, S11 / www.hpgbrands.com

    Up your snack game with this Six-Piece Popcorn Gift Set filled with caramel, butter, cheddar cheese, cookies & cream, peanut butter cup and white & dark chocolate swirl popcorn. Customize both the tins and the ribbon (available in nine colors), as well as the body wrap and lid label.
    Midnite Snax / PPAI 113793, S3 / www.midnitesnax.com

    Wow your recipients with the Crate Full of Snacks, a reusable wooden crate packed with a variety of gourmet treats, including bite-sized cookies, caramel corn, chocolate dipped pretzels and more. Made in USA, the name-brand contents include four kinds of cookies, two kinds of caramel corn, two kinds of hot cocoa and a variety of other goodies.
    Maple Ridge Farms / PPAI 114165, S8 / www.mapleridge.com

    Fully custom sweet treats are a great way to get your brand literally in the hands (and mouths) of your employees and customers. Consider a Six-Pack Cookie Box of sugar or chocolate cookies topped with rich milk, dark or white chocolate stamped with your logo design. Includes full-color, custom imprinted gift bands and the option for a full-color, custom printed lid.
    Chocolate Chocolate / PPAI 111668, S5 / www.chocolate2.com

    “I sold hot chocolate bombs in every kit last year,” says Kahler. “There are so many cute things you can do, like place them inside a drinkware item.” Send a Set of Hot Chocolate Bombs in Full Color Gift Box for added impact. Filled with delicious marshmallows, all your recipient has to do is place the chocolate bomb into a mug and pour hot milk over it to “detonate” a tasty beverage.
    NC Custom / PPAI 111662, S7 / www.chocolateinn.com

    For the foodies on your list, consider a gourmet ingredients gift set like the Rustic Laser Engraved Wood Box with Custom Etched Balsamic Vinegar & Olive Oil, which includes a bottle of traditional balsamic vinegar and a bottle of extra virgin olive oil made in Italy. Share your message or company logo on both the etched and painted bottles and laser engraving on the slide-top wood box.
    A+ Wine Designs / PPAI 173549, S4 / www.apluswinedesigns.com

    Messaging Matters

    Don’t forget the impact of a well-chosen greeting card like this Silver & Gold Foil Ornament card. “All of our cards and envelopes can be personalized with whatever print they would like on the inside of the card, including hand-traced signatures and the front or back of the envelope,” says Susan Rice, national accounts specialist for Wall Street Greetings.
    Wall Street Greetings LLC / PPAI 469710, S3 / www.wallstreetgreetings.com

    Rachel Zoch is an associate editor with PPAI.

    Used With Permission From PPB

  • September 19, 2022 9:41 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    On July 11, I walked into PPAI headquarters with a brand-new job and an event launching in less than 90 days – the Fall Promotional Products Work Expo.

    The job – Promotional Products Work manager – is not just new to me, it’s also new to PPAI, and so is the event on Sept. 29. But that is why I am here, to do something new and to help elevate you and the unique solutions our industry provides.

    Let me start by backing up and zooming out a little. If you have not heard the new vision statement for PPAI, you may not know that it recently changed:

    Promotional Products are universally valued and essential to every brand.

    This new vision was meaningful to both my decision to come on board and to the development and overall direction of the Promotional Products Work initiative. I may be a little biased, coming from a family of promotional products pros, but I believe that when we talk about goals like promotional products being universally valued and essential, this initiative is the purest and strongest support of that vision. To be part of that is a dream come true for me.

    Back to the here and now. My first goal in my new job is to make this fall’s first client-facing Promotional Product Work Expo a must-attend event that is as effective and valuable for members as it is inspiring and enlightening for end buyers.

    We’re creating an event that elevates and educates, and the Association as a whole learned a lot from the Promotional Products Work Expo beta test that was made available to a limited audience in the spring.

    We have created a unique experience that melds what we love about in-person trade shows with the benefits of a virtual environment and maximizes the visibility and value of the distributor and the promotional products industry as a whole.

