August 2022
A Message From Our PPAMidwest President......

"The key is to set realistic customer expectations, and then not just to meet them, but to exceed them -preferably in unexpected and helpful ways.”
– Richard Branson

I imagine you’ve heard the saying “say what you’re going to do, then do what you say.” And, because you’re human, you’ve probably tried to do that and, not with malintent, done the opposite. I’ll admit that I’ve fallen into that latter category at some point.

When I ask my supplier partners for something to help me with a client project (for example, a quote, mockup or a sample), I greatly appreciate it when they respond in a timely manner and provide the help requested. I kind of expect it, I mean, it’s their job, right? And for those who go above and beyond, well, that’s ensuring my business long term! It’s beyond frustrating when the opposite happens. “Don’t they want my business?”

That got me thinking…do I ever do that to my clients? Have I been asked for something (a product idea, a quote, a sample) and I say I’ll take care of it and I don’t? I can embarrassingly admit that, while not very often, I’ve fallen into that category. I’ve not even met their expectation, let alone exceeded it. Would I be surprised if they fired me as their distributor partner? Probably not. Would I deserve it? Definitely.

Thankfully each new day, each new client, each new opportunity gives us the chance for a do over. To do things better. To say what you’re going to do & then actually do it. To exceed an expectation and reinforce our client relationships. Think about what your expectations are and then evaluate how you’re doing. How would your clients evaluate you?It’s a humbling experience to admit failure. It’s powerful to learn from it.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
– Nelson Mandela

The inaugural PPAMidwest Scholarship was awarded to Eliza Shultz, daughter of long-time industry champion and past PPAMidwest President, David Shultz. Congratulations to Eliza! We also congratulate seven other PPAMidwest members whose kiddos received PPEF scholarships! In the immortal words of Whitney Houston…“I believe the children are our future - teach them well and let them lead the way.” These kiddos are doing just that!!

Along with our online educational opportunities, we hope to see you at these upcoming in person events!
  • Pickleball in both Kansas City (8/24) & St. Louis (8/25)
  • Fall Holiday showcase in St. Louis (9/28) & Kansas city (9/29)
  • Factory tour at Cap America (10/19)

Please let me know how I may be of help to you. If I don’t know the answer, I can surely connect you with someone who does. What would you like to see from PPAMidwest this year? Please feel free to reach out to me directly at


Mandi Rudd
2022 PPAMidwest President
August 9, 2022 Tuesday Learning Lab: "Multi-Task Like A Pro: How to Manage All Your Projects at Once

Ready to tackle your projects and knock out every task in a flash? With SAGE Project Management, you can easily view and manage all projects, as well as track the status. We'll also walk you through how projects work with the CRM and order management modules to streamline your workday. You'll be ready to supercharge your efficiency and make running your business easier than ever! 

Learning Outcomes:
  • Ins and Outs of SAGE Project Management
  • How to save time and effort with the Project Management system
  • Learn how to track client's projects, stay on top of the status, and provide quick updates

Join your fellow PPAMidwest friends at our August social for
Pickleball with PPAMidwest! 

Choose your city, mark your calendars and join us for a great time with some friendly competition. Pickleball isn't your thing? No worries....come on out for a little networking and a great time!

Pre-registration is NOT required but appreciated so that we will have an approximate head count in each city. No experience required for this fun event but make sure to come sporty as we will be playing various outdoor games with prizes awarded in each city.

  • 5 - 6pm: On Site Tournament Registration where brackets will be developed and instruction provided. No need to find a "team" as we will place you with a teammate on site.
  • 6-8pm: Pickleball tournament with prizes awarded
  • No Charge for PPAMidwest members to attend! Monetary contributions welcome on site for our PPAMidwest Scholarship Fund which is awarded annually to family members of PPAMidwest.

August 31, 2022 Wild Wednesday Webinar: "How PPAI Promotional Products Work can Elevate Your Business" 

PPAI has launched an industry outreach effort to elevate promo to businesses to ensure “Promotional Products are universally valued and essential to every brand.” In this session, you will see some of the tools you can use in your own business to take advantage of this campaign as well as be engaged in the effort overall.

