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

‘If you’re going to live, leave a legacy. Make a mark on the world that can’t be erased.” – Maya Angelou

An industry friend of mine from Ft. Worth, TX, Brian Jolin, passed away last week after a hard fought battle with stage 4 colon cancer. He was beloved by his clients and so many of us in our shared industry. He was a generous person, volunteering and trying to make the world a better place for so many. Along with many emotions from losing a friend, his passing has gotten me thinking a lot about legacy.

We are in the branding business. Everything we do has a lasting impression. A legacy. Whether it’s the product suppliers recommend for our clients or the message we encourage our clients to emblazon upon it, we are encouraging a lasting impression. A legacy.

But what are each of us doing as professionals that will leave a lasting impression? How are we being remembered by our clients and those who help us get our job done? Do we say what we’re going to do and then do it? Or do we say we’ll do something and then apologize for the delay or go with the all-too-common “I just saw that your email somehow got stuck in my spam folder!”?

I am going to strive to hear tributes about me while I am here; not for friends and family to share after I have left the planet. And not to be braggadocious. These tributes come in the form of a client saying “thanks for always getting the job done for us” or “we can always count on you” or “thanks for communicating the delays with us” or “your POs are always filled out correctly!”

We’re halfway through the year, which means there’s another half of a year to make any needed changes. How would your clients rate your legacy today?

“I get by with a little help from my friends” –The Beatles

And boy do we have a lot going on, friends! We have the awesome Tuesday Learning Lab and Wild Wednesday Webinar for those in-office work focused moments. And for camaraderie of those in-person events, please join us for Pickleball next month in both St. Louis and Kansas City and again for our Fall Holiday Showcase in September. All events can be found on the PPAMidwest website.

What are you doing now to make sure your business and your professional connections flourish in the future? Make sure you are taking advantage of all that PPAMidwest has to offer … education, networking, events, scholarships, discounts and more! Speaking of education … don’t forget about the PPAMidwest Education Scholarship!

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@brandenergymarketing.com


Mandi Rudd
2022 PPAMidwest President
July 9, 2022 Tuesday Learning Lab: "Fulfillment Programs: Potential and Pitfalls" 

Doing a fulfillment program can be very rewarding if the right questions are asked up front and designed properly. It can also be a nightmare if the client does not understand what you need or why you need it! “Wait, there is international shipping involved also…to how many different countries????” We will review the proper set up of a program, important questions to ask and review SOME of the challenges to shipping internationally.

Learning Outcomes:
  • The RIGHT questions to ask a client before setting up a Fulfillment Program
  • Domestic & International Shipping requirements
  • Proper set up of a Fulfillment Program
  • Challenges to look out for when developing a Fulfillment Program

July 27, 2022 Wild Wednesday Webinar: "Data-Driven Blueprint for Success" 

In this special webinar, ASI’s Michele Bell and Nate Kucsma will share key highlights from Counselor’s just-released State of the Industry report. The overview of results from ASI’s annual industry surveys will include a recap of key issues that matter most to the promo industry along with hot product and market trends, while arming suppliers and distributors with resources, data, and strategies for moving forward. 

Learning Outcomes:
  • Hottest markets
  • Top product categories
  • Distributor sales results
  • Supplier delivery trends
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.

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
PPAMidwest News
Celebrating our First PPAMidwest Scholarship Recipient

Supporting our members and their families is a top mission for PPAMidwest. The Board of Directors identified a strong need to focus on education as a top priority for supporting our members and our future. What better way to achieve this goal than by participating, in at least a small part, in the education of our future leaders.

We are pleased to celebrate the inaugural recipient of the PPAMidwest Scholarship, Eliza Schultz. Eliza is the daughter of David Schultz, whose contributions to our industry and our regional are limitless. She is currently a student at the University of Arkansas and carries a 4.0 GPA, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Accounting. Eliza’s involvement in extracurricular activities at her college is quite impressive, but even more impressive are her contributions to her community through volunteer service. The list is far too long for our newsletter. Please join the Board in congratulating Eliza.

PPAMidwest was well-represented in the full list of PPEF Scholarship winners this year. In fact, we had 7 other member students that received awards. Please also join us in applauding:
  • Alexa Bukowski
  • Alexander Smith
  • Benjamin Gansner
  • Abigail and Lillian Neely
  • Macy Richter
  • Nathaniel Smith

The PPAMidwest Scholarship is funded by member involvement and participation in our events and fundraisers. This is a long-term commitment that we hope to continue to be able to support for years to come. You can support this mission by attending our events, participating in raffles and other fundraisers, or with a cash contribution. Our Pickleball Tournaments in KC and STL on August 24th and 25th are your next opportunity to contribute to the success of our future leaders.
American Solutions for Business Partners with Otterbox and Gold Bond to Donate to Local School

Glenwood, MN – American Solutions for Business, together with Patriot-level partners, OtterBox and Gold Bond, donated drink wear to students of Glacial Hills Elementary in Starbuck, Minnesota. After receiving a donation request from Glacial Hills for sufficient water bottles for children, ASB began the search for a durable and long-lasting solution.
ASB’s partner, OtterBox, graciously stepped up to donate the product as part of the company’s mission “We Grow to Give.” This mission is largely supported through the OtterCares Foundation, founded 2009 to support innovative education and empower youth to create lasting change through philanthropy and entrepreneurship.
“Our company and employees are dedicated to giving back in meaningful ways to support our communities,” said David Baldwin, Business Development Manager for OtterBox. “We appreciate American Solutions’ leadership and Gold Bond’s partnership in making this donation possible.”
These bottles not only provide a solution for children who may not have the means, but provides them with something they feel proud to carry with school spirit. The Glacial Ridge logo, along with the American logo, is prominently laser-engraved onto the tumbler thanks to our partner, Gold Bond, who waived fees on decoration.
“Gold Bond is honored to partner with American Solutions and their continued efforts and support of the local community in Glenwood,” explained Kim Newell, VP of National Accounts for Gold Bond. “To be just a small part of a project that helps children and families we are incredibly thankful for the opportunity and our hope is that this small donation will bring joy to the children that receive the items.”
“They are absolutely fantastic!” expressed Jodee Lund, Director at Glacial Hills Elementary. “We are going to put the kids’ names on the water bottles and hand them out. We are so thankful for the support!”
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).
Briana Larson Of Koozie Group Brings Home Gold At Special Olympics