    Three Product Pavilions, No Booths

    Distributors and the clients they invite and host will be able to explore products by type, feature, and use to create opportunities for brainstorming through the platform’s chat feature and to discover new ways to think about their promotional marketing campaigns. Each pavilion will have product categories that are relevant to buyers to help guide their search. With this, there will not be traditional virtual booths at the event, avoiding the need for presenting suppliers to plan for staffing and the concern of direct conversations between buyers and suppliers. There will still be plenty of opportunities for suppliers and distributors to follow up on leads. Read on to learn more.

    Specialized Product Listings

    When distributors and their buyers click into a product to look at details, they will have the same view, which will include images, product details, and a description. It will not include pricing information, allowing distributors to fully control that part of the conversation.

    “Live” Education

    During the event, educational content will be playing on the platform’s Main Stage, restarting every hour. The focus will be to inspire buyers about all the ways they can use promotional products and to show off some of the biggest trends in the industry. Topics will include unboxing, sustainability, give-back, retail brands, employee gifts, technology, customization, personalization and more, all while weaving in product and stories throughout. Between each segment, attendees will get a look at the new face of the Promotional Products Work campaign in the form of short ads that will soon be available for members to utilize in their own marketing. All the while, a closely monitored live chat will ensure the event feels “live” for its viewers, while also protecting buyer data (more on that in a moment).

    Unique Insights For Distributors And Suppliers

    One of the benefits of a virtual event is the ability to capture data and provide detailed reporting. As they explore the product pavilions, attendees can view products and “like” their favorites. They can even revisit their favorites to see a comprehensive list at any time. Distributors will receive all of this data for each of their hosted buyers. So, when your customer calls the following week and says, “I saw this tote bag; it was blue and had a white imprint. I need it for my next event,” you can check their product views and get them a virtual or physical sample right away. Suppliers will receive all of this data – with the exception of buyer information – for each of their showcased products as well. So, after the event, they can contact distributors with quotes, information, samples and other sales tools.

    Data Protection

    In order to provide useful data, while also protecting buyer information, each hosted buyer will receive a unique ID number. This number will be tied to their information in the platform and to their hosting distributor. Distributor reporting will include both the unique ID number and the hosted buyer’s information. Supplier reporting will include only the unique ID number, so all follow-up communication will flow through the distributor.

    There is more to be done in the coming weeks. As this issue hits your mailbox, we are just under 30 days from the event. We are finalizing product samples for the education segments and getting ready to start filming and hosting demos for distributors and their salespeople daily.

    Registration is open for distributors to invite their clients, and we already have many companies signed up.

    I hope you and your clients will join us on Sept. 29 for what will be an incredible, event and also just the beginning of the new Promotional Products Work, an essential initiative that we believe has universal value for this industry.

    Davis is the Promotional Products Work manager at PPAI.

    Used With Permission From PPB

  • September 19, 2022 9:28 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    In 2019, the Red Bull Formula 1 Racing Team, a pit crew of 20 people, set a new world record: they changed tires, refueled the car, adjusted aerodynamics, checked and repaired parts, and got the driver, Max Verstappe, back on course in under 2 seconds (1.82 to be precise, blink and you could miss it).

    The average pit stop takes 2.4 seconds. Red Bull’s record-breaking pit stop is a 25% improvement, an astounding feat when the smallest winning margin in a race can be 0.01 seconds. Max Verstappe went on to win the Brazilian Grand Prix and perhaps more notably: This was the third time the Red Bull Racing Team Crew broke their own world record that year alone. 

    High-performance teams can win or lose a race.

    Like race car driving, we live in a fast-paced business with high competitive threats and constant deadline pressure. For your crew, teamwork relies on a few critical essentials: the right tools to get the job done and the right people, powered to do amazing work.  