Learning Outcomes:
  • Understand why PPAI is investing to promote the industry.
  • Understand how Promotional Products Work efforts can help you in your business.
  • Identify specific tools your business can take advantage of. 

Mark your calendars and register to attend our
upcoming Fall Holiday Showcase!
Don't miss this year's Fall Holiday Showcase which will be held in
both St. Louis and Kansas City. Our annual end user friendly tabletop
show format will be at two fun and unique locations that you
and your customers are sure to love!

The Foundry Arts Centre
520 North Main Street
St. Charles, MO 63301

The Museum at Prairiefire
5801 W 135th Street
Overland Park, KS 66223

Exhibits Open: 10 am - 1pm

Register to exhibit or attend today!
 For event details and registration links, click here
We are limited to 30 participants so act quickly to reserve your spot!
 **PPAMidwest members only**

 For event details and to register, click here
PPAMidwest News
Let’s Go! PCNA Partners With Hydro Flask®

Pittsburgh, PA – Polyconcept North America (PCNA) is excited to announce a partnership with Hydro Flask, an award-winning leader in high-performance, insulated stainless steel drinkware and soft good innovations. With the addition of Hydro Flask, PCNA strengthens its industry-leading lineup of over 50 retail brands, just as distributors are gearing up for year-end gift season.
“This is a brand our distributors have been looking for, and we couldn’t be happier to have it for them,” says Liz Haesler, PCNA Chief Merchandising Officer. “We’re committed to offering distributors the best, most diverse assortment of leading retail brands, so Hydro Flask is a perfect fit.”
Founded in 2009 in Bend, Oregon, Hydro Flask inspires active outdoor lifestyles with two simple words: Let’s Go! From being a top seller of water bottles in sporting goods and outdoor (according to third-party data) to soft good innovations, Hydro Flask’s delightfully simple designs and go-anywhere durability deliver the perfect temperature when you need it. With its bold, bright colors and high-performing products, Hydro Flask has put more than 50 million reusable water bottles into the hands of consumers to foster a connection to the outdoors through the joyful, healthy, and environmentally conscious lifestyle it represents.
“Partnering with PCNA is a no-brainer,” says Michelle Bertocchi, Hydro Flask Sales Manager, Customization. “As one of the world’s top-selling brands of reusable water bottles, we wanted to partner with one of the world’s top promotional products suppliers. We trust that PCNA will offer an unmatched ability to customize our products and quickly deliver orders to distributors and their customers.”
PCNA is bringing five of the most popular Hydro Flask styles to the promotional products market: three bottles, a coffee mug, and a tumbler. Inventory will arrive in mid-September, but distributors can see the new products and find information about preordering now on
Haesler adds that Hydro Flask gives distributors an opportunity to capitalize on several key gift trends in the promotional products space: retail brands, premium quality, insulated drinkware, and products for the outdoors.
“The trend in corporate gift-giving has clearly shifted toward well-made, premium-quality products, even at slightly higher price points,” Haesler says. “Choosing these types of gifts – gifts people would buy for themselves – creates a real connection that’s well worth it.” 

Hydro Flask will also be part of ProudPath™, the PCNA platform that helps distributors meet their customers’ environmental and social responsibility objectives. Along with reducing single-use plastic water bottles through its #RefillForGood platform, the Hydro Flask giving program, Parks For All, supports nonprofit organizations focused on building, maintaining, restoring, and investing in public green spaces so people everywhere can live healthier, happier, and more fulfilled lives.
“We’ve made a commitment to only partner with retail brands that share our commitment to environmental and social responsibility,” Haesler says. “This is just one more way that Hydro Flask is a perfect fit, and we couldn’t be prouder to partner with them.”
Want to earn points and join in on the fun?
Simply complete the easy request form to have your points credited
for the activities you participate in. For live events and activities, your attendance will automatically be recorded and points assigned, provided you are an active member of PPAMidwest. For recorded webinars, referrals and completion of PPAI Certifications or renewals, simply complete the easy request form to have your points credited.
It is that simple! (click on above image for more information).
HALO Makes Three Tech-Forward Additions To Executive Leadership Team

