Innovative Products, Networking Fuel ASI Orlando

Exhibitors and distributors from 45 states and 15 countries gathered at the ASI Show Orlando last week to check out innovative products, establish new business relationships and celebrate the 20th anniversary of ASI Show.  

Susan Farino, account manager at New York-based MV Sport/Weatherproof (asi/68318), has been one of the ASI Show mainstays over the past two decades. From e-commerce’s emergence to distributors buying direct from overseas, Farino has seen a lot of changes in the promotional products industry. At ASI Shows in particular, more exhibitors are showing technology-related products than ever before.

“We’ve also seen a big surge in loyalty, so the customers that have been with us a long time continue to be loyal,” Farino said. “But with every show we do, we meet new clients, especially people who don’t know us. It’s nice to see the old faces, but it’s even better to get the new business.”

This year there were many companies making their ASI Show debut, including Largo, FL-based Flutter FETTI (asi/54903). After several explosions of confetti boomed throughout the Orange County Convention Center, attendees swarmed the far right corner of the show floor to see the commotion. “I wasn’t sure if people would be receptive to it, but there has been a lot of interest,” said Ronee Holmes, CEO of Flutter FETTI. She started as a sales rep for founder and “master confettiologist” Jim Watkins before purchasing the company in 2002. She then moved manufacturing operations from New Orleans to Florida after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

“We have a wide variety of products, so we recommend distributors call so I can make recommendations for graduations, weddings or any indoor or outdoor event,” Holmes said. “I have things that could be used in a space with a 9-foot ceiling or as large as an arena.” 

It was also the ASI Show coming-out party for Los Angeles Apparel (asi/67971), led by former American Apparel CEO and Founder Dov Charney. There was an assortment of garment-dye T-shirts and 14-oz. heavy fleeces on hand, new styles built upon American Apparel’s foundation, all manufactured in Los Angeles.

“Dov is trying to do something more innovative. He’s trying to push what’s new,” said Katya Frelikh, creative contributor and brand representative at Los Angeles Apparel. “We’re really trying to make our blanks and basics the most quality product in the most ethical way.”

The event was a family affair for J.D. Elmore and his son James of Atlanta, GA-based Slap Penz (asi/63311). As J.D. tells it, James was driving home after visiting family over the holidays and received a call with an important number to jot down. Searching high and low in his car, the only thing he found was his nephew’s slap bracelet. Inspiration struck and the retractable pen slap bracelet was born.

“He’s a doctor and he knows nurses are always losing their pens,” Elmore said. “Originally, he developed it with a cap, but the caps were always getting lost.” The father-son combo felt a bit overwhelmed by the response at ASI Show Orlando – all of their samples were gone within an hour or two.

Another hot booth was Best Promotions USA (asi/40344) working in conjunction with Cold Can Innovations LLC. Company president and CEO Michael Robb gave out samples of the Beer Blizzard – his Shark Tank success story that Mark Cuban invested in. (Perfect timing with fellow Shark Tank star Kevin O’Leary delivering the ASI Show Orlando keynote speech.)

Featuring a plastic ice cube at the bottom of a beer coolie that makes beverages colder rather than slowing down the heat, the Beer Blizzard is tailor-made for the promotional industry. “I wish I would have done this three years ago,” Robb said. “This is where you want to be. When people see the Shark Tank logo, they’re instantly drawn to us.”

Upcoming ASI Shows are in Dallas January 24 through January 27 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and in Chicago July 24 through July 26 at McCormick Place.

Winners Gallery

Check out a Facebook photo gallery of all the winners here!