    This past week, we released a labor report with our friends at Delegate CX, the outsourcing experts. In the report (“Tackling the Promo Products Labor Shortage”), we detailed what every promo company needs to recruit and empower top talent to win the race. And in this mini-series, we’ll unlock even more secrets to high-performance teams. 

    Today, as many of you face record-breaking growth, you are hiring more than ever before. And many of you are hiring talent outside of the industry, which means you’re left wondering how to assess the right person if the experience doesn’t shape your decision. Regardless of where your next hire comes from, the real secret to high-performance teams is best summed up by Christian Horner, the Team Principal at Red Bull Racing. Trish Madealen wrote that Horner “puts teamwork and collaboration above all else as a recipe for success. Horner has seen it all and is having to constantly adapt to new technology and rules.” 

    To create extraordinary teamwork and collaboration, we’ve identified ten crucial traits your high-performance crew should unfailingly possess. Use these traits in your 1:1s as a gentle scorecard to measure performance. Share these traits among your team – even, and especially, among your seasoned pros. Talk about them, and include them in your values. These 10 are hallmarks of winning teams. 


    1. Curiosity: They will need to learn about a thousand different decoration methods. A hundred various shirt options. A thousand cup styles. A curious and open mind will guide them and keep them engaged.

    2. Flexibility: Pivot power. Your team will need to be able to pivot quickly. Supplier out of stock? Pivot. Missed ship date? Pivot.“Flexibility is a mental process which results in an action that tests a possible solution”* Pivoting away from problems towards solutions is a special kind of mastery the pros know and is a non-negotiable for those working with inventory, deadlines, and production.

    3. Respectful Tenacity: Sometimes, your team will have to get very direct with manufacturers and clients, and they need to be able to do so tactfully and respectfully. They need to be able to affect change with the convincing force of a hurricane but through the sweet disposition of a gentle rain. Sounds strange, but the best of them convince kindly, but with authority.

    4. Exactitude and Thoroughness: A detail-oriented mindset tempered by deadlines. Obsessiveness about getting it right. Many salespeople wouldn’t classify themselves as “detail-oriented,” but many become that way as they navigate the complexity of the promo world.

    5. Patience. Grace under pressure. Patience with leadership. Patience with colleagues. Patience with suppliers. There will be high pressure in these roles from time to time, and often on back-to-back days, make sure they can handle it with compassion.

    6. Conscientiousness: Give-a-shitted-ness. They need to care, strongly about the outcome of each transaction. This is (surprisingly) one of the most challenging traits to teach; either they possess it, or they catch it learning from you and your team, but each team member will need to be able to see projects through to deadline without handholding. 

    7. Interdependence: Working on a team in this business requires an interdependent attitude: all parties must possess a confident humility and deference toward one another. And like the racing team mentioned above, every single person is needed, working harmoniously while under -at times- intense conditions.  Rick Stephens, Senior Vice President of HR at The Boeing Corporation, said, “There’s not one specific thing or skill people have to have to work for us. But I can tell you why we fire people: soft skills. We hire for hard skills. We fire for soft skills. The ability to interact and communicate with others or behave ethically and take responsibility for things tends to be where people tend to break down.” (BTW: If you want to get a quick, 26-second visual on how teamwork works better, check out Red Bulls one man vs. team vid).

    8. Initiative: Enough said.

    9. Confidence: We asked Sandy Gonzalez, CEO at MadeToOrder, a successful, large distributor, to identify the number one trait all top salespeople have (and what many salespeople lack), and without hesitation, she said: “confidence.” You can’t have 100% confidence in inventory 100% of the time. You can’t have 100% confidence in decorating capabilities when viewing complex artwork. You can’t have 100% confidence in timelines until you talk to the factory. There’s a lot to be unsure of, but memorable sales moments are not predicated on the known factors (if it were simple and clear, they wouldn’t need you!); the best sales opportunities are created by exploring the unknowns through the certainty of what you do know. 


