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Counselor PromoGram
Vol 1160, September 30, 2014
BDA Raises $75 Million In Financing
As first reported in a Breaking News Alert on Thursday, Counselor Top 40 distributor Bensussen, Deutsch & Associates (asi/137616) has secured $75 million in funding from equity firm American Capital. BDA CEO and co-founder Jay Deutsch has confirmed to Counselor that he and Eric Bensussen will continue to own and run the company, although further details on the deal were not disclosed.
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“American Capital proved to be the perfect partner for BDA as we look to take advantage of our vast growth opportunities, both in North America and abroad,” said Deutsch, in a statement. “In addition to growth capital, American Capital brings additional in-house resources and cross-industry expertise to accelerate our strategic planning and the growth we are projecting.”

American Capital, a publicly-traded company, manages $19 billion of assets and has a history of investing in marketing, medical and financial firms. The equity company, which has eight total offices in the U.S. and Europe, considers investment opportunities that range from $10 million to $750 million, according to its website. “BDA serves some of the world’s most admired global brands with its comprehensive set of branded merchandise solutions,” said Gordon O'Brien, president of American Capital’s specialty finance and operations. “BDA’s top-tier team has a decisive vision for how merchandise will play an even larger role as brands look to capitalize on a robust economy and new opportunities to engage new and existing customers.”

Over the last five years, BDA’s sales have increased by 40%, although its revenues declined year-over-year by 8.5% in 2012 and 2.8% in 2013. The Washington-based distributor also sent a letter to suppliers in March of this year admitting to “unintended consequences” following its launch of an Oracle ERP system in August of 2013. At the time, the company said the ERP issues led to accounts receivable and payable problems. Since October of last year, BDA’s ASI Connect score – a credit rating of distributors provided by suppliers – has fallen by 35 points. Today, BDA’s Connect score is 69, while the industry average is 98. BDA, though, says that it has now resolved its ERP system problems, and is planning for growth moving forward.

“We have stabilized the systems issues and we are now seeing the process efficiencies originally promised,” Deutsch told Counselor. “We have seen significant revenue growth in the first half of this year. With new and expanding partnerships in the works, we're preparing to finish the year very strong and for explosive growth in 2015.”

BDA is ranked by Counselor as the 4th-largest distributor in the industry with 2013 North American ad specialty sales of $278.3 million.

American Apparel Names New Interim CEO
As first reported in a Breaking News Alert yesterday, Top 40 supplier American Apparel (asi/35297) has named Scott Brubaker as its interim CEO, replacing John Luttrell. The company also appointed Hassan Natha as executive vice president and chief financial officer, and promoted long-time employees Patricia Honda and Nicolle Gabbay to the positions of president of wholesale and president of retail, respectively.
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The moves were the first officer appointments the company has made since being effectively taken over by equity firm Standard General in July.

Brubaker is a managing director at consulting firm Alvarez & Marsal, and he has served in interim officer and other advisory roles for several specialty retailers and manufacturers. Natha has more than 20 years of experience in finance with both public and private companies, including service as CFO at Fisher Communications Inc. and Jones Soda Company.

Allan Mayer, co-chairman of the board of American Apparel, said the appointments of Brubaker and Natha would bolster the company's senior executive team. "The Board is delighted to welcome Scott Brubaker and Hassan Natha to American Apparel,” Mayer said. "We are confident that their experience and leadership will help the company achieve its goals, and we look forward to working with both of them." 

Luttrell, who had been serving as interim CEO and CFO of American Apparel since its ownership shakeup earlier this summer, is resigning from the company, although no reason was given for his resignation. He was named to the interim executive positions after the board of directors removed founder and former CEO Dov Charney, a member of the Counselor Power 50, from his roles. The company has been conducting an investigation into Charney’s actions while he was CEO, and it has not yet said whether he will have an official role with the company moving forward. Charney has, though, been operating as a consultant for American Apparel.

American Apparel ranks as the 14th-largest supplier in the industry, after reporting 2013 North American ad specialty sales of $99.2 million, a 2.5% increase over 2012.
Tennessee Distributor Joins Proforma
Top 40 distributor Proforma (asi/300094) announced that Petty Marketing, a multi-million dollar distributor firm based in Cleveland, TN, has joined Proforma. Ralph Petty, president of Petty Marketing, and his 10-person team will now operate as Petty Marketing powered by Proforma.
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The company most recently was an affiliate of AIA Corporation (asi/109480), and had also been acquired by Boundless Network (asi/143717) at the end of 2008.

“I’ve seen a lot of other distributors let their sales go stagnant,” said Petty. “We are serious about growing, and only Proforma offers the level of support we need to get our business to the next level. I’m confident that with Proforma’s resources, we will surpass the $10 million sales mark in a few short years.”

