Category Archives: Newsletter


Pro Towels Family


PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA – March 1, 2017 – Pro Towels, the industry’s largest towel supplier, announced today that Jennifer Gambrell has joined the company as Senior Director of Marketing. Jennifer will head the marketing department for Pro Towels, Kanata Blanket Company, Superior and Neet Feet.

Prior to joining the team, Jennifer was the Creative Manager at J&P Acquisitions, Inc. While there, Jennifer helped improve their catalog development process, was responsible for building multiple brands under JPPA, has extensive e commerce and social media experience and created several industry award winning marketing campaigns. She started there as a graphic design intern during her undergrad degree and worked her way to a fulltime graphic designer then web designer and finally Creative Manager. While working full-time, Jennifer also obtained her Master’s in Graphic Design from the Academy of Art University in 2015.

Jennifer exclaims, “I’m very excited to be joining the Pro Towels Family of Brands and getting the chance to work with a strong, growing team. I really look forward to taking our marketing campaigns to new heights.”

Kevin Nord, President of Pro Towels, continued “We truly feel the combination of Jennifer’s extensive marketing background, combined with a fresh look at the industry, will allow us to continue to expand the PT family, and ultimately serve our distributor partners better!”

Pro Towels is the largest towel supplier to the promotional product industry with locations on both the east and west coast. The company offers in-house screen printing and embroidery services to support a broad product line of beach, golf, and sport towels. Additionally, Pro Towels carries bathrobes and other beach accessories to complement its towel line. The Pro Towels family of companies also includes Kanata Blanket Company, a leader in premium blankets, décor and lifestyle products, and Superior, a leader in contract decorating for the promotional products industry for over 30 years. Most recently, the Pro Towels family acquired Neet Feet, a supplier of quality custom logo flip flops and other premium footwear.

Jennifer Gambrell

Jennifer Gambrell


A+ Wine Designs Honored for Excellence in Customer Service and Quality

A+ Wine Designs
SAN DIEGO, CA (January 23, 2017) – A+ Wine Designs was recently honored as double awardee at the 2017 Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) annual awards celebration.  A+ Wine Designs took home the coveted Supplier Star Award for outstanding customer service, as well as an Achievement Award (Silver) for design in the Etching/ Engraving/ Laser category.

The PPAI Awards Presentation & Reception was held on January 9, 2017 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, in conjunction with The PPAI Expo in Las Vegas. A+ Wine Designs, based in San Diego, was one of less than a handful of companies to garner multiple awards, and one of eleven suppliers to receive the Supplier Star award.

The PPAI Supplier Star competition brings annual recognition to supplier members for excelling in communication, service and quality as voted on by over 14,000 PPAI member distributors. The PPAI Supplier Star is one of the most sought after and prestigious awards for supplier members and is the mark of a true professional partner that delivers excellence in product, decoration and overall customer service to their distributor customers.

“Supplier Star winners offer truly outstanding promotional products solutions combined with the highest level of customer service excellence,” said Paul Bellantone, CAE, president and CEO at PPAI. “We congratulate A+ Wine Designs as one of the industry’s top-performing companies of the year.”

Additionally, the company also received a supplier Achievement Award (Silver) for its excellent etching quality. A+ Wine Designs was the only company recognized with an award in the “Etching, Engraving and Laser” category.

“Receiving this recognition, for a company of our modest size, is such a huge achievement,” says Jim Ristuccia, chief operating officer, A+ Wine Designs. “It’s a real testament to the dedication of our employees and the attention to detail that they put into every order on a daily basis. We are very pleased and proud to have this recognition.”  

About A+ Wine Designs
A+ Wine Designs, founded in 1992 and located in San Diego, specializes in creating amazing wine gifts. The company creates custom deep-etched and custom-labeled wine, liquor, and olive oil bottles. We are proud to have just been awarded a 2017 Supplier Star Award, as well as being included on the Counselor Magazine’s Best Places to Work list for 2016.  Also, we have been rated the top wine company on ESP and SAGE for over 20 years in a row by offer award-winning customer service, quality, and design. We offer top name brand options, individual personalization, fulfillment services, nationwide delivery, and free virtual samples. Please visit our website: or call us at 800.201.9463