Sterling, IL – HALO Branded Solutions recently announced three key talent acquisitions aimed at strengthening the company for the future.
Hemant Kumar will take on the role of executive vice president, chief financial officer. Amit Gaur will be the company’s senior vice president, chief information officer. Rose Arendarczyk joins the organization as senior vice president of business transformation.
The Additions:
Each of the hires is meant to grow the company’s technological strength. HALO CEO Marc Simon said the moves “will enhance our cultural emphasis on ingenuity and innovation.”
·    Kumar will report directly to Simon. He has worked across a variety of industries and in organizations around the world, most recently serving as CFO of Sol-Millennium Medical, a high-growth global healthcare company. Previously, he held senior finance leadership roles for Baxter, American Express and Delphi Automotive Systems.
·    Gaur will report to Kevin Pollack, HALO chief operating officer. He brings more than 20 years of technology, e-commerce, and omni-channel retail experience. He previously served as chief information officer for On-Campus Marketing and has held senior level technology roles at Cherrydale and Fanatics.
·    Also reporting to Pollack is Arendarczyk, whose role will have her overseeing a new function at the company with an emphasis on enterprise project management, business technology and organizational change management. HALO calls her a veteran leader in business transformation, who most recently was vice president of the enterprise project management office at Trustmark Companies.
Simon called the additions of Kumar, Gaur and Arendarczyk a result of HALO’s financial growth.
“Our growth has allowed us to both attract and invest in additional experienced leadership,” Simon says. “We are thrilled at the immediate and longer term impacts they will provide to the growing services we provide to our clients.”
American Solutions for Business Senior Leadership Members Earn Diversity & Inclusion Certification

Glenwood, MN American Solutions for Business’ senior leadership team members have completed their Diversity, Equity & Inclusion certification from Stanford University. Through a six-module course, members of American’s highest level of management have set the precedent for their employees by committing over 10 hours per week to create a better understanding of DEI in the workplace.
“The course was much more relevant to the workplace than others that we looked at,” explained Justin Zavadil, President of American. “Not only did we have the opportunity to understand what diversity meant to us individually, but we were also given the opportunity to analyze how it fit into the structure of our organization.”
In addition to interviewing others regarding how DEI has had an impact on their lives, the course also included assignments such as diversifying your workplace and reanalyzing the language of job applications in order to appeal to both masculine and feminine audiences.
“The DEI certification process through Stanford University is outstanding,” expressed Amy Spychalla, VP of Strategic Operations Support. “I’ve been able to take what I’ve learned and apply it to every aspect of my life – both personally and professionally. Our Senior Leadership Team is embracing what we’ve learned and putting it into action.”
American Solutions for Business Senior Leadership Members Earn Diversity & Inclusion Certification

Roxana, IL – Promotional products manufacturer Arch Promo Group, LLC recently announced its acquisition of the Hudson Valley Umbrella Company, Inc. (dba StrombergBrand Umbrellas), a leading supplier of custom printed rain umbrellas, patio umbrellas, and more. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

StrombergBrand Umbrellas was founded in 1942 and leads the American promotional products industry in umbrella innovation, quality, and service from its production facility located in Valley Cottage, New York. StrombergBrand Umbrellas offers extraordinary design and color options, superior imprinting capabilities, unbeatable prices, fast turnarounds, and
exceptional customer service. Arch Promo Group’s acquisition of StrombergBrand Umbrellas will expand Arch Promo Group’s offering to the promotional products industry. Arch Promo Group shares StrombergBrand Umbrellas’ commitment to producing the highest quality products and will continue that tradition along with providing exceptional customer service and on-time delivery.

“We are excited to grow our portfolio of products and services with the addition of StrombergBrand’s industry-leading umbrellas ,” said Arch Promo Group’s National General Manager Steve Ehlert. “For 80 years, StrombergBrand Umbrellas has been known for producing the highest quality, helping to build their customers’ brands throughout North America and beyond. StrombergBrand Umbrellas will continue to print and supply its products out of New York, and we will invest in making our combined company stronger and offering a broader product line. We are dedicated to offering our customers, both new and old, the best products and services in the industry.”

