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Vol 1112, April 15, 2014
River’s End Names CEO, Gains Equity Investment
As first reported in a Breaking News Alert, Top 40 supplier River’s End Trading Company (asi/82588) has appointed John Maher its new chief executive officer and has secured a private equity investment from firm GCI.
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While financial terms of the GCI deal were not disclosed, the family-funded private equity firm will hold a sizable minority ownership stake in River’s End and work in close partnership with the apparel company. “GCI’s partnership will allow River’s End Trading to accelerate work on our strategic initiatives: stronger organization, improved infrastructure, innovation, and strong relationships,” Maher told Counselor.

With more than two decades of experience in the apparel industry, Maher replaces longtime River’s End executive Dick Ward. Previously, Maher was a key officer at Lands’ End Outfitters (asi/250566), most recently serving as senior vice president and general manager. “I am excited to be part of the River’s End Trading team of employees, sales representatives and partners as we build on the solid foundation that has made the company a top corporate and golf apparel supplier,” Maher said.

In the short term, Maher’s goals include improving inventory management, expanding assortment, making quality hires for important positions and successfully completing the consolidation of facilities. Longer term, the CEO aims to expand the number of recognized brands the supplier offers, build its own River’s End and Page & Tuttle brands, and enhance his company’s in-house apparel decoration capabilities. “Our focus is to help our customers build their customers’ brands,” said Maher. “It’s about marrying strong products with great decoration to bring a brand to life.”

Counselor ranks River’s End Trading Company as the 17th largest supplier in the industry, after the Minnesota-based company reported 2012 North American ad specialty sales of $92.7 million.  

Industry Delegation Lobbies On Capitol Hill
Nearly 70 industry professionals joined together last week to meet with legislators on Capitol Hill, bringing key ad specialty issues before U.S. senators and members of the House of Representatives.
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The L.E.A.D. (Legislative Education and Action Day) event, coordinated by PPAI on April 9 and 10, included more than 200 meetings with Congressional representatives and their staffs, as well as a special breakfast honoring the association’s 2014 legislator of the year, Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC).

“PPAI L.E.A.D. is an important part of our turn-key program of legislative advocacy,” said Anne Lardner-Stone, PPAI’s director of public affairs. “L.E.A.D. gives industry leaders the opportunity to engage with lawmakers from their districts to build relationships, share their stories and speak directly on issues important to them.”

Besides two days of scheduled meetings with members of Congress, the L.E.A.D. event gave everyone in the ad specialty industry a chance to take part in a “Virtual Fly-In” by e-mailing lawmakers. The goal was to create dialogue and educate legislators on the impact of specific Congressional proposals, like those that would change the tax filing status of independent contractors and reduce the ad tax deduction. L.E.A.D. also continued to serve as a platform to promote the ad specialty industry, as members explained to lawmakers how beneficial promotional products can be as marketing tools.

“In addition to informing our Congress about issues important to our industry, it has become apparent that the annual trip to our capital is paying dividends as the Congressional members and their staffs remember us from last year,” said Chuck Machion, ASI’s senior vice president and senior counsel, who along with Jim Socci of Artistic Toys (asi/37122) visited Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) on April 9. “Clearly, such efforts are having a positive impact for our industry.”

While the 2014 L.E.A.D. event has ended, industry members can still contact senators and members of the U.S. House by clicking here.

American Apparel Reports Q1 Financials
Counselor Top 40 supplier American Apparel (asi/35297) has announced flat year-over-year sales in the first quarter of 2014, reporting total revenues of $137.8 million. Despite gains in online revenues, comparative store sales decreased 5% in Q1.
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Wholesale revenues – which include sales within the ad specialty industry – continued a strong stretch for the California-based supplier, increasing year-over-year by 9% in the first quarter. “Our wholesale business continues to deliver solid growth,” said Dov Charney, CEO of American Apparel.

In March, American Apparel’s total sales were $49.6 million, unchanged from the same month in 2013. Again, the company’s wholesale segment generated the most success, with revenues that improved by 11%. Comparable store sales decreased 5% last month, although those declines were offset a bit by a 16% jump in net online sales.

“Comparable retail store sales for March largely reflect a later shift in the spring selling season from the later timing of Easter this year and the unseasonal cool temperatures throughout much of the country,” Charney said. “We are encouraged by a rebound in online sales with an increase of 16% this year on top of a 24% increase last year.”

American Apparel’s recent weak retail performance, coupled with a troubled rollout of a new distribution center, left the company facing a cash crunch earlier this year, according to published reports. In the short term, though, worries over interest payments due and little cash on hand were alleviated when Swiss equity firm FiveT Capital AG bought more than 61 million shares of American Apparel’s stock, at 50 cents each, in March. The moved raised in excess of $30 million and made FiveT American Apparel’s largest outside investor. In a filing, FiveT pledged to take a non-passive role in American Apparel’s future that may include discussing strategy, management changes and transactions with the company and other shareholders.

