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Long Beach Show Strikes Gold

Filed under: ASI Shows, News About ASI

Our inaugural ASI Show in Long Beach, CA was a true success, from Friday’s full day of education through two very busy exhibit days. Suppliers who wondered how the weekend dates would affect attendance were happily surprised by the turnout, and feedback overall was terrific.

Stacy Horton, of Dard Products (asi/48500), dubbed the show “awesome” and said she was so slammed by heavy foot traffic she had to call for help in her booth. “ASI did a great job of getting the right distributors here,” she told us. “I honestly think next year many more suppliers will attend and take larger booth spaces. I have so many requests to follow up on.”

Peter Zeiger, of Geiger (asi/202900), brought a team of 15 to the show, which he rightly described as an “event,” thanks to education, a Gala Celebration at Gladstone’s, tons of suppliers and big-name keynote Ben Stein. “Attending an ASI Show,” he said, “allows you to take your game to the next level.”

We moved the show from its traditional berth in San Diego about 120 miles north so thousands of greater LA distributors could take advantage of a more affordable, accessible alternative. Distributors and suppliers alike said they loved the spectacular waterfront location and easy access to major highways, three airports and first-class accommodations.

New shows can be a risk for everyone. Happily, the show delivered, attracting a solid turnout of industry distributors who aren’t ASI® members but who either joined on-site or who likely will in coming weeks. 

All told, The ASI Show Long Beach, which took place Friday, March 22, through Sunday, March 24, at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, featured 61 education sessions (attended by 400+), over 300 top-flight suppliers and 11 team-building distributor sales meetings.

Our keynoter, Ben Stein (pictured with me, backstage), really packed the house. We had so many people we had to bring in extra chairs. If you only knew Stein through his turn as the stone-faced teacher in the “Ferris Bueller” movie, you were in for a treat. Funny, frank and informative, Stein shared his unique take on small-business success. Click here for an ASI TV interview with Stein, taped after his keynote, and click here for a previously recorded ASI Radio interview.

Laura Hook, of EmbroidMe of Cypress (asi/384575), told us Stein made her laugh and cry. “What more could you ask for?” she said. “His point on not taking things for granted was a good one and an impactful one. We cannot sit around and whine about what’s not happening because we are the ones who need to get up and make things happen.”

What a great takeaway!

Although it was tough to leave 70-degree weather behind to return to a spring snowstorm back East, I’m happy to be home – and eager to hear what you thought of the new show. Please let me know by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

Important note about Long Beach 2014: it’ll take place during the week, Tuesday, March 25 through Thursday, March 27.  

And don’t forget: Other upcoming 2013 ASI Shows are New York (May 8-9) and Chicago (July 16-18). To learn more about exhibiting or sponsorship opportunities, contact Karen DiTomasso, our sales VP, at kditomasso@asicentral.com.

ASI Launches New Long Beach Show

Filed under: ASI Shows, News About ASI

ASI® will be on the West Coast this week for our inaugural show in Long Beach, a spectacular waterfront city whose motto is “where the action begins and the fun never ends.”

Located less than 20 miles from Los Angeles, Long Beach provides distributor and supplier members from the West Coast and greater LA areas an affordable location along with easy access to major highways, airports and first-class accommodations.

The ASI Show takes place Friday through Sunday at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center. We’re expecting over 300 top-flight suppliers, 11 team-building distributor sales meetings, a value-added Education Day featuring 61 business-building sessions – and lots of action on the show floor Saturday and Sunday.

Our keynote speaker on Sunday morning is the very smart, very funny economic commentator and “Ferris Bueller” star Ben Stein, who promises to tell us all “How to Ruin Your Life – and How to Make it Great.”

If you only know Stein from his famously funny turn as the stone-faced teacher from the 1986 John Hughes movie (“Bueller? Bueller? Anyone? Anyone?”), you might be amazed by his largely conservative insight into some pretty serious economic issues.

Along those lines, I’m looking forward to talking to our West Coast members about the California economy, which after five long, hard years appears to be finally turning a corner. According to the local papers, there’s solid evidence of job growth, economic stability, a resurgent housing market and rising spirits in a state that was among the worst hit by the recession.

It would seem that in a state that’s struggling to find its economic footing, promotional products’ high ROI and relative low cost would be the perfect angle to pitch on any sales call.

If you’re at the show, don’t forget to stop by the ASI booths for a demo of our increasingly popular and highly-rated ESP Mobile apps for iPhone, iPad and Android, which have topped 10,000 downloads since launch.

We know the apps are popular because ESP Mobile for iPhone users, for instance, have awarded that app 4.5 stars. As further evidence of user engagement, product searches in ESP Mobile nearly doubled in the last three months alone. Click here for an overview of cool app features, including speak to search and virtual samples.

