Industry Sales Rebound, Rising 3.2% In 2003 ASI announced last week that industry sales increased 3.2% last year to $16.1 billion, a strong rebound from 2002. In addition to total growth in 2003, ASI member distributors also reported a strong fourth quarter, historically a reliable predictor of future sales growth. The fourth quarter typically represents about 40% of distributor product sales and tends to foreshadow business growth for the coming year. "Sales of promotional products have now fully rebounded and are more than $1 billion above 1999," says Timothy M. Andrews, ASI president. "That's in sharp contrast to B2B advertising, which remains down 33% from 2000. The promotional products industry is now twice as large as the B2B trade publishing industry."
Action Products To Buy Toy Company
Action Products International Inc. (asi/104699) is planning to buy an as-yet-unnamed toy company. The sale is scheduled to be approved and announced by the end of the month. Action, a toy company that is listed as a distributor in the industry, is bound by a confidentiality agreement, but
said the target company is an award-winning specialty toy brand. The target company had $5 million in revenues, though it is expected to generate only $3 million in sales when it is acquired by Action. In other news from Action, the company is planning to buy back 150,000 shares of its common stock - about 4% of total shares.
Report: AIA Hurt British Parent’s Profitability Its American business, particularly franchising operation Adventures in Advertising (AIA), is holding back the British-based parent firm of Counselor Top 40 4imprint (asi/197045), according the company's 2003 earnings report released last week. 4imprint's losses totaled roughly $20 million in 2003. Had it not been for eroding sales and the cost of closing down a number of AIA's dormant and underperforming franchises, 4imprint would have made a profit of around $4.5 million. Worldwide sales for the company were up 8.3%. For 4imprint, 2003 was a contentious year that saw the departure of its chairman and three directors, as well as CEO Dick Nelson. Nelson was given a severance package worth more than $350,000, according to ManchesterOnline.
Norwood Issues Statement On Beacon Lawsuit
Counselor Top 40 supplier Norwood Promotional Products has issued a statement on its recent lawsuit against Beacon Promotions Inc. (asi/39250): "Norwood's purpose in filing this lawsuit is to stop existing and continuing violations of the protections given to us by copyright law," says Kurt Spitler, division president for Norwood. "It's also to prevent future unlawful and unauthorized use by others of our valuable property interests." Norwood has charged that Beacon copied its designs in calendar catalogs and that it hired away executives who had proprietary marketing information. Beacon president Art Olsen, a former Norwood executive, calls Norwood's allegations unfounded and says the suit's discovery process will establish that.
In other Norwood news, the company has signed a preferred supplier agreement with EmbroidMe (asi/187637), an embroidery franchise operation with more than 100 outlets. EbroidMe has retail outlets, Internet sales and national marketing programs, and is in the midst of an aggressive expansion effort.
Carlson Marketing Hit With $10.5 Million Judgment Carlson Marketing Group, Inc. (asi/157786) has been ordered by the U.S. District Court of Eastern Missouri to pay Meridian Enterprises $10.5 million for infringing on Meridian's patent of its card-based incentive program, according to an article in last week's PromoXtra newsletter. The complaint alleged that Carlson, a competitor of Meridian, infringed on a patent for a card-based incentive system invented by Meridian in 1987. Carlson's sales-incentive programs, Trav Pass, Global Rewards, VIP and Ready Rewards were found by a federal jury in February to have illegally copied Meridian's card-based incentive program. Carlson plans to appeal the verdict.
Shamrock Companies Signs Exclusive Deal With Travelcenters TravelCenters of America (TA) recently announced that it has engaged The Shamrock Companies (asi/324237) to support TA's ongoing print collateral and point-of-purchase marketing needs. In addition to its promotional products business, Shamrock owns and operates printing, warehouse and distribution facilities across the country. "We believe that this is an exciting partnership because TravelCenters of America and Shamrock share a common goal of providing exceptional customer service and finding leading edge processes that deliver quality products and services to their clients," says Greg Christenson, Shamrock executive VP of sales.
E & J Specialties Offices Damaged By Fire
A fire damaged the offices of E & J Specialties Inc. (asi/184935) last week, according to the Rapid City (SD) Journal. Company president Doug Phelps told the paper that he intends to keep the business running and was looking for temporary space to set up a customer service center.
Obituary: Richard Peersmann, Founder Of Polyflame
Richard Peersmann, the founder of Polyflame, died March 23. Polyflame grew out of a cigarette-lighter business owned by Peersmann's father, Fredericus. Richard Peersmann retired in 1994. The company he founded is now known as Polyconcept USA Inc. (asi/78897).
Correction: The item on Bush/Cheney merchandise that ran in last week's PromoGram contained an incorrect Web address. The correct address is www.georgewbushstore.com. Industry distributor Spalding Group (asi/331001) created and manages the site as a licensee for Bush/Cheney '04 Inc.