    Peter McCutcheon from Harper + Scott is ASI’s 2022 Distributor Salesperson of the Year. According to ASI, he “increased his sales by more than 250% and hit eight figures”. In March, Mark Graham and I traveled to Brooklyn and enjoyed sitting down with a part of Harper + Scott’s team, including Peter, Michael, and Kate, and learned from Peter that a large part of his success stems from his mindset: prior to joining Harper+Scott, he was a significant buyer of promo, working on the client-side and agency-side, first.

    Danny Meyer, the famous restauranteur, suggested an imagination exercise each of us should try when interviewing a candidate: Imagine this person working on the most complicated, stressful, multi-product order for your biggest client:

    • Can they think like the client and understand what’s at stake and why this project matters?

    • Can this person handle the complex details of the order?

    • Can they shepherd projects through multiple suppliers, corral kitting + packaging, and bring order out of chaos?

    • Can they handle out-of-stocks gracefully with both suppliers and clients?

    • Can they sync with your team graciously while communicating with your busy client in a way that exudes calmness and provides assurance?

    The “salesforce” is now democratized, meaning everyone is in sales now, and virtually everyone works with either critical clients or critical supplier partners; therefore, a non-negotiable is that they should have amazing client skills, and the best way to adopt those skills is to think like a client.


    About Red Bull leader Christian Horner, Trish Madealen wrote further that not only does he put teamwork and collaboration above all else as a recipe for success, but “Horner has seen it all and is having to constantly adapt to new technology and rules.” 

    Formula 1 Racing is one of the most-watched sporting event outside of soccer and the Olympics (and, by the way, does hella work with merch) and yet is in a constant state of change. The rules may change for you and your team too (hello, supply chain), the client may change (hello, kitting), the tech may change (hello, new shiny software), but according to Horner, your biggest asset is your people and “the brainpower and the way they work together. People feed off each other. And when you've got that stimulus within a group, people bouncing ideas off each other, that's what drives the performance of the car forward.” 

    For more information on our Labor Report and outsourcing, visit our friends at Delegate CX. And to harness all the power of a Formula 1 engine inside your business, check out our software platform that fuels the fastest growing distributors on the track

    Used With Permission From commonsku

  • September 19, 2022 9:24 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    Every workplace interprets employee appreciation differently. Some hang “Employee of the Month” plaques on the wall. Others celebrate staffers with gift cards or send high achievers on paid trips. Taking time to show appreciation can lead to big benefits, from improved productivity and enhanced engagement to reduced turnover and a strong company culture.

    However, despite these payoffs, studies show that many companies aren’t praising their team members nearly enough. A Gallup/Workhuman study from earlier this year found that recognition isn’t a major priority at 81% of companies and that two in three leaders say their company has no budget for recognition programs.

    When companies don’t prioritize appreciation—or express it at all—it shows. A OnePoll survey from Bonusly, an employee recognition and rewards program, reveals that two-thirds of staff members say they feel unappreciated at work on a daily basis. More than half (59%) say they have never had a boss who truly appreciates their work.

    This lack of love can be disheartening and demotivating, and eventually it can drive workers away. People are hardwired to not only want acceptance, but also appreciation. They want to know they’re making a meaningful difference and that they’re valued and important. This matters so much, in fact, that one in three workers say they would give up a week’s worth of pay for more recognition from their boss, according to the Bonusly survey.

    Fortunately, organizations can profess their appreciation in all kinds of creative ways. For example, global management consulting firm McKinsey hosts an annual “thank-a-thon,” where employees publicly thank each other for their hard work. The gifting company &Open encourages its employees to send each other taco emojis via Slack. The staffers with the most tacos at the end of the month get a lunch voucher. And at O.C. Tanner, a software company, employees’ family members are invited to Zoom meetings to celebrate workers’ accomplishments.

    Whether companies recognize staffers with taco shout-outs or other forms of appreciation like logoed merchandise, salary bumps or more flexible work arrangements, this gratitude often helps them keep their top talent. More than half of employees (53%) who responded to a Glassdoor survey say they would stay longer at a company longer if they felt appreciated.

