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Showcasing Award-Winning Originality

Filed under: ASI Shows, Members

The ingenuity of product design never fails to amaze me, but I’m particularly impressed by the clever designs companies in our industry employ that really set them apart.

From our show floor in Orlando, I sampled some of the products highlighted during the Counselor Distributor Choice Awards.  Talk about creative!

Click here to watch a Tim’s Take video featuring products from this year’s winning companies, including:

Hit Promotional Products (asi/61125), Supplier of the Year:

  • Hi Bounce Pearl Ball with LED Lights. Bounce this on the floor and watch the swirling, blinking, multicolored LED lights light up and draw people right into your show-floor booth.
  • Clip with Sticky Flags. The spring-loaded clip features sticky notes in front and a magnet on back that’s useful for cubicles and giveaways alike.

iClick (asi/62124), winner of the USB Drives category:

  • Milwaukee USBeer drive. Pre-loaded with content, this is ideal as a giveaway item. It also opens bottles and comes with a lanyard and a terrific silver pouch, plus a lifetime warranty.

Ariel Premium Supply (asi/36730), winner of the Stress Reliever category:

  • Talking Stress Reliever. This is really fun: It talks when you squeeze it and has an imprintable area that’s perfect for a logo.
  • Strictly Stretchy Dude. What better way to say “thank you” to a client than with a talking squeeze ball that says all the right things? The putty-like figures come with lots of faces to choose from.

Leeds (asi/66887), a 7-category winner:

  • Wide-Mouth Sports Bottle with a nifty lid. This 40-ounce bottle features a great spout design and a small hole that prevents spillage. What attention to detail!

For the full list of most-valued ASI suppliers in 54 product categories (as determined by ASI Supplier Performance Ratings and distributor votes) and to view photos from the awards ceremony, click here.

Did you see a really cool product in Orlando? Let me know by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Orlando Attendance Soars 38% to New Record

Filed under: ASI Shows, Community, Education, Members, News About ASI

The doors are closed and the results are in. The ASI Show Orlando posted record-breaking attendance of more than 6,110 distributors, up 38% from last year and up 5% from the prior record.

What a show! It’s clear we’re charging into 2011 pumped up by big attendance numbers and a re-energized industry. It’s also clear that ASI Orlando has developed into the leading East Coast show in January, drawing from distributors across the country.

And the number of suppliers exhibiting this year is up nearly 10%, which reflects their recognition of the power of ASI Shows across the board. Suppliers tell us Orlando was one of the busiest industry shows in recent memory.

We think you’ll agree that pushing the dates a few weeks later in January made a world of difference, allowing everyone time to calm down after the excitement of the holiday season. Equally as important is the economic up tick we reported today in PromoGram. There’s no doubt the industry is finally in rebound.

Throughout the show – from a record-breaking Education Day through the Counselor Distributor Choice Awards, the Gala Celebration and the Michael J. Fox keynote – the feedback we’ve received has been enormously satisfying.

Jason Grindall, from Graphco Line (asi/57956) said, “We saw more distributors here at ASI Orlando during the first day alone than we did during the entire PPAI show. We’re leaving with quality leads and have spent time with many wonderful people.”

Mary Ellen Nichols, from supplier Bodek & Rhodes (asi/40788), loved the incredible volume of distributors and quality attendees while David Regan, from The Vernon Group (asi/351700) called the show “a great way to start the year.”

We had a blast last night along with 1,700 others who attended an exclusive networking Gala Celebration at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. Les Kania, from Imprinted Specialty Products (asi/23070), put it perfectly: “This is the way to go to an amusement park. The bars are open, the lines are short and the food is good. It’s a terrific evening.”

Click here for full video coverage of ASI Show Orlando. Click here for pics of our fashion show.

And don’t forget to register today for the ASI Show in Dallas, Wednesday, February 16-Friday, February 18, and the ASI Show in New York, Tuesday, March 22-Wednesday, March 24, at www.asishow.com.

Let me know your thoughts on Orlando by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Let the Rebound Begin

Filed under: ASI Shows, News About ASI

We announced some great news for the industry at our show in Orlando this week: According to an ASI study, the ad specialty industry began its recovery in earnest in 2010, increasing by 9.1% over 2009 to $17 billion.

Click here for a Tim’s Take video with more details on this awesome news, which we broke first in PromoGram. In the video, I also discuss our record-breaking attendance on Education Day, which attracted over 2,000 people to more than 60 education sessions, sponsored by Fields Manufacturing (asi/54100). This year, 95% of ASI’s sessions are brand new.

It’s been a terrific day in Orlando. We started off early this morning with a wonderful keynote by actor and activist Michael J. Fox, who addressed nearly 2,000 people. He was exactly as you’d expect – funny and forthright.

“The script of your life is not written yet,” he said, stressing his fight with Parkinson’s disease has been an opportunity to help others. “Life is about choices and the only choice I don’t have is about Parkinson’s. Everything else is up to me.”

