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Counselor PromoGram
Vol 1142, July 29, 2014
Sanford Parent to Acquire Bottle Maker
Newell Rubbermaid, parent company of Top 40 supplier Sanford Business-To-Business (asi/84833), has agreed to acquire thermal mug and water bottle maker Ignite Holdings LLC from private-equity firm North Castle Partners. The deal, worth $308 million, is expected to be finalized by the end of the third quarter.
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“We are delighted to have found a long term strategic owner for the business who shares our pride in the achievements and strength of the company, but can bring a new level of investment and global perspective,” said Sami El-Saden, CEO of Ignite.

According to a statement announcing the acquisition, Newell Rubbermaid will add Ignite to its Home Solutions unit, where it will join brands like Calphalon, Goody, and Levolor. Newell has pledged to reinvest a portion of Ignite’s profitability to further build the bottle maker’s offerings. The acquisition, Newell officials say, also provides the company key intellectual property information it can use to boost demand for its Rubbermaid bottles.

“Ignite has a great track record of growth, establishing a leading share position in two of the fastest growing consumer durable categories in North America,” said Michael Polk, president and CEO of Newell Rubbermaid. “Their commitment to leverage great design to deliver differentiated products is evident in their results.”

Ignite, which sells its eco-friendly products under the brand names Contigo and Avex, has increased sales by 35% annually over the past four years. The Chicago-based company’s revenues are expected to hit $125 million in 2014, strengthening Newell’s financials. Ignite’s items are manufactured overseas, but are largely sold through retail channels in North America. Three different ad specialty suppliers – ETS Express (asi/51197), (asi/55217) and That’s My Ball (asi/91082) – currently offer Contigo products, according to ASI’s ESP search engine.

Newell’s deal to purchase Ignite is the first major acquisition by the firm since 2008. The Atlanta-based company posted net sales of $5.7 billion in 2013, up 2% from the previous year, while net income jumped 18% to $474.6 million.

Gemaco Acquired by Gaming Partners International
Public company Gaming Partners International Corporation (NASDAQ: GPIC) announced that it has completed its acquisition of substantially all of the assets of GemGroup Inc., the parent company of industry supplier Gemaco (asi/56080).
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The transaction, which was finalized earlier this month, was completed with a combination of cash and bank financing totaling $19.75 million.

"We are pleased to announce the successful completion of our acquisition of GemGroup and its well-known Gemaco-branded gaming products," said Gregory Gronau, GPIC's president and CEO. "In addition to adding their playing card and table layout products to our domestic product portfolio and increasing our U.S. market share for both segments of recurring revenue, this acquisition expands our manufacturing capabilities in North America while adding recurring layout sales and related services to our Asia Pacific offerings. This combination of products, talent, and expertise gives GPIC a greater ability to support our global customers' ongoing table game product needs while expanding our customer support network with Gemaco's experienced staff.”

Gemaco said it expects that its promotional products operations and staff won’t be impacted by this deal, and that the company will continue to produce orders and products from its facility in Blue Springs, MO. GPIC manufactures and supplies table game equipment to licensed casinos worldwide. In addition to its headquarters in Las Vegas, the company has six manufacturing facilities and offices around the globe, including in France, Mexico, and China.

Gemaco, founded in 1965, is a maker of custom playing cards in the ad specialty market.

3M Grows Sales, Profits
Office products company 3M, parent of 3M Promotional Markets (asi/91240), announced that it increased its revenues and profits in its just-completed second quarter of 2014. The company grew its sales by 4.9% in the period to reach $8.13 billion, and exceeded analyst expectations by increasing profits 6% in the second quarter.
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"Organic sales growth was again positive across all businesses and geographic regions which helped drive double-digit growth in earnings per share," said Chairman and CEO Inge Thulin. "Strong productivity fueled increased growth investments, and operating margins increased year-on-year to nearly 23%."

While the company doesn’t specifically break out the financial results of its promotional products unit, it said it increased revenues in all of its divisions. At its industrial unit, which makes auto and aircraft parts, revenue rose 4.9% to $2.8 billion. Sales rose 4.1% to $1.5 billion at 3M’s safety and graphics business, 6.2% to $1.4 billion at its electronics and energy unit, 5.9% to $1.4 billion at its health care business and increased 3.7% to $1.1 billion at its business that makes Scotch tape, Post-its, and other consumer products.

