The Promotional Product Professionals of Canada’s (PPPC) National Convention (Natcon) is under way this week at The International Centre in Mississauga, Ontario, outside Toronto. Running September 10-12, Natcon opened with a full day of education, beginning with a panel discussion featuring Jonathan Strauss, PPPC president and CEO; Paul Bellantone, CAE, PPAI president and CEO; and David Natinsky, MAS, SAGE president.

The trio of industry leaders came together to discuss the state of the promotional products industry and the changes, challenges and external factors that present opportunities for its companies and practitioners. The panel’s conversation touched on several subjects relevant to industry professionals, including technology, Millennials, product safety, mergers and acquisitions and—even though the trade show is oriented toward a Canadian audience—tariffs. Although Canadians aren’t affected as much by tariffs, they still see the effects, including less pricing included in catalogs and a push for distributors and suppliers to talk more about value.

Today’s morning schedule also included a session with Jae M. Rang, MAS, author and principal of distributor JAE Associates, on creativity and structure, who guided the audience through exercises to learn the purpose of slowing down and looking at every opportunity. In another session, Terry Sparkman, senior account lead at SAGE, gave her audience an overview on offering online stores to their clients, noting that business-to-business companies can reduce order management costs by up to 90 percent by implementing ecommerce solutions.

This afternoon, Natcon’s education looks at giving and gaining value from every customer relationship with author David Fellman, developing and maximizing a top-performing team and being a great leader with trainer and author Nikki Pett, and the value of partnerships and leveraging great relationships with Cliff Quicksell, MAS+, president and CEO of Cliff Quicksell Associates and director of affiliate marketing and business development for distributor iPROMOTEu.

Natcon’s trade-show floor opens tomorrow at 9:30 am ET, following a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The day’s highlight will no doubt be PPPC’s Image Awards ceremony from 4-8 pm, recognizing industry members’ accomplishments over the past year. On Thursday the show welcomes distributors’ invited end-buyer guests. More information about the show is available here.