As cheeky as he was playing Alex P. Keaton on “Family Ties,” Fox told the audience about moving to Hollywood to pursue his acting dreams and living in an apartment so small he washed dishes in the shower.

His big break happened in 1982, when the producers of “Family Ties” called. “I didn’t have a phone, so I closed the deal on a pay phone outside a chicken joint,” Fox said. When he was 29, and starring in another hit sitcom, “Spin City,” he was broadsided. “One day there was a tremor in my pinky finger,” he said. “Later a doctor sat me down and told me I had Parkinson’s. I didn’t want to believe it.”

Refusing to give up, Fox devoted himself to finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease, raising the hopes and quality of life of those who suffer from the disorder. To date, the Michael J. Fox Foundation has raised more than $225 million for Parkinson’s research. “Answers aren’t going to fall from the sky,” Fox told ASI’s audience. “We have to reach up for them.”

Who’s inspired you? Let me know who and how by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Twisting for a Good Cause

Filed under: ASI Shows, Community, Media Coverage, News About ASI

I haven’t danced the twist in at least 30 years, but Monday night I happily joined nearly 2,000 other hearty souls in an attempt to break a Guinness World Record for twisting. The “Peppermint Twist-off” took place at our ASI Show in Orlando and it was a hoot.

The twist-off was for a good cause – and made for great TV. The NBC affiliate in Orlando, WESH, ran a segment on our efforts and WKMG, the CBS affiliate, promoted it on their broadcast Monday morning.

Joey Dee – nattily decked out in a brilliant red suit and shoes – led the crowd in twisting to his No. 1 hit, “Peppermint Twist.” Dressed adorably in classic ’60s “poodle” garb were Sydney and Mackenzie Cohn, the daughters of ASI Vice-Chairman Matthew Cohn. The girls, who were diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at age 7, co-chaired the twist-off to help raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International.

So far, Sydney and Mackenzie, now 11 and 9, have raised over a million dollars for the foundation. Monday, they helped raised a few thousand more. It’s remarkable how much they’ve accomplished at such a young age, especially in the face of such a sobering disease.

No one knows why their immune systems went haywire and started attacking their pancreases, keeping their bodies from making insulin. Now, they live each day trying to balance their blood sugars with small machines attached to their bodies, constant blood tests, counting carbs, and insulin injections or infusions, all while trying to be regular kids.

Monday, they were exactly that. Click here to watch a video of the girls discussing the twist-off and if you can, please make a donation to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International. Click here to watch a video of the twist-off.

We won’t know if we broke the record until Guinness officials get back to us. But that’s really not as important as the effort everyone made to come together for a good cause – while having an awful lot of crazy fun.

If you were at the twist-off, please let me know how you did by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


ASI’s Grade A Day for Education

Filed under: ASI Shows, Community, Education, Member Benefits, Members, News About ASI

We just enjoyed a milestone day in ASI’s education program. Monday, we “pinned” the first graduates of the Advertising Specialty Institute Certification Program and awarded them their certifications in a ceremony at The ASI Show in Orlando.

The certifications represent the industry equivalent of a bachelor’s or master’s degree. I was very proud to join ASI Chairman Norman Cohn, Vice-Chairman Matthew Cohn and Corporate Vice President Stephanie Cohn Schaeffer in getting my pin and certificate.  To date, 29 industry pros have received either a Master of Advertising Specialty Information (MASI) or Bachelor of Advertising Specialty Information (BASI) certificate.

We launched this program to provide members with the skills they need to out-think, out-perform and out-service the competition. And we couldn’t be happier so many members are seizing the opportunity to set themselves apart through quality education.

So far, 3,327 industry professionals have registered for classes needed to obtain an ASI certification. In 2010 alone, 4,600 distributors took more than 16,000 live education courses at ASI trade shows, making ASI the largest educator in the $17 billion ad specialty industry. We take education very seriously: Each year, ASI commits $1.3 million to educate its members.

The following are now certified:

Master of Advertising Specialty Information

  • Rodney French, of Quality Resource Group Inc. (asi/303015)
  • Rodney Friese, of Magna-Tel Inc. (asi/68480)
  • Leanne Heuring, of Magna-Tel Inc. (asi/68480)
  • Kathy Lawrence, of Numo (asi/74710)
  • Christine Marion, of EmbroidMe (asi/384000)
  • Becky McMillan, of Magna-Tel Inc. (asi/68480)
  • Todd Pottebaum, of Quality Resource Group Inc. (asi/303015)
  • Cliff Quicksell, of Cliff Quicksell & Associates (asi/825111)
  • Mindy Statler, of Magna-Tel Inc. (asi/68480)
  • Mary Turner, of Magna-Tel Inc. (asi/68480)

And the following ASI employees: Ron Ball, Chris Lovell and Mary Sells.