“I am very pleased to partner with Arch Promo Group,” said Helen Stromberg, the former owner of StrombergBrand Umbrellas. “Arch shares our commitment to delivering outstanding products at a great price. Our customers will benefit from a larger partner with a wider product range, and our employees will continue to enjoy working for a growing leader in the industry.
I see a bright future for StrombergBrand Umbrellas and Arch Promo Group.” Helen Stromberg will continue to lead StrombergBrand Umbrellas as general manager, continuing her incredibly successful career over multiple decades as a
PPAMidwest Members..... Did you know that you have access to our member only coupons two different ways? Visit our Members Only Section for information on this awesome Member Only Benefit!
Industry News
PPAI Executive Vice President Steps Down
PPB Newslink
Bob McLean Stepping Down After 14 Years At PPAI
After 14 illustrious years, PPAI Executive Vice President Bob McLean, CPA, CAE, CEM, is stepping down from his role at the Association and embarking on a new chapter as a consultant. He will continue working with PPAI in that capacity through 2022 while also collaborating with clients in a wide range of business management areas. “Fourteen years ago, I didn’t even know there was a promotional products industry,” McLean says. “Today, I have grown to love and respect the industry and the hardworking and creative professionals in it.” Read more
7 Tasks Every Leader Must Master
Chris Mayfield  Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor CEO of Profusion Consulting

Leading and managing people is a learned skill. If you're seeking to be a better leader and create a high-performing organization, master these seven tasks below:
1. Assess and monitor team climate
Climate is about shared beliefs and perceptions of groups regarding the attitudes that characterize the group. Inside an organization, the climate is a bottom-up concept and the responsibility of front-line leaders. Climate can change quickly, depending on the actions of front-line leaders.
Climate is different than culture. An organization's culture is defined by the shared assumptions, values and beliefs that govern how people behave in the organization. Culture is a top-down concept and the responsibility of senior leaders. An organization's culture can only change slowly over time.
Morale is critical in both climate and culture. The team's morale determines their confidence, willingness and discipline to succeed, especially while facing challenges and adversity.
If front-line leaders are not doing their jobs, it is possible to have a lousy team climate inside a great organizational culture. Of course, the opposite can also be true. It is certainly possible to have a positive team climate in a not-so-good culture.
2. Earn and give trust
When leaders earn the trust of their people, it contributes to a favorable climate. People are naturally skeptical of their leaders. It takes time for leaders to earn trust.
When people trust their leaders, they are more willing to accept the influence of those leaders. Leaders who extend trust are more likely to be trusted.
Leaders earn trust when they are willing to be authentic and vulnerable. Authenticity is about being transparent and not pretending to be somebody you are not. Authenticity means showing up as your true self and being willing to connect with others as you are. Authentic leaders value their people's diverse ideas and experiences, and they can have an open and honest dialogue with them. Vulnerability is susceptibility to new experiences, thoughts, changes and uncertainty. Leaders must accept risk in expressing their imperfections, admitting fault and discussing the unknowns with their team. Being authentic makes a person vulnerable. Being vulnerable is a strength that takes courage.   Read More
Product Responsibility Summit 22
September 18 - 20, 2022 ~ Newport Beach, CA
Get The Information You Need to Know
The promotional products industry is an industry like no other. And that means we need content like no other—especially when it comes to product responsibility and safety. 
PPAI’s Product Responsibility Summit provides just that - content targeted at the topics you care about in promo. At this Summit, you will have the opportunity to hear from subject matter experts during sessions such as:
·    Country Risk Assessments
·    PFAS Deep Dive
·    CBP Enforcement Updates
·    Waste Diversion Solutions
And so much more, all focused specifically on the promotional products industry. 
Whether you are new to compliance or have been in the industry for a long time, PPAI’s Product Responsibility Summit will provide you will all the information, tools, and strategies you need to stay Product Safety Aware. See all the details and register at