NWPMA With Jim Risch

Mark Shinn, Incentives West; Dan Reading, In The Bag Promotions, Inc.; and PPAI Chair Tom Goos, MAS, Image Source, visit with Jim Risch (R-IA), second from right.

PPAI took the industry’s message to Capitol Hill on May 25 and 26 as part of its seventh annual Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.). More than 80 member volunteers and staff held nearly 250 visits over two days with legislators and their aides from 30 states to discuss the industry’s interest in issues such as the Department of Labor’s new overtime rule, independent contractors, deductibility for business advertising expenditures and legislation to support incentives for wellness programs, among other issues. In addition to the hundreds of personal visits, members from across the country participated in the virtual fly-in, sending nearly 1,000 emails to their legislators to voice their concerns about legislation that affects their businesses and the industry overall.

“L.E.A.D. is a powerful way to take our industry’s message to Washington, D.C., and again this year our group more than 80 strong made a compelling and memorable impression on legislators,” says PPAI Chair Tom Goos, MAS, president of Image Source, Inc., who met with a number of his legislators. “Our voices are definitely being heard. I’m very proud of what our members have accomplished on behalf of the industry. I came away inspired by the passion our industry colleagues convey for the promotional products industry.”


Clockwise: Bob Levitt, right, Bob Levitt Company, and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA); Ryan Small, Blue Dog Merch (left), Joe Walkup, Innovative Business Products, LLC (left) and Rep. Jim Collins (D-TN); Andrew Spellman (left), Victorniox Swiss Army and Nicholas D-Eramo (right), Triple Stitch with Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT); PPAI President and CEO Paul Bellantone, CAE, (left) and PPAI Chair-Elect Mary Jo Tomasini, MAS, CE Competitive Edge LLC with luncheon speaker Aaron Blake, political writer with the Washington Post.

PPAI Chair-Elect Mary Jo Tomasini, MAS, CEO of CE Competitive Edge LLC, chair of the Government Relations Advisory Committee, was impressed with those she met during her visits. “The legislators and their staffs were welcoming and truly engaged with us. I found them to have great respect for our industry and the lead PPAI is taking on product safety.”

Devin Martin, key account manager for Advance Corporation, was part of the Upper Midwest Association of Promotional Professionals delegation. “This was such an enriching event,” she says. “I am so thankful to have been given the opportunity to attend. It was awesome to see the people of our industry come together for a common cause. I encourage everyone in this industry to ensure their future success by getting involved on the local, state or national level to make sure that we have a continued presence and influence on the issues that directly affect this great industry.  Every voice counts and together, we can make a real impact.”

New L.E.A.D. volunteer Perry Wehrle, president of PAW Marketing, Inc. and a PPAI board member, attended an early morning coffee with Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and her team. “There were about 60 people there, so I didn’t have a one-on-one with her, but I did get an opportunity to thank her for the work she’s doing on behalf of the promotional products industry. Later I met with her staff and found out we have some commonalities and good bonds. We are going to build from there.”


From left: Anne Stone, PPAI Director of Public Affairs; Perry Werhle, PAW Marketing, Inc.; Dale Denham, MAS, Geiger; Brian Porter, Pro Towels; Scott Hareid, Hareid Marketing and Mitch Rhodus, HALO Branded Solutions.

L.E.A.D. veteran Charlie Stevens, MAS, regional vice president for HALO Branded Solutions, was part of a group that met with an aide to Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD). “He was very open and receptive to what we had to say. We had a great meeting,” says Stevens.

First-timer Daniel Roso, vice president of sales and marketing for Travelchair, was thrilled with the opportunity to talk with his legislators. “The coolest part of this experience is it’s really empowering to get to speak on behalf of our entire industry—to get that trust and that weight behind what you are saying, it’s quite an honor,” he says. “If you are considering doing something like this or have some skepticism about how our government works, this is really empowering. Just to get that experience and see that there is something you can do about it motivates you to believe in the government, try to drive change and get behind something that matters.”