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Vol 1114, April 22, 2014
NEWS STORIES
Ennis Reports 1.7% Increase In Sales
Counselor Top 40 supplier Ennis, Inc. (asi/52493) has announced its sales for its fiscal year ended February 28, 2014, rose 1.7% to $542.4 million.
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Print revenues increased to $339.9 million, a year-over-year improvement of 1.6%, while apparel sales were up $3.7 million, or 1.9%, reaching $202.5 million. Consolidated margin jumped to 26.5%, with apparel margin rising to 21.1%, compared to 13.2% a year earlier, due to lower input costs and increased production levels, the company said. Net earnings decreased to $13.2 million, or 2.4% of net sales, for the fiscal year.

“While the market continues to be challenging, we remain optimistic about the upcoming fiscal year on many fronts,” said Keith Walters, CEO of Ennis.

Ennis also reported quarterly results this week, which were much stronger in its print segment. Q4 print sales increased 12.7% on a comparable basis, but apparel revenues fell 3.6% to $42.3 million. “While we continue to make cost-side improvements, the apparel market continues to be extremely challenging, both from a volume and pricing perspective,” Walters said. “Apparel volumes, during the quarter, continued to be softer than expected, especially on the East coast and in the Midwest. We attribute this weakness to the extreme weather conditions experienced across the country this winter.”

With recent acquisitions, including its 2013 deal with Folder Express, likely to bolster Ennis’ print sales going forward, Walters is cautious, but hopeful, about his company’s apparel revenues in 2014 as well. "Our apparel manufacturing facility continues to show improvement and we expect it to increase the contribution to our operating results as production levels continue to increase,” he said. “While the apparel market continues to be challenging, it has recently shown signs of improving, so while there are still many unknowns about the upcoming year, we continue to be optimistic and will remain opportunistic.”

Counselor ranks Ennis as the fifth largest supplier in the industry, after the Texas-based company reported 2012 North American ad specialty sales of $235.3 million.


Bangladesh Factory Owner To Face Murder Charges
Police in Bangladesh plan to press murder charges against Sohel Rana – the owner of a nine-story factory that collapsed last April, killing more than 1,100 garment industry workers in what was the worst industrial disaster in the nation’s history.
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If convicted, Rana could be sentenced to death. The head of the Rana Plaza complex outside the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, Rana is one of approximately 40 people who will be charged in connection with the catastrophic building collapse, according to police. Others expected to face prosecution include five bosses and Rana’s father, who co-owned the complex.

While Rana is jailed, most of the accused are out on bail. One of the bosses – a Spanish citizen named David Mayor – was out of the country when the collapse occurred and has not returned to Bangladesh to avoid arrest. Rana was arrested while trying to flee Bangladesh and already faces charges related to building code violations and constructing the complex without government approval.

Investigators expect to formally file murder charges next month – more than a year after the April 24, 2013, collapse killed at least 1,135 people. “Our investigation is almost over. We wanted to wrap up our work before the first anniversary of the tragedy, but even writing up the case notes has proved to be a huge task,” Investigator Habibur Rahman told Agence France Presse.

On the day the building crumbled, thousands of laborers – among the worst paid industrial workers in the world – were forced by factory bosses to enter the complex and start their jobs despite the fact that cracks were apparent in the building, survivors have said.


Leading Economic Indicators Rise
An index of key data released by The Conference Board shows the U.S. economy expanded in March, following more tepid gains at the start of 2014.
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Leading indicators increased 0.8% last month – the best gain since November. In January and February, indicators were up 0.2% and 0.5%, respectively.

“After a winter pause, the leading indicators are gaining momentum and economic growth is gaining traction,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, an economist at The Conference Board. “While the improvements were broad-based, labor market indicators and the interest rate spread largely drove the March increase, offsetting the negative contribution from building permits. And, for the first time in many months, the consumer outlook is much less negative.”

There are 10 components to The Conference Board’s leading indicators index, including manufacturers' new orders, average weekly initial claims for unemployment insurance, building permits, and selected stock prices. This most recent data bodes well for “accelerated growth” at least through the second quarter, the research firm said.

