January/February 2020 Print

President's Column

Happy New Year and welcome to a new decade! 

Greetings UMAPP members. Recently, I was at the ASI Orlando Show and the PPAI Expo.  The enthusiasm for the promotional product industry and positive outlook for 2020 was prevalent with everyone I spoke with, suppliers and distributors alike, so it makes me very excited to be penning my first column as UMAPP President. I am honored and grateful for this opportunity and am looking forward to leading this wonderful association and being part of such an enthusiastic group of volunteers.

2019 was a very busy year for UMAPP as we made some changes to our offerings to better engage with the membership and even added some new events.  The UMAPP Connects events continued throughout the year offering fun networking and education. We further expanded those to two events called “Brew & View” where we held events in Fargo, ND and Des Moines, IA bringing suppliers and distributors together, away from the Twin Cities.  We plan to continue these in 2020 and perhaps add another location so that we can better serve our membership across the entire UMAPP Region.

We moved the Room Show to a new location and we intend to stay at this venue for the foreseeable future. Remember this year’s show is March 9 at the Minneapolis Airport Marriott. 

Moving forward we are very excited about our plans for the Fire & Ice Show and the Fall Showcase.  We will be combining the best of both of these events into one bigger and better event called the “Brand Connection Expo” to be held in August at a new venue in Oakdale, MN.  We have a nationally recognized Keynote Speaker, Dan Nevins, and we will be raising funds for his cause, The Wounded Warrior project.  We have also added a golf outing the day prior to the event.  We think you will agree this will be a must-attend event.

The excitement is out there!   I am looking forward to seeing you all at future UMAPP events and hope to continue to work together to make UMAPP your local association that helps you grow your business in 2020 and beyond.


Kent Dunham



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Guest Column

Reprinted with permission from Promotional Consultant Today. 

Top-Shelf Tip No. 9:

"Health is a state of body. Wellness is a state of being."
 J. Stanford

Five Tips To Promote Workplace Wellness

A healthy team is a productive team. Employees who take care of themselves miss less work due to sickness and find themselves able to make meaningful, creative contributions at work. It's not enough, though, for leaders to simply encourage healthy habits.

Serenity Gibbons, the local unit lead for NAACP in Northern California, asserts that leaders must make wellness a priority. With New Year's resolutions still fresh, now is the time to focus on wellness at work. Keep reading this issue of Promotional Consultant Today for Gibbons' five tips for building wellness into your workplace.

1. Set your space up right. Your work environment has a lot to do with your workplace culture, says Gibbons. If it's chaotic with messy desks and people constantly dropping in, your workers will feel scattered, too. While you likely can't relocate your team, you can make the most of what you have. Gibbons recommends setting up a meditation space with soft lighting. You could also incorporate standing desks, which have been proven to lower obesity rates, reduce back pain and improve energy levels. If your budget allows, add noise-canceling headphones and ergonomic chairs to the shopping list.

2. Talk about what happens after work. Do you know how your employees like to relax after work? Drinking a couple of beers and lounging on the couch may feel good in the moment, Gibbons says, but alcohol overuse and sedentary behavior come back to bite. At an all-staff meeting, take the initiative. Talk about how you wind down after work. Describe the healthy techniques you use and explain that you want to reduce or eliminate your unhealthier choices. Gibbons says you could also suggest alternatives to workers who may not know about them. For example, yoga and herbal teas can relieve stress in healthy ways.

3. Put peer groups together. Work is hard in the best of circumstances. When you don't feel connected to the people around you, it can feel impossible. In fact, some researchers have compared a weak social circle's toll on health to smoking a pack of cigarettes per day, says Gibbons. Use peer groups to remind team members that they're not alone. Although some employees may get social support outside of work, don't assume all of them do. Set up groups so everyone fits into at least one of them. If you have a women's support group, create one for men's issues as well.

4. Reward people for unplugging. Overworking can lead to everything from Type 2 diabetes to musculoskeletal dysfunctions and mental health issues. The trouble is that many workers don't unplug, even when they're supposed to be off the clock, Gibbons says. Encourage people to unplug by keeping workplace devices at work. When they go on vacation and don't call or check email, award them an extra day or two of PTO.

