Counselor Unveils 2015 Power 50 At a ceremony held last night during the ASI Power Summit in Dana Point, CA, Counselor magazine unveiled its 2015 Power 50. The rankings of the most influential executives in the ad specialty industry are headed up this year by Kevin Lyons-Tarr from 4imprint (asi/197045), the Top 40 distributor that is an e-commerce powerhouse in the industry. Read Article
Power Summit Highlighted By Inspirational Talks Billed as Inspiration Hour at the ASI Power Summit on Monday, three speakers each had 20 minutes to move the audience with their inspirational stories. The session was led off by Ron Finley, also known as the Guerilla Gardener, who provided a moving story based around his mission to provide healthy food to inner-city communities. Read Article
The Disrupters: How Three Companies Are Shaking Up The Promo Business Executives from Alibaba, Zazzle and Vistaprint highlighted a series of Monday morning sessions focused on market disruption at the ASI Power Summit. Each discussed the opportunities they see in the ad specialty sector and outlined their future strategies for growth.
Power 50 Podcast: Jeff Lederer, Prime Line In this sixth installment of the Counselor Podcast: Power 50 Series, Jeff Lederer details the importance of having capital support as a supplier in the promotional products market today. “One big challenge that companies have today is that you have to invest in inventory and still service customers at a high level,” said Lederer, president of Top 40 supplier Prime Line (asi/79530). “You need good financial backing to be able to do both.” Listen To the Podcast
The Ever-Expanding Power Of Technology
Voice recognition technologies like Siri, the intelligent assistant that enables users to ask questions with simple voice commands, are helpful in guiding users to, say, the nearest sushi restaurant. But can technology actually help people make decisions? That’s coming sooner than we might think, Mark Rolston, a keynoter at the ASI Power Summit, told the conference on Monday morning. Rolston, the founder of argodesign, said that as technology progresses, more and more people will rely on computers as “decision support tools” that will act like personal concierges and help guide every decision they make.
As an example, he said, Siri’s creators are now working on a stealth program at Viv Labs which promises to have nearly limitless decision-making capabilities. For instance, Rolston says, one might give the voice command, “On my way to my brother’s house, I have to pick up some cheap wine that goes well with lasagna.”
In time, he said, the platform will be able to take a user’s personal preferences and a near-infinite web of connections to answer almost any question and perform almost any function. Equally as interesting were Rolston’s predictions about normal household objects, which he believes may someday soon be transformed into “smart dumb objects.”
Consider, for example, a light switch which could be operated by turning a Coke bottle in a clockwise position, a cutting board which could suddenly be activated to give step-by-step instructions to cook your next pasta dish, or a bar table which on command, lights up to transform into a virtual air hockey game.
“Product design and technology are going to expand so that they go anywhere with us,” he said. “They will enhance what it means to be human.”
The Joe Show: It’s All About The New Products
In this episode of The Joe Show, Product Editor Joe Haley shows off tech products and starts to get into the Christmas spirit. Interested in bass-enhanced earbuds that will have customers shaking their rumps? An on-the-go charging kit that can power any device? How about Christmas ornaments that are perfect for schools and universities?
Click here to watch the latest episode of The Joe Show.
Hacker Offers Cyber Security Advice
Christian Espinosa, a cyber security expert and principal with Alpine Security, has some very simple advice for a complex problem: Get serious about data security now before you’re forced to. “Hackers are everywhere and they spend all of their time looking for vulnerabilities,” Espinosa told the Power Summit audience yesterday morning. “You have to lock your systems down better and get everybody in your organization to change their technology habits.”
Espinosa went on to detail some steps that companies can take today to ensure they’re less apt to be attacked by cyber criminals. His first tip: Know thyself. “You have to know how all of your people access your systems and understand exactly what’s authorized in your systems – both hardware and software,” Espinosa said.
Secondly, you need a holistic approach to cybersecurity that encompasses all of people, processes, and technology. “You have to focus on all three so that your people are doing the right things, you have the right processes in place to ensure security, and you have the right technology behind it all,” Espinosa said. “It’s not enough to have one or two of those three. It has to be all of them, and the time to act is now. You don’t want to be the next organization to be attacked.”
Counselor spoke to Espinosa after his session to find out his best advice for creating solid network and online passwords. Click here to watch the interview.
Motivating Today’s Employees
In the last session on Monday at the ASI Power Summit, Jason Lauritsen – director of the Best Places to Work program at Quantum Workplace – explained why it's critical in today's employee-driven workplace to creatively and consistently motivate and incentivize staffers. "Because the economy is better,” he said, “there's a fight for top talent because employees know they can leave a job for one where they're treated better anytime."
But Lauritsen cautioned that cash isn't always king when motivating your team. "In research that we've done, money always comes in at the bottom five as a reason why employees stay, and work hard, at a job,” Lauritsen said. “The big reasons are that they're appreciated and listened to and that they trust management."
When asked about perks like those of high-profile companies like Google, with its nap rooms, free gourmet food and foosball tables, Lauritsen admitted that while perks are nice, what really keeps employees at a company – and makes them such strong advocates for the business – is being treated with respect, good communication and a sense of community within the group.
And the numbers bear out Lauritsen’s point: he noted that according to Quantum's research, companies that actively engage its teams have 40% revenue growth over three years, as opposed to 24% growth for companies with no formal engagement plan.
BIC To No Longer Sell Sheaffer Pens
Top 40 Supplier BIC Graphic (asi/40480) announced yesterday that it is discontinuing distribution of Sheaffer brand writing instruments.