Separately, the latest quarterly survey by the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) shows about 80% of economists anticipate real GDP growth to be above 2% in 2014. Approximately 72% of those surveyed are predicting growth to be between 2% and 3%. No NABE survey respondents expect the economy to contract this year. Forecasters also believe the U.S. unemployment rate will decrease to between 5% and 6% over the next three years, with wage growth staying modest, rising less than 3%, during the same time span.


The Joe Show: Get Tech
In this episode of The Joe Show, Managing Editor Joe Haley shows off five new tech-related products great for business travelers and salespeople.
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Looking for a fresh take on a stylus pen? How about a practical tablet case? Want a Bluetooth speaker all music lovers will appreciate?

Click here to watch another new episode of The Joe Show.

Want more videos? Subscribe now to our YouTube videos.

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Counselor How-To: Getting Out Of Debt
If your firm is in debt – for whatever reason – industry consultant Rosalie Marcus believes you should face the problem immediately and aggressively. “A lot of times, we get in the habit of just doing things a certain way – but maybe that way isn’t profitable for us,” says Marcus, the founder of Promobizcoach.com.

Making a specific game plan is a good first step in getting out of the red, experts say. Part of that strategy, though, may mean stepping back in order to move forward. “Being able to look at the way you did business in 2013 – what worked, what your most profitable clients and categories were, and what you made the highest profit margin with – all those things can help you make a huge difference and get out of the debt trend,” Marcus says.

For detailed ways that can help get your firm back into the black, click here to read this month’s management section in Counselor.

PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT
Proforma
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Advertisement: American Apparel

New ESP WebsiteS Suppliers
ASI Store
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Advertisement: Adventures in Advertising

Companies Offer Promotional Freebies For Earth Day
Major brands, including Starbucks, Disney and Wegmans, are using Earth Day to promote logoed eco-friendly items, like reusable drinkware and totes. Here’s a list, with media links, of some notable company promotions and giveaways in honor of Mother Earth.

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Advertisement: Hit Promotional Products

Vote Now For The Industry's Best-Designed Products
The results are in: Counselor magazine has selected the finalists for its 2014 Product Design Awards. Here’s where you come in. Please click here to vote for the products that YOU think are the best designed, considering both aesthetic appeal and functionality. You can select up to three products in each of the 14 featured categories. It only takes a few minutes, and your input is very important to us.

The winners will appear online (www.CounselorMag.com) and in the August issue of Counselor. Thanks very much for your help. Click here now to vote. The ballot will be open through Friday, April 25.

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Q&A: How To Earn Program Business
What distributor can’t use a consistent source of revenue? That’s what makes going after program business such an attractive approach to selling in today’s market. “Program business is very steady,” says Jordy Gamson, co-owner of The Icebox (asi/229395). “We actually refer to these accounts as Steady Eddies in our internal meetings since they’re more predictable revenue streams.”

Gamson and his business partner, Scott Alterman, provide several different types of programs to clients, ranging from ongoing safety and loyalty incentives to awards and uniforms. “We started reaching out to customers we knew who would be good prospects,” Gamson says, “and eventually we started winning business.”

Click here to read this month’s Counselor Q&A and get more program business tips.

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ASI Radio: The Search For Great Clients
On this week’s Tuesday Morning Show, the hosts gave callers advice on how to find and win top-notch, profitable customers. Plus, the hosts revealed their Favorite Things, discussed what highly-confident people never do, and listed several ways to improve company culture.

If you missed the show, a recording is now available at www.asicentral.com/radio. And, don’t forget to join the next broadcast – Tuesday, April 29. Log on at 10:30 a.m. ET to listen to the show – and call in at (215) 953-4979 to hear your voice on the air. 

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Last Call: 2014 Best Places To Work Nominations
For the seventh year in a row, Counselor is setting out to identify the industry companies that employees simply love to work for. These are the distributors and suppliers that have a loyal work force and that provide a work environment which employees want to go to every morning.

Counselor will be unveiling its annual Best Places To Work list later this year at the second annual Best Places to Work Conference in July – it will undoubtedly include an elite list of industry companies. Do you want your company to be considered? Getting involved is easy – and it’s completely free to participate. The only necessary qualification is that a company has at least 10 employees.

