Master Promoter

It’s hard to imagine any 16-year-old falling in love with just one job, but Bret Bonnet has only had eyes for promotional products since he was a young man. Now he’s a full-grown industry veteran who co-owns Aurora, Illinois-based distributor Quality Logo Products, Inc. (PPAI 304730), with longtime friend and company vice president Michael Wenger.

“I started in this industry 19 years ago at the age of 16—I literally don’t know how to do anything else,” says Bonnet. “I started out working for a small mom-and-pop promotional products distributor who actually convinced me to leave my part-time job working at Best Buy to come join them. In my first year, I managed to sell more promotional products than all the other full-time salespeople combined. I was making more money than any 16-year-old should!”

While enrolled at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, Bonnet created the foundation for Quality Logo Products with Wenger as a class project, then turned it into a full-fledged company after graduation. When he isn’t working on continuing to grow the $50 million business—which employs more than 100 people and serves major clients in the fast food, retail and insurance industries, among others—Bonnet can be found helping his wife, Niki, with her hair salon in Naperville or spending time with their 15-month-old son, Jax.

“I’m also currently in the process of moving back to Naperville,” he adds. “Now that I’ve got a little one, moving closer to family is important, because what they say is true … it takes a village to raise a child.”

Read on to learn more about Bonnet’s typical day at Quality Logo Products. 

How does this job challenge you?

Every day is a challenge. The one thing about this industry is that no day is ever the same. There is always a problem I’ve never encountered before that needs solving. It keeps my brain fresh and I love the challenge. To me, complacency is death.

What kinds of projects or tasks might you tackle on a given day?

I mostly live in my email inbox, but when I’m not, I’m interfacing with our marketing, engineering and communications departments. These three departments are the driving forces behind everything we do, and I’m extremely proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish together. At any given time, I might be investigating a bug on the website, working with engineering to improve a customer interface or workflow, or brainstorming ideas with our marketing director for our next big campaign. Every day is different. I love it!

What changes or improvements have you recently implemented, or are you planning to make in the future?

We just recently unveiled our new website. As part of this major release, we introduced our patented No Surprise Pricing®. Basically, we’re the only distributor that gives the end user a guaranteed total price and delivery date the moment they land on a product page. It’s been a game changer for us and we’re extremely proud of it. We’ve also got some pretty awesome new features planned for 2018.

How do you collaborate with co-workers?

Slack [a cloud-based collaboration service]. Email. Throwing objects like stress balls at them. I love being in the office. I’m not nearly as productive when I’m not surrounded by the great minds of Quality Logo Products. I’m a slave to my inbox, but I’m okay with that. It’s a guilty pleasure of mine. It allows me to be more productive and manage my time better. I prefer face-to-face communication over phone calls, and I have a tendency to throw stuff at people when they’re not looking, just to keep them on their toes!

What do you love about your company?

The people, of course, but everyone says that. I think Quality Logo Products is one of the few places where someone can come in at any level within the organization, work their tails off and get rewarded for their efforts. We always put our customers and employees first. The need to make a profit takes a back seat to doing right by our people every time.

Describe your office atmosphere.

Wild. Crazy. Shaken, not stirred. We love what we do, and it shows in all of our messaging. Between our game room, company outings and endless snacks, it’s hard not to love working here.

What makes your company a valuable member of the promotional products community?

I think the way Quality Logo Products does business makes us unique. We go to great lengths to treat our supplier partners, employees and customers with respect. Our technological contributions—specifically, our patented No Surprise Pricing®  technology and our “People For Honest Pricing” initiative—have led to several advances in the industry. I also think our push toward transparency through No Surprise Pricing® is going to go a long way toward improving our industry’s image, because making money off of hidden fees is the worst. 

Jen Alexander is associate editor of PPB.