March 21, 2013
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
And for complete coverage of the Long Beach show, including blogs and videos, check http://www.asicentral.com/.
March 21, 2013
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!
March 15, 2013
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:
Neal Award finalists are:
March 1, 2013
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 email@example.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.
February 14, 2013
Filed under: News About ASI
The zeitgeist right now is all things Canada – birthplace of Neil Young and Justin Bieber, home to phenomenal hockey, a gorgeous national anthem, some of the funniest comedians ever (Seth Rogen and Eugene Levy) and, now, ASI’s very first Canadian Power Summit.
Registration for the June 12-14 confab at the legendary Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, aka “the castle in the Rockies,” is officially open. This is a prime opportunity to join the most influential leaders in Canada’s promotional products industry at what promises to be an incredible three days of networking, brainstorming and strategizing at one of the premier destinations in the Great White North.
To register, click here.
At the summit, we’ll cover a full slate of hot topics, including everything you need to know about mobile marketing and lucrative sales markets. We’ll also offer an exclusive look at our first-ever Counselor® Canadian State of the Industry report, providing key strategies to move any business forward.
And, we just secured a great keynoter – Dr. Jack Mintz, world-renowned fiscal and tax policy specialist and chair of the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary, who will discuss the current climate for small businesses in Canada.
Throughout the summit, we’ll have numerous chances to explore the 125-year-old resort, which is surrounded by pristine wilderness in the heart of Banff National Park, and everything it has to offer, including great golf, terrific dining and an array of recreational activities.
And while I’m on the topic of cool Canada, there’s still time to order your copy of 2013’s The Professional Buyer’s Guide™ catalog for the Canadian marketplace. It’s the best place to find great products from Canadian and Canadian-friendly suppliers – everything from bags, tools and electronics to sporting goods, office supplies and wearables.
In addition, we added some really fresh features this year – full-page advertorials with everything you need to know about select suppliers and a clever buyer’s “guided tour” of products to fit any campaign.
I can’t say this often enough – catalogs work. The average distributor reports ASI® catalogs produce $19,000 in sales per year. Guaranteed circulation of The Professional Buyer’s Guide is 50,000 so click here to order or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you’re a fan of the country that’s produced some of the best-known singers of all time, let me know your favorite – Justin? Joni? – by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
February 8, 2013
The Dallas show that closed Friday attracted over 500 top suppliers and 16 team-building distributor sales meetings, including Counselor® Top 40 distributor American Solutions for Business’ winter conference.
All of us at the show got incredible feedback, which is always great to hear. It’s clear a ton of deals took place on the show floor and during numerous networking opportunities. Here’s a small sampling of reactions:
Larry Zavadil, CEO of American Solutions for Business (asi/120075): “ASI Education has been great, and we found tons of ideas on the show floor. Every vendor we’ve come across has a unique solution to offer.”
Gabe McGraw, from Gold Bond (asi/57653): “Distributors are coming in with a list, which makes it easy because that translates into orders and everybody benefits. We’ve been so happy with ASI Dallas – in fact, with all of The ASI Shows – because they’re really big producers for us.”
The show was such a hit it even attracted the local news. Fox featured ASI Dallas on its Wednesday broadcast, showing off many of the hottest products at the show (despite the unfortunate use of the word “swag”).
On Friday, we kicked off the final day with a wonderful keynote by three-time Super Bowl champion and 2006 “Dancing with the Stars” winner Emmitt Smith, who advised a packed house on successful small business strategies (see pic).
He was such a nice guy he even posted a photo of the two of us on his Facebook page. It’s amazing to me how many of our keynote speakers turn out to be so gracious. Maybe they know how lucky they are – and how lucky we are to have them share their fascinating experiences and secrets of success!
As we reported in a special show edition of Counselor® Promogram®, Smith’s main message was: “Be bold with your goals.”
“Your attitude determines your altitude,” he told attendees. “You have to believe in yourself and your own abilities to be able to reach new heights. But, the only way to get there is to write those goals down. It’s only a dream until you write it down. That’s when it becomes a real goal.”
Counselor Editor Andy Cohen interviewed Smith after his keynote session to get more motivational advice. Click here to watch the video.
In addition to a lot of work, we had a ton of big Texas fun at the show, too. As you can see from the picture of our happy bull-rider, the industry came together at a boisterous Gala Celebration on Thursday night at the world-famous Gilley’s, the inspiration for the John Travolta/Debra Winger blockbuster “Urban Cowboy.”
I’m always on the lookout for Hoosiers and was thrilled to spot John Burr at the show (pictured in the Indiana tee shirt with me). John’s an account executive with American Solutions for Business. I first met him 6-7 years ago at an ASI show in Philadelphia and he’s now working in Pleasantville, NY. In many ways, that’s the best part of any show: making – and renewing – connections.
Fortunately, many of the people who attended the show are from the Southwest, so they didn’t have any trouble getting home. But many of us who planned to head back to the Philadelphia-NJ area are being delayed by the “Nemo” blizzard. I hope everyone Back East stays warm, dry and safe and that everyone traveling gets home OK. Make sure to check www.asicentral.com for notices of any industry companies affected by the storm.
February 6, 2013
ASI® kicked off its latest show in Dallas Wednesday – the same day we announced the availability of thelatest version of our ESP Mobile™ app.
The Texas show continues through Friday at the Dallas Convention Center, where thousands of distributors and suppliers will conduct business at a faster, more efficient pace than ever before, thanks to tech innovations like the ESP Mobile™ apps for iPhone, iPad and Android.
ESP Mobile downloads have already topped 9,000 since launch – and we’re expecting a new surge now that we’ve unveiled over 40 innovative new features, which we’ll demo in Dallas as well as at upcoming shows in Long Beach (March 22-24), New York (May 8-9) and Chicago (July 16-18).
If you haven’t already, give the new mobile app a test drive. Now users can:
-Tap to create virtual samples and generate dynamic on-site sales demos
I’m really looking forward to reactions from users at Dallas, which features some Texas-sized action. Just check out the big way the Omni hotel greeted show participants this week. It’s a great “sign” of the enthusiasm and professionalism we’re encountering everywhere.
In addition to demos, networking and a brand-new Gala Celebration at the world-famous Gilley’s, we’ve got 16 distributor sales meetings taking place here in Dallas.
First thing Wednesday morning I welcomed Counselor Top 40 distributor American Solutions for Business (asi/120075), which brought together upwards of 250 sales reps for their winter conference. As I often do, I asked the audience if anyone was from my home state of Indiana – and found a single Hoosier, as well as someone from N.J., where I now live.
After all-day education (which includes new classes for owners), the show floor is open for business Thursday and Friday. We’ll start off the last day with a free keynote by former Dallas Cowboy and three-time Super Bowl champion Emmitt Smith, who might be better known in some circles as the 2006 “Dancing with the Stars” winner.
Keep checking www.asicentral.com and our Twitter feed for the latest show news, blogs and videos. And if you’re with us in Dallas, let me know what you’re looking forward to the most by posting a comment or e-mailing me here. I’m also on Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
And don’t forget – on August 12, ASI returns to Dallas for the inaugural Promotions Southwest show at the state-of-the-art Irving Convention Center. Click here for more info and to register for the new show, timed to help distributors prepare for all-important fourth-quarter sales.