    This retention is more important than ever, considering that the Great Resignation is upon us. On TikTok, the hashtag #quittingmyjob has more than 137 million views. Two out of every five workers who changed jobs over the last year are looking for work again, according to survey results from Grant Thornton, a consulting firm. One of the biggest reasons for their discontent? A lack of appreciation. Nearly half of American workers (46%) have left their job because they feel unappreciated.

    A steady paycheck and an occasional “thank you” isn’t enough to keep workers happy. To create productive workplaces with engaged staffers, employers must be authentic and consistent in recognizing their team members. Promotional products can help companies celebrate and thank their most valuable assets—their employees.

    Market Snapshot

    Gamification is a trend worth exploring when it comes to employee appreciation. Essentially, it’s using game-like elements, such as rewards, point scoring and competitive platforms to create a little friendly competition with the winners scoring prizes. Globally, the gamification market is valued at nearly $12 billion and is projected to grow almost 13% by 2025.

    Gamification is especially helpful to engage employees and boost morale with dispersed teams since workers can participate without ever stepping foot in the office. One survey from Talent LMS found that 89% of employees felt gamification made them feel more productive at work and 88% said it made them happier at work. Promotional products can add to the fun, whether companies use gamification to let employees earn badges, score rewards or celebrate milestones.

    Generational Differences
    While employees of all ages benefit from sincere and specific appreciation, younger workers crave it the most. Nearly 40% of Gen Z employees want to be recognized by their boss at least a few times a week, but only about a quarter receive recognition at this frequency. About 25% of Millennials, 17% of Gen Xers and 16% of Baby Boomers want to receive recognition a few times a week or more.
    Source: Gallup

    Well Done
    Employees say they most want recognition from:

    • Their immediate boss
    • Their customers or clients
    • Their directors or executive leaders
    • Their immediate colleagues
    • Co-workers in other departments

    Source: Quantum Workplace

    Recognition Pays Off
    Large organizations (those with 10,000 or more employees) can save more than $16 million annually in turnover costs simply by making recognition part of their culture.
    Source: Gallup

    A Shot Of Productivity
    Showing employees appreciation doesn’t require a big budget, but it can lead to tremendous payoffs. Consider these stats:

    • Thoughtful recognition programs create an average of an 11% boost in employee performance.
    • Employee productivity and engagement is 14% higher at companies with recognition programs than at those without.
    • If organizations double the number of staffers they recognize every week, they can see a 24% improvement in work quality, 27% reduction in absenteeism and a 10% reduction in staff shrinkage.

    Sources: Gartner, Gallup and Deloitte

    Cheers From Peers
    The best employee-recognition programs include opportunities for colleagues to recognize each other. Peer-to-peer recognition is 36% more likely to have a positive impact than manager-only recognition
    Source: Society for Human Resource Management

    Budgeting For Appreciation Programs
    Annually, businesses spend about $3.25 billion on merchandise for employees. They budget an average of 2% of payroll for employee appreciation programs, but this number can vary from 1-10%.
    Source: Zippia

    Feeling Good
    When you say a kind word or thank someone for their work, research shows that it sparks oxytocin in the other person. As a result, they feel happy and confident about their contributions. Want to boost morale? Show some appreciation. You can make those positive feelings last with promotional products.

    Thanks, Boss!
    Managers are the least likely to receive recognition for their efforts. They give recognition three times as much as they receive it from their own bosses, according to Gallup. Senior leaders and business owners can turn to promotional products to thank leaders at all levels within their organizations.

    It’s The Little Things
    So, you don’t have the budget to send your team on an all-expenses-paid vacation? That’s OK. Nearly half of employees (46%) say simple surprises like a lunch or thank-you note from their boss make them feel appreciated, according to Zippia. About one in four workers say they would also feel appreciated if their company hosted an event like a holiday party or cocktail hour.