Petty Marketing launched in 1998 and specializes in high-end customer promotions for Fortune 500 accounts across a wide variety of industries including health care, aviation construction, outdoor sports and leisure and more. Petty said he’s looking to increase his sales and profits by tapping into Proforma’s technology resources, vendor network and support team to build a strategic plan for increasing his company’s marketing solutions capabilities. 

“We are thrilled to have Ralph on board and working with him to reach his sales goals by identifying new opportunities for growth and offering specific strategies for winning and growing key accounts,” said Greg Muzzillo, founder of Proforma.

Proforma ranks as the second-largest distributor in the industry, after reporting 2013 North American ad specialty sales of $348 million, an 8% increase over 2012. The company says it is experiencing “double-digit growth” through the first nine months of 2014.

The Joe Show: Powerful New Promo Products
In this episode of The Joe Show, Managing Editor Joe Haley shows off several items you can suggest for upcoming client promotions. Looking for a unique mobile accessory that’s sure to get noticed? How about an item that pet-loving consumers would surely love?   
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Click here to watch the latest episode of The Joe Show.

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Economists Forecast Steady Growth
The American economy expanded in the third quarter, and growth will continue through the end of 2014, a new survey says. The National Association for Business Economists (NABE) predicts a 3% rise in real gross domestic product in the third quarter followed by 3.1% expansion in the final three months of the year.

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“Respondents to NABE’s September 2014 Outlook Survey expect the pace of economic growth to steady following an unusually high degree of volatility in the first half of the year,” says NABE President-Elect John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo.

After GDP declined in the first quarter during a business-stifling winter, economic performance improved considerably in the second quarter, growing at an annualized rate of 4.6%. Despite the ups and downs, the 46 economic forecasters surveyed by NABE believe that real GDP growth for 2014 will reach 2%. While that growth rate is a decline from the 3.1% acceleration experienced in 2013, forecasters are optimistic about 2015. “The consensus of the panel is that economic growth will rebound to 2.9% in 2015,” says Silvia. The Federal Reserve sees the economy growing between 2% and 2.2% in 2014, and between 2.6% and 3% next year.

Meanwhile, NABE survey respondents delivered positive news about employment and compensation. Forecasters expect monthly nonfarm payroll gains to average 208,000 this year and 211,000 in 2015. If such numbers are attained, the unemployment rate could drop to 5.7% by the end of 2015, NABE said. At the same time, survey respondents predict that compensation will grow 2.8% in 2014 and 2.6% in 2015.

The steady economic performance will compel the Federal Open Market Committee to raise the federal funds rate in the second or third quarter of next year, the survey forecasts. Most panelists believe the federal funds rate will climb from the current zero to .25% range to 0.845% by the end of next year. “In contrast, the 10-year Treasury note yield is now forecasted to be 3.5% at the end of 2015, lower than the 3.75% expected in June,” said NABE Outlook Survey Chair Timothy Gill.

Additionally, NABE analysts say consumer spending will grow 2.3% in 2014 and just below 3% in 2015. Housing construction growth, the survey shows, will register 2.7% this year before dramatically rising 9.2% in 2015.

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Counselor Unveils 2014 Power 50
At a ceremony held during the recent ASI Power Summit in Scottsdale, AZ, Counselor magazine announced its 2014 Power 50. The rankings of the most influential executives in the ad specialty industry are headed up this year by the father-son duo of Marty and Jeremy Lott from SanMar (asi/84863). Following them in the top five of the 2014 Power 50 are: Kevin Lyons-Tarr from 4imprint (asi/197045) at number two, Polyconcept’s Michael Bernstein and David Nicholson at number three, Halo Branded Solutions’ (asi/356000) Marc Simon at number four, and Proforma’s (asi/300094) Greg and Vera Muzzillo at number five.

“Everyone on this list has one thing in common: they’re a member of a very exclusive club, comprised of the most influential executives in today’s ad specialty market,” said Tim Andrews, president and CEO of ASI. “They not only inspire their own employees, but they make others in the market – competitors, clients and vendors alike – change the way they do business. If anyone is setting a course for this industry’s future, it’s the men and women on this list.”

To see the complete ranking of the 2014 Power 50, click here.


Counselor How-To: Protect Your Firm’s Reputation
It could happen to you – maybe it already has. A disgruntled employee, an angry customer, or an underhanded competitor could try to burn you by spreading rumors, lies, or misinformation about your business. “Bad news travels faster than good news,” says Mike Emoff, CEO of Shumsky (asi/326300). “I kind of wish I could market good news like bad news, but you can’t.”

How you handle a wave or, possibly worse yet, a slow trickle of bad PR will determine the future success of your company. Responding well can limit the damage, but protecting your reputation should start long before a crisis is upon you. Nowadays, protecting your reputation means staying ahead of the news, experts insist. MSNBC’s Mike Michalowicz, author of Profit First, believes Google Alerts gives you a good watchdog to do just that.