About PPAI
Founded in 1903, the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) is the world’s largest and oldest not-for-profit association serving more than 14,000 corporate members of the $20.8 billion promotional products industry which is comprised of more than 33,700 businesses and a workforce of more than 500,000 professionals. PPAI represents the industry in Washington, D.C., and advocates on its behalf. PPAI operates The PPAI Expo, the industry’s largest trade show; provides the leading promotional products safety and compliance program, a prestigious professional development and certification program; and publishes industry trade journals and periodicals. The multi-billion-dollar industry includes wearables, writing instruments, calendars, drinkware and many other items, usually imprinted with a company’s name, logo or message. For more information about the PPAI awards program visit or contact the PPAI Awards and Recognition department at

Maintaining Supplier Relationships After a Merger

It seems that supplier consolidation is a daily occurrence in the promotional products industry. In January 2017 alone, J. America Wholesale merged with Top of the World, FEY Promotional Products acquired Magna-Tel, Ball Pro acquired Diversified-Adtee, and Ennis acquired Independent Printing Company. With that kind of activity in the first month of the year, 2017 will likely be a record one for supplier consolidation.

While these mergers and acquisitions create cost efficiencies for the suppliers, many times it leads to confusion among distributor clients. Think of it as the law of unintended consequences – no supplier knowingly creates turbulence for distributors, but when a merger of two companies takes place, this is often the case.

Instead of waiting for communication from the supplier that’s been acquired, take the bull by the proverbial horns and drive the conversation. To ensure your business as a distributor isn’t negatively impacted, focus on the following when working with a supplier that has recently been part of a merger or acquisition:

  • Updated Terms – It’s critical to understand whether your terms with the company changed and, more importantly, if it impact any current orders. Finding out after an event date has been missed that a new policy suddenly put you over your limit may cause you to lose a valuable client.
  • Updated Documentation – Related to updated terms, find out if they need any updated documentation from you to ensure transactions continue to flow in a smooth manner. Do they need an updated credit application or resale certificate? Don’t rely on the supplier to ask you.
  • Don’t Blame Employees – It’s far too easy to vent to a front-line employee how things “used to be so much better.” Remember, they are also going through a transition which may include learning new systems, policies, and procedures. Giving the customer service representative grief about how the merger has impacted you won’t help the situation.
  • Provide Realistic Lead Times – Distributors who form the best relationships with suppliers for the long haul – especially after an acquisition – don’t abuse a rush order policy. During a transition, it’s imperative to give suppliers as much lead time as possible and keep them abreast of any significant changes to the timeline.

Developing and maintaining good relationships with a supplier after a merger is not a complicated process. Drive communication, ask important questions, don’t point fingers, and be realistic with lead times. Like the old saying goes, “treat others how you would like to be treated.” It really is just that simple.

Bill Petrie

About brandivate

Bill has over 15 years working in executive leadership positions at leading promotional products distributorships. In 2014, he launched brandivate – the first executive outsourcing company solely focused on helping small and medium sized promotional products enterprises responsibly grow their business.

A featured speaker at numerous industry events, a serial creator of content marketing, Vice President for the Promotional Products Association of the Mid-South (PPAMS), and PromoKitchen chef, Bill has extensive experience coaching sales teams, creating successful marketing campaigns, developing operational policies and procedures, creating and developing winning RFP responses, and presenting winning promotional products solutions to Fortune 500 clients.

PPAMS to help provide donated items for the Gatlinburg fire victims


I’m sure you are aware of the terrible wildfires in Gatlinburg and Sevier County, Tennessee last week. Over 1,000 people are now left with only the clothes on their backs – no homes, no possessions and no cars. Absolutely nothing. PPAMS has reached out to promotional products businesses in the area and at this time we are not aware of any losses. Although the folks we spoke with were spared, they all had stories of neighbors and family members who weren’t so lucky.

PPAMS is joining with Randy Philipps of Access Solutions to come together and help with providing donated items for the Gatlinburg fire victims. Items that are needed include, household items, school supplies, toiletries, adult and children size apparel, footwear, blankets, bottled water, baby formula and diapers. If you have any overrun, samples and wearables available, they would be good to donate as well.

Knoxville Drop Off & Shipping
If in the Knoxville area, donations can be dropped off at Access Solutions, 8701 Unicorn Drive, Suite 302, Knoxville, TN 37923. Outside of Knoxville, items may be shipped to the same address. All items must be received by Friday December 9. For any more information please call Randy at 865-531-0971.

