January/February 2021 Newsletter Print

President's Column

January 2021 President’s Column

Alyssa Inkrott (Raining Rose)  

I hope that everyone’s 2021 is off to a great start! After the year we had in 2020, I think we can only go up from here. The past month has been a busy one for me. I was lucky enough to spend a significant amount of time with my family over the holidays and even had a chance to visit and spend time with some of my closest friends in Florida at the beginning of January.

Although the pandemic is still at the forefront of our lives and keeping us from seeing each other in person for a little while longer, I’m optimistic that we are on the up and up and will be getting closer to “normal” again soon.

The UMAPP board met earlier this month to discuss the upcoming year. While this year is still going to look a little different, we have quite a few exciting things planned. Starting off with our upcoming “Up Close & Virtual” booth show. This is the first time we have ever done one of these for UMAPP and we are really looking forward to a great turnout and a chance to connect with each of you. Also, stay tuned for some great networking opportunities in the near future.

All of us at UMAPP are looking forward to a great start to the year and hopefully connecting with all of you again soon.

Cheers to 2021!

Alyssa Inkrott

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Calendar of Events

Save the Date!  We've planned some events to get you back into the swing of things. 

Wednesday, February 17 
"Up Close and Virtual" 
Trade Show
Suppliers and Distributors! Join us for our first Virtual Trade Show to get you caught up on all the latest and greatest to jump start your 2021.   

Distributor Registration via the SAGE Platform 
Exhibitor Registration via the SAGE Platform 

Thursday, April 15 
The UMAPP Room Show 
Our first in-person event at a beautiful new venue, The Crowne Plaza in Plymounth, Minnesota. Plenty of space for distancing, yet you will be able to experience an in-person event with 11 suppliers getting everyone caught up with their 25-minute presentations.  A must attend.  All State requirements will be adhered to along with appropriate social distancing measures.  

Wednesday, August 18 
Golf is Back! 
UMAPP's popular summer golf outing is returning to StoneRidge Golf Course in St. Paul. This is one not to miss! Enjoy golf contests, a hole in one opportunity (big money here), hole sponsorships with a donation going to the Wounded Warrior Project, lunch, awards, and FUN. 

Thursday, August 19
Brand Connection Expo
This is the event that combines the former Fire & Ice Booth Show with our End Buyer Showcase.  Held at the Oakdale Inwood Oaks Center, this event will showcase a keynote speaker, Dan Nevins of the Wounded Warrior Project. If you haven't heard him speak before, check out our website for more information, but be assured that a more inspiring and motivational discussion has likely not been heard.  He has an amazing story that will leave you breathless.  Also join Dan the morning of the show for an early yoga session.   

This is a distributor show where their customers are invited, too!  Come alone as a distributor, or invite your customers.  More information to come for both exhibitors and distributors.  


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Guest Column

Reprinted with permission from Promotional Consultant Today. 

Top-Shelf Tip No. 11:

“Either you follow up or you fold up.”
Bernard Kelvin Clive

Best Practices For Following Up After A Trade Show 


Most trade shows, conferences and summits have gone virtual, but the follow up is still the same. Even though you may not have met with prospects and clients face to face, it’s still important to reach out strategically and quickly after an event. You don’t want those connections and conversations to get lost in the shuffle as everyone gets back to work.  

If you could use a refresher on what to do after a trade show, read on. We share tips from Patrick Doolin, a content marketing expert, on ways to crush your lead follow-up in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today

Prioritize your hot leads. After a trade show or other event, you’ll likely come away with cold leads, warm leads and hot leads. The hot leads—those prospects who gave you a business card or told you they want to work with you—should be the first on your list when it comes to following up, notes Doolin.  

Categorize the rest of your leads. If you did not receive something tangible from a lead, you can classify them as a warm or cold lead. The key with these leads is to simply get started on reaching out. Instead of putting them to the side, start going down your list and tracking down the people with the right title. Not all of your leads will fit in your ideal customer profile, so take time to find the right contacts within an organization. 

Batch your follow-up sequences. Another best practice for following up after a trade show is grouping your leads into follow-up sequences you can easily personalize. For example, craft a message that touches on who you are, what you discussed with them and how you fit into their initiatives. Doolin says it’s important to focus on relationships rather than simply getting leads, so be sure to personalize your messages. 

When following up with your leads after a trade show, Doolin recommends systemizing your approach. Here’s how he suggests tackling it: 

Create a profile for each lead. Start by finding your lead’s profile on LinkedIn and gathering available info. You can then import the info to your CRM and tag your leads. For example, you could use your initials, the event and the year. (Example: AB – Expo 21). 

