It’s often said that promo is a people industry. OK, it’s a product industry, too, but the people in it, and their relationships with each other and their communities, are the field’s lifeblood.

It’s a business of connections and relationships that attracts some really distinct, very individual personalities. And there’s a fascinating story behind each and every one of them. Here are nine of the most engaging, creative and coolest voices in promo today.

Coolest Canadian

Rich Patterson with PBJ Custom Merch Co. is a shining example of how our industry is built on connections. PPAI Director of Sustainability and Responsibility Elizabeth Wimbush, a fellow Canadian, notes that not only would Patterson give you the shirt off his back if he could, he’s the sort of person who can help you find anyone or anything.

Coolest Promo Pro Who Should Be On Your Playlist

When David Forsyth at Dallas-based OrderMyGear isn’t helping clients make their businesses sing, he’s blending classic country and indie rock on stages both local and abroad to a toe-tapping beat.

Coolest Non-Nerdy Tech Person

Jeison Ortega of Charles River Apparel may only have worked in promo for seven years, but he’s made strides in bringing the latest technology, including website chats and AI, to the industry in the name of improving the customer experience. And as a volunteer with PPAI’s Technology Committee, he’s sharing that knowledge and expertise with the wider promo community.

Coolest Association Leader

More than just the founder of a successful distributorship, former PPAI Board Chair, marathoner and someone who’s climbed Mount Ararat and Mount Kilimanjaro, Paul Kiewiet, MAS+, is the executive director of the Michigan Promotional Professionals Association. There, he’s led numerous programs to connect suppliers and distributors, forge relationships with neighboring associations and PPAI, and represented the industry’s needs to Michigan’s legislature. (Sorry, Dale!)

Coolest Do-Gooder


Brianna Mazze with supplier St Regis has dedicated herself to advancing the industry’s CSR and DEI efforts, and she is a wealth of knowledge on the subjects. Wimbush adds, “She walks the walk, too, volunteering with animal rescue groups and organizing give-back programs for local communities at work.”

Coolest Business Traveler

He may now be national sales manager at Rupt, but when Quinn Bui first came to PPAI Media’s attention, he was traveling the country in his van, taking the promo world with him. #Vanlife isn’t just Instagram accounts and a pipedream; Bui showed that it can be a great vehicle – pun intended – for connecting with clients and showcasing how promo can meet their needs.

Coolest End Buyer That Just Gets It

B2B tax software company Avalara has earned the praises of one of promo’s all-time advocates and good guys, Danny Rosin, CAS, of distributor Brand Fuel. Rosin says, “Avalara pushes us, and they let us challenge them. They understand that branding does not mean spraying a logo all over everything. They are thoughtful about distribution methods, the messaging, the audience, the consideration for quality and sustainability, the feeling they want a recipient to have when they receive branded Avalara merch. There are three responses to a branded merch campaign: No, Yes or WOW. WOW is the one Avalara aims for every time.”

Coolest Celebrity (Non-Industry Category)

Walker-Clay’s Abby Burke made it to No. 8 on PPAI Media’s 2024 #Online18 through her funny, informative and unique videos. The national account executive has developed her skills in the crucible of TikTok, at first making cake decorating videos during the pandemic and growing her @its_abby_abigail account to more than 350,000 followers and 94 million views. Her focus now is on user-generated content for brands, and reviewing products available through TikTok Shop. (Editor’s note: There’s a TikTok Shop now?)

Coolest Advocate On Capitol Hill

Angie Morelli, owner of Las Vegas distributor Customistic, started her company while serving in the U.S. Marines, and since then she has become a prolific and knowledgeable industry volunteer. Currently a member of PPAI’s Government Relations Advisory Council, she’s getting promo’s message heard – and more importantly, understood – in Washington.

Khattak is deputy editor at PPAI.