Author Archives: dcentral

The Sky is Falling. Again. Not Really.

 

eclipse-photo

Tomorrow millions of people around the globe will experience a total solar eclipse. For many, it will be their very first eclipse. As I sit here in an aluminum tube hurtling through the air at 478mph, 40,000 feet above the earth, I find myself looking at the sun’s reflection on the wing, pondering the sheer wonder and awe that will go through the minds of those who are lucky enough to experience tomorrow’s “totality”.

At the same time there are also those who are preparing for the end of the world as we know it. That’s right, there are people around the earth who believe that the eclipse is the opening act of the apocalypse. In fact, one prophecy website that boasts thousands of followers claims that tomorrow’s eclipse will kick off a seven-year period during which 75% of the world’s population will be destroyed.

Check please.

I read those articles and the requisite barrage of comments with the same combination of incredulity, frustration, and, well, amusement, that I experience when I read the comments following the latest headline in our industry to take social media by storm.

You know which one I’m talking about, don’t you?

Walmart Enters the Promotional Products Industry

Yup…that’s the one.

Not since Vistaprint and Amazon launched their promo businesses has there been such an immediate and audible gasp by members of our industry. Last week at the North American Leadership Conference and Tech Summit the buzzword of the week was “Amazon-like experience”. Do we need to be worried that one year from now we’re going to be talking about a “Walmart-like experience”?

Of course not. And here’s why.

First, to put your mind at east just a bit; Walmart themselves did not “enter” the promotional products industry. At least not directly. If you dig a bit deeper you’ll see that the site looks strikingly similar to another site that is run by a promotional products distributor.

Coincidence? No. The Walmart Promo Shop site is simply a branded site that a savvy distributor pitched to Walmart, likely in return for a portion of the profits, a licensing fee, or some combination thereof. This differs strikingly from what Amazon and Vistaprint are doing, where our distributor channel isn’t involved at all.

Yes, Walmart does nearly half a trillion dollars in business each year. Yes, they have roughly 4000 retail outlets across the country. Yes, they employ over two million people. But how many of those employees do you think know the first thing about the promotional products business?

Secondly, for the most part nothing has changed. If you are a distributor you will continue to compete against people who focus solely on price as their main competitive advantage. In the particular case of the Walmart Promo Shop site, that is even less worrisome since, as a few savvy commenters pointed out in the Promotional Products Professional group on Facebook, this site isn’t listing products at prices lower than what most of you are currently able to offer.

In fact, if your concern relates primarily to price let’s look at a specific example. If you look at the Icy-Bright 24-Pack Cooler on the Walmart Promo Shop site and the same product on a distributor site hosted by DistributorCentral that’s using standard, published supplier retail pricing you’ll see that the difference in price just over one dollar, or roughly four percent.

walmartpromos

 

distributor-central

That is to say, your customer could buy this cooler for one dollar less on the Walmart Promo Shop site than they could if they bought it from you at standard listed prices from the supplier. I’m guessing that many of you have negotiated some level of preferred pricing from suppliers so any worry about being beat on price by the Walmart Promo Shop site goes out the window when you break down the numbers.

But let’s assume for a minute that you don’t get any special pricing from suppliers and you sell to your customers at full advertised retail price.

Can you provide your clients with one dollar of value? Just one dollar, on a $26 item?

The difference in what Amazon, Vistaprint, and Walmart provide to their customers and what you provide to your clients is, well, you. Your imagination, your creativity, your consultative approach to developing marketing solutions, and your willingness to work hand in hand with your clients to help them achieve their goals.

That imagination, creativity, and relationship-focused approach provides your clients with so much more than one dollar.

One of the comments that stuck with me during last week’s North American Leadership Conference was a comment made by Roy Spence, the creative mind behind some of the most successful marketing campaigns in history.

We need to ladder up and stop selling products and start selling purpose-inspired solutions.

-Roy Spence

No offense to Walmart, but they aren’t in the business of selling purpose-inspired solutions. At least not when it comes to promotional products.

Distributors in our industry should, however, be in the mindset of selling purpose-inspired solutions to their clients and it’s those solutions that add the value that makes the distributor channel in this industry so important.

That said, we cannot ignore the fact that companies like Amazon, Vistaprint, 4imprint and others are providing a fast, easy, frictionless method of ordering promotional products. Embracing that type of technology and having it available in your toolset is critical as you strive to build relationships, engage more efficiently with your customers and do business in a manner that fits your needs and theirs. Amazon may not be in the business of providing purpose-inspired solutions, but they have essentially become the gold standard in terms of how to find, buy, ship and track products online and that’s a lesson to which all of us should be paying attention.