Nashville/Murfreesboro/Middle Tennessee Pickup
Jimmy Singleton of TSF Sportswear is also picking up items in the Nashville and Murfreesboro areas on Thursday, December 8 and Friday, December 9 to take to Gatlinburg. You can reach Jimmy at 615-812-4774 or by email at

Monetary Donations
Donations can also be made directly to the Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville Emergency Response Fund through the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee at

615.465.8109 |

Beginners Guide to SEO for Promotional Products Websites

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
is the activity of ensuring that a website can be found in search engines for words and phrases relevant to what the site is offering, primarily focusing on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. SEO encompasses both the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic and increase awareness in search engines.

Whether you already have a website or are planning to build a fresh site using DistributorCentral’s Responsive Website Editor, understanding the most basic, effective SEO practices that you can do yourself can make a huge difference to your site’s performance since the majority of web traffic is driven by major commercial search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo!

There is an art and a science to SEO, and an endless array of websites and SEO professionals out there who can help optimize your website, but the following are a few easy tips to help you improve your SEO that you can do yourself.

1. “On-Site” SEO Elements

These elements are part of the content on each page of your website that should be optimized to help search engines accurately index your pages.

Keywords: keep it simple – choose of up to five keywords or keyword phrases in your web content that make it possible for people to find your site via search engines. There are many keyword search tools available online to help you find the most relevant keywords that will drive ongoing web traffic and conversions on your site. Keywords can be sprinkled throughout the actual page content as well as added to META TAGs on your pages, but having relevant, applicable content in the actual text on your web pages is critical to accurate indexing.

Title Tag: The title tag on pages of your website tells search engines what any given page is about in the most concise and accurate way possible. It should be 70 characters or less and include your business or brand name and keywords that relate to that specific page only. This tag is placed between the <HEAD> </HEAD> tags near the top of the HTML code for the page.

Meta Description: The meta description is the snippet of information below the link of a search result. Its purpose is to describe the contents of the page to the searcher. You want to write your meta description with a human audience in mind that includes the page’s main keywords, as the meta description does show up in search results. It should do everything possible to drive the searcher to click.

2. Additional On-Site SEO Elements

Internal Links – You can help search engines learn more about your website by internally linking to other pages on your website within your content. Leverage tools such as DistributorCentral’s “Custom URL Builder” to create direct, succinct, links to key pages or product categories on your site. For example, you could create a custom URL that, for example, appears to the search engines as “” that links to a specific set of tumblers that you feature on your website. Search engines love short, descriptive URLS when categorizing your website.

Header Tags – Using header tags helps both readers and search engines break up your content into digestible sections. Each page should have a main header title tag (“H1” tags in html) that describes what that page contains. Subheaders (H2, H3, etc.) can further categorize content on that page.

Image Name & ALT Tags – Search engines not only crawl the text on your webpage but they also search for keywords within your image file names, so name your images descriptively and in plain English. Alt tags are shown when you hover over an image with your mouse and they add SEO value to your website. Adding appropriate alt tags to your images can help you achieve better rankings by associating keywords with images. Using alt tags is an effective way for your e-commerce products to show up in Google image and web search.

3. Content

The key to pleasing both search engines and visitors is to have quality content on your website. Here are some examples of quality content:

  • Blog Posts
  • Industry Articles
  • Case Studies
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Podcasts

Creating quality content for your website can be a huge investment of time and resources, but it doesn’t have to be if you take advantage of the resources already available to you. Search engines love relevant content, and ideally visitors to your site find the content useful such that that they share it via social media, leading to even more visitors. You can start out simple by creating blog posts on your website, and as your audience grows, you can expand your content to include additional types of media.

4. Link Building

The basic goal of link building is to get other websites to link to yours.

Link Building Ideas for Promotional Products Distributors:

•    Submit guest blog posts to popular blogs in our industry and to the markets you sell to. Generally, you will get a link back to your website in an author notation. DistributorCentral often features guest blog articles in our monthly CentralZone newsletter submitted by Suppliers with relevant articles about product category trends.

•    Reach out to related (but not competitive) businesses to see if they will link to you. A good way to do this is to see if the businesses you work with have link pages on their site for partners, vendors, suppliers, etc.

•    Create local search profiles and social media profiles to attract clicks and generate more incoming traffic to your website.

•    Submit your website to applicable industry directories. For example, a promotional product distributor that specializes in custom wedding invitations and save the date magnets could get listings with a link back to their website on The Knot or The Wedding Channel and other similar sites.

•    Submit your website to the “local” pages of Google, Bing, etc., to ensure that your site is found “locally” when people are searching for services such as yours in your area.

