Monthly Archives: April 2012

PPAI Board Realigns Leadership Structure With Eye To The Future

I know I speak for the entire PPAI staff when I say I am proud to work with and for a forward thinking, visionary, leadership focused board.

PPAI Board Revises Bylaws

Restructures Board To Align With Long-Term Industry Service And Growth

IRVING, Tex. (April 26, 2012) – Promotional Products Association International (PPAI;, the not-for-profit association for more than 10,500 member companies of the $16.5 billion promotional products industry, announces board-adopted bylaws revision and board restructure. The plan to revise the PPAI bylaws and restructure the PPAI Board of Directors was passed unanimously by the board during the March 25, 2012, meeting. The new board leadership structure is based on an industry-inclusive leadership and accountability model guided by the emerging association governance best practices of smaller performance-based boards. The structure will enable the board to quickly and strategically influence market conditions, cultivate industry growth and deliver on the demand for enhanced Association performance and services.

“The new board structure is the result of an exhaustive review of the PPAI bylaws performed by a chairs-appointed working group, the executive committee and the full board,” said Steven Meyer, MAS, PPAI chair of the board. “It provides for at-large representation that is inclusive of all types of membership categories and reflects a board governance model presently adopted by successful nonprofit organizations. On behalf of the board, I would like to ask the membership for its support of these important decisions. Your positive response indicates that the membership and the industry recognize the need for this decision and the importance of adapting to better serve the membership and the industry, and for that we are grateful.”

“This structure will allow the board to act on emerging opportunities and address competitive forces in the marketplace with greater ease and nimbleness, while retaining appropriate deference to the traditional balance of our organization,” said Paul Bellantone, CAE, PPAI president and CEO.

Following these changes, the bylaws will:

  • Reduce total board seats from 17 members plus immediate past chair to an 11-member board, going from eight distributors and eight suppliers to four distributors and four suppliers with four-year terms; and one distributor and one supplier joining the board each year instead of two distributors and two suppliers. Board representation will continue to include one Regional Association Council (RAC) delegate.
  • Appoint one at-large director with full voting rights, for a two-year term from a field of distributors, suppliers, multiline representatives, business services, international suppliers and international distributors. The at-large director is nominated by a committee consisting of the PPAI board chair, chair-elect and immediate past chair and board approved.
  • Install immediate past chair with full board status and voting rights for a term of one year.
  • Reduce officers from the chair, chair elect and four vice chairs to the chair, chair elect and vice chair of financial services.
  • Reduce the executive committee to the chair, chair elect, immediate past chair and vice chair of financial services.

Bellantone stated: “The new structure, which has been adopted by many progressive associations in these competitive times, is designed to increase board performance and engagement, while delivering on the goals and objectives set forth by the board for the benefit of the promotional products industry.”

The multiyear implementation process will take place over the next four years with the transition complete by 2016. Moving to enact these changes, the board has developed a process to transition to a smaller board by means of a four-year election cycle, taking into account the need to continuously maintain a balanced board. The process will begin with the September 2012 board elections. The initial impetus for a review of the bylaws was recent changes to the portions of state law, under which PPAI operates, that deal with the content of a nonprofit organization’s bylaws, and some of the bylaw changes adopted by the Board were made in accordance with those changes in law. More information about the PPAI bylaws revision and board restructure can be found here.


Brands Gain Clients and Improve Profits

If you are a Distributor and you want to learn how you can expand your business, take fifteen minutes to learn how selling brand name products to your clients for their incentive and recognition programs can take your business to the next level. On behalf of IMA’s Promotional Product Provider Education Task Force, fellow promotional products consultant and PPAI member Sean Roark CPIM, PromoPros, a Certified Professional of Incentive Management, will show you how selling Brands can enhance your promotional product business.

CLICK HERE to watch the informative video.

If you are in the Houston area on May 2, 2012, Sean will be presenting “How to Sell Incentives” LIVE at the Houston Promotional Products Association monthly meeting. I promise you this is a business building session you will not want to miss.

CLICK HERE to see “How to Sell Incentives” LIVE at HPPA

Here’s a bit more information about Sean Roark and his presentation “How to Sell Incentives”

Sean Roark, an HPPA member who, along with his wife Leslie, owns Houston-based PromoPros, Inc., will be sharing how Incentive Programs can increase business with existing customers, open doors to new clients, and significantly improve your business’ bottom line.  The session will look at how incentive programs are similar to promotional product campaigns, how they are different, and what it takes to give the same high level of service to an incentive customer that you currently provide to your ad specialty clients.  There will be an overview of different incentive, appreciation, and recognition programs as well as a discussion of how you can use Brand-named merchandise as a terrific strategic tool to expand your existing book of business.