Build a multi-channel follow-up sequence. Thoughtful outreach takes time, so be sure to carefully prioritize your leads and plan your follow up. Doolin suggests something like this after a trade show:
•    Day 1: Send a LinkedIn request with a custom message
•    Day 1: Personalized email
•    Day 1: Call
•    Day 3: Personalized email bump (see the next step)
•    Days 4 and 6: Call
•    Day 7: Email bump

Customize your email bump. Doolin says the main purpose of an email bump is to bump your message to the top of a lead’s inbox. This makes them more likely to see it and respond to it. However, don’t get lazy with these communications. The more you tailor your message to the recipient, the more you nurture the new relationships. Consider humanizing your follow-up with a video or sending a valuable piece of content relevant to the prospect’s needs. 

Whether you have just wrapped up a virtual trade show or you have various events on your calendar later this year, you can make the most of your time by strategically following up with your leads. While the idea of following up with all of your prospects may seem daunting, break it down by first prioritizing your leads and then systemizing your approach. Every event is an opportunity to build relationships and generate new business, so don’t let those leads go to waste. 

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Patrick Doolin is a content marketing professional skilled in SEO, including on-page and pillar-cluster strategies.


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Welcome New Members


The Book Company
Roni Wright 
1405 Poinsettia Drive G-11
Delrya Beach, FL 33444


Promotoss (AJJ Enterprises LLC) 
Shane Back 
10073 Commerce Park Drive 
Cincinnati, OH  45246

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Industry News


PPAI Announces Departure Of President/CEO, Paul Bellantone

Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) President and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE, will conclude his employment with the Association at the end of March 2021, marking the end of more than 20 years of service to the Association. “The past 20-plus years have been nothing short of extraordinary,” Bellantone said. “This decision was not easy, but I am confident knowing that our strong staff and dedicated Board of Directors have PPAI in a solid position to move forward to protect, grow and engage the promotional products industry.” Bellantone notified the Board in late October of his intention to conclude his tenure before his next contract extension which was set to begin on April 1, 2021.

PPAI Board Chair Ira Neaman, MAS, said, “The Board and countless others in the industry are so grateful for Paul’s many years of leadership and dedication to serve and engage the industry. Under his leadership, PPAI has grown and evolved into one of the most respected associations worldwide. I am truly thankful for all Paul has done for PPAI, including instilling a strong ‘confidence to evolve’ mentality among the PPAI Board, staff and volunteer corps.” Executive Vice President Robert (Bob) McLean, Jr., CPA, CAE, CEM, said, “Paul has been an inspirational leader and advocate of the PPAI community and the industry. Due to his tireless leadership and team building, our staff and volunteer leaders are well-positioned for this change and to continue to move the Association forward.”

Bellantone added, “It has been a pleasure to serve the Association and I am tremendously appreciative of the opportunities I have been given and for the relationships I have built during my time with PPAI. It is no secret that this has been a challenging year for many, both personally and professionally. But with such challenges come opportunities to evolve and thrive. That’s why I believe this is not only the right time for me, but the best time for PPAI.”

PPAI’s mission to grow, protect, inform and engage its members and the industry remains foremost. Coupled with a focused and strategic continuity plan, the Board and leadership staff will work closely with Bellantone over the coming months to evaluate internal and external market conditions against the needs of the members, industry and the Association. These efforts will ensure a smooth transition that will drive meaningful value and the long-term success of the Association.

American Solutions for Business Presents Over 180 Awards to Sales and Home Office Winners  

American Solutions for Business – recently hosted two virtual events to celebrate award winners based on their 2020 fiscal year, presenting to over 180 award recipients.

The first event was hosted on November 10 to announce sales award winners, emceed by Founder & CEO, Larry Zavadil, awards presented by President, Justin Zavadil, acceptance speeches from award winners and sponsor messages. The event was then followed by a virtual social open to all ASB family and patriot-level supplier partners. Awards presented included President’s Club, Million Dollar Clubs, Million Dollar Hubs and individual awards.

Home office awards were presented on November 19 during ASB’s ESOP update, hosted by Larry and Justin Zavadil and VP of Finance, Bill Finley. Awards presented included the American Eagle Award, Dave Corradino Memorial Award and Board of Directors Award.

“This has not been an easy year for many, but our sales associates and employees never cease to amaze me in their ability to adapt and thrive during adversity,” says Justin Zavadil, ASB President. “Our people will always be our most valuable asset, and we’re determined to continue forward by always putting them first.”

This continues a long tradition of American Solutions for Business recognizing the hard work and dedication of its team members.