If you need help with the digital toolkit aspect of your business be sure to give us a call. Just don’t do it between roughly noon and 2pm CDT on Monday…our staff will be outside watching the eclipse and hoping the world doesn’t end.

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David Shultz
Vice-President, Operations
DistributorCentral, LLC
david@distributorcentral.com | @dshultzkc

David is one of the original members of the software development team behind DistributorCentral’s industry-leading technology platform. Today he serves as a member of the firm’s executive team, providing leadership and strategic support to its software development, sales, marketing and customer support teams and serve as key technical contact for many of the firm’s enterprise-level customers. Innovation and collaboration are two of our basic tenets at DistributorCentral, and the ones that allow us to help our clients focus on their key strengths in order to drive revenue growth.

Starline Launches PromoStandards Purchase Order and Invoice Services

Starline

Starline announced the implementation of its PromoStandards Purchase Order and Invoice Services at the PPAI Technology Summit this week in Austin, TX. These two services complete the full order cycle for Starline’s integration capabilities. Starline’s full suite of PromoStandards services now includes Inventory, Order Status, Order Shipment Notifications, Product Data, Product Media, Product Pricing and Configuration, Purchase Orders and Invoices.

“The ability to process a well-formed order and get it into production without user interaction is a transformational service for our company,” says Jon Norris, VP of Operations for Starline. “The well-formed order with configured product data enables Starline to better serve our customers with high levels of accuracy, lower supply chain friction and decreased lead times.” Starline accepts basic, blank and fully configured orders with their new service.

The launch of the Invoice Service allows Starline to provide line item level accuracy in invoices to its valuable trading partners. “This service returns numerous query options which provides the distributor a faster turn on their invoice, which ultimately increases cash flow for everyone,” says Norris.

Starline remains a strong leader in the PromoStandards initiative by combining the industry’s leading integration capabilities with an innovative product line. These services, combined with Starline’s advanced TruColor™ digital four-color process decoration and a strong focus on product safety and quality, set Starline apart as an elite supplier in the Promotional Products Industry. “Our ability to rapidly respond to our customers’ integration needs is one of the many factors at Starline driving a year of explosive growth,” says Norris.

To view available services and integrate with Starline, please visit http://promostandards.org/endpoint/overview/company/1/

Contact Jon Norris at jnorris@starline.com to start the seamless onboarding process with our integrations team.

Eyevertising USA ranks 1130th on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list with Three-Year Sales Growth of 371%

Evevertising logoInc 5000

MIAMI, August 16, 2017 – Eyevertising, a multi-award-winning promotional product supplier, ranked 1130th at the 36th annual Inc. 5000, the most prestigious ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. The list represents a unique look at the most successful companies within the American economy’s most dynamic segment. Companies such as Microsoft, Dell, Domino’s
Pizza, Timberland, LinkedIn, Yelp, and many other well-known names gained their first national exposure as honorees of the Inc. 5000. For Eyevertising’s result page, visit www.inc.com/profile/eyevertising

“You can’t go wrong with customer satisfaction as your business strategy” Eyevertising CEO / Founder Sylvan Faber.

Eyevertising is the inventor of the now famous custom pinhole sunglasses, for which it holds 6 US Patents and has won numerous industry awards. It is a major player in the promotional eyewear arena, and has helped local businesses to Fortune 500 companies promote their brands through its inventions. Its patented products are also available at major nationwide retailers through its retail division. For more information, visit www.eyevertising.com

The 2017 Inc. 5000, unveiled online at Inc.com is the most competitive crop in the list’s history. The average company on the list achieved a mind-boggling three-year average growth of 481%. The Inc. 5000’s aggregate revenue is $206 billion, and the companies on the list collectively generated 619,500 jobs over the past three years.

More about Inc. and the Inc. 5000
Methodology
The 2017 Inc. 5000 is ranked according to percentage revenue growth when comparing 2013 to 2016. To qualify, companies must have been founded and generating revenue by March 31, 2013. They had to be U.S.-based, privately held, for profit, and independent—not subsidiaries or divisions of other companies—as of December 31, 2016. (Since then, a number of companies on the list have
gone public or been acquired.) The minimum revenue required for 2013 is $100,000; the minimum for 2016 is $2 million. As always, Inc. reserves the right to decline applicants for subjective reasons. Companies on the Inc. 500 are featured in Inc.’s September issue. They represent the top tier of the Inc. 5000, which can be found at http://www.inc.com/inc5000.

“The Inc. 5000 is the most persuasive evidence I know that the American Dream is still alive.” Inc. President and Editor-In-Chief Eric Schurenberg.