5. Make a mental health policy. When employees are physically ill, you probably encourage them to take sick leave. But if they're anxious or depressed, they're probably still expected to come to work. Make it clear that you want workers to take care of their minds, too. Gibbons suggests that leaders develop a mental health policy and distribute a copy to every team member. The policy should cover not just benefits like time off for therapy appointments, but also accommodations for workers who experience ongoing symptoms.

Wellness matters if you want your team members to perform at their best. Consider the ideas above to make wellness a priority at your workplace this year.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Serenity Gibbons is a former assistant editor at The Wall Street Journal and the local unit lead for NAACP in Northern California.


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Did you know?

. . .  to be wealthy in the US requires $2.27 million?   That is the average based on what 1,000 adults said when they were surveyed as to what their net worth would have to be for them to consider themselves wealthy.  Charles Schwab's 2019 Modern Wealth Survey.

. . .  some schools have dress codes for parents?   Dress codes are intended to show students, by example, what is and is not appropriate for pickup and drop off.  A few school districts have implemented parental dress codes banning pajamas, nightgowns, sagging pants, and torn jeans.  Houston Chronicle.  

. . .  more than half of Americans report being stressed out?   About 55% of US adults polled said that they had experienced a lot of stress during the prior day, compared with a worldwide average of 35%.  That puts the US at the same stress level as Greece, which had been the most stressed nation studied since 2012.  "Gallup 2019 Global Emotions Report,"" a poll of more than 150,000 adults in more than 140 countries, reported in The New York Times

. . .  food doesn't taste as good if we eat it while standing, we hear from Dipayan Biswas, PhD?  Recent finding:  The physical strain of standing reduces the body's sensory sensitivity, making tasty foods seem less flavorful.  On the other hand, standing helps people better tolerate unpleasant tastes, such as medicine.  Dieters - take note:  The study also found that eating on your feet led to less consumption, which might mean weight reduction.  Dipayan (Dip) Biswas, PhD, is a professor of business and marketing at University of South Florida, Tampa, and leader of a study published in Journal of Consumer Research. USF.edu.  

 "At some point in life, the world's beauty becomes enough. You don't need to photograph, paint, or even remember it. It is enough."  Tony Morrison, Pulitzer and Nobel Prize-winning American writer (1931-2019).  

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Industry News

Towel Specialties was the proud recipient of awards for decorating on textiles from both PPAI and SGIA (Specialty Graphic Imaging Association) in the last thirty days.

In October, Towel Specialties was awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze Honors in the ‘Excellence in Digital Decorating on Textiles” category by SGIA at their annual conference in New Orleans, LA. Although this was the third time that Towel Specialties swept the awards, it was the first time that they won with sublimated blanket and beach towel submissions. It also represented the tenth time Towel Specialties has won the Gold Award since 1998.   

Recently, Towel Specialties also received a Silver Pyramid Award from PPAI for “Printing on Textiles”. The submitted winner was a sublimated blanket with graphics for “Toy Story 4.” Towel Specialties previously received three other Pyramid Awards for either screen printing or sublimation on beach towels.

HUB Promotional Group’s Hub has been named a recipient of the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) 2020 Gold Pyramid Award.    This is the fourth consecutive year the pen supplier received the Gold Supplier Star in their revenue category.

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.

SAGE, the leading provider of information, marketing, and business management solutions to the promotional products industry, announces the release of a new version of SAGE Mobile™. The app, available for iOS and Android devices, allows industry distributors easy access to all their critical research and business management operations while on the go. The updated version also includes SAGE Chat, enabling Total Access customers to quickly and effectively chat with team members or suppliers. In addition, as the official show planner for The PPAI Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 12-16, 2020, distributors have complimentary access to the app’s expanded set of tradeshow planning features to plan and manage their experience at the show.

To ensure continuity in the development and execution of current projects and long-term operating objectives, HPG (HUB Promotional Group) announced the promotion of Rodd Steuart to Chief Operating Officer, effective immediately. Formerly president of HandStands Promo, an HPG company, Rodd will take on an enterprise role as the new Chief Operating Officer for all of HPG. The promotion backfills the COO role vacated by Chris Anderson, when he became CEO of HPG in June of 2019.

