WinCraft Manufactures Super Bowl Fan Gear Minnesota-based supplier WinCraft, Inc. (asi/361600) is producing thousands of promotional products for this year’s Super Bowl – a company tradition for more than three decades. Read Article
"We're licensed and have been for 46 years with the NFL," WinCraft CEO Dick Pope told Counselor, in an interview this week. "We've been doing Super Bowls for the last 35 years."
WinCraft will be producing 40 lines in total, ranging from towels, flags and pennants to decals and clocks, all bearing the logos of the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos – the two teams that will meet in Super Bowl XLVIII on February 2 in New York. WinCraft presold the Super Bowl market, Pope said, and began shipping some products one day after the NFL conference championship games. The items are being manufactured at 10 facilities in Minnesota and Wisconsin. "The items are being sold all over the country, but Denver and Seattle are the two biggest markets," Pope said.
Founded in 1961, WinCraft is the NFL's oldest continuous licensee. The supplier is also a licensed retail and promotional product manufacturer for several other professional sports leagues, including Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, the NHL, and the WNBA. WinCraft has manufactured products for the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup, as well.
CEO Confidence High On Growth Outlook
A new survey released by PricewaterhouseCoopers shows that U.S. CEOs are increasingly confident about corporate growth and a stronger global economy in 2014. Read Article
Among 162 CEO respondents, 89% expect their companies will report improved sales this year and 40% predict international economic gains. Meanwhile, the biggest threat to revenue and economic improvements, according to CEOs surveyed, is domestic fiscal policy.
"Uncertainty is still an overarching theme for all CEOs, with tax and regulatory policies among the top concerns," wrote Bob Moritz, PricewaterhouseCooper's U.S. chairman, in a report. "This uncertainty continues to make it difficult for businesses to manage costs, and thus to invest."
Main concerns include growing debt burdens, overregulation and higher taxes – issues U.S. CEOs worry about more than their colleagues abroad. Among all 1,200 international CEOs interviewed, 44% believe the global economy will strengthen in 2014, an 18% survey rise compared to last year. Just 4% of U.S. CEOs think the global economy will weaken this year, PricewaterhouseCoopers said.
In another key finding, fewer U.S. CEOs think countries like Brazil and China will drive their company's growth in the near term. More U.S. CEOs are instead pinning sales hopes on the recovering economies of European nations – a notion supported by sentiment among business leaders in Western Europe. Data from PricewaterhouseCoopers shows optimism for growth among Western European CEOs jumped to 30% this year, up 22% from 2013.
Counselor Commentary: Beating The Weather Blues
As we faced a foot of snow and temperatures that hovered in the low single digits in the Northeast this morning, it was clear that the major news story of this week – and, seemingly, this whole month – has been the weather. Read Article
Companies across the Midwest, Northeast, and even parts of the South have been hampered so far in 2014 by weather that has been downright cruel. In fact, Goldman Sachs released a report last week that blamed the weather in part for December job numbers that missed expectations. And, major retailers such as Walmart, Target, and Costco have already warned that their first quarter revenue and profit numbers for 2014 could all be negatively impacted by onerous weather in many parts of the country.
Our take: while the weather can definitely set business back, distributors should be able to use the weather as an opportunity to connect with clients. Yes, companies in the ad specialty market need to make contingency plans if orders are being delayed by weather-related shipping issues. And, you certainly need to stay on top of vendors whose business operations may have been impacted by a day or two because of local snow emergencies. We at ASI even lost half a day yesterday when a state of emergency was declared in our local area.
But this is also a good time to reach out to customers and see how they're doing. Not only is it the start of a new year, but some may have also been negatively affected by bad weather. How can you help? How can you be that marketing and business resource you so desperately want to be for customers today? Find out by asking – and, when times are difficult, it could be the best time to ask.
Second, try to capitalize on the weather by suggesting some cold-weather promotions for clients. Ice scrapers, fleece apparel, blankets, portable power chargers, travel and road safety kits – these types of items could all come in handy for consumers that your clients are trying to target. If you suggest promotions that make your customers look good when others are down and out because of the weather, then you'll be the marketing hero not only for your customers but also for their customers. Isn't that the type of resource you want to be?
The Joe Show: New Products, New Possibilities
In this episode of The Joe Show, Managing Editor Joe Haley shows off several new items that can deliver thousands of impressions for your clients this year. Read Article
Looking for a great multi-use pen? How about a technology product that offers high visibility? Need a kick-off idea for health fairs?
Maturing Apparel Trends Drive ISS Long Beach
ISS Long Beach, which took place from January 17-19, proved host to the maturation of several key apparel trends that have grown in the industry over the past few years. Here is what suppliers and decoration equipment companies have in store for 2014.