About Inc. Media
Founded in 1979 and acquired in 2005 by Mansueto Ventures, Inc. is the only major brand dedicated exclusively to owners and managers of growing private companies, with the aim to deliver real solutions for today’s innovative company builders. Winner of the National Magazine Award for General Excellence in both 2014 and 2012. Total monthly audience reach for the brand has grown significantly from 2,000,000 in 2010 to over 18,000,000 today. For more information, visit www.inc.com.

The Inc. 5000 is a list of the fastest-growing private companies in the nation. Started in 1982, this prestigious list of the nation’s most successful private companies has become the hallmark of entrepreneurial success. The Inc. 5000 Conference & Awards Ceremony is an annual event that celebrates their remarkable achievements. The event also offers informative workshops, celebrated keynote speakers, and evening functions.

Hub Pen’s Victoria Freeman Promoted to IT Support Analyst

Hub Pens

Braintree, MA, August, 2017 – Hub Pen Company and Beacon Promotions are proud to announce that Victoria Freeman has been promoted to the position of IT Support Analyst. In this role, Victoria will be providing initial support to system users with hardware, software, email and the company’s business applications.  She will also be responsible for updating the company’s website http://www.hubpen.com with new products, press releases and distributor sales tools, such as flyers and images.

Victoria has been with Hub Pen since 2012 as a Customer Service Representative and has always been one of the more technically savvy employees of the company.  She was a dedicated CSR to several top accounts, many of which are web-based and, during the implementation of the current system, she was very helpful to her fellow representatives.

“I am so grateful to Hub for allowing me the chance to prove myself in this field,” Victoria said.  “My passion is working with computers so I am excited to be in a position that allows me to pursue that career.”

IT Software Manager Glenn Walker said, “Vickie is great working with people and helping them understand what is going on with the system.  She really is a perfect fit for the position, and we are excited to have her on our team.”

Victoria Freeman

Victoria Freeman

About HUB:
Boston has been described as the “Hub of the Universe” and in the Hub Pen story the same holds true. From Frank and Rita Fleming’s humble beginnings in Boston in 1954 to the 100 million pen annual operations of today, Hub Pen has grown to serve an ever -increasing national and international market.  Our customers have rated us “A” on the SAGE rating system and 5 out of 5 stars on ESP.  For more information on Hub Pen, visit our website at hubpen.com or call customer service at 800-388-2323.

About Beacon:
A multiple Star Supplier Winner with a great reputation for service.  Our customers have rated us “A+” on the SAGE rating system and 5 out of 5 stars on ESP.   Beacon offers a wide selection of products, such as:  calendars and planners, table covers, flashlights, highlighters, housewares and name badges.  You will also find premium leather products in our Canyon Outback Leather line and Name Brand products for executive gifts and incentives.   For more information on Beacon, visit our website at beaconpromotions.com or call customer service at 800-628-9979.

IMAGEN Brands has announced 2017 Holiday Release

IMAGEN BrandsIMAGEN Brands is excited to announce the 2017 Holiday Release from Crown and Vitronic. You can find these products in the New 2017 Crown and Vitronic Holiday Giftbooks available now through December.

Experience the Magic with Crown’s new laser engraving now available on the popular Viking Collection. In addition, special holiday pricing is included with the 20oz. and 30oz. Viking Tumblers as well as the 20oz. and 30oz. Two Tone Viking Tumblers.

Experience the Gift of Giving with Vitronic’s New Torba Collection. This unique line of products has a soft PU material with 210D polyester lining featured in a messenger bag, tote bag, accessory bag, and tech organizer. Also, introducing a new plush item called Aromatic Friends. Aromatherapy is a hot trend right now, and Vitronic has a scented teddy bear in lavender, jasmine, cinnamon, and vanilla.

“We are excited to announce our 2017 Holiday Release,” explains Jenny Straub, Senior Director of Marketing and Product Development. “IMAGEN Brands has introduced a unique collection of products, including special pricing on select items. These retail-inspired products are sure to stand out and enhance the customer’s image.

imagen_holiday_2017

www.imagenbrands.com
www.crownprod.com
www.vitronicpromotional.com

PIONEER BALLOON COMPANY RELEASES NEW ROSE GOLD QUALATEX® LATEX AND MICROFOIL® BALLOONS

Pioneer Logo

Pioneer Balloon Company released its latest latex and Microfoil balloon color: Rose Gold. Rose Gold is a currently trending color in the world of promotional products, fashion, and retail and Pioneer capitalized on this trend by producing Rose Gold Qualatex latex and Microfoil balloon colors. The new beautiful color will be offered in the following sizes: 11″ Round Qualatex latex, 30″ Round Qualatex latex, 18″ Round, 18″ Heart, 20″ Star, and 36″ Heart Microfoil
balloons. These balloons are currently available to order.

