Olympic Uniforms Now Made In USA After controversy erupted during the 2012 Summer Olympics, the U.S. team uniforms made by Ralph Lauren for the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics are now all made in the USA. Read Article
Both the iconic fashion company and USA Olympic governing bodies drew criticism from Congress and others last year for the fact that the manufacturing of the uniforms was done outside the U.S.
"We have worked incredibly hard as a company to go across America to find the best partners to help us produce the Olympic uniforms at the highest quality for the best athletes in the world," David Lauren, an executive vice president of Ralph Lauren, told the Associated Press.
Ralph Lauren used more than 40 vendors from across the U.S. to create the uniforms, which were unveiled Tuesday. The uniforms will be worn in the opening and closing ceremony by the American athletes in Sochi, Russia. There is no Made in America guarantee for the gear worn by the athletes during competition. However, The North Face, the maker of the uniforms for the U.S. Freestyle Skiing team, also switched to USA-manufactured products.
The controversy last year dovetailed with a much-discussed resurgence in American manufacturing as well as a renewed interest in Made-in-USA goods, despite their typically higher price tag. "During the recession, corporate buyers saw their spend decrease, so country of origin went out the window," says Tim Vadney, president of RaceReady (asi/74894), which produces running and sports apparel that's Made in the USA. "Now that the economy is recovering, there's a lot more interest in buying a higher quality U.S.-made garment. And we've seen our sales increase as a result."
In fact, Vadney says his company, which has been in business for 20 years and is based in Torrance, CA, has seen a 30% year-over-year spike in sales in the promotional market.
Alibaba Reconsidering Hong Kong IPO
In a surprising reversal, China-based e-commerce firm Alibaba Group may now hold its initial public offering in Hong Kong, instead of New York. Read Article
The potential switch follows word that trading regulators in Hong Kong might change their governance rules, allowing Alibaba partners to appoint board members. Alibaba, led by Counselor Power 50 member Jack Ma, has reportedly made internal – rather than pubic control – of his firm a priority throughout IPO-related negotiations. In essence, Ma wants to guide key boardroom decisions at Alibaba without pressure from non-affiliated investors.
Hong Kong Exchange CEO Charles Li said last week that he is open to alternative governance structures – something the NYSE and NASDAQ use to attract top tech companies. "The vision and ideas of these founders are core assets of these companies," Li wrote in a blog post. "Protecting the founders and allowing them to deliver on their vision is usually in line with shareholders' interests."
Previously, Li had defended the exchange's stance, writing "we should take responsibility for doing what is right and best for Hong Kong, not just what is safe and easy." Last Friday, Alibaba CEO Jonathan Lu admitted his firm was slowing down its preparations to go public, an indication that the Hong Kong Exchange had won more time to amend its conditions.
Ma founded Alibaba in 1999 and has built the company into Asia's most powerful Internet firm. The company operates websites where merchants can sell items – including promotional products – directly to consumers worldwide. Alibaba's Q2 revenues were $1.73 billion, a year-over-year gain of 60%. With its second-quarter results, investors now expect Alibaba to be valued at up to $120 billion – rivaling Facebook's 2012 IPO – when the firm goes public.
The Joe Show: Falling For New Products
In this episode of The Joe Show, Managing Editor Joe Haley showcases several new products great for late-year campaigns. Read Article
Been searching for a different style of water bottle? Looking for the latest in ornaments and cards? Need a stylish, but practical keychain?
Click here to watch another new episode of The Joe Show.
Twitter IPO Changes Marketing Landscape
Within the next week, it’s expected that the long-awaited initial public offering (IPO) of stock in social networking company Twitter will take place. Read Article
While the company has been mum on the exact date of the launch, analysts believe TWTR will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange on November 7. And when it opens for trading between $17 and $20 a share, the company will immediately be valued at about $11 billion.