Pattern: The creeping influence of patterned garments is beginning to be felt. Alternative Apparel (asi/34850) has seen a tremendous response to its printed hoodies, available in patterns like stars and stripes and florals. Camo, too, continues to creep into a number of items. Sweatshirt experts Independent Trading Company has brought camo patterns to two of its top-selling hoodie styles. Tri-Mountain (asi/92125) is the only company doing oilfield camo hoodies and sweatshirts. "Oilfield camo is here," says Danny Tsai, vice president of merchandising for Tri-Mountain. "This camo is becoming a big seller to the U.S. oil industry."
Transitional Performance Pieces: The demand for performance pieces that can be worn in everyday settings continues to increase. Hanes (asi/59528) has launched its new X-Temp series of garments. The unisex T-shirt is made from a 60/40 ring-spun cotton/poly blend, so the garment wicks but still has a similar hand feel to cotton. It's available in 10 colors, including five neon heather hues. Expert Performance Tee (asi/53404) has launched a number of new items this year, including yoga pants, color-block shirts and a spaghetti strap tank with built-in bra. All can be used as activewear or everyday items. "We don't look at ourselves as just a performance brand anymore," says Merchandising Developer Nino Phimphachanh. "We see ourselves as a lifestyle brand."
Direct-to-Garment Printing: The wide variety of direct-to-garment printers now available means decorators have more choices than ever before with this burgeoning technology. But a sea change is forming, particularly with the arrival of the Epson SureColor series of printers. Stahls' ID Direct (asi/88984) has thrown its considerable weight behind the printer as a distributor, after revealing an aborted attempt a few years ago to develop its own machine. Marketing Director Joe Longtin of AnaJet (asi/16000), which owns the largest market share of DTG revenue and sells its own printers, believes that many manufacturers that outfitted their printers with Epson print heads will now be confronted with a choice. "It's either become an Epson distributor or close your doors," he says.
China PMI Shows Factory Contraction
The closely-watched Markit/HSBC Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) decreased to 49.6 in January from last month's reading of 50.5, demonstrating a marked slowdown in China's factory sector. Any reading below 50 shows contraction, and in this case continues a series of data underscoring a pausing Chinese economy.
"Smaller factories that export lower-end, cheaper and non-compliant products are the first ones to have issues," Jeff Lederer, president of Top 40 supplier Prime Line (asi/79530), told Counselor. "While some factories are closing, the ones that Prime uses have been built through established relationships, in many cases over 30 years."
The January flash PMI showed factory contraction for the first time in six months and followed news of slowed Q4 GDP expansion in the world's second-largest economy. Preliminary numbers also showed a faster rate of decline in new export orders and employment in China. In fact, the new orders index was 49.8, HSBC said. Still, industry veterans believe business opportunities with Chinese factories remain strong.
"Factories properly funded are doing fine," said Ira Neaman, president of Top 40 firm Vantage Apparel (asi/93390). "Labor costs are increasing as well as costs of compliance. Challenges are minimized, though, by strong communications and agreed upon expectations."
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: Dealing With Workplace Disputes
On this week's Tuesday Morning Show, the hosts gave callers advice on how to handle conflicts in the office. What's the best way to diffuse the tension? How can you determine the real reason for the infighting? When is it worth it to bring in an outside HR consultant to help resolve problems?
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 28, 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 email@example.com 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!
ePromos Promotional Products, Inc. (asi/188515) has announced the winners of its 2014 Top Supplier Awards, which are selected internally by a team of ePromos' employees. Individual award winners are: Scott Woodward of Leed's (asi/66887), Inside Rep of the Year, and Michael Leone of Hit Promotional Products (asi/61125), Outside Rep of the Year. Supplier award winners are: Bagmakers (asi/37940), Supplier of the Year, and Hit Promotional Products (asi/61125), Elite Supplier of the Year. See winners and their photos at http://blog.epromos.com/epromos-news/meet-epromos-2014-top-supplier-award-winners/.
Halo Branded Solutions (asi/356000) recognized over 250 top account executives at a gala at the Four Seasons Las Vegas Hotel during the PPAI Expo. Dustin Wicks, national account manager for Bic Graphic (asi/40480), was recognized as the 2013 Supplier Representative of the Year, and Chris Reese of Houston, TX, was honored as Halo's top sales performer.
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THE ADVANTAGES ROADSHOW IS VISITING SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
The Advantages Roadshow is visiting Southern California NEXT WEEK and distributors are invited to attend for FREE. Delivering top suppliers and hot, money-making products, the Roadshow is the most cost-effective and time-efficient way to find answers to your clients' toughest challenges.
Come on over. All distributors are invited to attend the Advantages Roadshow for FREE. The morning schedule features distributor education from 7:45 a.m.-9 a.m. and tabletop exhibits from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Visit www.advantagesroadshow.com to register for free and to review the complete Advantages Roadshow schedule. Distributors can register on show site with a valid business card.