Clearwater, FL – Promo Briana Larson of Plum City, Wisconsin, realized a dream when she competed in the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games track and field events held June 15-22 in Orlando. Larson works at Koozie Group’s site in Red Wing, Minnesota.
The Competition: Larson had competed in Special Olympics events for 13 years before being chosen this year to compete in the National Games. She was one of 65 athletes and unified partners chosen to represent Wisconsin in the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games. The good news was revealed to her during a surprise pizza party held in her honor during Larson’s Special Olympics bowling team’s practice.
“I was so darned excited that I screamed and yelled a lot,” Larsons says. “I was happy and excited to be able to compete for a gold medal.”
The Wisconsin native won gold medals in the 100-meter run and the 4X100-meter relay, an amazing validation of her years of training and competing.
Koozie Group’s Support: Beyond athletic abilities, being selected to compete in the USA Games requires criteria to be met in social interaction and team building. There’s also the matter of the $500 cost of attending that must be raised. When Koozie Group found out about this requirement the company donated $1,500 in support of Larson.
With this donation, Larson was a top fundraiser, and thus was given the honor of representing Wisconsin as the state’s flag bearer in the pre-event ceremony.
“Once we found out that Briana was raising funds to compete in the Special Olympics USA Games, we knew we wanted to support her journey and help make her dream come true,” says Koozie Group Employee Experience and Communications Specialist Trisha Joyces. “We’re so proud of Briana for being selected to compete and happy that we could financially contribute to her success.”
Koozie Group presented Larson’s family with products to take to the USA Games and a good-luck banner signed by her co-workers. The company also printed a water bottle for each member of the Wisconsin Special Olympics team.

“It felt pretty darn good and exciting,” Larson says of the whole experience. “And I got to be on TV a lot. I loved it and I am going to try out again in four years. It’s a big deal.”
PPAMidwest Members.....Are you taking advantage of your membership benefits like our Member Only Coupon Book or our Job Board?
Visit our Members Only Section for these and other Member Only Benefits!
Industry News
Women's Leadership Conference 2022
PPAI Newslink
WLC’s Networking And Community Return To Full Swing
A unique event within the promotional products industry, PPAI Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC) was one of the most missed traditions over the last two years, as the pandemic forced the event to be cancelled in 2020 and moved online in 2021. Recently, Charlotte, North Carolina played host to the event’s return, described by the roughly 120 leading industry women in attendance as a much-needed triumph.

First-time attendees and many who make a point to be part of the conference every year celebrated the success of the event. “It was better than I could have ever imagined this year.
I needed it so much,” says nine-time attendee Jenny Straub, CAS. The director of strategic partnerships at supplier Outdoor Cap, Straub had been on the road for shows for four weeks, with WLC representing the finish line. “The minute I got here, all of the camaraderie, it just put me in the best space. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

The networking and community of WLC is always hailed as a singular part of the experience, but the professional development content is equally vital. Along with keynotes on subjects such as innovation, overcoming imposter syndrome and career strategy by renowned speakers who are not part of the industry, promo pros themselves took to the stage to share their own insights.
4 Expert-Backed Strategies for Improving Your Communication Skills
Aytekin Tank  Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP Founder and CEO, Jotform

Here are three communication skills every entrepreneur must have to foster a successful business.

It happens to the best of us. We're out at a trendy new restaurant with a friend or colleague we haven't seen in ages when suddenly, we're asked a question twice and realize we've been glued to our phone for most of the conversation.
It's not a pleasant feeling knowing you've unwittingly been ignoring your companion during important quality time. As entrepreneurs, we often think of communication as the things we say. But our body language also speaks volumes.
So what's the antidote for improving bad habits like the scenario above? According to CNBC contributors Kathy and Ross Petrasit all comes down to this one simple behavioral change: being present. "Engage the speaker — make eye contact, nod and be ready to respond," they write. "In other words, let them see that you're paying attention."
But just like we can unknowingly fail to communicate with our body language, our speech can also pose significant barriers when it comes to our interactions with others. Below are some subtle yet impactful ways to create more rapport and come across more positively to those around you. As self-development author Brian Tracy puts it, "Communication is a skill that you can learn. It's like riding a bicycle or typing," he explains. "If you're willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life." Read More
Rising Stars of 2022
PPAI Media
PPB Unveils Promo's Rising Stars of 2022
After sifting through nominations from all across the industry, a PPB magazine judging panel has selected the Rising Stars of 2022.
These 12 emerging leaders join a group of just over 160 professionals who have claimed the honor since the program began in 2010. The annual recognition spotlights some of the industry’s most promising up-and-coming figures based on their accomplishments, demonstrated leadership and involvement in the marketplace and their communities.
Industry professionals submitted nearly 100 nominations this year, explaining each candidate’s merits, which were independently scored to select the 2022 honorees.
This year’s Rising Stars earn unique networking and career growth opportunities, as well as a special invitation to PPAI’s North American Leadership Conference in August. 
Click here to see the full list