Who would have thought that such a no-frills online service that allows people to post updates of no more than 140 characters would so quickly become such a highly-valued operation? It's especially surprising, considering Twitter most recently reported that it had a net loss of $79.4 million on revenue of just $316.9 million in 2012. Despite those numbers, Twitter's management team is on a road show of sorts this week, visiting many investment companies to gauge interest in the stock and promote its IPO. And response is unanimously positive. Twitter "is getting a really warm welcome from people," Scott Sweet, CEO of research firm IPO Boutique, told Reuters. "Of all the individuals and institutions I've talked to – which include multi-billion dollar hedge funds – no one has said they aren't playing."
Why is the stock of a just-more-than-$300-million company so highly anticipated? Because Twitter is quickly changing the face of media and marketing. And, it's something that all marketing professionals – including promotional product distributors and suppliers – should be keenly aware of. This is how people – consumers and business-to-business buyers alike – communicate and consume information today. If you haven't had a Twitter screen open on a tablet or smart phone while watching a live event on TV or attending an event in person, then you'll very soon be in the minority on that. Media consumption today is done through many screens and many outlets – simultaneously – as people want to gauge the reactions of others to the same thing they're watching. They want immediate feedback, fast interaction, and rapid reaction.
Just like your customers want. Twitter isn't only a media outlet, but it's a way to reach across demographics and geographies very quickly to interact with an audience. Marketers today are trying to figure out how to implement Twitter into their marketing campaigns so they can more closely interact with their customers and prospects. It's precisely the same reason they turn to promotional products – so they can put a memorable item in the hands of their target audience.
Twitter, just like promotional products, is a means to a marketing end today. Don't ignore its power. Embrace it and tie it into your own business, so you too can create closer, faster, and more in-depth interactions with your customers and their customers as well.
ADP October: 130,000 Private Sector Jobs
Private sector growth slowed considerably in October, with companies adding only 130,000 jobs, according to new data from payroll processing firm ADP. The latest jobs number falls well below the one-year monthly average of 150,000 and represents the smallest employment gain since April. The ADP results came hours before the Federal Reserve announced it would not reduce its $85 billion in monthly asset purchases, as officials again acknowledged an "elevated" unemployment rate.
"The government shutdown and debt limit brinkmanship hurt the already softening job market in October," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, which partners with ADP to produce its report. "The weaker job growth is evident across most industries and company sizes. Any further weakening would signal rising unemployment."
ADP data showed the service sector added 107,000 jobs in October, a substantial 23,000 position drop from September. Meanwhile, with the housing recovery stalling, the construction industry added just 14,000 jobs in October and financial firms actually cut payrolls by 5,000. In a turnaround from recent reports, ADP said larger firms created 81,000 new jobs, outpacing small businesses, which added 37,000 October jobs.
In its report, ADP also revised downward by 20,000 its jobs number for September, now saying U.S. companies created just 145,000 positions last month. The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release a complete jobs report on November 8.
PayNet: Small Business Borrowing Increases
An index that tracks lending showed U.S. small business borrowing rose in September, a sign of that firms are still making investments despite recent financial headwinds. The Thomson Reuters/PayNet Small Business Lending Index – an historically strong predictor of economic trends – increased year-over-year to 109.7 last month. Although the monthly index fell 6% from August, rolling three-month averages show small business borrowing has improved versus the start of 2013. "We're back to consistent growth," said PayNet founder Bill Phelan.
Further data showed delinquencies of between 31 and 180 days held steady last month at about 1.5% percent of all loans made, a record low. By comparison, almost 5% of accounts were considered overdue in August of 2009, according to PayNet. With delinquencies and interest rates low, analysts believe future borrowing could increase, boosting the overall economy.
PayNet collects real-time loan information from more than 250 U.S. lenders. Its index is closely-watched, as improved readings generally signal firms are buying new tools and equipment.
SGR Magazine Names Supplier Reps Of The Year
A veteran of Counselor Top 40 supplier Norwood (asi/74400) for the past 12 years, and currently with 3,000 Norwood and BIC Graphic (asi/40480) customers in her role as an inside sales rep covering Kansas, Oklahoma and Colorado, Kari Rehder received an overwhelming number of nominations – more than 130 – from distributors to be SGR's 2013 Supplier Sales Rep of the Year. This is the magazine's fourth year holding the awards competition.