Founded in 1917, Pioneer Balloon Company is the leading manufacturer promotional products, branded as the Pioneer Line. It includes Qualatex® and AdRite™ latex balloons, Microfoil® balloons, AdMax® balls, Ad Inflatable™ displays, Promotional Flags, Banners, Table Covers & Runners, Event Tents, Pop Up Walls, and Economy Backdrops. For mor e information on Pioneer Line products, call 800-685-4441, email: info@pioneerline.com, or visit pioneerline.com.

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Sweda Launches New PromoStandards Integration Services

Sweda logo

(CITY OF INDUSTRY, Calif., August 11, 2017) – Sweda Company, LLC (ASI 90305, PPAI 113914, SAGE 56805, UPIC SWEDA)

Sweda, a Top 40 Supplier of premium promotional products, is excited to announce the addition of two new services to its PromoStandards integration, Order Status and Order Ship Notifications.

PromoStandards is an industry-wide collaboration designed to enable industry participants to improve customer experience, reduce transactional friction and improve the digital promotional experience. A proud collaborator, Sweda currently supports the Inventory, Order Status, and Order Ship Notification standards with commitments to adhere to all future standards and plans to implement the Product Data and Media Content standards in the beginning of 2018.

“We’re excited to bring these new services to our customers,” said Sweda Director of IT, David Jackson, “this brings us one step closer to total PromoStandards integration.”

The PromoStandards integration technology can help increase the accuracy of Order Data and provide real-time Order Shipping Status, lower overall transactional costs and simplify the selling cycle. Sweda customers not currently leveraging PromoStandards are encouraged to reach out to Sweda’s IT Director David Jackson (djackson@swedausa.com) for more information.

ABOUT SWEDA: Founded in 1976, Sweda Company, LLC is the preferred choice of innovative marketing solutions for the advertising specialties industry. Sweda is a founding member of Quality Certification Alliance (QCA) and an ASI 5-Star Supplier, offering complete services, competitive pricing and quality customer care to its distributor customers. Sweda’s product offering covers 18 categories including: bags, drinkware, headwear, gifts, home and office, outdoors, gift sets, stationery, technology, time and writing instruments.

IMAGEN Brands was a proud sponsor at GAPPP event

IMAGEN Brands

IMAGEN Brands was a proud sponsor at the Georgia Association of Promotional Products Professionals (GAPPP) Family Picnic. The event was held at West Bank Park in Lake Lanier, Georgia on Saturday, July 22nd. The donation included a popular favorite, the Coleman Basic 18-Can Cooler (VCLM002).

“The GAPPP Family Picnic is one of our favorite events during the year. Picnic attendees bring their kids and grandkids to swim, take boat rides, have epic water balloon fights, and enjoy great food,” explains Lisa Bibb, Regional Sales Manager for GAPPP. “This year, the attendees were thrilled to receive the Coleman coolers, courtesy of IMAGEN Brands and Gabe McGraw, our regional rep. It was a great surprise for each family to be able to take one home, and they looked awesome! The GAPPP brand along with the Coleman brand makes for the best of impressions. We all would like to thank IMAGEN Brands for their generosity, service, and partnership at a regional level.”

“Strategic product placement is something that IMAGEN Brands is very passionate about. The selection of the Coleman brand with the picnic theme we felt was a great combination,” states Dana Zezzo, Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “To us this is a live case study. We work very hard every day to help distributors understand where our products can be used. Thank you GAPPP for giving us this opportunity.”

IMAGEN Sponsors GAPPP

www.imagenbrands.com
www.crownprod.com
www.vitronicpromotional.com

PPEF 2017 Scholarships Go to Three Hub Pen Employees’ Children

Hub Pens

BRAINTREE, MASSACHUSETTS (August 8, 2017) –  Hub Pen Company is proud to announce that three employees children have been awarded Promotional Products Education Foundation (PPEF) scholarships.  PPEF is the industry’s nonprofit founded to recognize and encourage scholastic excellence and academic performance among promotional products industry employees and their college-aged children. Funded by Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) and generous donations from companies and individuals within the promotional products industry, the PPEF scholarship program enables youth and professionals to continue their education on a collegiate level.

