Yesterday, Los Angeles, California-based supplier BELLA+CANVAS announced that Norm Hullinger, CAS, has joined the company as its first chief operating officer. Hullinger, who currently serves on the PPAI Board of Directors, comes to the position after 18 years at supplier alphabroder, most recently as CEO. Taking over the CEO role at Trevose, Pennsylvania-based alphabroder will be Dan Pantano, who has been president since joining the supplier in 2013. The company made the announcement yesterday. Pantano was also elected to its board of directors, effective immediately.

BELLA+CANVAS’ COO position is a new one for the apparel supplier who has reported significant growth in recent years, requiring major investments to expand its global operating infrastructure. In the past 12 months alone, the company added operations in five countries, expanded its Los Angeles cutting facility—the largest of its kind in the world—and added a 750,000 square-foot distribution center on the East Coast of the U.S to support its wholesale distribution partners.

“The growth of our business necessitated the creation of the COO role, and for us the choice was simple,” says Chris Blakeslee, BELLA+CANVAS’ president. “I personally had the privilege to work closely with Norm for several years at alphabroder and witnessed his leadership, professionalism and drive for results. It’s now my pleasure to welcome him, on behalf of the entire BELLA+CANVAS team, to join our company, where he’ll lead our pursuit for operational excellence and unparalleled service that exceeds our customers’ expectations.”

BELLA+CANVAS was founded 29 years ago by current owners Danny Harris and Marco DeGeorge to meet the changing demand for true women’s products in the industry. The brand is known for its focus on cutting-edge products, environmental consciousness, and pursuit of social responsibility and justice.

In a statement, Hullinger says, “My relationship with BELLA+CANVAS goes back nearly 15 years, and I’ve admired what the company and team has accomplished both as a partner, and as an industry disruptor. I’m excited to now lead the efforts which will solidify the company’s infrastructure as it becomes the largest basics brand in the industry.”

Speaking to PPB Newslink, Hullinger notes that in joining the supplier, he will be leading the transformation of its global distribution and logistics network. He says, “The brand is growing exponentially, and the supply chain and distribution needs to grow just as quickly. They felt they needed to bring someone in with that background and that will be my focus. I’ll also be leading execution of BELLA+CANVAS’ rapidly growing retail footprint and we’ll be building stores both domestically and internationally. That will benefit the promotional products market, as the more end users recognize and get hooked onto the brand, it will be pulled along in the promo space as well.”

Pantano and his team are credited with building a world-class sales and marketing organization at alphabroder. Following the additions of Ash City, Bodek & Rhodes, Golden State T’s and Prime Line to the alphabroder family, he worked with all aspects of these businesses to integrate them into the organization and enhance the customer experience. Under Pantano’s direction, alphabroder has expanded its Private Brand business and elevated product offerings by bringing in leading retail brands including Under Armor, PUMA, Spyder and Nautica. In 2017, alphabroder and Prime Line merged to create the industry’s first true “One-Stop-Shop” for promotional products and expanding alphabroder’s product and service offering to include hard goods.

Commenting on the promotion, Pantano says, “I couldn’t be more excited to take over the leadership of alphabroder-Prime Line at this time. Our customers are focused on growing their businesses profitably, especially as our industry rebounds from COVID-19. Our job is to help them do that each and every day and do it as seamlessly as possible. We will have a relentless focus on that going forward.”

Speaking to PPB Newslink on his initial plans in the new role, Pantano says, “Near term, I will be working to mitigate supply chain issues to improve inventory availability to our customers. Longer term, it will be a relentless focus on improving the alphabroder-Prime Line customer experience.”

Michael Klein, CEO of Littlejohn & Co, alphabroder’s majority shareholder and a member of the board of directors, says, “We have been working with Dan for more than eight years and look forward to alphabroder’s future under his experienced leadership to take the company to the next level of performance and position it as the undisputed leader in this industry.”

In its news release, alphabroder also thanked Norm Hullinger “for his 18 years of service to the company and his outstanding contributions to alphabroder-Prime Line and the industry overall.”