•    Create your own or find Infographics to convey the power of leveraging promotional products in you clients marketing efforts. Take advantage of PPAI’s resources that speak to the power and value of promotional products:
Get In Touch Advertising site and the Promotional Products Work site

5. Monitor your Results – keep track of your SEO progress

There are a lot of valuable SEO tools available online. Start with basic monitoring to help you learn more about whether your SEO efforts are making a difference.  Google Analytics can help you learn more about the visitors to your website and monitor your organic search traffic sources to see what keywords people are using to find your website in search results. Monitor traffic to your website as you launch new marketing initiatives and learn from which efforts drive traffic to your site and which don’t. Adjusting your tactics as a result of accurate analytics is one of the most powerful ways to build your sites’ relevance and search engine rankings.

Blog Article by:
Stephanie Protz, DistributorCentral
Marketing Director

2nd Annual DC Promo Pumpkin Contest

Fall is upon us!  We are dying to see how you can top last year’s winners with the most creative jack-o’-lanterns that incorporate the use of promotional products or your company logo!

To help you get started, request your Pumpkin Carving Scoop by sending an email to

Please include your Name, Company Name and Shipping Address.

Pumpkin Carving Scoop sponsored by Illini – Item 3910 – Click for PDF Sales Flyer

Contest Details:

Three categories will have one winner:

  • Overall Most Creative
  • Best Use of Promotional Products
  • Best Representation of Company Logo

All entries will be judged by a panel of creative professionals. Prizes to be announced soon!

Get creative! Carve, paint, draw or even arrange your pumpkins in a setting.

Upload your photo to:

Twitter: Tweet your photo @DistCentral with #DCPromoPumpkin
Instagram: Tag photo @distributorcentral

Submit your photo by Nov 1st, at 12 p.m. ET.

Use Hashtag #DCPromoPumpkin

*Contest open to employees of Distributor & Supplier Members of DC and Service Provider Partners of DistributorCentral.

Prizes Sponsored by:















2015 Winning Entries:

J. Charles Announces New Company Brand


Erlanger, Kentucky, September 12, 2016- J.Charles, (ASI/62985, SAGE/55826, UPIC/ JCHARLES) has unveiled their new logo and business promise, Beautifully Simple. In a statement issued by Barry Dyas, President of supplier J. Charles, “Our new logo and two-word tagline expresses all you need to know about J.Charles.  Born of a less is more approach, our well-designed products confirm the beauty that resides in simplicity. This same philosophy also lives on through our acclaimed customer service. We pride ourselves on taking the complexity out of doing business so that ordering is a pleasure, never a hassle.”

About J. Charles
Headquartered in Erlanger, Kentucky, J. Charles has been recognized as one of the Top 10 leading suppliers of award and recognition in the industry, specializing in crystal awards, gifts, and service that are “Beautifully Simple”.  For more information, visit



Q & A with Bill Petrie

Founder & CEO of brandivate

What’s in your work bag?  Whether it’s a backpack, satchel, or messenger bag, most of us in the promotional product industry are heavily geared up, mainly because we acquire a variety of samples and tech gadgets from not only our own companies we work, but from industry events.

As I sat down for lunch with Bill Petrie from brandivate to discuss this month’s CentralZone article topic, he started unpacking all of his gear, so I asked him to show me what’s in his bag.

What items do you always carry in your backpack?

My Leed’s elleven brandivate backpack always has the following items when I travel. I can’t go anywhere without my earbuds (Leed’s), a microfiber cleaning cloth (Toddy Cloth), a USB holder that I received at last year’s LDW conference, an assortment of pens (Prime/Jetline), 4-in-One charging buddy (HIT) from skucon, and lastly a brandivate cap to leave with a client (Vitronic).

What is the newest promo item you received that you can’t live without?

I am a self-professed serial charger, so I absolutely cannot live without my Juicebox external battery pack by OrigAudio.  I get very nervous when my devices get below 50% battery life. Back in the day my travel revolved around making sure all of my devices were fully charged. When I travel now, I am more relaxed knowing that my devices are fully charged by the time I land.

What is a typical day like at brandivate headquarters?

A typical day in my home office consists of conference calls, content writing and working on client deliverables.  And every Friday I have the pleasure of recording a podcast episode of Unscripted with Kirby Hasseman.

PCNA Launches Customizable Online Gift Store for Holiday and Year-End Selling

PITTSBURGH — August 29, 2016 — Polyconcept North America (PCNA), a leading promotional products supplier, has launched a new sales tool called to help distributor account executives drive holiday and year-end gift sales. With the tool, account executives can customize their own online gift store, featuring over 400 new and best-selling products and apparel pieces from Leed’s, Bullet, Trimark and JournalBooks.  To create a store, distributors can visit and follow a link to a dedicated landing page.