Counselor ranks American Apparel as the 14th largest supplier in the industry, after the company reported 2012 North American ad specialty sales of $96.8 million.

The Joe Show: License For Fun
In this episode of The Joe Show, Managing Editor Joe Haley shows off five new products you can use in upcoming marketing campaigns. Looking for a neat item to pitch to salons? Want to take advantage of an upswing in the automotive market? Been searching for a unique promotional idea that’s a great conversation starter?
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Click here to watch another new episode of The Joe Show.

Want more videos? Subscribe now to our YouTube videos.


Retail Sales Soar In March
Making their biggest one-month jump since the fall of 2012, U.S. retail sales rose 1.1% in March, spurring more optimism about future economic strength. Core sales, which don’t include building materials, cars, gasoline and food, increased 0.8% last month, following a revised 0.4% rise in February, the Commerce Department said.

Sales at automobile and parts dealers led gainers, increasing 3.1%, while receipts at building materials and garden equipment stores rose 1.8%. Furniture store sales were up 1% and data also showed improved results at sporting goods shops and restaurants. Sales at electronics and appliance stores, though, decreased 1.6% and sales at gas stations slipped 1.3%.

The consensus among economists was that retail sales – which account for a third of consumer spending – would improve by 0.8% in March. Despite the retail gains, analysts say, Q1 GDP still likely has a 2% expansion ceiling, particularly when factoring in flat inventories.
Advertisement: American Apparel

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Obituary: Murray Gold, Founder Of Hit
Murray Gold, the founder of the firm that later became Top 40 supplier Hit Promotional Products (asi/61125), died of complications of congestive heart failure on April 4. He was 88.

Gold founded Hit Sales Corporation in New York City in the early 1950s, eventually employing more than 225 people in the company’s factory and head office in Manhattan. Hit took a different approach than many industry firms, as Gold maintained a no rebate policy that benefitted both manufacturers and customers. After researching techniques used in Germany, Gold launched Hit’s Diamond Cut line, which mimicked fine metals. Under Gold’s leadership, Hit also secured a sizeable contract from Texas’ Humble/Esso Oil Company, producing products for the famous “Put A Tiger in Your Tank” sales program. 

By 1970, Gold sold Hit Sales to Chicago-based Consolidated Foods Corporation, which became Sara Lee. Gold went on to hold leadership positions at the COSCO division of Con Foods, which included Hit Sales, Colt & Dumont, Dexter Press and MWM Color Press. COSCO was later purchased by Arthur Schmidt, whose son Bill moved the firm to Florida and hired Gold as a consultant.

Funeral services for Gold were held in Florida, where Prime Line’s (asi/79530) Bob Lederer – a former manager at Hit Sales – was among the speakers. In lieu of flowers, donations in the name of Murray Gold can be made to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute – Daniel Byron Fund c/o Dana-Farber Jimmy Fund, 10 Brookline Place, Floor 6, Brookline, MA 02445-9924.

Family and friends have scheduled a celebration of Gold’s life for tomorrow night, April 16, in midtown Manhattan. For details, contact Jeff Gold at
Advertisement: Adventures in Advertising

Vote Now For The Industry's Best-Designed Products
The results are in: Counselor magazine has selected the finalists for its 2014 Product Design Awards. Here’s where you come in. Please click here to vote for the products that YOU think are the best designed, considering both aesthetic appeal and functionality. You can select up to three products in each of the 14 featured categories. It only takes a few minutes, and your input is very important to us.

The winners will appear online ( and in the August issue of Counselor. Thanks very much for your help. Click here now to vote. The ballot will be open through Friday, April 25.

Advertisement:  Hit Promotional Products

Q&A: How To Earn Program Business
What distributor can’t use a consistent source of revenue? That’s what makes going after program business such an attractive approach to selling in today’s market. “Program business is very steady,” says Jordy Gamson, co-owner of The Icebox (asi/229395). “We actually refer to these accounts as Steady Eddies in our internal meetings since they’re more predictable revenue streams.”

Gamson and his business partner, Scott Alterman, provide several different types of programs to clients, ranging from ongoing safety and loyalty incentives to awards and uniforms. “We started reaching out to customers we knew who would be good prospects,” Gamson says, “and eventually we started winning business.”

Click here to read this month’s Counselor Q&A and get more program business tips.

Advertisement: The Vernon Company

ASI Radio: Recruiting Top Talent
ASI Radio On this week’s Tuesday Morning Show, the hosts gave callers advice on how to find and attract the best personnel for their companies. Plus, the hosts revealed their Favorite Things, explained how to get your company’s culture back on track and listed six ways selling will change over the next decade.

