Fields Manufacturing Buys Better Life Line As first reported in a Breaking News Alert, St. Cloud, MN-based Fields Manufacturing (asi/54100) has acquired the assets of supplier firm Better Life Line (asi/40390). Read Article
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Better Life Line, headquartered in Hartford, specializes in servicing the health, wellness, safety and financial markets with information guides, charts and coloring books. That product range will help Fields provide more complementary solutions to distributor customers and attract new business – key reasons why the supplier firm made the acquisition.
"We really liked that they have an excellent reputation in the industry," said Matt Bertram, president of Fields. "They're a nice fit for who we are and our overall product line."
As part of the deal, Fields has moved Better Life Line's operations to St. Cloud. Nonetheless, Fields and Better Life Line will continue to have their own catalogs and customer support. The move will see Joe Nguyen, Better Life Line's CEO, join Fields as its senior vice president of marketing and product development. Meanwhile, Better Life Line's inside sales leader Dave Ten Eyck will become northeast regional manager. "Both organizations are having a good year," said Bertram, in an interview with Counselor. "We're really excited about this acquisition."
For Fields, this deal is the company's second acquisition within the last couple of years. It previously purchased Target Line (asi/90640) in September of 2011.
Supreme Court Declines To Hear Internet Tax Case In a decision that could end tax-free online shopping, the U.S. Supreme Court has chosen not to take up a long-running dispute between states and Web retailers, like Amazon. Read Article
At issue is whether states can force Internet retailers – including firms that sell promotional products – to tax customers in places where they don't have a physical presence. The decision leaves intact a New York appeals court ruling that allows the Empire state to compel the online taxation.
"Today's Supreme Court decision validates New York's efforts to treat both online and brick-and-mortar retailers equally and fairly," said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Besides New York, a dozen states with similar laws are immediately affected by the High Court decision. They are: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont. Laws in Illinois and Colorado are currently being argued in court. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, states lost about $23 billion last year because they could not collect sales taxes from most online sales.
To date, Congress has largely avoided the Internet tax debate. Earlier this year, the Senate did pass the Marketplace Fairness Act – federal legislation in line with New York's law – but the U.S. House is not close to taking any action on the measure. The Marketplace Fairness Act would apply to retailers with at least $1 million in annual sales.
The Internet tax question was last argued before the Supreme Court 20 years ago, when justices ruled in 1992 that North Dakota could not collect sales taxes from a mail-order business with no physical presence there. That precedent has allowed Web retailers to only collect taxes in certain states.
In the New York case, both Amazon and Overstock.com argued against the tax collection. As is customary, the Supreme Court gave no reasoning as to why it declined to hear an appeal.
Coloring Book Solutions Announces Acquisition
Looking to broaden its offerings, Ohio-based Coloring Book Solutions (asi/45815) has purchased the assets of Coloring Book Advantages (asi/45789). Read Article
Financial terms of the deal, which was completed on November 8 and announced this week, were not released.
"We really feel we can take their assets and fold them into our template, which has been successful," said Don Myers, CEO of Coloring Book Solutions. "They have a lot of newly-created and fresh artwork, and a beautiful product line."
Per the deal, Coloring Book Solutions has acquired all of Coloring Book Advantages' inventory, artwork and customer account information. "We had first approached them a couple of years ago, but they didn't want to do a deal," Myers said. "The timing was good now and we started talking again over the last several months. They had struggled a bit and they were unfamiliar with our industry, but they really invested in their product line."
According to Myers, Coloring Book Solutions has increased its sales by 10% each of the last two years. "We think this acquisition will add 20% topline to our business in 2014," he said. "In year two following the deal, we're looking at 30% and by year three 40% growth." Hoping to capitalize further on its position, Coloring Book Solutions also has plans to introduce 100 new items next year. "This will be a significant launch for us," Myers said.
The Joe Show: Let It Snow In this episode of The Joe Show, Managing Editor Joe Haley showcases several new products that could help you win over clients and prospects. Read Article
Looking for a great incentive gift? Need an idea to pitch to companies in the travel industry? Want a festive item that makes a colorful desktop piece?
Click here to watch another new episode of The Joe Show.
Counselor Commentary: Ready For A Hiring Surge?
Hey, good news: All that cash that was burning holes in the proverbial pockets of American companies is getting kicked back into the economy these days. While many corporations went through much of 2012 and 2013 with record levels of cash on their books, spending is beginning to be noticed again.
Manufacturing activity in November was the highest it has been all year. Further, a new survey from The Business Roundtable shows that 40% of CEOs say they plan to increase their company's capital spending in the next six months. And, in one of the most positive signs for the U.S. economy, payroll processor ADP said this week that private companies added 215,000 jobs in November, which is the strongest month of job growth this year.
