Seated on stage at the Power Summit with ASI’s Vice Chairman Matthew Cohn, Chuck Fandos – CEO of Brand Addition US (asi/202515) and the 2016 Counselor Person of the Year – answered a slate of questions on topics as varied as his predictions on the future growth of the industry, the increasing trend of Top 40 consolidations and how we can attract more millennials to the promo marketplace. But before he did all that, he had cocktails served to the crowd, much to their delight. “What better way to start the afternoon,” Fandos said, laughing.
When asked by Cohn if the industry still had the same kind of growth potential it did a decade or two ago, Fandos agreed that it did. “You know, I didn’t used to think so, but I’ve come around on that,” he said. “People are always going to want, and need, promo items to brand themselves and their events. And with new and growing markets that we couldn’t have envisioned 10 years ago – think about new companies like Uber that didn’t even exist then – call me an optimist, but I believe this industry will continue to experience major growth.”
Fandos, who earlier this year sold his company Gateway/CDI to Brand Addition, the largest distributor in the U.K., encouraged Power Summit attendees to embrace the global promo market as a place to not only find new business but to perhaps partner with synergistic companies for mutual success. “Technology has made it so much easier to do business efficiently and effectively from almost anywhere,” said Fandos, “so it would be to your benefit to learn about emerging markets outside North America and decide if your business can bring something to the table to service them. There’s so much opportunity out there for people who not only think outside the box, but outside our borders.”
And harkening back to the Gen Y session from earlier in the day, Fandos noted that he wishes there were more young, ethnically diverse people joining the industry. “We need to do a better job telling the story of how fun this business is, and how successful you can be. Look at all of us – we’ve all made pretty good livelihoods selling promo products and it’s a viable option for young people out of college looking to make money and have a lucrative career.” When asked by Cohn for ideas how to do that, Fandos suggested starting a trade school for the promo industry – funded by the largest companies in it in the market – where young people could attend and spend 12-18 months learning about the promo business from top to bottom, and then interning at industry companies. “Look, something like that only benefits us all in the long run, so wouldn’t it be great if we all took ownership in making it work?” he said.
Counselor spoke with Fandos after the session about why he believes the industry is still poised for tremendous future growth. Watch the interview below.