    Save The Date: National Employee Appreciation Day
    National Employee Appreciation Day falls on the first Friday in March every year. In 2023, the commemoration happens on March 3. Employers can use the day to thank employees for all the contributions with luncheons, awards ceremonies and logoed merchandise.

    Whether employees are celebrating one year, 50 years or any milestone in between, organizations can commemorate their anniversary with the Stock Service Pin. A customized message card adds a special touch.
    GEMPIRE / Floral Promotions / PPAI 113471, S5 / www.gempire.com

    Featuring a frosted, elongated shape and four slices to reveal the inner design, the Vivacity Art Glass Award makes a statement at any recognition ceremony. Each art glass item is hand-made and includes a gold or silver color blast.
    Moderne Glass Co., Inc. / PPAI 112536, S10 / www.glassamerica.com

    Raise a toast to retiring employees or celebrate new employees’ achievements with an Etched Bottle of Chardonnay. Each bottle is handcrafted in California and features a custom-etched logo or personalized text. Add an optional color fill for an extra wow factor.
    A+ Wine Designs / PPAI 173549, S4 / www.apluswinedesigns.com

    Crank up the employee appreciation with the Powerjam Kit, which includes a power bank and a wireless speaker. The Boxanne speaker features a looping strap that makes it easy to attach to any bag or bike. Dual-sided, full-color printing lets companies amplify their message.
    HPG / PPAI 110772, S11 / www.hpgbrands.com

    Show employees they’re real go-getters with the Go Getter Kit. This gift set includes a stainless-steel bottle, ballpoint pen and genuine leather journal tucked inside a two-piece gift box.
    Spector & Co. / PPAI 168328, S10 / www.spectorandco.com

    Say thanks on an employment anniversary with the Urban Adventure Kit, which includes a portable charger, foldable phone stand and a charging cable. It’s all packed inside a zippered travel case. There’s room on each item for a company logo and an option to add a custom-etched patch to the top of the case.
    Powerstick.com / PPAI 383252, S8 / www.powerstick.com

    Celebrate a promotion or sales victory with the Blue Dial Chronograph Watch. This Swiss-made timepiece features a stainless-steel case, luminous hands and a day/date calendar. It’s also water-resistant up to 330 feet. Laser-engrave a congratulations or thank-you message on the case back.
    Victorinox Swiss Army, Inc. / PPAI 113873, S8 / www.vsacorporate.com

    Audrry Sellers is a Dallas-Fort Worth-based writer and former associate editor at PPAI.

    Used With Permission From PPB

  • September 19, 2022 9:19 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    An industry as large and multi-faceted as promotional products is affected by a variety of laws, regulations and government policies that can be extensive and complicated. Through its programs and initiatives—PPAI’s Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.), this month’s Product Responsibility Summit and other education and outreach—the Association works to inform promo marketplace companies and professionals on legislation and the product responsibility regulatory landscape that may impact them. Maurice Norris is an instrumental part of PPAI’s efforts to understand, respond to and communicate these issues.

    The road to Norris’ position as the Association’s public affairs manager led him through state and federal government and private law firms. His stint with federal government included several years of active-duty military service with the United States Army. And as a legislative staffer in the Georgia General Assembly, he advocated on behalf of his boss’s constituents with other branches and levels of government as well as outside organizations.

    It is common for government workers to transition between the public and private arenas throughout their careers. Once he left government service, Norris continued his work advocating for consumers and small businesses at private law firms prior to joining PPAI.

    “My interest in government stems from a pursuit of public service,” Norris says. “Most of my career positions involve some aspect of service to others. It is important for policy makers to understand the ramifications of the decisions they make for the people who would be affected by those decisions. In this sense, my line of work involves essentially humanizing the statistical information policymakers are reviewing.”

    Former PPAI Board Chair Brittany David, MAS, worked with Norris on a range of legislative issues during her tenure with the Association’s leadership. She says, “Maurice was the perfect addition to the PPAI public affairs team. He is cool, calm and collected, and incredibly knowledgeable on current policy, policies in the works and how things could have an effect on our industry.