HPG announces the addition of Nick Lateur as Director of National Accounts for the supplier’s Specialty Channel, which currently includes Batch & Bodega and HandStands PROMO.  “HPG is an innovative and progressive group that continually pushes the limits of advertising specialties,” says Lateur.  “HandStands and Batch & Bodega uniquely embody the creative spirit that is essential to effective marketing. I am honored and excited to be joining such a special team.”

The native Texan is known in the industry for his YouTube videos MONDAYS with Nick, which have an entertaining spin on the promotional products industry.  Nick says, “The idea is to be informative and memorable. Upcoming videos will place HPG Specialty Brands products in the forefront.”

“We are very excited to have Nick Lateur join our incredible sales team,” says Trina Bicknell, HPG’s Senior Vice President of Sales.   “Nick has awesome experience in the industry, provides fantastic energy, and has a really unique talent to connect with his customers.   He will make a great addition to the HPG sales team.”

Webb Company announces the addition of 12 HPG multiline reps to their sales team. This addition brings Webb Company’s sales team of 6 to a total of 18 moving into 2021. “Our new journey with HPG has been nothing but exciting.” Webb’s VP of Sales Rena Ashfeld tells us, “the addition of these phenomenal multiline reps will rocket our brand into 2021. We couldn’t be more ready to push into a new year with this growing team that will represent Webb Company-HPG”

These new MLRs give Webb Company boots on the ground in over 30 states making the brand more accessible to our distributor partners. “Our brand continues to grow and our HPG MLRs that have picked up the Webb line are a key factor in this growth.” Says Trina Bicknell, SVP of Sales at HPG, “We’re thrilled to be able to showcase Webb products to even more of our distributor partners in 2021.”

HPG’s Hub has been named a recipient of two Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) 2021 Gold Pyramid Awards.    This is the fifth consecutive year the pen supplier received the Gold Supplier Star in their revenue category.   The pen supplier also received the Gold Pyramid in Marketing for their rebranding.

Since 1958, the PPAI Pyramid Awards have recognized and honored promotional products businesses and helped shine the spotlight on the collaborative business model unique to the industry.  Winners are recognized for outstanding service in areas such as responsiveness, on-time shipping, product quality and sales aids.

“We are delighted to win the Gold Supplier Star once again, this one feels extra special considering the year we've all had,” says HPG Marketing Director Ben Pawsey.  “As always, we are extremely grateful to our customers and PPAI for the opportunity and recognition. Hub's name has stood for high-quality products and exceptional service for over 65 years, so it was a privilege for our HPG Creative team to be entrusted with the rebrand. We designed a fresh look to match the vibrance of the team behind making Hub the award-winning staple of the industry it is today.”

Winners of the award selected by a panel of industry professionals and independent, outside marketing and advertising professionals. For more information about the PPAI Pyramid Awards program visit www.ppai.org/awards or contact the PPAI Awards and Recognition department at [email protected].         

Kerry Turner – Industry Obituary (1/10/1948 to 1/16/2021)

Kerry Turner of HPG Brands / Best Promotions USA (ASI 61966), an industry veteran of 46 years, passed away Saturday, January 16, 2021, from COVID-19 complications.  Kerry was known for his cheerful personality, kindness, integrity and great passion for the promotional business over a career spanning almost 5 decades.  A graduate of the University of North Texas, Kerry founded supplier Kerry’s Etcetera in 1974, specializing in mug and glassware fine decorating.  Kerry started Kerry’s Etcetera with assistance from his parents, operating out of their garage.  After selling Kerry’s Etcetera to supplier Numo Manufacturing in 2003, Kerry spent over 12 years on staff with Numo before joining Best Promotions USA, which was his last industry job before passing.

Kerry, often called “the most interesting man in promo,” was an enthusiast in many endeavors, including but not limited to, his own rock band called the Young Texans playing in for many venues during his high school and college years.  Kerry was member of the Southern Drag Boat Association (“SDBA”), where he held a world record for over a year.   He then moved on to become a professional level national competitor in West Coast Swing (“WCS”), where he met his wife, Alisha.  He was a WCS instructor, putting national competitors in the professional level arena.  Kerry then shifted his attention to motorcycles, becoming a Road Captain for Dallas Harley Davidson.  He loved riding across-country.  His final endeavors were then shifted to cooking chili, where he won several events at the highest level in the CASI Terlingua Championships, winning many awards along the way.

Best USA Founder, Michael Hicks, adds “Kerry was the definition of the word ‘gentleman.’  His consummate professionalism, kindness, caring, integrity and many contributions to HPG’s Best USA brand will never be forgotten. We can all learn to be better people by the example of how Kerry treated others each and every day.”