Keeping up with the Joneses To keep your services at their peak, check out what your competition is doing. It's always a good idea to be aware of what prices and services they're offering and, more importantly, if a client mentions the competition's deals to you, you'll be better able to trump any claims with your own. Just remember to stay focused on the great things you can do for the client, rather than bad-mouthing the competition - a huge turn-off to clients and a sign of sketchy sales tactics.
Keep tabs on competitors via the Internet, trade magazines, or just call their main number and ask questions. Also, while you're on the phone, call companies in various industries to see how they handle client complaints. Tip: Think of products or services you recently bought for personal or company use and call them. Ask how you register a complaint, and make note of the process. Great ideas for your business can come from the research you gather from other industries.
Grow sales with Earth-friendly products
Earth Day is April 22. Seventy percent of Americans say they're more likely to buy from a company they believe implements earth-friendly practices in its operations, according to a recent eNation survey for American Demographics magazine. Women were more likely than men to prefer earth-friendly practices, and older Americans (those over age 45) were more likely than younger age groups to choose products based on the environmental record of a firm. Promotional products suppliers offer plenty of choices, from items made from natural coco fibers to pens made of recycled denim. There are candlesticks made from reclaimed wine bottles to products sporting recycling- and earth-themed symbols. Search in ESP under Ecology, Gardening, Recycling, Earth, Environmental and other keywords.
ASI PRODUCT/SERVICE SPOTLIGHT
ORDER YOUR ASI SHOW LAS VEGAS EDUCATION DAY CD ONLINE FOR ONLY $10! Attention distributors! The ASI Show is now offering an interactive conference CD-ROM that contains most of the Education Day recordings and handouts from the Las Vegas ASI Show, held March 14-16. You can continue educating yourself with more than 50 hours of sales-boosting strategies and creative ideas that were shared by the industry's top instructors at our Las Vegas show. This ASI Show exclusive is available for only $10 - which includes shipping and handling charges. To take advantage of this offer, click this link and complete an order form. Or call (888)522-5023 ext. 114 to place your order. This offer expires April 30 or when our inventory sells out.
THE CHICAGO ASI SHOW THIS JULY - FREE GALA TICKET DEADLINE APRIL 16 The next ASI Show is in Chicago, July 13-15, with a special Keynote Presentation, "Becoming a Category of One," and the Gala Celebration at the House of Blues. Register before April 16 to get up to two free Gala tickets (for ASI member distributor companies). Already, more than 600 suppliers have reserved booth space, with nearly 800 expected. Visit www.asishow.com for more details and to register for the industry's biggest national summer event, the Chicago ASI Show!
PRODUCT OF THE WEEK
New Oversized 2 3/4" Golf Tees from The Tee Line (asi/63500) Introducing the newest and hottest craze to hit the golf industry, the Oversized Golf Tee. These 2 3/4" tees are perfect for the large drivers that are revolutionizing the golf industry - and they offer additional space for ad copy. Available in bulk or any combination package with golf markers and divot fixers. As a special introductory offer, mention this ad and receive next column pricing on any orders placed prior to June 30th.
Young adults most active online Americans aged 18-to-34 were found to be the most frequent and active Internet users in a recent Online Publishers Association study. Nearly three-quarters of people in this age group go online, compared with just over half of the overall U.S. population. The study also found that 82% of these young adults say they're comfortable with new technology, while 59% say the Internet is the form of home entertainment that's most important to them. Marketers should take advantage of this group's affinity for technology when planning promotional campaigns by using tech-related products. Think standard PC accessories, along with laptop bags, MP3-player cases, cell phone holders, etc. Read more about the study at www.online-publishers.org/
April 16-23 The Traveling Optimum Promotional Show (TOPS)
Promotional Products Association of Canada (PPACanada)
The Western Tour: 16/Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre, Vancouver; 19/Telus Convention Centre, Calgary; 21/Delta Regina Hotel, Regina; 23/Winnipeg Convention Centre, Winnipeg
Fax: (514)489-7760 firstname.lastname@example.org www.promocan.com
April 19-23 Traveling showcase
National Specialty Advertising Showcase (NSA)
Louisville, Indianapolis, Chicago (S), Chicago (N), Milwaukee
Fax: (361)949-7460 email@example.com www.nsashowcase.com
Oregon trade Show
Northwest Promotional Marketing Association (NWPMA)
Double Tree Hotel (Jantzen Beach), Portland, OR
Fax: (800)690-8730 firstname.lastname@example.org www.nwpma.org
April 27 Spring Table Top Show
New England Promotional Products Association (NEPPA)
Sturbridge Host Hotel, Sturbridge, MA
Info: Carol Boutwell, (603)529-8400
Fax: (603)529-8401 email@example.com www.neppa.com
The 2004 Chicago ASI Show:
Chicago, IL www.asishow.com