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Camaraderie in the True North

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

One thing I’ve learned from 30 years in business is that the bigger the world gets, the more we need to work together. Today, even the most successful businesses are networking and forming strategic alliances while learning together at conferences like the ASI Power Summit.

ASI designs each Power Summit agenda around breaking business trends impacting the advertising specialty marketplace. But along with new ideas and strategies, the most valuable takeaways are often the bonds participants build with each other.

At our first-ever Canadian Power Summit, which just ended, we opted for an interactive format and more round-table discussions. I don’t know if it was the awe-inspiring Canadian Rockies, the late-night cocktails or the potent combination of both, but from the feedback I’ve gotten so far, the construct worked.

In my iPhone pics, you can see the view from my room, me and AIA president and CEO David Woods in one of the gorgeous meeting rooms and a group at wine tasting.  To see more (really good!) photos, click here.

Not surprisingly, we spent a lot of time at the summit discussing the Canadian economy and learning new ways to encourage more business between companies on both sides of the border. As close as we are, there are interesting differences between the two countries, some of which were revealed at the summit in a special sneak peek at Counselor® magazine’s upcoming “State of the Industry” report.

Canadian highlights include:

  • Sales volume change by region: 63% of surveyed distributors in Canada, which did not suffer the same extreme recession as the U.S., reported strong growth in 2012, versus 58% in the U.S.
  • Competitor threat: Only 24% of Canadian distributors surveyed cite “websites selling promotional products” as their top perceived competitor threat, versus 41% of distributors in the U.S.
  • Sources of new business: While 81% of Canadian distributors cite referrals, followed by websites (35%) and cold calls (29%), organizational networks are used far more in the U.S. than Canada (33% vs. 17%), as is online social networking (14% vs. 9%).

Also at the summit, we celebrated Canada’s fastest-growing ad specialty companies, while learning a few of the secrets behind their success during one of our final panel sessions. Our top 10 list was determined by the percentage each company grew between 2010 and 2012. The top companies are:

  1. 1. Simplex Promotional Products, 253%
  2. 2. Stitchery and More,  249%
  3. 3. Level 2 Sportswear, 130%
  4. 4. BrandAlliance, 80%
  5. 5. Brand Blvd Inc., 78%
  6. 6. Vispak Inc., 67%
  7. 7. Fairware Promotional Products Ltd., 65%
  8. 8. Talbot Marketing, 63%
  9. 9. Superex, 48%
  10. 10. Akran Marketing, 15%

    If you missed this year’s Canadian summit, you can sign up for next year’s, taking place June 11-13 in Ontario, at Queen’s Landing, Niagara-on-the-Lake. Don’t forget: Anyone who attended the 2013 summit received a coupon for $300 off the regular rate for the 2014 event.

    In addition, registration’s now open for the U.S. conference, ASI Power Summit 2013, Sunday, September 15 through Tuesday, September 17 at the Montage Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah.

    If you attended our inaugural Canadian summit, please let me know about your experience. What worked? What didn’t? Post a comment or e-mail me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.


Business, Canadian-Style

Filed under: Community, Industry Initiatives, News About ASI

I probably qualified for enough frequent flyer miles to get to the moon this week, leap-frogging from ASI® headquarters in Pennsylvania to meetings in California before heading to Banff, Alberta, for the inaugural ASI Power Summit in Canada.

The summit, which takes place Wednesday through Friday at the legendary Fairmont Banff Springs resort, features sessions on emerging markets and breaking business trends impacting the advertising specialty marketplace. I’m really looking forward to an on-stage discussion with our keynote speaker, the multi-talented Dr. Jack Mintz, a world-renowned corporate taxation expert and director of the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary.

While it’s our first Power Summit in Canada, it’s our seventh altogether, with registration already open for the ASI Power Summit 2013, Sunday, September 15 through Tuesday, September 17 at the Montage Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah.

The hallmarks of every ASI Power Summit include an intimate, relaxed setting in a beautiful place, conducive to great conversations and superior networking among the industry’s most knowledgeable and influential people. The list of business leaders speaking at the Canadian Power Summit reads like a “Who’s Who” of ad specialty insiders and representatives of a number of Counselor Top 40 suppliers and distributors.

In addition to a full slate of panel discussions, on Thursday we’ll celebrate the release of our first-ever list of the fastest-growing ad specialty companies in Canada, a list topped by a company that grew an incredible 253% between 2010 and 2012.

I’m sure a high point of that night’s dinner discussion will be Canada highlights from Counselor® magazine’s upcoming “State of the Industry” report. Sneak peek alert: 2012 Canadian distributor ad specialty sales rose to $1.56 billion, up from $1.48 billion in 2011.

The ASI employees working at the event include Editor-in-Chief Melinda Ligos, pictured from left with Glenna Fulks, assistant director of corporate events, marketing guru Colin Graf and Counselor Editor Andy Cohen. They tell me the hotel’s bison served over risotto is not to be missed.

After three action-packed days, I’m looking forward to one day’s worth of hiking in Banff National Park, where “residents” include black bears, grizzlies, wolves, cougars and elk.  I sure hope the hotel gift shop carries bear spray along with their branded gear!