Further, 3M confirmed its full-year projections of total revenue increases for the company rising between 3% and 6%. In the ad specialty market, 3M Promotional Markets ranks as the 13th-largest supplier after Counselor estimated the company’s 2013 North American ad specialty revenue to be $100 million.

The Joe Show: Unique New Products
In this episode of The Joe Show, Managing Editor Joe Haley shows off several items that’ll pique the interest of clients and prospects. Looking for a product that’s perfect for upcoming fraternity promotions? How about a drinkware item targeted to a wide array of demographics? Or, a spirit product sure to inspire any sports crowd?  
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Click here to watch the latest episode of The Joe Show.

Want more videos? Subscribe now to our YouTube videos.


U.S. Services Sector Heats Up
Now may be a good time for distributors to start prospecting with clients in the services industry. A just-released index showed that activity in the U.S. services sector continued at a 4 ½-year high in July. “Service sector companies continue to perform strongly against post-recession trends,” said Chris Williamson, chief economist at financial data firm Markit.

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Compiled by Markit, the Purchasing Managers Index was 61 in July, the same as in June and above forecasts that called for a drop to 59.8. The June tally was the highest since the survey began in October 2009. Anything above 50 indicates the sector is experiencing economic expansion.

Nonetheless, the survey found the pace of hiring by services firms was down in July. The July reading on the employment index was 52.8, a drop off from the prior month’s 56.1, which was the fastest rate recorded. The index’s measure of new business activity in the sector dipped in July too, but that was also after a record June. "While a cyclical upswing appears underway across the service sector, the latest survey provides some indication that a smoother ride is not yet fully entrenched," said Williamson.

Still, the overall strong showing in the services and manufacturing sectors, which Markit also tracks, bodes well for the American economy, Williamson said. Markit's final composite PMI, which takes into account its manufacturing and services indexes, held nearly steady in July (60.9) following a record-setting June (61). “Overall the latest manufacturing and services PMI surveys suggest that the U.S. economy has enjoyed a strong start to the second half of 2014,” said Williamson.

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Counselor Product Close-Up: Safety Items
In the latest episode of the video series Counselor Product Close-Up, the focus turns to safety products. What markets should distributors target for this growing product category? What demographics are best suited for safety-product promotions? 

Click here to watch the video and find out. Featuring advice from Counselor editors Andy Cohen and Dave Vagnoni, plus a product segment with Managing Editor Joe Haley, this edition of Counselor Product Close-Up has ideas to help you pitch and sell more safety products in 2014.

Click here to watch the video report.


Obituary: Karen Renk, IMA
Karen Renk, the former executive director of the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA), passed away on Sunday, July 27, after a nine-month battle with cancer. She was 65.

“We will all miss Karen dearly,” said Louise Anderson, the current president of IMA, in a note to the industry. “Our prayers and heartfelt sorrow are with her entire family, which includes many of you, the IMA members. Many of us had the opportunity and gift to be shaped professionally by Karen in her kind and incredibly patient way. Karen will be kindly remembered as our champion that was always there to help us be as good as we could be, while never letting us fail.”

Renk graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater in 1971 before becoming a teacher in the Wisconsin area. She then began her career in association management, helping to create the Incentive Marketing Association.

Renk is survived by her husband, Thomas, her three children, Courtney (Derek) Brinkman of Rockville, MD, Michael Renk  of Gilbert, AZ, and Katherine Renk of Austin, TX, as well as two grandchildren.

Services will be held on Saturday, August 16 at St. Katharine Drexel Catholic Church in Sugar Grove, IL. For more information, visit       


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Counselor Names Fastest-Growing Companies
While many companies in the ad specialty market have grown their sales over the past few years – including overall distributor growth of 5.3% in 2013 to reach a total of $20.5 billion in industry revenues – some firms have shown exceptional success. Those companies are now honored in Counselor's 2014 Fastest-Growing Companies program.

The top-ranked distributor for this year is Richmond, VA-based firm Brandito (asi/325944), which grew its revenues by 145% over the past two years (sales results between 2011 and 2013). Plus, the company expects further growth of more than 40% this year to reach revenues of more than $2 million. To view the top 10 Fastest-Growing Distributors, click here.