If you missed the show, a recording is now available at And, don’t forget to tune in for the show’s next broadcast – Tuesday, April 22. Log on at 10:30 a.m. ET to listen to the show – and call in at (215) 953-4979 to hear your voice on the air.
Advertisement:  Greater China

2014 Best Places To Work Nominations Are Open
For the seventh year in a row, Counselor is setting out to identify the industry companies that employees simply love to work for. These are the distributors and suppliers that have a loyal work force and that provide a work environment which employees want to go to every morning.

Counselor will be unveiling its annual Best Places To Work list later this year at the second annual Best Places to Work Conference in July – it will undoubtedly include an elite list of industry companies. Do you want your company to be considered? Getting involved is easy – and it’s completely free to participate. The only necessary qualification is that a company has at least 10 employees.

To nominate your company, or any others in the market that you think deserve to be recognized, simply click here. Also, there’s no risk to participating. Only the honorees – those companies with the best scores from the survey – will be published in Counselor.

So, don’t delay. Click here to register your company to be considered for one of the most exclusive lists in the ad specialty market: Counselor’s Best Places To Work.


Take The State Of The Industry Survey
Counselor is currently polling professionals in the industry – both distributors and suppliers – to find out how the market did in 2013 and to get impressions on where the industry is headed in 2014. We need your input. Please take some time to click the appropriate link below and complete the annual State of the Industry survey. Your responses will remain anonymous, and you’ll be helping to create Counselor’s annual State of the Industry report.

Distributors click here to take the distributor State of the Industry survey.

Suppliers click here to take the supplier State of the Industry survey.


In The News
MediaTree (asi/70303) is offering Treecycler, its proprietary product in the industry, to its distributor customers. In honor of Earth month, MediaTree has released thousands of complimentary Treecycler codes in marketing materials, which can then be redeemed to plant trees in reforestation projects across the globe. For more information, visit and

Name Badges International, partner company of World Emblem (asi/98264), has launched the Regal Badge, the largest badge the company has ever offered. Visit to see the entire product lineup and to design and order custom badges.

Sterling Cut Glass (asi/89663) is now using bio-degradable loose-fill packing peanuts for all its ground and air shipments. The material is water-soluble for easy disposal, as well as child- and pet-safe, compostable, static-free and reusable when not dissolved.


People On The Move
Bodek and Rhodes (asi/40788) has promoted Marc Held to the position of vice president of national sales.

CleggPromo (asi/45450) has appointed two new representatives to its inside sales team. Derek Callier has been named a West Coast account manager and will be responsible for AZ, southern CA, HI, NM, NV and UT. Additionally, Theresa Grenke has joined Clegg as an account manager, responsible for AR, ID, WY, MT, KS, NE, ND, SD and northern CA.

iPROMOTEu (asi/232119) has named Cliff Quicksell its director of marketing.

Prime Line (asi/79530) welcomes Michael Reisbaum as a national account manager.

Product Spotlight: Proforma

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Only Proforma has the resources to offer a program like Results First. Only Proforma has $4 million per year in sales and marketing support, $430 million in purchasing power and a 150 person support team to truly deliver the results you want.

Click here to learn how Proforma's Results First program can grow your business—even before you join.

Proforma (asi/300094)

MSNBC Showcases Industry
“Your Business” program visits ASI’s NYC show and features several exhibitors on program devoted to entrepreneurs.
Find out more
ASI® Named Top Workplace
Employees vote ASI a great place to work for 5th year in a row, and company also named “Best Employer for New Graduates.”
Find out more.



Salespeople pay hundreds of dollars to attend one of Stephen M. R. Covey’s workshops. ASI is giving its members the unique opportunity to attend one for FREE!

Stephen M. R. Covey, bestselling author of The SPEED of Trust and advisor on leadership and high performance, is coming to ASI Chicago on Tuesday, July 15, to lead a half-day workshop. Come learn why establishing and growing trust with your customers – and co-workers – is your key to long-term sales success.

During this interactive and engaging workshop, Covey will:

  • Explain the types of trust you can start to build today
  • Identify the 13 behaviors of high-trust salespeople
  • Relate examples of unprecedented sales success from high-trust relationships
  • Share insights as a former CEO on how to build sales – and a brand – on trust

Make sure you are at the top of your game for the all-important fourth quarter. Register today for ASI Chicago, July 15-17, at and reserve your seat for Stephen M. R. Covey’s workshop.

ASI distributor and decorator members can attend ASI Chicago – the industry’s biggest show of the summer – for FREE. Click here for the full three-day schedule.

Follow The ASI Show on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook today!

Retail Sales Soar In March | Obituary: Murray Gold, Founder Of Hit | Vote Now For The Industry's Best-Designed Products | Q&A: How To Earn Program Business | ASI Radio: Recruiting Top Talent | 2014 Best Places To Work Nominations Are Open | Take The State Of The Industry Survey | In The News | People On The Move
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