Bachelor of Advertising Specialty Information

  • Chris Babiash, of M.A. Apparel Inc. (asi/257814)
  • Mike Beckman, of Proforma-BPM (asi/300094)
  • Paula Braeuner,  of Magna-Tel Inc. (asi/68480)
  • Jessica  Johnson, of Production Creek Specialty Advertising (asi/299743)
  • Mark MacDougall, of Valley Graphics Ltd. (ais/350569)
  • Dennis Pottebaum, of Quality Resource Group Inc. (asi/303015)
  • Beth Robinson-Mungle, of Magna-Tel Inc. (asi/68480)
  • Michelle Sherman-Cheng, of On3Tek, Inc. (asi/287739)

And the following ASI employees: Nick DiNicola, Heather DiPrato, Jim Padilla and Pamela Vicik-Smith.

The Advertising Specialty Institute Certification Program is the industry’s only free certification program, created on a user-friendly digital platform. All courses are tracked automatically via a digital campus, so participants can easily access their transcripts and remaining course requirements.

Register here to get started taking your on-demand courses today.

If you’ve taken any education courses toward your certificate, let me know how you’re doing by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Enjoying a Hot Time in Orlando

Filed under: ASI Shows, Community, Members, News About ASI

The ASI Show Orlando is off to a dynamic start. Sunday, show-goers took advantage of a bustling Education Day featuring more than 60 sessions, and last night we celebrated the 2011 Counselor Distributor Choice Awards.

ASI and Counselor magazine honored Hit Promotional Products as the industry’s most-valued supplier during our premier awards ceremony. In addition, we recognized the most-valued ASI suppliers in 54 product categories, as determined by ASI Supplier Performance Ratings and distributor votes.

A record 2,792 distributors across North America cast 79,664 votes in the 2011 competition. More than 250 finalist companies were recognized and 40 suppliers were named winners.

As Counselor Editor Andy Cohen puts it, “The winners of our Distributor Choice Awards represent the best of the best suppliers in the ad specialty industry. The winners obviously care about providing the best possible customer service to their distributor customers. They put a premium on the service they offer, and they make it a focal point of everything they do. Distributors honor this level of service by voting for suppliers in this awards program.”

After the awards, C.J. Schmidt, Hit’s VP of sales, echoed that sentiment, saying, “It comes from our customers, which means the world to us.” Click here to watch Andy’s interview with C.J. (pictured here) on ASI TV. For the list of winners and finalists, and to view photos from the ceremony, click here.

ASI Orlando is being held at the Orange County Convention Center through Tuesday. The industry’s largest event on the East Coast, the show features hundreds of leading suppliers, including 197 new to Orlando.

If you’re at the show, let me know what you think so far by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

We’ve got lots more coming up – including our Guinness World Record Peppermint Twist-Off contest today at 5 p.m., where we’ll attempt to hold the world’s biggest dance party and set a new world record for doing the twist. Wish us luck!


Editorial Reigns Supreme

Filed under: News About ASI

If you were within earshot of ASI’s editorial office this week you would have heard an awful lot of whooping and hollering. We’ve received word that three of our magazines are finalists for Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Awards from American Business Media.

The prestigious awards are considered the Pulitzer Prize of business journalism. Not only that, this sets a new record for ASI’s editorial department: the first time it’s been nominated for three Neals in one incredible sweep.

The awards themselves date to 1955 and are named after American Business Media’s first managing director, who actively promoted business media throughout his life. When the awards were established, Neal himself said, “I believe that the deepest satisfaction that a business editor can enjoy is realizing his success can and does affect an entire trade or industry.”

That pretty much sums up our editorial philosophy. Our writers, editors and designers work hard to serve the ad specialty industry and I believe their efforts continuously advance the industry as a whole.

Here’s what’s being recognized:

Best Single Article: Wearables, for Editor C.J. Mittica’s awesome article, “From Seed to Shirt,” which detailed his 2,700-mile journey from Texas to Guatemala to show how organic apparel is made.

Best News Coverage: Supplier Global Resource, for Editor Michele Bell’s great read, “Asia’s Seismic Shift,” on how labor unrest and other issues in China would affect industry suppliers.

Best Educational Content: Counselor State of the Industry issue, edited by Andy Cohen and packed with phenomenal trend stories, how-to tips and profiles written by many staffers.

On March 10, the editorial gang will go to New York City for an awards dinner and to learn whether they’ll take home bronze, silver or gold medals for their efforts.  They’ll be honored alongside publishing giants like Dow Jones, Hearst, Crain’s and McGraw-Hill.

In the past few months alone, our editorial department has won 14 awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors, four Folios and now three Neal nominations. The photo above shows our editorial team, led by Editor-in-Chief Melinda Ligos, celebrating one of their many wins. Please join me in congratulating them for once again proving they truly are the best of the best.

If you’ve read an ASI story recently that you think is a winner, please let me know by posting a comment or emailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


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