    “He has a magic in his delivery that takes complex issues and helps to unravel, simplify and explain what is taking place and the potential impact or repercussions issues could have on our industry.”

    PPAI’s government affairs initiatives—led by PPAI Director of Member Engagement Anne Stone, CAE, and managed day-to-day by Norris—are critical to protecting the interests of all PPAI members, distributors and suppliers. In nearly every state, the promotional products industry employs thousands or even tens of thousands of professionals.

    Norris collaborates closely with PPAI’s Government Relations Advisory Council (GRAC), which brings the Association together with member volunteers to assess legislation’s impact on the promotional products industry and how they can leverage their influence to shape it. The industry’s most high-profile legislative outreach is through PPAI’s Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.), an annual event Norris helps manage that connects with lawmakers and their staffs in Washington, D.C. to inform and educate them on regulations and issues affecting promotional products businesses.

    “Through GRAC, through L.E.A.D and through the constant attention of Maurice, PPAI has had great impact in staving off onerous legislation, or adding language to bills favorable to the industry,” says Rick Brenner, MAS+, former PPAI board chair and a GRAC leader. “Maurice is a consummate professional. He not only tracks the progress of bills, he researches the backstory, the impact on our industry, and champions a strategy to enlist volunteers and get the work out. Maurice is a gem and PPAI has been very fortunate to have him on board.”

    Davis says, “In an industry that is somewhat still a mystery, we don’t want to get overlooked in Washington. We need to be a voice, not an afterthought, on how bills and laws affect our industry and our people. The relationships that are built through L.E.A.D., lobbying and initiatives that PPAI puts together are powerful. They give a name and face to a voice on the hill. Maurice has been a huge champion in our government affairs.”

    Often the point man for the Association on legislative affairs, Norris typically has the television in his office tuned to CSPAN, tracking Congress’s deliberations. And he is quick to share his assessments of new policy announcements and tease out relevant points from the jargon of government legislation. Much of his attention is focused on regulatory areas of particular importance to the promo industry.

    “Most of the issues I have encountered here involve labor, trade or tax concerns,” Norris says. “In the trade category, tariffs have certainly had impacts beyond the additional costs they impose on our members. The supply chain problems also adversely affect our members’ access to their products. In all three categories, there has been a litany of legislative and regulatory proposals that we have worked on, ranging from the stepped-up tax basis to the Ocean Shipping Reform Act to the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, among others.”

    For Norris, the machinations in Washington and statehouses across the country means that there’s something new needing his attention almost every day. And he’s tracking the progress of several issues that have come over the horizon.

    “Labor, trade and tax issues remain of significant importance,” Norris says. “Any time Congress proposes a new policy, the relevant funding mechanisms often involve tax plans that affect our members. The trade and tax issues overlap by way of the tariffs because tariffs are taxes on businesses and consumers. The independent contractor and joint employer issues continue to fluctuate in Washington, D.C. and those outcomes weigh heavily on how our member companies interact with each other.”

    Norris also has his eye on larger, global issues that will ultimately impact promo. He says, “A relatively new issue that I see as unavoidable is the multifaceted impact of climate change on our industry and others. We are already seeing some of these developments through legislation, for example California recently signed a law that establishes new requirements relating to extended producer responsibility. California’s policies often serve as a precursor to other state and federal developments, so that is one of the states we track more closely.”

    Norris will bring his expertise to this month’s PPAI Product Responsibility Summit, to be held September 18-20 in Newport Beach, California—learn more about the conference at www.ppai.org/events/product-responsibility-summit. Along with playing a major role in organizing and running the conference, Norris is also a speaker. His sessions will focus on bringing those new to product responsibility up to speed, educating attendees on supply chain mapping best practices and sharing the latest developments on legislation that may impact the promotional products industry.

