Brown & Bigelow Acquires CPI Promotions As Counselor first reported this week, Top 40 distributor Brown & Bigelow (asi/148500) has acquired Milwaukee-based Caliendo Promotions & Incentives. Read Article
Financial terms of the deal, which was made public yesterday, were not disclosed. Moving forward, CPI will retain its name and formally be called CPI Promotions, a division of Brown & Bigelow.
“CPI brings a roster of Fortune 500 clients,” said William D. Smith, Jr., president of Brown & Bigelow. “We are very excited to have an organization with the creativity and reputation of CPI Promotions join the Brown & Bigelow family.”
Per the terms of the deal, Cary Caliendo will maintain his position as president of CPI Promotions. Founded in 2002, CPI has focused on acquiring large national accounts and has served clients like MillerCoors, Kohler and Dish Network.
“I started CPI with the goal of being the most unique hybrid company in the industry,” said Caliendo. “Our unique services and creativity allowed us to land some of the top premier branded companies in the world. When the opportunity arose to partner with a powerhouse like B&B, the first thing I thought was how great this partnership would be for our clients. The blend of professionals and fun personalities at Brown & Bigelow is a perfect fit.”
Ranked by Counselor as the 27th largest distributor in the industry, Brown & Bigelow reported 2012 North American ad specialty sales of $60.8 million, a year-over-year rise of 0.5%.
Zappos CEO Delivers Inspiring PPAI Expo Keynote
Las Vegas-based Zappos mainly sells shoes. But Tony Hsieh, the company’s founder and CEO, believes Zappos is the furthest thing from a shoe seller. Read Article
“We’re a service company that happens to sell shoes,” Hsieh said shortly after striding onto the stage yesterday as the keynote speaker at the 2014 PPAI Expo. “We decided that we wanted our brand to not be about shoes, but about delivering the very best customer experience. That’s our brand and I'm pretty confident we can sell any item with that as our foundation.”
Hsieh, wearing jeans and an untucked flannel button-down, delivered a soft-spoken yet powerful speech to his riveted audience. Touching on how to build a hyper-motivated and productive workforce, as well as how to service customers in a memorable way, Hsieh said he believes companies can only be successful today if they have an untraditional approach. “Companies need a vision that has a higher purpose than just revenues and profit,” said Hsieh, who built Zappos into a $3 billion business and is the author of Delivering Happiness. “You should work every day to chase your company’s vision, not the money. Money can’t be the primary motivator.”
To Hsieh, the most successful companies are the ones that have a clear corporate culture and are dedicated toward always feeding that culture. “Our number one priority in our business is culture,” he said. “If we get that right, everything else will work out. Your culture is your brand, whether you like it or not. You have to be willing to hire and fire based on corporate culture and whether people fit into that – not whether they’re simply good at what they do. Sometimes, that’s not enough. Everything in your business –everything – should align to those stated values.”
Hsieh spoke on the first day that the exhibit floor was open at the PPAI Expo, which continues through Friday. Follow Counselor Editor Andy Cohen on Twitter at @asi_andycohen for updates and product highlights from the PPAI Expo.
Counselor Commentary: Invest In Your Surroundings
Thinking about investing for growth this year? Forget expanding your staff or sinking a fortune into a new customer relationship management system. Read Article
Instead, consider upgrading the office surroundings. That’s right, it’s time to snazz up the office. Install a state-of-the-art kitchen complete with Keurigs for your staff members, or put together truly collaborative conference spaces with comfortable seating and creative surroundings. Frivolous, you say? Why waste the money, you say? Don’t be so quick to judge.
Some of the fastest-growing companies in the industry have office spaces that would rival Google’s, and employees say an engaging office environment is one of the keys to employee productivity. Indeed, many of the companies on this year’s Counselor Best Places to Work list have office spaces that are more like swanky Madison Avenue ad agencies than typical ad specialty companies. Take Proforma Albrecht & Co. (asi/116308) in Ohio, number two on this year’s list, where co-founder Suzette Albrecht has made it her personal mission to create a workspace, complete with colorful barstools and ergonomic seating, that makes employees comfortable.