And don’t forget: Other upcoming 2013 ASI Shows are New York (May 8-9) and Chicago (July 16-18). To learn more about exhibiting or sponsorship opportunities, contact Karen DiTomasso, our sales VP, at kditomasso@asicentral.com.

And for complete coverage of the Long Beach show, including blogs and videos, check http://www.asicentral.com/.

Finally, if you’re with us in Long Beach, please let me know what you think of the new location by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

It’s Official: ASI is a Great Place to Work

Filed under: News About ASI

Carol Albright, our intrepid senior VP of human resources, likes to say that ASI® employees “work hard and play harder.” This week, Carol got the ultimate confirmation that ASI is a very happy place indeed when it was announced that we won three “Best Places to Work” awards.

For Carol, the best part of this competition is that it was strictly decided by employees, which means the people who work here gave ASI the greatest possible vote of confidence. All told, we won “Best Places to Work-Large Company” (among companies with more than 100 employees), “Best Place for Working Moms” and “Best Employer for New Graduates.”

ASI previously won “Best Places to Work” awards in 2012, 2011 and 2010, so I think it’s official: this is a great place to work.

Greater Philadelphia Media sponsored the contest to recognize top regional employers, based on nominations by their employees. ASI was presented with its awards at a fancy luncheon at the Pen Ryn Mansion in Bensalem, PA.

Carol’s happiness was in full evidence in the text she sent me from the awards ceremony (where she also took the photo of the awards): “Felt like the awards just kept coming … I was so excited I hyperventilated … These awards are because our employees voted for us … OMG.”

Part of the reason why we won is because ASI offers competitive benefits, an array of educational programs, an award-winning Wellness Program and diversity initiatives. In addition, employees can enjoy on-site day care, Starbucks and a café featuring healthy options, free fitness classes and gym reimbursement, casual dress every day and community service events.

As for the “fun” part of the equation, we’ve got everything from field days, ice cream socials and Halloween parties to an annual holiday mixer. In addition, we always recognize creative thinking in our employees with quarterly president’s awards and an annual employee awards ceremony.

And we’re always looking for more talented people to join our team. To apply for employment at ASI or for more information on the company, click here. Current job openings include sales reps, marketing/copy manager, product manager, business intelligence DBA, senior designer, product and technical support director and controller.

Congratulations, Carol. Now, breathe!

Congrats to a Winning Editorial Team

Filed under: Community, News About ASI, Research

ASI had good reason to cheer this week when Counselor® magazine was honored with its fourth Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award for its 2012 “State of the Industry” issue.

This award is a really big deal. Considered “the Pulitzer Prize of business media,” the Neal Awards recognize the best in business-to-business editorial achievement and are B-to-B’s most prestigious and sought-after editorial honors. The judging panel, chaired by Diana Henriques of The New York Times, selected a mere 46 Neal Award winners out of 138 finalists from an original 640 entries.

Winning entries were selected for exhibiting journalistic enterprise, service to the field and editorial craftsmanship. As you know, Counselor’s annual State of the Industry issue is packed with statistics, largely compiled and analyzed by our executive research director Larry Basinait. Editor Andy Cohen steers this massive ship from concept to press, which requires the hard work of every Counselor staffer.

It was previously announced that ASI’s Wearables®, Stitches® and Counselor magazines were named finalists for five Neal awards. ASI magazines were recognized among several legacy publications, including Broadcasting and Cable, Architectural Record and The American Lawyer.

Tuesday, a big group of us went to New York City for the awards announcement. In the photo above, editorial staffers Joe Haley, Andy Cohen, C.J. Mittica, Christopher Ruvo, Dave Vagnoni and Larry Basinait celebrate with Melinda Ligos and Rich Fairfield.

When the big moment came and they announced Counselor as a winner, we cheered so loud we couldn’t even hear what the judge’s had to say about our entry. Later, we learned one judge said of Counselor’s SOI package: “The value of the story lies in the data-based reporting.” Judges also praised the story for being comprehensive and well-paced.

In less than 10 years, ASI magazines have been honored with nearly 100 journalism awards and remain the only industry publications to ever win the prestigious Neal Award. What that means is our entire editorial department is world-class – and I couldn’t be more proud.

For members, it means consistently providing top-notch education and educational resources to improve your business and further the professionalism of this entire industry.

Below are the details on our award winner and finalists. If you haven’t already, these stories are well worth the read. The SOI issue in particular contains a ton of practical advice and business strategies you can turn to all year long.