“It will notify you when certain keywords are said in any kind of media outlet or Web link. You put your company’s name and your key personnel in there, and if anything is said about them, you immediately get notified via email,” he says.

Emoff, also a Google Alerts proponent, has used the tool to keep ahead of potential drama. Why? The last thing Emoff wants is for one bit of bad press to be picked up later by a wire service or an industry blog, giving legs to something that might not even be true. “Something bad can happen now and be posted in three hours,” he says. “I want to know about it before then so we can send PR out to our industry magazines to circumvent – or at least preempt – any major issue. If it’s set up right, Google Alerts works for our industry and our size because it’s free.”

Click here to read Counselor’s latest Management column and glean more tips on protecting your company’s image.


ASI Radio: Proven Strategies For Finding New Clients
On this week’s episode of the Tuesday Morning Show, the hosts gave advice to callers who were looking for ways to ramp up their sales to new clients. On the show, we also revealed our Favorite Things, discussed today’s biggest hiring myths, and debated whether email marketing still works.

If you missed any other part of the show, a recording is now available at And, don’t forget to join us for our next broadcast – Tuesday, October 7. Log on at 10:30 a.m. ET to listen to the show – and give us a call at (215) 953-4979 to hear your voice on the air. 


In The News
The British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA) recently held its Promotional Products Week 2014 following a PR and social media campaign that reached 17.8 million people. Highlights included Student Day, during which 25 Brunel University London students spread the word about promotional products to passersby, as well as magician Jamie Raven turning a T-shirt, pen and Rubik’s cube into individual magic tricks. For a video diary of the Week, click here.

Shumsky Promotional (asi/326300) and Boost Rewards announce that President Anita Emoff was recently named to the 2014 Dayton BizWomen's Power 50 List, compiled by the Dayton Business Journal. It includes the 50 most influential women in the Dayton, OH, region. 

Stormtech Performance Apparel (asi/89869) has released its 2014 Stormtech magazine, which follows the global travels of Stormtech ambassadors. The most recent edition includes an interview with Academy Award winner Russell Crowe, on the set of The Water Diviner, his directorial debut. View the publication at


People On The Move
Victorinox Swiss Army (asi/93755) announced that it has named Andrew Spellman as vice president of corporate channels. Spellman will be responsible for updating his newly-expanded team’s approach to selling and marketing all Victorinox, Victorinox Swiss Army, Wenger, and Swiss Gear products in a coordinated manner.


Product Spotlight: Proforma

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Global Ad Study Released
Groundbreaking global research proves promo products deliver commanding advertiser recall among 85% of consumers surveyed.
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Newest Ad Study Video Posted
ASI’s latest YouTube video illustrates results from the 2014 global ad specialties impressions study.
Find out more.


Register by Monday, October 14 for your FREE Gala ticket to a Texas Bash at Eddie Deen’s Ranch

As the first and biggest ad specialty event in the Southwest, The ASI Dallas Show, Tuesday, February 3 through Thursday, February 5 at The Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, is perfectly timed to see everything that’s new for 2015. With so many NEW things happening at next year’s ASI Dallas Show, you can’t afford to miss it!

  • 50 NEW education sessions (plus, workshops for more experienced ad specialty professionals)
  • NEW Keynote by Lori Greiner, star of Shark Tank and one of the most prolific inventors of retail products
  • NEW products – perfectly timed for the first quarter, thousands of items will debut for 2015
  • NEW suppliers – see your preferred suppliers and meet many new to Dallas
  • Back by popular demand, a Texas Bash at Eddie Deen’s Ranch
  • NEW networking receptions perfect for developing valuable business connections

Members, register by Tuesday, October 14 using promotional code PROMOGRAM and get up to 2 free gala tickets! Plus, ASI distributor and decorator members can attend The ASI Dallas Show for FREE and receive a FREE hotel room on the evening of February 4 – overall, more than a $500 value! Visit for the full three-day schedule.

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

Join us at The ASI Show in 2015:
Orlando • Education: January 4 • Exhibits: January 5-6
Dallas • Education: February 3 • Exhibits: February 4-5
Long Beach • Education: March 24 • Exhibits: March 25-26
New York • Education & Exhibits: May 5-6
Chicago • Education: July 14 • Exhibits: July 15-16

Plus, don’t miss the ASI Roadshow, the industry’s #1 traveling show. Visit for the complete schedule and go to for information on all ASI Shows.

Economists Forecast Steady Growth | Counselor Unveils 2014 Power 50 | Counselor How-To: Protect Your Firm’s Reputation | ASI Radio: Proven Strategies For Finding New Clients | In The News | People On The Move
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