Under the tagline “Woven Together,” Norm Hullinger, CAS, CEO of alphabroder (PPAI 477593), and Jeff Lederer, CEO of Prime Line (PPAI 112744), appeared together on a Facebook Live event today to announce that apparel supplier alphabroder had acquired Bridgeport, Connecticut-based Prime Line. The combined company will have revenues of approximately $1.25 billion in 2018 in the promotional products market.

Lederer will serve as president of alphabroder’s hard goods division, which will operate under the Prime Line name, and report directly to Hullinger. Longtime members of Prime Line’s management team will also be joining alphabroder’s leadership.

“The combination of these two great companies and cultures was born out of the input from our customers,” says Hullinger. “We will honor this by continuing our sharp focus on their businesses. Bringing our organizations together will provide us with the flexibility and agility to focus 100 percent on our customers—to deliver best-in-class solutions to help their businesses succeed. This merger provides our customers with unmatched product choice, reach, delivery and availability. The quality and longevity of the Prime Line team and their corporate culture, firmly grounded in family values, brings a high level of predictability to the business, which is essential to delivering the ultimate customer experience, and these were the key drivers of this deal.”

Lederer says, “As a family business with longtime employees, we gave careful consideration to this strategic move and ultimately feel that this is in the best interest of both customers and employees. The industry is changing, and it was important for me to make sure Prime Line is positioned in the best possible way moving into the future. We have chosen a partner in alphabroder that matches our values and commitment to the future. I am so excited to work with Norm and Dan Pantano [president of alphabroder] helping to lead the team to the next level.”

Hullinger and Lederer spoke with PPB Newslink about what brought these companies together, and what industry members can expect going forward.

“Prime is a perfect partner for alphabroder,” says Hullinger. “They’re the perfect hard-goods provider with a great assortment of products that is well-indexed to what’s growing in the marketplace. They’ve also got a management team that’s well regarded in the industry. Jeff and I have worked together on a variety of committees and groups, and have gotten to know each other well.”

Lederer adds, “As Norm alluded to, we’ve known and worked together for many years. We’ve discussed what the industry can look like and how we can be in front of that. The industry is changing, and we want to be part of that change, in a positive way.”
Hullinger advises customers not to expect drastic changes in how the two companies operate in the near- to mid-term, and says how they will ultimately integrate depends on what best serves their customers. He says, “There is a lot of equity in Prime, Jetline, etc. The brands and the people behind them represent real value, and they will continue.”

Already sizable companies, together alphabroder and Prime create potentially the largest player in the promotional products marketplace. This size, emphasized both Hullinger and Lederer, can bring significant benefits to industry distributors.

“We’ve got a seasoned management team that understands what’s good for distributors,” says Lederer. “There are a ton of synergies that distributors are looking for, such as streamlined costs and advances in IT. They want consistency, service and ways to make their lives easier. We can create that scale and ease of doing business.

“At the end of the day, predictability is key to distributors. We’re going to be enhancing that together. The customer experience is key.”

Hullinger adds, “Size in and of itself doesn’t mean anything to customers, but what it can bring does. It means new investments, new products and new technologies. We have the resources to develop that.”

Prime Line is the fourth significant company to join the alphabroder family in the past five years; Bodek and Rhodes was added in 2015, Ash City Worldwide in 2014 and Imprints Wholesale in 2012.