On the supplier side, with a two-year revenue growth rate of nearly 2,000%, the top-ranked company is T-Shirt Tycoon Solutions (asi/87000), which is based in Garland, TX. In fact, sales at T-shirt Tycoon jumped from $220,000 to $2.2 million in a single year and will top $4.6 million this year, according to Mima Cavan, marketing manager for the company.

Click here to view the complete Fastest-Growing Supplier list.


ASI Radio: Successful Self-Promo Campaigns
On today’s edition of the Tuesday Morning Show, the hosts took questions from callers who were looking for advice on ways to make their self-promo campaigns more successful. Plus, we revealed our Favorite Things, shared strategies for becoming a better negotiator, and debated how to increase productivity in the workplace.

If you missed the show, a recording is now available at And, don’t forget to join us for our next broadcast – Tuesday, August 5. Log on at 10:30 a.m. ET to listen to the show – and give us a call at (215) 953-4979 to hear your voice on the air. 


Take Counselor's Second-Quarter Sales Survey Now
In an effort to gauge the performance of promotional products firms in the second quarter of 2014, Counselor is currently polling the market. The Second-Quarter Sales Survey is now live – and we need your input.

Click here to take the brief survey. Responses are completely confidential and will only be used to calculate overall industry numbers. The results of the survey will be published next month in Counselor PromoGram, and survey participants will be entered to win an iPad Mini or $500 gift card.


In The News
ActNow Media Inc. (asi/31015) announced that Mouse Pads and Counter Mats have realized a 31.5% sales increase so far in 2014.

Artistic Toy Manufacturing Inc. (asi/37122) announced that it will host a free and secure electronic Child ID event on Sunday, August 17 in partnership with Christ Centered Life Ministries and Community Partners 4 Kids. Parents and guardians will receive a free, secure digital file with their child’s identification, including fingerprints, photographs, voice print and video, all on an Amber Alert-certified CD.

Chocolate Inn/Taylor & Grant (asi/44900) has achieved Product Safety Aware status in the Promotional Products Association International Product Safety Awareness Program.

Engineered Printing Solutions (asi/16010) now offers the fJETXL Inkjet Printer that allows for full bed printing at 39”x24”, at resolutions of up to 1200dpi in less than 2 minutes. Visit for more information.

ETS Express (asi/51197) has released its second catalog of 2014, which includes new items, sales tool explanations, decoration techniques, insulation options, and four color process details. Click here to download the digital version of the catalog.

Gold Bond Inc. (asi/57653) and World Wide Lines (asi/98290) have announced that, in celebration of Gold Bond’s recent acquisition of World Wide Lines, End Quantity Pricing will be extended to all distributors through December 31, 2014.

InnerWorkings Inc. (asi/168860) has entered into a partnership with global healthcare company Sanofi, under which InnerWorkings will oversee the creation, production, and management of Sanofi’s worldwide promotional efforts.

Plastek Cards (asi/78307) announces that its Fabrek Cards have been recognized by the International Card Manufacturers Association as a finalist in the Best Unique Innovation category of the 2014 Élan Awards. For more information, visit


People On The Move
The ColeMax Group (asi/45704) announced that it hired Jaimie Brogan as executive assistant.


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Out with a Bang
ASI Chicago, the last national trade show of the season, attracts over 4,300 distributors from firms based in 42 states and eight countries.
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The Best of the Best
Counselor® magazine celebrates the most innovative and unique companies in $20.5 billion ad specialty industry and names top 90 companies.
Find out more.



The following are the dates and locations for The ASI Show in 2015:
Orlando, January 4-6, 2015
Dallas, February 3-5, 2015
Long Beach, March 24-26, 2015
New York, May 5-6, 2015
Chicago, July 14-16, 2015

Plus, don’t miss the ASI Advantages Roadshow, the industry’s #1 traveling show. Visit for the complete schedule and go to for information
on all ASI Shows.

U.S. Services Sector Heats Up | Counselor Product Close-Up: Safety Items | Obituary: Karen Renk, IMA | Counselor Names Fastest-Growing Companies | ASI Radio: Successful Self-Promo Campaigns | Take Counselor's Second-Quarter Sales Survey Now | In The News | People On The Move
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