Rodd Steuart states, “Having been a part of HPG for nearly a year now, I know the talent and opportunity that exists here at HPG and am excited to build upon the amazing foundation in place and humbled to by the opportunity to lead an incredible group of operations professionals. I am committed to a continuous improvement process that embraces social and environmental responsibility as well as economic responsibility in all of HPG’s operating environments.”

American Solutions for Business is excited to announce their first-time attendance as an exhibitor at the 2020 NADA (National Automobile Dealers Association) Show in Las Vegas on February 14-17,, 2020.

HUB Promotional Group (HPG) is pleased to announce the promotion of Alex Morin, of its Debco subsidiary, to Vice President of Sales for HPG companies Origaudio, Handstands and Debco.  He will report directly to Trina Bicknell, HPG Senior VP of Sales, who states, “I am so excited to see Alex assume this larger HPG role, and know he is going to be an incredible asset to our distributor partners, the overall business.”

American Solutions for Business is pleased to announce that effective January 1, 2020, Sarah Louden will be promoted to Vice President of Human Resources.  Louden joined the company in July as ASB’s Executive Director of Human Resources under Katie Hallstrom, VP of Human Resources. Hallstrom will now transition to working part time in the department in her new role as Director of Human Resources.   Additionally, ASB has partnered with the Minnesota Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) on a project to reduce energy use and increase cost savings by twenty percent.  The LED Lighting Program facilitated by CEE allows ASB’s headquarters location to invest in new infrastructure that’s both eco-friendly and financially sustainable. In fact, the program is anticipated to pay for itself within 2-3 years.

The Pro Towels family of brands is pleased to announce the hiring of Jeanna Abercrombie, MASI, to Key Accounts Director, as well as the promotion of Ellen Walborn into a Key Accounts Director position on the Sales team also.   

Jeanna Abercrombie, MASI, is new to the Pro Towels family, but not a newcomer to the promotional industry. She is an industry veteran with over 24+ years’ experience in sales, customer service and operations at other promotional product companies and suppliers. She has held such previous roles as National Sales and Product Manager, so she is excited to bring her knowledge and experience to help grow the Pro Towels Family to the next great level.

 Ellen Walborn has had worked in many different roles at the Pro Towels family of brands from production artist in the art department to a lead in laser and embroidery department. She has been an asset to the team going on 3 years now and Pro Towels is very excited to see her grow in this sales position. Ellen is ready to get out in the industry, meet the customers and help grow the relationship and sales opportunities with these clients. Ellen will be in the Abbeville, South Carolina facility but will be traveling around the country to meet with clients.

Halls & Company, manufacturer of ID Line, is excited to share a milestone in their culture of giving back. Halls & Company keeps the tradition of Products that Give Back for the 20th year. A staunch supporter of local charities and food shelves, giving back is deeply woven into their infrastructure. “We believe in helping local agencies where the need is greatest.” said Janet Adams, president of Halls & Company. “We have been giving to our local food shelf for 20 years and have a great partnership with them. In the past 20 years, our staff and the company have donated over $90,000 to local food shelves. We are so proud of the generosity of our staff.”

Donations are provided to NEAR food shelf in Crystal, MN. Employees who work from their homes share with their local pantries: UMOM New Day Center - Mesa AZ,  Princeton Pantry - Princeton MN, The Neighbors Place - Wausau WI, and Cross of Benton County - Foley MN.

American Solutions for Business raised $7,100 as part of their annual Adopt-a-Family initiative during the holiday season. A tradition started over twenty years ago, the company’s employees and sales associates raise this money as a Christmas present for ASB Founder & CEO, Larry Zavadil, and his wife, Diane. This year's final results were shared at American's annual holiday party (pictured).  American receives information regarding the needs of each family such as number of children, household needs, holiday wish lists, etc. Then, items are purchased and given to the families through a third-party organizer to maintain anonymity.

HUB Promotional Group (HPG) is pleased to announce the promotion of Melissa Bettua to Director of Sales for HPG’s Hub Pen Company.  Bettua came from a sales background in the hospitality industry before joining the Hub sales team in 2013.  Within her first year with the company, she was promoted to Sales Executive and in the last two years served as Director of Key accounts for the Hub and Beacon brands. 

