Following a recap on the state of the industry just ahead of the opening of The PPAI Expo trade-show floor on Tuesday, Association members shared their excitement and questions about the upcoming Promotional Products Work Expo.

Announced Monday, the PPW Expo is a virtual event to which distributors can invite their clients for education and strategies to make the most of the distributor relationship and maximize the impact of their product campaigns. The first event is slated for spring—likely either May or June—as a precursor to what will become an annual event in September or October to help clients plan for holiday gifting and their promo budgeting in 2023.

Members wanted to know more about the PPW Expo and how it will be presented by PPAI, with some distributors wondering about the potential industry impact of clients interfacing with suppliers. Others expressed excitement, mentioning past events for their clients to meet suppliers, with distributors facilitating meaningful conversations that lead to sales.

PPAI President and CEO Dale Denham, MAS+, assured members that the virtual platform will be customizable, so that the program feels like it’s the distributor’s own event under the umbrella of Promotional Products Work. “We’re hoping by the fall show to have specific rooms for you that are unique to you, but there will be no ability for [clients] to interact with any other distributors,” Denham said. “Someday, we hope to allow pre-set appointments so clients can choose the places to go on a schedule.” Distributors would be present in the rooms with their clients.

During the Association Update, outgoing PPAI Board Chair Todd Pottebaum, MAS, took a ceremonial step to transitioning his position to Dawn Olds, MAS, through the traditional passing of the gavel. Olds, who was elected to Board Chair in June, will assume the seat at the conclusion of The PPAI Expo on Thursday.

She echoed that the intention of Promotional Products Work Expo is to support the existing supply line between clients, distributors and suppliers.

“From a distributor’s perspective, you have all kinds of representation on the Board, from large firms and mid-sized firms, and then also there is representation from independent distributors,” said Olds, SVP of operations at distributor HALO. “We’re going to make sure that line isn’t crossed over. Please be assured that we’re not looking to introduce anything that would break that channel. We all recognize how valuable that is. That’s really what our purpose is, to further the community. Violating that would be the complete opposite of our mission.”

In conjunction with the efforts to advocate for promotional products to end buyers, Denham also said that the Association would consider and explore new terminology to simplify communication with clients—whether terms like “distributor” or “end user” are most effective in that context.

Promotional Products Work Expo was derived from PPAI’s newly announced mission statement: “Be the voice and force to advance the Promotional Marketplace for the benefit of our community.” The crafting of the new mission was an important undertaking during Pottebaum’s term as Chair.

In appreciation of Pottebaum’s service and his family’s sacrifice of his time, Denham announced a donation in honor of his wife, Sheri Pottebaum, to The Arc Minnesota, an organization that provides information and assistance to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.