Job growth and economic expansion is real right now, and it leads to both an opportunity, as well as a warning, for industry companies. First the opportunity: Now is a good time to hire additional staff – salespeople, customer service reps, factory workers – so that your company can increase capacity and capitalize on the expanding economy. If you're simply moving along with a status quo employee base, then you're certainly missing out on business from companies in your area that are increasing their marketing spend right now. The time is ripe to add new people to your staff. Take some of that cash off the sidelines like many companies are doing, and add new people – not only will it ensure that you'll be able to take advantage of new business opportunities, but it will also add some new life to your organization.
Now, for the warning: With the job market becoming more plentiful, employees are certain to stray. Are you doing enough to ensure that they're content working at your company? Find out. Ask them what the company is doing right, what could be better, and how you can ensure that they want to stay. Now is the time to nail down their loyalty – before it's too late, because the burgeoning job market became too tempting.
Economy Check: Manufacturing Index Hits Two-Year High
U.S. manufacturing in November increased at its fastest pace in two and a half years, the latest demonstration of strength from the sector, according to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM). An index from ISM measured at 57.3, a jump from 56.4 in October and the highest reading since April of 2011. New orders and production both increased last month, and employment recorded its highest rise in 19 months. In total, 15 of 18 manufacturing industries showed measurable improvement.
Manufacturing has improved globally in recent months, but not at the same rate of improvement as in the U.S., data shows. "Things seem to be looking up everywhere," said Bradley Holcomb, chairman of the ISM factory survey. "We're clearly in a leadership position with high numbers and strong export activity."
While ISM's manufacturing numbers were strong, the service sector did not demonstrate the same type of improvement in November, instead growing at its slowest pace since June. The index fell to 53.9 last month, down from 55.4 in October. It was just in August when the service-sector index had reached an eight-year high. The slowed growth was linked to more cautious spending by consumers and a decline in hiring from businesses.
Still, the overall outlook for the service sector is strong, according to economists. “The November decline is a bit disappointing, but the survey is still consistent with decent GDP and jobs growth in the fourth quarter,” Paul Dales, an economist at Capital Economics, said in an interview with the Associated Press. According to an ISM report, nearly 86% of job gains in the past three months have been in the service sector.
Counselor Unveils Best Places To Work
At the inaugural Counselor Best Places to Work Conference, held recently in Santa Barbara, CA, Counselor magazine announced its 2013 ranking of the best workplaces in the industry. With a list of 85 distributors and suppliers, the Counselor Best Places to Work this year is headed up by supplier firm Crystal Impressions by Seaena (asi/47782). "It's truly a great honor to be number-one on the list," said Allison Robbins, one of the company's owners, upon finding out about the ranking. "We're a fun company that we all love spending time at."
Rounding out the top five on the 2013 Best Places to Work list are: Proforma Albrecht & Co. (asi/116308), Beehive Specialty (asi/135780), Royal Crest Promotions (asi/83740), and Clean Fun Promotional Marketing (asi/162979). Click here to view the complete ranking of the 2013 Counselor Best Places to Work list.
Counselor Market Watch: Retail
Distributors know getting promotional incentives inside stores – whether through contest giveaways, mid-aisle kickstands, gift-with-purchase tie-ins or premiums handed out with product demos – can be a challenge. And, let's be honest, if you have no experience working with retail groups, the chances of landing an in-store promotional gig with Target or Wal-Mart are probably slim to none. So what can you do? Where should you look to gain orders from retailers?
Click here to read Counselor's Market Watch feature for December, which provides tips on tapping into retail sector opportunities.
ASI Radio: Superb Holiday Gift-Giving
On this week's Tuesday Morning Show, the hosts gave listeners advice on how to provide clients and staff with the most creative gifts this holiday season. What kinds of combination gifts are trendy? What things do you have to consider before you send food gifts? What items are on the wish lists of Millennials?
Click here to listen to the complete call-in segment. If you missed the show, a recording is now available at www.asicentral.com/radio. And, don't forget to join us on Tuesday, December 10, for our next broadcast. 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.
Vote In The Wearables Apparel Design Awards
Each year, Wearables names the best apparel and accessories in the industry – and we can't do it without your help. Your votes will determine the winners of our annual Wearables Apparel Design Awards. Choose the products you think are the best, considering design appeal, wearability and overall look.
Click here to vote. Voting will take place throughout December. And be sure to check out the February issue of Wearables to find out the winners.
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TOMORROW IS THE DEADLINE FOR FREE ADMISSION
Tomorrow, Friday, December 6 is the deadline to register for FREE for ASI Orlando, Sunday, January 5, through Tuesday, January 7, in the North Hall of the Orange County Convention Center. Don't delay. ASI distributor and decorator members can benefit from all this and more at NO COST…
A Keynote by Barbara Corcoran and Kevin O'Leary on how to become a business tycoon (co-sponsored by Barton Nelson, asi/38670; BIC Graphic USA, asi/40480, Hanes/Champion, asi/59528 and Showdown Displays, asi/87188)
Register today for ASI Orlando, the ad specialty industry's FIRST SHOW OF THE YEAR, at www.asishow.com. ASI distributor and decorator members can attend for FREE, take advantage of special ASI Showtravel discounts and qualify for a FREE hotel room on the evening of January 6.