American Solutions for Business recently donated a shield and helmet worth $2,100 to Shield616, an organization founded to provide protection to those who serve our communities. Due to limited budgets of some departments, new gear is often only available through donations. Shield616 offers two different packages that are provided to officers and first responders. A full armor police package costs $2,100 and a full armor fire package costs $2,300.

HUB Promotional Group (HPG) is pleased to announce Alissa Baker has joined the company as Director of Key accounts for Hub Pen, Beacon and Origaudio.  She will work alongside long time Beacon and Hub rep Sharon Schiffelhuber handling key accounts and customer relationships.  She will also support South East territories alongside of Mike Fleming with Hub and Mike Szymczak with Origaudio. 

Custom Plastic Specialties, LLC (CPS/Keystone) is celebrating their sixth annual win in the PPAI Pyramid Award Competition for Supplier Excellence. This is the second year in a row that CPS/Keystone has been awarded the Supplier Star Gold Pyramid; a total of 11 suppliers were recognized with this highest achievement.

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 this industry. “This year’s Pyramid Award winners represent the highest level of excellence in our industry” said Paul Bellantone, CAE, President and CEO at PPAI.    “Our team at CPS/Keystone was thrilled to find out that we won the Gold Pyramid again for 2020. It is such a testament to the hard work of all our staff, and most importantly we all understand that it means we have met and exceeded the expectations of our customers,” said Kippie Helzel, MAS, Sr. Vice President of Sales. “We will continue to do what it takes to do right by our customers, every day, and with every order, to assure that we are able to build on this great recognition,” Helzel continued.

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Guest Column II

Reprinted with permission from Promotional Consultant Today. 


Top-Shelf Tip No. 6:

"Leadership is unlocking people's potential to become better."

 Bill Bradley

Five Personality Traits Of Top Sales Leaders

Think about your team's top sales leaders. They didn't get there simply by having a successful track record or a solid work ethic—they rose through the ranks because they possess the right blend of sales and leadership prowess.

If you're looking to upgrade your personal development plan, Lestraundra Alfred, a staff writer for the HubSpot Sales Blog, says to look for certain traits that top sales leaders exemplify. Keep reading this issue of Promotional Consultant Today for Alfred's thoughts on what it takes to be a top sales leader.

1. They're strategic. Gone are the days when success in sales equated to who could perform the most activity. In 2020 and beyond when competition is stiff across industries, sales leaders must be able to provide strategic direction to help their teams find success, says Alfred. Influential sales leaders must be able to develop and implement sales strategies that empower their organizations to work at their highest levels. For both sales reps and leaders, the goal should be the same: to help customers solve their problems.

2. They're thoughtful. In 2020, Alfred says that sales leaders need to take a more thoughtful approach to how they instruct their employees to navigate the sales process. Top sales leaders are big-picture thinkers who are constantly looking for ways to help others, whether they are helping their own prospects overcome an obstacle or helping the reps who report to them drive sales in an ethical manner. These leaders thoroughly understand how their organization's performance impacts the company as a whole. They can manage expectations at all levels while still focusing on results.

3. They're analytical. Influential sales leaders must be able to interpret and draw conclusions from the data available to them. According to Alfred, if you want to manage an effective sales team, taking a data-driven approach is a must. Sales leaders should use the data collected from their sales team to inform their business decisions.

4. They're empathetic. When developing as a leader, it can be tempting to focus on the hard skills necessary to succeed on the job. However, with sales being a people-centric field, it is important to focus on the importance of soft skills as well, notes Alfred. In a position of leadership, the ability to be empathetic can be a key driver of success. Empathy is the ability to understand and relate to the feelings of others, which is a must-have trait for effective sales leaders. While managing their teams, sales leaders should seek to understand the challenges their employees are experiencing when on the field, keeping these factors in mind as they develop and implement sales targets and strategies.

5. They're servant leaders. The most effective leaders aim to serve, not dictate. Alfred says servant leaders actively listen to their employees when they express their needs or provide feedback. They also prioritize the development of their team and commit to keeping employees informed.

Leadership development is an ongoing process. Think about how you can develop the traits above in yourself and your team members.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Lestraundra Alfred is a staff writer for the HubSpot Sales Blog. 


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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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