“I’m really picky about how this place looks,” she said. “I want people to feel comfortable here.” The company also regularly invests in the latest gadgets for new employees, and surprises them by installing them in their workspaces overnight. These enhancements aren’t just “nice to have,” Albrecht says, they motivate employees to work harder. “I hear people talk about motivating employees by giving them free products they’ve gotten from suppliers, and I’m amazed by that,” she says. “That’s not motivating. For me, motivation is creating a real nice workspace for people.”
Another side effect of a well-designed workplace: an increase in creative collaboration. So says Phil Reilly, president of CMD (asi/170680) in Portland, a full-service marketing agency that also made Counselor’s Best Places list this year. The 150-employee firm has 11 different conference rooms (all named after board games like Clue and Pictionary), and staffers work in sleek, open-air spaces to foster collaboration. “It’s a true team atmosphere,” contends Reilly, whose company took in $50 million last year.
There’s no denying it – aesthetics matter, and can be a key productivity-driver. So take a walk around the office, and look – really look – at employees’ surroundings. Are people comfortable? Does the design, and furnishings, foster collaboration? Does the décor send the right message to employees and clients? If not, perhaps it’s time for an office makeover.
The Joe Show: Growth Potential
In this episode of The Joe Show, Managing Editor Joe Haley shows off several new items that’ll help grow your sales opportunities in 2014. Read Article
Looking for a great travel industry item? How about a product perfect for senior centers? Need an idea for a fun self-promo campaign?
Click here to watch this new-products episode of The Joe Show.
NFIB: Small Business Optimism Improving
Increased capital spending and greater job creation in December raised business owner sentiment, according to the latest NFIB Small Business Optimism Index. The National Federation of Independent Business’ new reading of 93.9 indicates a slight growth in optimism from November to December, while demonstrating back-to-back monthly gains in small-business confidence.
“The surge in spending, especially on equipment and fixtures and furniture, is certainly welcome and is hopefully not just an end-of-year event for tax or other purposes,” the NFIB wrote in its report. “This level of spending is more typical of a growing economy.”
Data shows the manufacturing, construction and professional services sectors are making promising improvements, though consumer spending on services has dipped. Overall, for 2014, small-business owners are feeling more positive when it comes to sales expectations as 88% predict higher sales, which is an increase of five points over November data. The reading was at its highest level since early 2012. Adding to the good news, business owners hired more staffers in December than they had predicted in the NFIB’s November survey. Small businesses grew by an average of 0.24 workers in December – the highest reading since February of 2006.
The optimism crosses over into the promotional products industry, according to Matthew Watkins. The CEO of LogoSurfing Promotional Products (asi/246818) added three new outside sales reps in 2013. “We feel that they are now fully trained and expect a significant increase from our outside sales team as well as our continued growth with online sales,” he said. Watkins is targeting the medical industry, as well as corporate accounts. He feels that corporate accounts will prove to be the best return in 2014.
Kirby Hasseman, owner of Hasseman Marketing & Communications (asi/221824), is very optimistic for 2014. “We have shown consistent growth over the past three years and are projecting to match or increase on that trend,” he said. “Our largest growth markets have been manufacturing, education, finance and retail. Those are the vertical markets we plan to continue in.”
Holiday Retail Sales Up 3.8%
U.S. retail sales increased by 3.8% this holiday season, a top research group said this week, an improved but still unremarkable performance that could hurt revenue forecasts for top retailers. The National Retail Federation announced that retailers took in $601.8 billion during the holidays, falling just shy of the organization’s forecast of 3.9% for the season. The total is an increase over last year’s 3.5% growth for holiday sales.
A number of reasons were cited for the so-so results. The holiday shopping season for 2013 was six days shorter than the year before, compressing shopping time and moving retailers to offer earlier Black Friday sales. Heavy discounting among retailers also cut into profits. Data firm ShopperTrak showed in-store traffic fell sharply by 14.6% this season. A recent pessimistic note from Morgan Stanley analysts said that the 2013 holiday period is “turning out worse than any since 2008,” adding a slowdown in the first half of the holiday season “proved too deep to recover from.”
