Less than two weeks away from The PPAI Expo 2024 – the largest and longest-running trade show in the promotional products industry – hundreds of suppliers flocked to the ASI Show Orlando to give distributors a taste of what’s to come in Las Vegas.

Perhaps the most popular booth belonged to Port Saint Lucie, Florida-based Foxyware/Vegas Golf (PPAI 368029, S1). After six years without exhibiting, co-owner Tammy Cimperman brought all the glitz and glamor of “Sin City” to the trade show floor with her assortment of bedazzled products. Sequins and rhinestones covered apparel, drinkware, lanyards and more.

“Bling is absolutely back,” Cimperman says. “We keep expanding to different products. Tumblers and bags are the trendiest right now.”

Across the aisle stood her husband Wayne, decked out in a gambling-themed suit and inviting attendees to play Vegas Golf, the name of his company and a game that combines poker and golf.

“I’ve missed it,” he says, referring to exhibiting. “Foxyware has been jam packed all day. At Expo, with Vegas Golf, I’m always jam packed. PPAI has always been solid, and we’re really looking forward to it.”

Environmentally Conscious

Sustainability remains a major trend in 2024, as several suppliers are adding eco-friendly items to their product lines.

Celebrating its 35th anniversary, Valley Stream, New York-based Gordon Sinclair (PPAI 111537, S4) has introduced the 40-oz. LeGrande Recycled Tumbler. Made of 91%-recycled stainless steel, the product’s handle, lid and straw are made from 100% recycled polypropylene.

Danielle Steinberger, senior national account manager at Gordon Sinclair, is quick to point out that the product bears a striking resemblance to Stanley’s 40-oz. Quencher H2.0 FlowState Tumbler, widely considered the hottest product on the market.

“Our eco initiative is something near and dear to our hearts,” Steinberger says. “We want to make a difference in what’s coming to the promotional market. When we’re looking for things to bring to the market, we’re thinking about sustainability and how to bring them in at a price that’s affordable to everyone. For a long time, the infrastructure for eco wasn’t there. Now it’s becoming much more affordable to do so.”

Steinberger adds that sustainability and minority and diversified spending are the main two topics that distributors keep asking about. “We’re a woman-owned business, so we fit the bill for that,” she says.

Greenville, South Carolina-based Bandana Promotions by CARO-LINE (PPAI 113413, S6) is also riding the green wave, launching new items, including an eco-friendly addition to its pet products line, at The PPAI Expo 2024.

Pet products accounted for roughly 40% of the company’s business last year, according to Scott Thackston, director of marketing and product development at Bandana Promotions. Therefore, the company has created Swag-Wag Pet Promotions, a new line of pet-themed wearables, such as multiple-sized triangle bandannas and “snap and go” bandannas.

“The new ‘snap and go’ makes it easy to put on and take off, gives a more uniform look for the client’s brand and ensures pet safety,” Thackston says. “People love their pets and will spend money on them.”

Industry Newcomers

A new year also brings new suppliers to the promo industry. 

Eastlake, Ohio-based Stakes Manufacturing (PPAI 776961) offers a unique model of print-on-demand, direct-to-consumer, e-commerce fulfillment to support corporate stores. Offering more than 90,000 SKUs of apparel, bags and headwear, the company works with sports leagues, colleges, Disney and Marvel, just to name a few entities, according to co-founder Jed Seifert. 

“Business has exploded because there hasn’t been the ability to do print-on-demand on this breadth of products,” Seifert says. “We also have proprietary technology that people haven’t seen.”

Neurodiversity is another major component of Stakes Manufacturing’s success. Of the company’s roughly 250 employees, more than 10% have intellectual and developmental disabilities, says Seifert, whose brother has a disability.

“It’s not charity – they’re some of our best employees,” Seifert says. “Two gentlemen with autism are our best warehouse employees based on speed and accuracy. For us, it’s not just about the cotton and the ink. It’s about making an impact.”

Although Stakes Manufacturing won’t be able to exhibit at The PPAI Expo 2024, Seifert intends on having a booth at the event next year. “We’re here to continue to introduce ourselves to this industry as we grow in this space,” he says.

Another consistently crowded booth at ASI Orlando belonged to Miami-based Floatie Kings (PPAI 796831), which supplies custom inflatables and pool floats.

They come in any quantity and any size, “as large as a building or as small as a cup holder,” says Jonas Johansson, who founded the company nine years ago. “Our turnaround time is what sets us apart,” Johansson says. “We can do products in two or three days, delivering to the client within four days.”

Despite nearly a decade in operation, The PPAI Expo 2024 will only be the company’s fourth trade show and its first time at promo’s grandest event. “Business has noticeably gone up since we’ve been exhibiting,” Johansson says. “We’re excited to do more trade shows and connect with more people.”

Distributors’ Reaction

Scurrying the show floor with great élan, distributors gobbled up as many samples as they could carry.

A trio from Louisville, Kentucky-based distributor TY Ink Promotions raved about the Roll Up Duffle Bag from Hauppauge, New York-based Tekweld (PPAI 266346, S4) – ranked the No. 26 supplier in the inaugural PPAI 100.

“We like to see what’s new, think about the things we’ve been asked for in the past year and anticipate events we know our clients hold yearly to see what new ideas we can bring to them,” says Rachel Williams, vice president of sales for Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama at TY Ink Promotions.

“We’ve gotten to hit a lot of the suppliers we work with on a regular basis,” adds Carissa Sutphin, director of operations at TY Ink. “It’s always nice to put names with faces. It’s a good idea sharing platform.”

Made In America

In addition to showcasing their newest products, suppliers also informed distributors about their latest services.  

For example, Manassas, Virginia-based BamBams (PPAI 255565, S9) has traditionally been an importer. But, after acquiring Sealy, Texas-based supplier Visual Promotions in July, the No. 35 supplier in the inaugural PPAI 100 has added domestic production capabilities, including dye-sublimation, knitting, screen printing and direct to garment.

“The acquisition has made us a hybrid company – now we have both sides of the coin covered,” says Dan Taylor, president and CEO of BamBams. “It’s very valuable to be made in the USA as the market has shifted away from China. We still have tons made there, but having it made in the U.S. is valuable because the market is demanding that. The U.S. needs to grow its industrial manufacturing space and we’re trying to do our part.”

Register Now For The PPAI Expo

For more information on The PPAI Expo 2024, visit expo.ppai.org.

To register, click here.