SOI 2018: Stories of the Year in the Promo Industry

These were the promo industry’s 17 biggest headlines and happenings of 2017.

State of the Industry 2018 Index Page


1. Gildan Buys American Apparel
In early 2017, Canada-based Gildan (asi/56842) won a bankruptcy auction and acquired American Apparel after raising its bid to $88 million. The deal helped make Gildan a Top 40 supplier for the first time last year.

2. Hagan Returns to Sweda
After 18 months away, Jim Hagan was again named president and CEO of Top 40 supplier Sweda (asi/90305). Hagan took over for KB Marshall.


3. Roy Exits A Brand Company
Top 40 distributor A Brand Company announced that executive chairman Marc Roy was moving on to pursue other interests. By October, Roy had a new industry job as a VP at BDA (asi/137616).

Roy Exits A Brand Company


4. YETI Alleges Suppliers Violated Intellectual Property Rights
YETI notified ASI, Sage and DistributorCentral by letter about its complaints that promo companies were knocking off its drinkware and wrongfully marketing its designs. YETI asked that the alleged infringing products be removed from search databases.

YETI Alleges Suppliers Violated Intellectual Property Rights

5. ePromos Buys Motivators
Top 40 distributor ePromos (asi/188515) acquired certain assets of Motivators, including and its customer base, strengthening its online presence.

6. BIC Graphic Sold to PE Firm
H.I.G. Capital bought BIC Graphic (asi/40480), breaking the supplier off from its France-based parent company BIC Group.


7. Hurricanes Disrupt Industry Firms
Harvey, Irma and Maria devastated regions from the Caribbean to the Texas coast, displacing promo companies and leaving economic chaos in their wake.

Hurricanes Disrupt Industry Firms

8. Walmart Enters Promo Market
The world’s largest retailer launched Walmart Promo Shop, a website that sells promo items. The site is backed by distributor Harland Clarke (asi/219943).

Walmart Enters Promo Market

9. Promo Firm Guilty of Price Fixing
Zaappaaz Inc., which operates as both a supplier and distributor under names including WB Promotions Inc. (asi/98409/353290), along with its president Azim Makanojiya, pleaded guilty to conspiring to fix prices for customized promo products sold online.


10. Wildfires Take Toll on CA Companies
A series of devastating wildfires, first in October and later in December, spread throughout California, forcing temporary closures and rattling promo businesses.

11. BDA Acquires UK Sports Agency
Top 40 firm BDA continued its overseas expansion by buying Sports Merchandise Global. The deal gave BDA potential business opportunities with teams in the Premier League and La Liga.

12. S’well Sues ETS Express
Drinkware maker S’well accused ETS (asi/51197) of trademark infringement over its stainless-steel water bottle, the popular h2go Force. In 2018, a jury ruled in favor of ETS, quashing S’well’s claims.


13. NC Chocolate Manufacturing Acquires Lanco
The parent company of supplier Chocolate Inn/Taylor & Grant (asi/44900) bought Lanco, a Top 40 company that was on the verge of closing. As a result, Chocolate Inn joined the 2018 Top 40.

14. Gilley Replaces Sanderson at Overture Promotions
Heather Sanderson, a member of Counselor’s Power 50, left Overture (asi/288473) and was succeeded by Jo Gilley. Among her previous roles, Gilley was the VP of marketing for Chicago’s WNBA team, the Sky.

15. BAMKO Purchases Tangerine Promotions
Florida-based Superior Uniform Group announced that its division, BAMKO (asi/131431), acquired distributor Tangerine Promotions, lifting BAMKO into this year’s Top 40.


16. alphabroder Acquires Prime Line
Entering the hard goods segment, Philadelphia-based alphabroder (asi/34063) bought Prime in the most significant industry acquisition in several years.

alphabroder Acquires Prime Line

17. Distributor Sales Hit Record
Promo distributors reported total 2017 sales of $23.6 billion, a year-over-year increase of 3.2%, and an all-time high revenue mark.