Here’s what industry leaders are saying about Sean’s video and presentation:

“Developing and delivering incentive programs to new and existing clients can be a tremendous opportunity for promotional consultants to build business and stronger client relationships.  I know of few industry professionals that have embraced and capitalized on this opportunity as well as Sean Roark of PromoPros.  Sean is an experienced and successful practitioner and knowledgeable mentor and teacher.  Attending Sean’s session is a worthwhile investment that will kick-start entry into this profitable marketplace.”    

Paul Bellantone, CAE – President/CEO, Promotional Products Association International (PPAI)

“Stop, listen, and grab something to take notes, because Sean Roark has made the transformation from promotional product person to incentive expert.  He is among the proven few, and best of all, is willing to share.”

Mark Repkin, CPIM – Vice-President, The Certif-A-Gift Company

“Understanding incentives is an important opportunity for distributors to serve new and existing customers, and learning about how to position yourself in this marketplace is a great topic.” 

Timothy M. Andrews – President/CEO, Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI)

 “Learn how to take your business to the next level! Earn more money! Sean Roark shares his first-hand experience to help you expand your promotional products business into the world of incentives.”

Dave Peer, CPIM – President, Hinda Incentives

“Most of us would bend down to pick up a $20 bill from the sidewalk.  But promotional products distributors are ignoring much more than that when they fail to assist their clients with branded merchandise and/or incentive programs.  Sean has built a fabulous “how-to” guide for helping the distributor get comfortable with the concept of incentives, rewards, and recognition.  And it comes from a peer—someone who’s been there, and doing that.”

Pete Mitchell – Director, B-to-B Sales, Samsonite LLC

“Sean Roark is one of the first promotional product distributors to earn the Certified Professional of Incentive Management (CPIM) certification.  Sean recognized he could significantly expand PromoPros’ advertising specialty business through selling safety and other incentive programs to his clients, and has generously condensed his experience into a fast-paced presentation for fellow distributors to help them understand the potential the incentive marketplace offers.”

Karen Renk, CAE – Executive Director, Incentive Marketing Association (IMA)

“Sean Roark provides sound knowledge and insight regarding the integration of incentives and the long-term benefits that can be realized.  Sean is on point with his message and provides practical lessons from his experience with PromoPros.  The message is expertly delivered with a contagious, positive attitude.  Sean’s session is highly recommended.”

Jeff Edwards – Vice-President, Quality Incentive Company

Promotional Products Drive Profits & Branding Strategy

I was forwarded this article about a restaurant using promotional products (22,000 mugs) to drive profits and a branding strategy. I hope you enjoy reading about the power of promotional products and branded merchandise.    

Another Broken Egg spreads brand awareness with mugs

The breakfast and brunch chain has found profits and a branding strategy by selling logo mugs in its restaurants

April 9, 2012 | By Mark Brandau

Another Broken Egg has found that the mugs it sells in its restaurants, emblazoned with its logo, are a profitable sales and branding strategy.

The Destin, Fla.-based breakfast and brunch specialist sells 22,000 specially made coffee mugs per year in its 20 locations. Each mug is branded with Another Broken Egg’s logo and an emblem of the town that is home to each individual restaurant. Customers have taken to collecting them from each location, paying $18 per mug.

Merchandising has long been a popular form of advertising for restaurant chains, from consumer packaged goods on grocery store shelves to the once-ubiquitous T-shirts from Hard Rock Café and Planet Hollywood. In its most recent second quarter, family-dining chain Cracker Barrel Old Country Store derived 25 percent of its sales from its retail store; same-store sales rose 3.4 percent for the quarter.

Another Broken Egg’s founder and chief executive, Ron Green, said the profit margins on the mug are favorable, but the real return on investment multiplies when the mugs help the brand’s word-of-mouth proliferate across the country.

“Truly, it’s about the branding and having people wanting to collect them from all over the country,” Green said. “Like a Hard Rock Café T-shirt, they set us apart from our competition. It gives us a more upscale look, and people love them.”

Green first encountered the handmade coffee mugs in 1996. He was vacationing at a bed and breakfast in Taos, N.M., when he was served with one of the mugs and was impressed with its craftsmanship, he said. Inquiring with the hotel’s owner led Green to the mug’s producer, Deneen Pottery in St. Paul, Minn.

Green placed an order for 100 mugs, the minimum amount Deneen would agree to produce, and they began flying off the shelves.

“We sold out in two weeks at $16 a piece,” Green said. “An employee said, ‘We may be able to have these in the store, serve coffee in them and sell even more.’ So we ordered another 200 to use on our coffee tables. And 250,000 coffee mugs later, we have a hit.”

