After 14 illustrious years, PPAI Executive Vice President Bob McLean, CPA, CAE, CEM, has stepped down from his role at the Association and is embarking on a new chapter as a consultant. He will continue working with PPAI in that capacity through 2022 while also collaborating with clients in a wide range of business management areas.

“Fourteen years ago, I didn’t even know there was a promotional products industry,” McLean says. “Today, I have grown to love and respect the industry and the hardworking and creative professionals in it.”

Looking back at almost a decade and a half in the promo industry, several significant accomplishments dot McLean’s tenure with the Association. PPAI’s “Power of Two” agreement with SAGE—an industry service provider of information, marketing, and business management solutions and PPAI technology partner—stands among the most visible, long lasting and successful.

“As the primary contact between SAGE and PPAI, I am proud to say that our relationship with SAGE continues to remain strong,” McLean says. “The Power of Two agreement with SAGE allowed us to more than double our membership and increase revenue significantly. More importantly, it has given PPAI a stronger foundation on which to build its other initiatives. For example, our voice in Congress is louder by virtue of representing many more members, and our outreach to buyers is broader, allowing our Promotional Products Work campaign to be more effective.”

McLean also played an instrumental role in shaping the structure of PPAI. He established the Association’s business development department when he became executive vice president. McLean says, “Prior to that move, our sales efforts were very disjointed. Consolidating all those points of contact allowed us to provide a more consultative sales approach with our members, improving their access to the market and also improving our bottom line.”

More recently, McLean’s leadership was a major factor in PPAI’s navigation of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on industry and Association, helping guide an organizational restructuring, developing the virtual Direct-2-You platform to take the place of The PPAI Expo in 2021, and leading PPAI as interim president following the departure of Paul Bellantone in 2021.

“I could not have been prouder of the way our staff stepped up and supported the Association and industry during that challenging time.”