Unbranded and customizable, allows account executives provide their customers with a one-stop shop for their gifting needs.  Account executives can set up a store quickly with options to upload their company logo, select a color theme, use their headshot and post their contact information.  They can then create their own URL to promote their site to customers.

This online store is designed to replicate the experience customers have shopping in retail.  Features include:

  • Curated collections with gifts that haven been selected and categorized for easy shopping.
  • A function that lets users create a wish list and send the qualified leads directly to the account executive.
  • Original content on topics such as product trends and gifting tips.

“We designed the online gift store with our customers in mind,” said Leanne Finney, PCNA Vice President of Marketing. “Our goal was to create a unique resource that really helps distributor account executives streamline their holiday and year-end business and increase sales.  What’s more, we will be expanding the offering in 2017, so that distributors’ stores are continually refreshed with the newest products and freshest content, giving them tools that will last far beyond the current holiday season.”

For more information, there is a dedicated landing page with a link to set up a store, answers to frequently asked questions, a how-to video, and a link to PCNA’s 2016 Holiday Look Book, a retail-style guide with products grouped by gift giving occasions, as well as tips and trends. The landing page also has customizable resources that distributors can use to promote their online store.

#    #    #

About Polyconcept North America

Polyconcept North America (PCNA) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Polyconcept, the world’s leading promotional products supplier. With headquarters in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, PCNA operates Leed’s, Bullet, Trimark and JournalBooks. As the corporate home for this diverse group of suppliers, PCNA serves as a single source for the widest selection of hard goods, apparel, cutting-edge decoration and reliable service. For more information, go to


Brian O’Gara
PCNA Marketing Specialist
Polyconcept North America
400 Hunt Valley Road
New Kensington, PA  15068
PH:  888-476-5962, ext. 2382

How Wine on Tap is changing the Beverage Marketing Industry

Guest Blog Article by: Marissa Sutter, Motto Inc.
Digital Marketing Coordinator

Walking into any bar, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a line of tap handles displaying what beers are on tap. What if customers could walk into a bar and see a line of handles displaying the various wines on tap? Thanks to the latest trends in the beverage industry, wine on tap is becoming a common staple in bars across the country. Kegged wine is changing the beverage marketing industry due to how wine is being tapped, why companies are tapping wine and what is being done to market this innovation.


Tapping wine is done mechanically, virtually the same as for beer. A keg containing the wine of choice is hooked up to a keg-and-tap system, where gas, usually Nitrogen, is used to push the liquor through under low pressure.

Why Companies Tap Wine-

Speed & Cost:

  • No time spent corking, restocking shelves or recycling bottles.
  • When used for special events, wine on tap has been estimated to save employees over an hour of time that is usually spent transporting and organizing bottles on event premises.
  • Kegged wine doesn’t oxidize or spoil easily, which can reduce waste costs of wine that is normally thrown away.

Green Value:

  • 96% reduction in a company’s carbon footprint over 20 years when using tapped wine compared to wine poured out of bottles.
  • Each steel keg saves 2,340lbs of trash from the landfill over its’ lifetime, giving tapped wine an eco-friendly appeal.

Marketing Tapped Wine with Tap Handles- Anglia Ruskin at University in Cambridge, England, conducted a study tracking the eye movement of goggle-wearing pub-goers and their reactions to tap handles.

  • Participant’s eyes were drawn to tap handles before any other piece of marketing.
  • 95% of participants picked brightly colored tap handles attached to guest taps, over the bar’s own best-selling brand.
  • The study was able to verify that drinkers will make an “appearance-only” decision when faced with a slew of unknown choices.

Custom Tap Handles- Many bars and restaurants are doing more than just selling wine from a keg; they are marketing with custom tap handles.

  • Custom tap handles allow for bars/restaurants to market variations like:
    • Seasonal Flavors
    • Special Events
    • Frequent Changes to On-Tap Menus
    • Customization on Multiple Tappers
  • Companies are able to design handles to fit their brand by choosing from stock shapes or customizing a shape all their own.
  • Digitally printing on tap handles allow for recreations of full bottle images.

Custom tap handles have become a popular marketing strategy for new beverage products, especially when introducing wine on tap within a bar or restaurant. Tapping and marking wine in a keg could provide more payback to companies than just the monetary and ecological benefits that kegged wine already provides to the changing beverage industry.

View Custom Beer & Wine Taps from Motto Inc.