To nominate your company, or any others in the market that you think deserve to be recognized, simply click here. Also, there’s no risk to participating. Only the honorees – those companies with the best scores from the survey – will be published in Counselor.

So, don’t delay. Click here to register your company to be considered for one of the most exclusive lists in the ad specialty market: Counselor’s Best Places To Work.

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Will You Be The Next Wearables Top Decorator?
Wearables magazine is bringing back its popular Top Decorator competition for 2014. Sponsored by Hanes Branded Printwear (asi/59528), this competition will test the technical and creative skills of screen printers with a series of challenges throughout the year. What do you need to know?

Each month will be its own standalone challenge. If you don’t participate one month, you are free to enter in the following month’s challenge.

Anyone can enter. The competition is open to anybody with access to screen-printing equipment.

There will be prizes. Each month’s winner will receive a prize courtesy of Hanes.

This is a competition. A combination of judges’ marks and a popular vote by Wearables readers will help determine the winner of each challenge.

The first challenge will involve printing on polyester tees for a hypothetical charity walk. If you are interested in participating, contact Wearables Editor C.J. Mittica at cmittica@asicentral.com. Participants who sign up will receive further instructions and supplied artwork as well as T-shirts to print on, courtesy of Hanes Branded Printwear. The deadline for your printed submissions to arrive is Friday, May 16.

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In The News
Premier Promotional Group announced that distributor firm The Sunshine Group (asi/339525) has joined the organization as a new member.

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People On The Move
Pentel of America – Imprint Division (asi/77240) announced that Karin Otterstrom and Mark Heidmann of Southeast/KO Marketing will now represent the company in the Southeast region. Their territory will consist of AL, GA, MS, FL, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV, and Puerto Rico.

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PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT
Product Spotlight: Proforma

Introducing a new and better way to get your business going and growing.

Proforma's revolutionary Results First program will get you the results you want before making any financial commitments to join Proforma.

Only Proforma has the resources to offer a program like Results First. Only Proforma has $4 million per year in sales and marketing support, $430 million in purchasing power and a 150 person support team to truly deliver the results you want.

Click here to learn how Proforma's Results First program can grow your business—even before you join.

Proforma (asi/300094)

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ASI NEWS
MSNBC Showcases Industry
“Your Business” program visits ASI’s NYC show and features several exhibitors on program devoted to entrepreneurs.
Find out more
.
ASI® Named Top Workplace
Employees vote ASI a great place to work for 5th year in a row, and company also named “Best Employer for New Graduates.”
Find out more.
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THE ASI SHOW

IS FASILITATE FOR YOU?
Do you know about fASIlitate, ASI’s invitation-only, hosted buyer event exclusively for million-dollar sales producers? fASIlitate is a chance for the most successful distributors to meet with the most sought-after suppliers in an intimate environment to foster fruitful relationships and discuss business goals.

Upcoming fASIlitate events are taking place May 4-7 at the Lago Mar Resort and Club in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and September 16-19 at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, AZ.

  • Build personal, profitable relationships with 30+ highly-desirable ASI 5 Star suppliers
  • Discuss your sales initiatives and client needs during private, pre-scheduled 20-minute meetings
  • Spend time with suppliers representing a wide variety of promotional products
  • Connect with other prominent ad specialty professionals during networking and group meals
  • Enjoy first-class accommodations and service in a luxurious environment

“fASIlitate is absolutely fabulous. It’s a great use of time. I’m sitting down with vendors one-on-one and it’s a very rewarding experience. I would definitely recommend it.”
~ Tonia Allen Gould, TagSource, asi/341358

If you’re interested in attending fASIlitate, please click here. Or, call Rafael Dosman at (215) 953-3564. Invited distributor participants attend at no charge and receive travel, hotel accommodations and meals at no cost. For more information, please visit www.fASIlitate.com.

Follow The ASI Show on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook today!

NEWS QUICK LINKS
Counselor How-To: Getting Out Of Debt | Companies Offer Promotional Freebies For Earth Day | Vote Now For The Industry's Best-Designed Products | Q&A: How To Earn Program Business | ASI Radio: The Search For Great Clients | Last Call: 2014 Best Places To Work Nominations | Will You Be The Next Wearables Top Decorator? | In The News | People On The Move
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