Neal Award winner is:

  • Counselor®: for Best Subject-Related Package, “State of the Industryissue, trend stories, how-to tips and profiles written by numerous staffers and edited by Andy Cohen.

Neal Award finalists are:

  • Wearables®: for Best Single Article, “Passing the Test,” an investigation into whether garments from industry suppliers and retail brands lived up to their performance property claims, written by C.J. Mittica.
  • Stitches®: for Best Single Article, “Life in the Garment Center,” a comprehensive cover story on New York City’s famed Garment Center, written by Christopher Ruvo.
  • Wearables: for Best Subject-Related Package, “Made in America,” an examination of the root causes allowing domestic apparel manufacturers to thrive here at home, written by C.J. Mittica, Christopher Ruvo and Sara Lavenduski.
  • Counselor: for Best Instructional Content, “17 Ways to Raise Capital,” a how-to guide for businesses on raising capital through conventional and out-of-the-box means, written by Dave Vagnoni.
  • Counselor: for Best Cross-Platform Package, “Best Places to Work Road Tour,” an eight-day, 17-city cross-country quest to find the coolest workplaces in the ad specialty industry, with print and online results from a detailed survey of 4,000 industry employees, written by Andy Cohen, Joe Haley and Melinda Ligos.

Ten Years … And Counting

Filed under: Community, News About ASI

Hard to believe, but this week I celebrated my 10-year anniversary with ASI®. Looking back, it’s amazing to consider how the world, the industry and ASI have changed. I remember seeing people walking the halls speaking into dictaphones! Now, we can utter a few words into our mobile phones and, in a flash, see an entire display of the latest products in ESP Mobile.

One constant: the steadfast commitment of the Cohn family and ASI to this industry. And I’m very proud to say the ASI number is still the number that matters.

I joined ASI on Feb. 24, 2003 (see my first official company photo at right). And what I said at my first real industry gathering still rings true. This is an industry in which many small companies and families are invested – and it’s an industry where everyone always seems to have such a good time.

At that same meeting, I promised you’d always know where I stand and that I’d always want to know where you stand. You can still email me anytime at tim.andrews@asicentral.com with questions, comments or concerns.

When it comes to our products, I can say with confidence they’re the best in the world. The numbers say it best: in 10 short years, ESP® has increased from 5,000 users all the way to 2012’s record of 38,800. Today, an incredible 72% of all product searches in the industry are conducted in ESP.

When I joined, ASI had 19,000 members. Now, we have over 25,000. And from 5,000 ASI-hosted member websites we’ve grown to over 17,000 – with more coming online every day.

From a handful of live education courses, we’ve developed into the largest educator in the industry, with more than 25,000 people currently enrolled in the ASI Education Certification Program. Our trade show coverage is the largest in the industry, too, with 18,872 attending across five shows in 2012. Exhibitor and flow space numbers are also growing.

And this September 15-17, we’ll host our 7th U.S. Power Summit at the Montage Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah. In addition, we’ll launch the very first Canadian Power Summit, taking place June 12-14 at the Fairmont Banff Springs in Alberta.

The industry itself is certainly keeping pace. My first year, industry sales were $16.1 billion. In 2012, we hit $19.4 billion, enjoying 12 straight quarters of growth. In the face of the recent recession, how many other industries can say that?

Ten years is a long time, but when I look around ASI’s office, I realize I still have a long way to go to catch up with industry veterans like Mel Viers in customer service, who’s been with us 41 years. Jim Lang, our editorial creative director, is right behind Mel with 38 years on the job. These guys make Ron Ball, our VP of supplier sales, who just celebrated his 35th ASI anniversary, almost look like a newbie!

But few come close to ASI’s chairman of the board, Norman Cohn, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday. He and the Cohn family have led ASI for 51 years – and Norman’s been in the industry 61 years. Norman is the second generation involved, with Matthew Cohn and Stephanie Cohn Schaeffer from the third generation both active as well, and grandchildren from the fourth generation have already served as interns.

As it did from the start, ASI’s number-one goal remains helping you become more successful.

With ASI, you’re never alone. On any given day you’ve got over 400 talented designers, developers, writers, trainers, account execs, analysts and brand experts available to help you with every aspect of your business.

One thing that can’t change fast enough, however, is the diversification of our industry. I remember looking out over a sea of older, white males at my very first ASI Show in Chicago. Zip ahead a decade and, sadly, the landscape remains pretty much the same. And that needs to change.

That said, I’d like to thank you all for your advice and counsel and for the patience you’ve shown me over the years. Looking forward, I can honestly say I’m more excited about this industry than ever before. I’m continually impressed by the passion and creativity that power us all – and I can’t wait to see what happens next.