Several top retailers have issued negative forecasts that have hurt stock prices and driven away investors. Teen-oriented stores fared the worst, with disappointing reports from American Eagle, Zumiez, Buckle and others. Key retailer, Target, suffered through a weak December after news broke that customer credit cards were possibly compromised by hackers. American Apparel (asi/35297), which sells in both retail and wholesale channels, reported sales in stores open at least one year slipped 6% in December year-over-year.
The retail market accounts for more than 4% of promotional product spending, according to Counselor State of the Industry research.
Counselor Q&A: Launching A Mobile App
In Counselor’s latest Q&A profile, Motivators’ (asi/277780) eCommerce Manager Bill O’Shea explains how the New York-based company developed and launched its own mobile app. Motivators introduced its app in April 2010 and the company saw benefits almost immediately. For example, by October of that year, the distributor’s Web traffic had increased by 87%. “Because we’re an online business, it’s important to stay at the forefront of technology,” said O’Shea. “Creating a mobile app helped us to do so.”
Of course, launching an app took planning and a willingness to adapt. It took Motivators six months to research, design and test its app before its release. A few more months passed before Motivators offered an update to the app – a major upgrade that allows people to buy promotional products right from their mobile devices.
What can you learn from Motivators’ experience? Should your firm consider launching its own app? Read this January Counselor Q&A to find out. Click here to see the profile.
Counselor Honors Distributor Choice Award Winners
At a ceremony during ASI Orlando, Counselor unveiled this year’s Distributor Choice Award winners – the industry’s top suppliers in 60 product categories. Seattle-based iClick (asi/62124) won the top award as 2014 Counselor Supplier of the Year, leading a group of 42 total companies that were honored. This year’s awards also included two new categories – children’s apparel, won by alphabroder (asi/34063) and party products, won by WOWLine (asi/98360).
Click here to see the entire group of award winners, as voted on by distributors.
ASI Radio: Trade Show Tips
On this week’s Tuesday Morning Program, the hosts gave callers advice on how to successfully work a trade show. How can you navigate a show floor to reach the most suppliers? How can you shoot creative product videos, in a matter of seconds, to draw more interest from prospects? What can you plan for in advance to make the most of your trade show time?
Click here to listen to the complete call-in segment. If you missed any part of the radio show, a recording is now available at www.asicentral.com/radio. And, remember to join us on Tuesday, January 21, for our next broadcast. Log on at 10:30 a.m. ET to listen to the show and hear your voice on the air.
Nominate Now For Counselor’s Hot List
Are you doing something unique, hip, fun or trendy in the industry right now? Do you know somebody who is?
Counselor is looking for nominations of people for its annual Hot List. We’re on the lookout for anyone in the industry who is taking an interesting approach to business, shaking up the status quo or simply networking like a maniac at all hours of the night. We’re in search of those people who are making the industry a unique marketplace that’s fun and energetic.
Send an e-mail by Friday, January 31, to Karen Akers at firstname.lastname@example.org explaining why your nominee should be recognized on Counselor’s Hot List. And, please make sure to include a picture of the person you’re nominating. Thanks!
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ASI’S HOSTED BUYER EVENT
Are you interested in participating in fASIlitate, ASI's hosted buyer event? If so, let us know by filling out this form. fASIlitate offers million-dollar sales producers the unique opportunity to spend private time with the industry’s most sought-after suppliers. During pre-set private meetings, you’ll be able to discuss sales initiatives and projects with the vendors you are most interested in working with. Participating distributors receive luxurious accommodations and travel at no cost.
Four fASIlitate events are planned for 2014:
March 24-25 • Hyatt Regency Long Beach • Long Beach, CA (prior to ASI Long Beach)
April 1-2 • New York Marriott Marquis • New York, NY (prior to ASI New York)
May 4-7 • Lago Mar Resort and Club • Ft. Lauderdale, FL
September 16-19 • Arizona Biltmore Hotel • Phoenix, AZ (after the ASI Power Summit)
Click here if you are interested in attending. Or, contact Rafael Dosman at 800-546-3300, ext. 3564 with any questions. Visit www.fasilitate.com for more information.