In 16 years, the price of the mugs has gone up only $2, and with 20 locations, Another Broken Egg can sell 20 different mugs to customers keen on traveling around to different locations. Each restaurant’s mug has an individualized emblem, such as a giant water wheel for mugs in the Birmingham, Ala., unit, or a movie reel at the Burbank, Calif., location.

Different mugs not only have encouraged some guests to travel to find other Another Broken Egg units, but also carried the brand’s story beyond the reach of the company’s radio and TV commercials into new markets.

“We’re a young and emerging chain, and for the first five years, we did very little marketing,” Green said. “Basically, it was all word-of-mouth, and that’s probably the strongest advertising you can do for a company like ours.”

As Another Broken Egg looks to enter new markets, such as Denver, the mugs will play a big part in branding and building awareness to new customers and potential franchisees, Green noted. The mugs are a long-term strategy with an incremental lift to the bottom line, he said.

“You can buy a $20 T-shirt for us, and it lasts a year and a half,” he said, “but these mugs don’t wear out for a lifetime. We’re thrilled with the durability.”

Green founded Another Broken Egg in New Orleans in 1996.

Read the full article here:

The Washington Report – A PPAI Exclusive

Welcome to The Washington Report

Through our legislative contacts and lobbyists, we have access to information, insight and analysis that you won’t see published anywhere else. Information that will help you better understand how what happens in D.C. can affect your business and employees at home. Information that will help you become more aware and better prepared to advocate for your business, profession and industry.

Welcome to The Washington Report. I hope you enjoy it.


It is amazing what happens when you put the “small business” tag on a complicated issue that only a tenth of the folks in Washingtonunderstand.  Washington is in the midst of a rare bipartisan frenzy to enact a law to allow “smaller” businesses to gain more access to equity investments.  Congress has passed the “Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act” (H.R. 3606).  The bill is actually the combination of several separate bills that change various aspects of securities law and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations that are believed to deter smaller firms from seeking equity investments.  The headliner is the concept of “crowdfunding” which allows you to seek modest investments amounts via the Internet and social networking media.  We are not overly excited about this bipartisan gestureMost existing businesses we know are looking for credit and debt financing.  The President will sign the bill later this week.


Some Washington dishes require a little more time in the oven.  PPAI is supporting efforts to help the United States Postal Service (USPS) help itself.  PPAI has been working to secure passage of S. 1789, the 21st Century Postal Service Act, introduced by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT).  Among other things, the bill would give the Postmaster General access to money the USPS has overpaid into one of its pension funds (Federal Employees Retirement System, or FERS) and use it to offer buyouts or retirement incentives to reduce the active postal workforce by 100,000 or more employees over the next several years.

The bill would also allow the USPS to offer non-postal products or services if the PRC has determined that the products and services: 1) make use of USPS’s processing, transportation, delivery, retail network, or technology; 2) are consistent with the public interest and a demonstrated demand for the USPS to offer them; 3) do not create unfair competition with the private sector; and 4) have the potential to improve the USPS’s financial condition.  Said Senator Collins:   “More than 80 percent of the Postal Service’s expenses are workforce-related. The failure to rein in these costs threatens not only the viability of the Postal Service, but also the livelihoods of Postal Service workers themselves.  The worst possible outcome for these workers would be for the Postal Service to be unable to meet its payroll – and that is a very real possibility for next year if we do not all act together to achieve reforms.”

Recently, the Senate turned back the effort to debate the merits of the bill.  There is still a lot of concern about the possibility of cutting back delivery services and closing some processing facilities, issues to which the sponsors are sensitive.  The vote was a test of whether the Senate was ready to deal with those issues.   The answer was “no.”  We expect the sponsors to bring up the bill again in the next month and there will be probably be modifications to find the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster.


PPAI has long supported the principle that our marketplace and industry practices should allow distributors and promotional consultants to determine the nature of their business relationship.  There is a long-standing practice in our industry for some promotional consultants to operate as independent contractors.  Not everybody in Congress agrees with that point of view.  Some in Congress would prefer to restrict the ability to promotional consultants to conduct business as independent contractors.  Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA) has introduced H.R.4123, Fair Playing Field Act of 2012 and Senator John Kerry (D-MA) has introduced the companion bill, S. 2145.  The bills would curtail a section of tax law known as Section 530 that permits industries to use independent contractors if it has been the long-standing practice of the industry.  PPAI opposes the legislation as it has done in past Congresses, as this is not the first time these bills have been introduced.