Gavin Unruh of Counselor Top 40 distributor EmbroidMe in Dodge City (asi/384129), notes that Rehder has always stepped up to provide samples, ideas and selling techniques for Norwood & BIC products. "She has helped us close many deals with her support," said Unruh. "Kari is an excellent choice for this award."
Ed Rodriguez, sales rep for TradeNet Publishing (asi/91760) and this year's first runner-up for the Supplier Rep of the Year award, is responsible for nearly 10% of the company's total annual sales and handles about 80 calls per day and about 16,000 per year. "Ed is one of the very best people I work with, and he always has my back," said Stuart Marks, president of A Grand Impression Promotional Products LLC. "He always returns calls, never gets upset and makes me feel like I'm his only customer. He is the reason I buy from his company."
And for the first time, SGR presented an award to the Customer Service Rep of the Year, also based on distributor votes. Counselor Top 40 supplier Hit Promotional Product's (asi/61125) Adam Peffer was the clear winner. Linda Kendall of The Prestigious Mark (asi/299267) admits that Peffer is the reason she began using Hit as one of her suppliers. "I feel confident placing a Hit order because I know that Adam will take care of me," said Kendall. "I'll have great pricing, a great imprint and on-time merchandise. I also know that IF problems arise, Adam will be there with a solution."
Pete Catone, customer service rep for Counselor Top 40 supplier Leed's/Polyconcept, was named first runner-up. Sandy Simon of Konik & Company (asi/244815) can attest to Catone's ability to keep relationships working. "Pete embraces the epitome of teamwork," said Simon. "He is the number-one guy you want on your sales team."
ASI Radio: Dealing With Difficult Employees
On this week's Tuesday Morning Show, the hosts gave listeners advice on how to handle employees that have talent, but often prove challenging. Is it OK to give prima donnas special treatment? What types of communications can prevent company morale from sinking? Should you rethink your recruiting habits?
Click here to listen to the complete call-in segment. If you missed the show, a recording is now available at www.asicentral.com/radio. And, don't forget to join us on Tuesday, November 5, for our next broadcast. Log on at 10:30 a.m. ET to listen to the show – and give us a call at (215) 953-4979 to hear your voice on the air.
In The News
Charles River Apparel (asi/44620), in conjunction with the Hair for Hope Foundation, outfitted participating employees with pink hair extensions in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month for $10 per extension.
PPAChicago has announced the recipients of the 2014 Professional Development Scholarships. They are: Dawn Ruler, Cedric Spring & Associates (asi/332750); Mitch Silver, Printable Promotions (asi/299458) and Jessica Hiner, The Magnet Group (asi/68507).
PromoKitchen and SanMar's (asi/84863) District® brand of apparel have partnered to create a t-shirt design competition called REVIFIFY. The artist with the best design will receive $500 cash and District will make a $500 donation to the Promotional Products Education Foundation in the winner's name. For details and rules, go to: http://promokitchen.com/revivify.
IT'S A BUSINESS EXPERIENCE LIKE NO OTHER
Interested in participating in fASIlitate, ASI's invitation-only, hosted buyer event? Let us know by filling out this form. (Click here) fASIlitate offers distributors the unique opportunity to spend private time with the industry's most sought after suppliers.
Meet one on one with 30+ ASI 5 Star suppliers
Spend time with suppliers representing a wide variety of products
Discuss sales initiatives and projects during pre-set private meetings
Network with an elite group of ad specialty professionals
"From the moment we arrived we realized that we were part of a truly remarkable event."
~Jennifer Maceyak, The Icebox, asi/229395
Participating distributors receive luxurious accommodations and travel at no cost. The 2014 fASIlitate events are scheduled for Lago Mar Resort and Club in Ft. Lauderdale on May 4-7, 2014 and at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix on September 16-19, 2014. For more information, visit www.fasilitate.com.