Last year in November, BIC Graphic and A.T. Cross (asi/47520) signed a global distribution agreement for BIC to continue selling Sheaffer writing instruments and accessories in the promotional products and business gift channels. A year later, that distribution agreement is coming to an end.
The last day distributors can order Sheaffer pens from BIC is December 11. BIC will ship the writing instruments up until January 29, 2016. While BIC will no longer provide Sheaffer writing instruments, it will continue to provide Sheaffer branded bags and accessories through 2016.
“We would like to thank BIC Graphic for their many years of dedication in developing Sheaffer business gift sales across the world,” said Tim Williams, general manager at Scheaffer.
“The Sheaffer line has long been a prestigious part of the BIC Graphic catalog,” said
Edgar Hernandez, vice president/general manager of BIC Graphic Global. “We wish
A.T. Cross and the team at Sheaffer all the best and continued success.”
Fields Manufacturing Acquires American Greenwood
As first reported in a Breaking News Alert on Friday, supplier firm Fields Manufacturing (asi/54100) announced it has acquired the assets of supplier American Greenwood (asi/35500) and its subsidiary Sprout Tyme Line. Financial terms of the deal were not released.
“We’re very excited to bring American Greenwood and Sprout Tyme into the Fields family,” said Matt Bertram, president of Fields, in a statement. “The acquisition continues our mission in constructing a diverse product offering and single source solution to our distributor partners.”
Fields said it will be moving American Greenwood’s operations to the Fields production facilities in St. Cloud, MN, and Owosso, MI. Both American Greenwood and Sprout Tyme, however, will continue to have their own catalogs. Further, current American Greenwood owners Ed Sokolofski and Joe Canepari will remain with the organization as consultants, and American Greenwood’s customer service will continue to be managed by Yolanda Santiago.
“Fields is an optimal means to continue the growth and success of American Greenwood and Sprout Tyme,” said Sokolofski.
Follow Counselor PromoGram for more information on this developing story.
A Brand Company Acquires Design Accessories
As first reported in a Breaking News Alert last week, distributor organization A Brand Company, parent company to Top 40 distributor BrandAlliance (asi/145177) and Activate! Promotions + Marketing (asi/141964), announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Design Accessories Inc., a Virginia-based promotional marketing organization.
The deal includes the company’s two subsidiaries, Design Marketing (asi/179525) and PerformanceLink Systems Inc. Design Marketing will be folded into BrandAlliance in early 2016 when Activate! Promotions + Marketing completes its re-brand as the largest operating entity under A Brand Company. PerformanceLink will remain autonomous and serve as an operating entity under A Brand Company. This acquisition provides A Brand Company with a data-driven solution in the incentive and recognition sector, along with a greater presence in the Mid-Atlantic region.
“I am excited to welcome another extraordinary addition to our organization," said Fred Parker, CEO of A Brand Company. "More and more clients are asking for the ability to smartly measure, gauge and reward their employees’ performance. With this deal, we are bringing in the experienced talent and laying the framework to offer those high-demand capabilities.”
Following closure of the deal, Cynthia Lawrence, president of Design Accessories, will continue on as president of the organization’s PerformanceLink division. “The global competition for talent continues to increase,” Lawrence said. “PerformanceLink directly addresses the need for organizations to retain their talent by building a high-performance workplace culture and engaging their employees within that culture. A Brand Company is going to allow PerformanceLink to grow our footprint and we are thrilled to be a part of such a visionary company.”
A Brand Company reported in July that it had merged its operations with BrandAlliance. The company subsequently said that its Activate unit would re-brand as BrandAlliance in 2016. In Counselor’s distributor Top 40 list, BrandAlliance alone ranked as the 29th-largest distributor in the industry with $59.7 million in 2014 North American ad specialty sales. It’s expected that the combined organization will near $100 million in annual sales.
Podcast: Apparel Sourcing Best Practices
In the latest edition of ASI’s new Strategy Session podcast, David Bebon, the CEO of DBEBZ Apparel, talks about apparel sourcing best practices and emerging markets overseas.
The long-time industry expert discusses his view on whether apparel pricing will increase or decrease next year, and also touch on new opportunities for decorated-apparel sales and the latest style and decorating trends in woven shirts.
For key information about apparel pricing and sourcing, check out our latest Strategy Session podcast at www.asicentral.com/podcast to listen.
ENGAGE: A NEW WAY FOR ASI MEMBERS TO DO BUSINESS
Combining the best of trade shows, hosted buyer events and roadshows, Engage, ASI Show’s NEW hybrid event will replace ASI Show® Long Beach and New York in 2016. And since we are committed to serving our members in two of the most popular locations for promotional product sales – the West Coast and Northeast – join us at:
Engage West • March 14-16 • Anaheim, CA • Anaheim Marriott
Engage East • May 9-11 • New York, NY • Marriott Marquis
At Engage, the first two days are invitation only and will bring together 75 top suppliers and 200 pre-selected distributors who personally sell $300k+ annually in promotional products. Invited distributors will participate in pre-scheduled 15-minute Roundtable Engagement sessions with strategically matched suppliers, in addition to 25-minute theater style Presentation Engagement sessions. The 3rd day is open for free to all distributors – whether they are an ASI member or not –and their escorted end buyers (identities will remainconfidential; however their badge will reflect an end buyer status).
If you’re interested in attending the first two days, simply complete this form, and you will be contacted shortly. If you sell less than $300,000 or if you are in the area and just wish to attend for a day – visit www.asiengage.com to register for Engagement Day 3!
For more information on the full suite of ASI Show events, visit www.asishow.com.
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