PPAI has worked for decades to educate the federal government’s Department of Labor (DOL) about the value of safety awareness programs.  The DOL has long had concerns about programs that “discourage” employees from reporting injuries.  DOL continues to provide insights on where they draw the line between valuable safety awareness programs and those they perceive as inappropriate.  In a recent memo, DOL said this to their field inspection staff:

“Some employers establish programs that unintentionally or intentionally provide employees an incentive to not report injuries.  For example, an employer might enter all employees who have not been injured in the previous year in a drawing to win a prize, or a team of employees might be awarded a bonus if no one from the team is injured over some period of time.  Such programs might be well-intentioned efforts by employers to encourage their workers to use safe practices.  However, there are better ways to encourage safe work practices, such as incentives that promote worker participation in safety-related activities, such as identifying hazards or participating in investigations of injuries, incidents, or ‘near misses.’  OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) Guidance materials refer to a number of positive incentives, including providing tee shirts to workers serving on safety and health committees; offering modest rewards for suggesting ways to strengthen safety and health; or throwing a recognition party at the successful completion of company-wide safety and health training.

“Incentive programs that discourage employees from reporting their injuries are problematic because an employer may not ‘in any manner discriminate’ against an employee because the employee exercises a protected right, such as the right to report an injury.  If an employee of a firm with a safety incentive program reports an injury, the employee, or the employee’s entire work group, will be disqualified from receiving the incentive, which could be considered unlawful discrimination.  One important factor to consider is whether the incentive involved is of sufficient magnitude that failure to receive it ‘might have dissuaded reasonable workers from’ reporting injuries.  In addition, if the incentive is great enough that its loss dissuades reasonable workers from reporting injuries, the program would result in the employer’s failure to record injuries that it is required to record.  In this case, the employer is violating that rule, and a referral for a recordkeeping investigation should be made.   This may be more likely in cases where an entire workgroup is disqualified because of a reported injury to one member, because the injured worker in such a case may feel reluctant to disadvantage the other workgroup members.”

We see signs of progress in the language, but PPAI will continue our “educational efforts.” 

PM’s Kyle Richardson on the Power of the Brand

There’s a wealth of information on the correlation between employee engagement, job satisfaction and organizational success.  In fact, I serve as a board director at The Forum: Business Results Through People, an organizational trust for thought leadership advocating that the most effective way business leaders can create and sustain organizational value is through their partnership with people.  In short – People Centered Leadership

So, while we all know that employees can make or break the brand is it possible that the brand makes the employees?

Promo Marketing’s Kyle Richardson nails it again with this thoughtful column on the power of branding and the power of a corporate brand on employee satisfaction.


Enjoy the read. And thank you Kyle for letting me share your column.

I’m With The Brand

By Kyle Richardson | Posted on March 30, 2012
Everyone knows that a company’s employees make or break the brand, but can a company’s brand make its employees? If branding juggernaut Apple is any indication, the answer might be yes.

Employer reporting website Glassdoor announced its Top 25 Highest Rated CEOs list today, and who is sitting at the top spot? Newly minted Apple CEO Tim Cook, who has held the title for a mere seven months. In that time, Cook achieved an exemplary 97 percent approval rating by employees, coincidentally the same rating Steve Jobs had when he stepped down in August 2011. (Jobs held a 95 percent rating on the site’s 2011 list last March.)

Prior to Jobs’ resignation, investors and analysts were nervous about the company’s future. Since Cook took over, the iPhone 4S and the iPad 3 the New iPad the latest version of the iPad both had massively successful launches, but those were products in development before his reign. Not having the outsized personality of Jobs, it’s harder to know what Cook thinks or is doing within Cupertino’s walls. He could be doing a stellar job, impressing every single employee (or, at least 97 percent of them) with his insight and acumen. Or he could be the lucky victim of brand absorption, wherein he becomes a reflection of the goodwill attributed to the company.

Is that the case? I have no way of knowing. I’m just a guy with a keyboard and a deadline. Tim Cook could very well be the greatest CEO in the universe, and I have no doubt that he is an extremely intelligent and capable individual. I have no doubt of that because I know Apple only hires people of that caliber, and I know that because I, too, am imprinted by Apple’s branding. See how that works?

That there would be absolutely no change in rating after a headline-grabbing transition is unusual. Steve Ballmer didn’t get it that easy when he took over Microsoft, and U.S. president approval ratings are, well, yeah. So what is it? Honeymoon phase? Halo effect? Good old-fashioned skill? Who knows, but I’m willing to bet as long as Apple maintains its current image, Cook too will continue to look good.

It’s an interesting thought experiment at the very least. Have you seen other instances of company branding making (or breaking) its employees?

READ MORE by Kyle Richardson.