Boston resident Shilan Liang, daughter of silkscreen operator Jiehua Liang, will be using her scholarship to attend Boston’s Suffolk University Sawyer School of Business.  An accomplished mathematician with time management and office skills, Shilan has worked towards her dream of being in business ever since her family owned a business in their homeland China.   She has always used her skills to benefit her own community of Chinatown, volunteering and working for Chinatown Main Street, organizing fundraisers and assisting with business operations.  She acts on the Chinese Immigrant Student Leadership advisory group, and has volunteered at the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, where she has assisted teachers with bilingual students for the last four years.

Shilan Liang

Shilan Liang

Jimmy Fang, son of silkscreen lead Anna Fang, will be attending University of Buffalo New York for Political Science and plans to go on to receive his Juris Doctorate in law.  The Braintree resident wants to become a lawyer so he can fight for justice and help people in marginalized communities.  When he is not at school or working, he volunteers for Quincy Asian Resources (QARI) helping in the computer skills class and media studio, and also volunteers working with the elderly at South Cove elder center, helping them to communicate their needs.

Jimmy Fang

Jimmy Fang

Carmen Huang, daughter of silkscreen operator Bing Yi Cao, will be in her second year Brandeis University in Waltham Massachusetts studying Business and Economics.  She plans to go on to receive her MBA, and become an international business leader and social advocate.  Carmen is fluent in Cantonese, Mandarin and Taishanese and is a member of several Asian American organizations at Brandeis helping to support other students from immigrant families.  She also volunteers for Brandeis Student Support Services and tutors local students in math and science.

Carmen Huang

Carmen Huang

To learn more about applying for the 2018 scholarships, applicants are invited to visit www.ppef.us and click on the application forms. The application deadline for next year is March 15, 2018. Please direct questions to Sara Besly at SaraB@ppai.org. Find out how to help support PPEF and its scholarship programs at https://www.ppef.us/

About HUB:
Boston has been described as the “Hub of the Universe” and in the Hub Pen story the same holds true. From Frank and Rita Fleming’s humble beginnings in Boston in 1954 to the 100 million pen annual operations of today, Hub Pen has grown to serve an ever -increasing national and international market.  Our customers have rated us “A” on the SAGE rating system and 5 out of 5 stars on ESP.  For more information on Hub Pen, visit our website at hubpen.com or call customer service at 800-388-2323.

About Beacon:
A multiple Star Supplier Winner with a great reputation for service.  Our customers have rated us “A+” on the SAGE rating system and 5 out of 5 stars on ESP.   Beacon offers a wide selection of products, such as:  calendars and planners, table covers, flashlights, highlighters, housewares and name badges.  You will also find premium leather products in our Canyon Outback Leather line and Name Brand products for executive gifts and incentives.   For more information on Beacon, visit our website at beaconpromotions.com or call customer service at 800-628-9979.

Hub Pen hires Parich Basnet as Sales System Support Analyst

Hub Pens

Braintree, MA, August, 2017 – Hub Pen Company has hired Parich Basnet as Sales System Support Analyst.  Parich will be working with the IT department and Sales department to expand upon the current NetSuite operating system functions as they relate to Sales and Finance.  “I’m glad to be joining Hub in this time of growth,” Parich said.  “There are so many opportunities with this great team.”

Parich joins the company with several years of consulting experience with NetSuite both in his native Nepal and in North Carolina where he first moved to the US three years ago with his wife Deepa.  Deepa is also an IT Business Analyst and she spends time between her job in Connecticut and the couple’s current residence in Malden, Massachusetts.  The couple enjoys spending time exploring New England and relaxing at the local beaches.

“I’m very excited to have Parich join our growing IT team, “Glenn Walker, IT Software Manager said.  “We all are looking forward to him being a key contributor as we continue to grow and expand the business.”

Parich Basnet

Parich Basnet

About HUB:
Boston has been described as the “Hub of the Universe” and in the Hub Pen story the same holds true. From Frank and Rita Fleming’s humble beginnings in Boston in 1954 to the 100 million pen annual operations of today, Hub Pen has grown to serve an ever -increasing national and international market.  Our customers have rated us “A” on the SAGE rating system and 5 out of 5 stars on ESP.  For more information on Hub Pen, visit our website at hubpen.com or call customer service at 800-388-2323.

About Beacon:
A multiple Star Supplier Winner with a great reputation for service.  Our customers have rated us “A+” on the SAGE rating system and 5 out of 5 stars on ESP.   Beacon offers a wide selection of products, such as:  calendars and planners, table covers, flashlights, highlighters, housewares and name badges.  You will also find premium leather products in our Canyon Outback Leather line and Name Brand products for executive gifts and incentives.   For more information on Beacon, visit our website at beaconpromotions.com or call customer service at 800-628-9979.