Austin Distel  /

PPB’s December cover story explored “The Great Catalog Debate,” and drew on members’ insights on the relative merits of print and digital catalogs. Ultimately, the article and its conversations with industry professionals found no single, overwhelming trend in catalog preference as what works for some companies doesn’t work for others.

The debate goes on … you will never please everyone. Print catalogs do hang around and are easily researched. Online catalogs are often out of sight and out of mind. I think suppliers who do online only lose out, as most distributors only remember a handful of supplier websites—locking out many suppliers they cannot remember or don’t know because they have not researched them before. Only sharp distributors can easily direct clients to online catalogs. Uniformity of online offerings varies. There is a supplier I do a lot of business with who has a disastrous website with their phone number on every page—not cool. [The industry needs] to come up with something better to make online work at 100 percent to spread the business equally—even for smaller suppliers. Online is not an even playing field. These giant one-to-two-inch mega catalogs are over the top. Just because a supplier buys a pad printer, they think they can offer every product they can stamp a name on. They should focus on what they do best and keep their offerings manageable. These mega suppliers are buying all sorts of companies to add to their offerings. Soon, we will have 12 mega suppliers in the industry. Bigger is not always better!

Everen T. Brown Advertising
Salt Lake City, Utah
PPAI 102265, D1

We (ZOOMcatalog) just did a big industry marketing survey (will be released in January) and it is true that now, more than ever, digital catalogs are proving to be an invaluable tool for both distributors and suppliers. However, it is time for suppliers to think beyond the standard full-line catalog. More than just a reference guide, those that we surveyed are looking for more targeted, niche catalogs filled with photography and other interactive elements such as video, hyperlinks and more. Over 70 percent of distributors surveyed also said they customize (adding their logo and info) supplier catalogs before sharing. From both the supplier and distributor perspective, digital catalogs are the way to go. They can be used in robust marketing campaigns, as an addition to a website, for social media posts, to generate ideas, in a sales pitch and so on. 

Vice President
Lafayette, Colorado
PPAI 396190


In November, PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE, announced that he would be stepping down from his role at the Association in March, marking the end of more than 20 years of service to PPAI and the industry. These are just a sample of the many letters posted in response to the announcement. 

Oh my. I was truly sad to hear this. Thank you so much for all your years of service and for being a class act with everyone you came in contact with. You have had a calming and an encouraging impact with all of us over the years. I had a few conversations with you over the years at the Vegas show or by email, and you always made me feel like I was the most important person in the room. You have been a true gift to our industry over the past 20 years. You will truly be missed, and I wish you the best in your future adventures. 

Out Of The Box Marketing
Nanaimo, British Columbia
PPAI 596336, D2

Paul, I cannot imagine the Association without you. You will leave a huge void when you are gone. Thank you so much for your friendship, service and support these last two decades. I wish you the very best as you enter new horizons. 

President and CEO
Boston, Massachusetts
PPAI 105182, D12


James Khattak is news editor of PPB.