Kerry leaves behind his daughter, Addilyn (“Addi”), who is currently 6 years old, and her mother Alisha Turner.  To honor Kerry’s memory, and to help Addi’s future, please send contributions to https://www.gofundme.com/f/remembering-kerry-turner C/O Alisha Turner.  Due to Covid-19 risks, there are no planned public service at this time.  However, a virtual service is currently being planned in honor of Kerry.  More information will be forthcoming regarding the virtual service.

Towel Specialties proudly announces the launch of three new and improved websites. With towelspecialties.com, cobblestonemills.com and xpresstowels.com now live, “we have reached our goal to provide a much stronger, practical experience for distributors and end users viewing our products online,” said Shawn Kanak, the recently promoted president at Towel Specialties.

Towel Specialties created continuity in the appearance of the three sites, but, more importantly, included enhancements to make it easier for customers to buy products. Aside from requiring less clicks to find information, the new sites include real time inventory and production times, image magnification and easy access to high res photos, new product videos, and several other enhancements.

“We launched the new Towel Specialties site in December and the reviews have been great,” said Murray Siegel, Marketing Director. “Xpress Towels and Cobblestone Mills just went live last week and we are already hearing customers say how much easier the sites are to navigate. Our goal was to provide more information to customers so that they would not have to interrupt their day with inquiries. So far, the results have been great and we’re already working on more enhancements.”

Towel Specialties has been selected as the ‘Best Towel and Robe Supplier” every year since 2007. They introduced the Xpress Towels line in 2014 and Cobblestone Mills in 2016. In 2018, Towel Specialties was selected as the ASI Supplier of the Year.

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Guest Column II

Reprinted with permission from Promotional Consultant Today. 

Top-Shelf Tip No. 252:

“Starve your distractions, feed your focus.”

How To Resist Shiny Object Syndrome


Many sales professionals grapple with shiny object syndrome. It’s a habit that causes you to get sidetracked by new and exciting tools and ideas rather than focusing on important but perhaps less enticing tasks. Shiny object syndrome can often leave you feeling overwhelmed since you never fully complete your projects.

If you tend to get distracted by new ideas or tools, Celestina Chua, founder of the Personal Excellence blog, has some suggestions on how to stay on track. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Chua’s tips for staying focused and avoiding shiny object syndrome. 

Recognize that new is not necessarily better. The first step in resisting shiny object syndrome is to understand that what is new is not always better. While you should keep up with the latest trends and updates, learn to discern what is worth pursuing. You do not have to chase after every new tool or idea. 

Look past the buzz. There are many bright, shiny objects in the world to distract you. Learn to see past the hype, says Chua. What’s good for another company may not be good for you. Instead of diving headfirst into something new, contemplate how it aligns with your priorities. 

Assess the fit. What is new and different may not be a good fit for you, your sales team, or your clients. Before pursuing something new, Chua recommends asking: 
•    Is this what I really need?
•    Will it add value to my work and life?
•    What are the pros and cons of doing this?

Manage your distraction sources. Another way to combat shiny object syndrome is to limit all the ways you may be tempted to veer off course. If you are part of groups or if you receive emails that recommend new offerings and new products, you have to deal with the mental load of reading each recommendation and assessing if you should buy it or try it. Evaluate your social media feeds and email subscriptions, advises Chua. 


Understand switching costs. Anytime you shift to something new, you pay a price. This could be a monetary cost or a mental cost involved with changing your focus or learning a new system. Chua recommends considering these costs anytime you are enticed by something new. 


Try a wait and see approach. Many new ideas and tools do not last and many products that claim to be the best get replaced by new ones. That’s why Chua says it’s a good idea to wait and see if you really need something. Unless you really need that new tool or item now, it’s probably wise to hold off on buying it or switching to it. 

If you are constantly distracted by shiny objects, you are limiting your chances of becoming a better sales professional. Instead of jumping into the newest trend and starting over every time something flashy catches your eye, work on becoming the best in your field with the tools and strategies you already have in place.   

Compiled by Audrey Sellers 

Source: Celestina Chua is the founder of Personal Excellence, a blog where she shares her best advice on how to boost productivity and achieve excellence in life.


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This is a newsletter provided by the Upper Midwest Association of Promotional Professionals.  UMAPP is a professional trade association for companies in the promotional products industry.  UMAPP covers the states of Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Iowa, and Western Wisconsin.  Membership is by company, but all staff are included under the umbrella of the company membership.  

For more information, contact the UMAPP office at:  [email protected]  

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