    Promotional merchandise’s unique needs as an industry make it critical for it and its members to have a voice on Capitol Hill, in federal regulatory agencies and with state-level legislatures and regulators that have the authority to implement policies affecting it. Norris’ leadership in PPAI’s public affairs efforts and outreach ultimately boils down to magnifying promo’s critical messages to lawmakers.

    “We empower members to communicate with policy makers,” Norris says. “There are times when it may make sense for an advocate to speak on behalf of this industry, but messages are often more well-received from the people who are actually in the industry. Those voices make a huge difference.”

    Promo Products That Keep The Environment In Mind

    PPAI Government Affairs Manager Maurice Norris counts climate change among the larger issues that will have an unavoidable impact on the promotional products industry. Promo businesses have recognized its affect on the market as well, and now offer customers an increasingly diverse range of eco-friendly products to meet a variety of needs.

    Cool down without warming up the planet. The Titan Biodegradable Cooling Towel’s hyper-evaporative material not only stimulates cooling, it’s also eco-friendly. It’s strong, durable polyester fibers are designed to biodegrade in landfills and oceans in as little as 300 days.

    High Caliber Line / PPAI 205801, S10 / www.highcaliberline.com

    A green gift that keeps on giving! The Growables Planter’s fiber pot is 100% organic, sustainable and biodegradable—made from spruce wood, without glue or binders—and ready to put in the ground. Recipients should see results in two to three weeks. The pot is packaged with a soil pod and a seed packet—options include cumin, oregano, mint and jalapeno, among many others.

    Jornik Manufacturing Corp. / PPAI 111065, S6 / www.jornik.com

    Bring more natural materials indoors. Bamboo Coasters are a daily-use product with the added advantage of being made from environmentally-friendly materials. The round coasters are naturally heat and bacteria resistant. It is probably best to handwash these.

    Evans Manufacturing / PPAI 110747, S10 / www.evans-mfg.com

    Used With Permission From PPB

  • September 19, 2022 9:17 PM | Christina Sanders (Administrator)

    The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) has established a website outlining its planned activities to enforce the Ocean Shipping Reform Act (OSRA). Signed into law in June, the legislation implements common-sense reforms to address long-standing issues in the maritime shipping industry that have exacerbated supply chain disruptions, particularly during the pandemic.

    Promo Perspective

    PPAI has advocated for maritime shipping reform for some time, and the Association worked with coalition partners from numerous industries to push the legislation across the finish line. It was a key point of discussion during Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.) 2022.

    “The Ocean Shipping Reform Act was introduced because ocean carriers have been price gouging to capitalize on the supply chain problems, which enables them to make record profits while incentivizing inefficiency,” says Maurice Norris, PPAI public affairs manager. “Meanwhile, importers in our industry and others are bearing some of the highest costs on record for the worst shipping services ever encountered.

    “The Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 empowers the FMC to implement common-sense reforms to address long-standing issues in the maritime shipping industry. Even better, the FMC is seeking public opinion on some of the enforcement mechanisms.”

    The Site

    The FMC website catalogs actions that the commission has taken to comply with requirements established by OSRA. The site features details on its rulemaking activities, including seeking public comments on shipping congestion and its data collection initiatives.

    The site also includes industry advisories and reports, and compiles related news.


    OSRA enjoyed bipartisan support during its passage through congress and President Biden signed the bill into law on June 16. The legislation tackles significant issues facing cargo owners and other supply chain stakeholders. These include:

    • Port congestion has led to a significant increase in these fees for cargo owners and truckers. The Federal Maritime Commission had previously published its “Interpretive Rule on Detention and Demurrage” but as only guidance, it is not followed by ocean carriers or marine terminals. OSRA22 formalizes the rule and defines the parameters for these charges.
    • The legislation revised key provisions of the Shipping Act, which hasn’t been updated in more than two decades, to remain applicable to today’s market reality.

    • Changes in the market over the past 20 years include the creation of the carrier alliances, contraction of the number of carriers in the market, changes to chassis management and more.

    Used With Permission From PPB

Specialty Advertising Association of California (SAAC) 
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