“Mr. Wonderful” tells entrepreneurs at ASI’s Orlando trade show a “golden age” is coming
ORLANDO, FL – January 4, 2018 – Blunt-talking millionaire investor Kevin O’Leary, known as “Mr. Wonderful” on the reality TV show Shark Tank, encouraged entrepreneurs at his standing-room-only keynote on Thursday to take advantage of a “golden age” about to swoop across the American economy as a result of the big corporate tax cuts approved by Congress.
O’Leary said U.S. businesses will have more money to invest, providing an opportunity to sell them more products and services.
“I’m extremely bullish,” O’Leary told an audience of 640 people attending an annual trade show hosted this week by the Advertising Specialty Institute® (ASI) at Florida’s Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. “Love Trump or not, they’re going to have so much cash flow, they’re going to have money to spend,” O’Leary said. “This is going to be a golden age for domestic companies.”
The keynote was a highlight of ASI Show® Orlando (#asiorlando), held Tuesday, January 2, through Thursday, January 4. The trade show attracted exhibitors and distributors from 45 states and 15 countries, along with 1,187 companies from Florida, 236 women-owned and 176 minority-owned companies.
The three-day event kicked off the 2018 selling season with plenty of hoopla, including celebrating the 20th anniversary of ASI Show and the 85th birthday of ASI Chairman Norman Cohn.
Before taking questions from ASI president and chief executive officer, Timothy M. Andrews, O’Leary discussed the biggest challenges businesspeople face when growing their business, offering tips, tricks and frank advice to the audience of fellow entrepreneurs. “If you have a better mousetrap, it doesn’t mean you’ll be wealthy, but you could disrupt the market and one day be wealthy,” said O’Leary, who launched his first company from his basement with a $10,000 loan from his mother and later sold it for $4 billion.
The biggest laugh of the hour came after “Mr. Wonderful” said his research shows that his biggest return on investment comes from companies run by women. “I’m not trying to start gender warfare,” he said. “I’d give my money to a goat if I could get a return.”
Ronnette Bolanos, of Roar Branding (asi/281866), raved about the keynote. “Kevin O’Leary was great, and he gave good insights for small-business entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses such as myself. His suggestions on what we can do to grow our business on a daily basis using social media and how to plan for growth over the next 36 months were fantastic.”
Sixteen distributor companies chose Orlando to host sales meetings, including many Counselor® Top 40 companies.
“We’re delighted that the industry’s enthusiasm and stamina triumphed over earlier-than-usual show dates and historic weather challenges,” said Rita Ugianskis-Fishman, senior vice president and general manager of ASI Show. “The show floor was packed, the exhibitors were thrilled and distributors seized every opportunity to magnify existing business relationships and cement new ones. All in all, it was a terrific start to what Kevin O’Leary promised us will be an extremely productive year.”
Exhibitors and distributors alike said they enjoyed robust first-quarter sales action.
“This show has been great because it allows me to see and feel the products while building relationships with the vendor, so throughout the year when I need a favor or a recommendation for my clients, I already have that connection,” said distributor Amy Fields, of Barker Specialty Co. (asi/132690).
Supplier Tina Paradiso, of SailorBags (asi/84293), said “The single most important reason we do ASI Orlando is because it affords us the opportunity to hit a multitude of different segments within the market. We always get great leads, and there is always that one lead that ultimately leads to something spectacular.”
Supplier Jim Curtis of Logomark (asi/67866) said, “Many of my customers come to this show, and it’s a great way to start the year. People come here searching for new and fresh ideas, and my company typically has new products to introduce. Plus, the first quarter is when things seem to happen with our customers, so our time here is definitely worth it.”
On Education Day, over 700 businesspeople attended all-new tracks and classes in a wide variety of subjects, including social media, marketing and sales, with the exhibit day Power Sessions drawing 322. During the inaugural New Product Preview Reception, close to 300 people mingled over brand-new supplier products while networking with the day’s education speakers and other distributors.
“I was thrilled so many people took advantage of ASI’s always-free education,” said Andrews. “What better way to kick off a new year of selling than by investing in yourself and your business?”
In addition to promoting deal-making on the show floor, ASI Orlando delivered a slew of additional activities like the ASI Show Bash at SeaWorld. Over 1,000 people partied at the Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin exhibit, while enjoying food, drinks, live music and stilt walkers.
Also at the show, Towel Specialties (asi/91605), a Maryland-based supplier owned by Eric Weinstein, was honored as the Counselor 2018 Supplier of the Year, lauded for robust organic sales growth, top ratings in ASI’s ESP® performance rating categories and winning the Distributor Choice Award in the “Towels and Robes” category for more than a decade running.
This year, distributors cast over 50,000 votes in the 2018 Counselor Distributor Choice Awards, with 188 finalists qualifying in 56 product categories. Click here to view a complete list of winners.
For complete editorial coverage of the show, including photos and videos, visit www.asicentral.com
Upcoming ASI Shows are in Dallas, Wednesday, January 24, through Friday, January 27, at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and in Chicago, Tuesday, July 24, through Thursday, July 26, at McCormick Place.
About ASI Show
The ASI Show Family of Events – ASI Show, fASIlitate, ASI Roadshow and Engage – fosters business-building relationships among ASI member distributors and suppliers, and includes options to meet the needs of the entire membership base. ASI Shows, the flagship series, are large-scale convention center trade shows held in Orlando, Dallas and Chicago. fASIlitate is a hosted buyer event that brings together the industry’s elite – top suppliers and million-dollar distributors – for three days of scheduled one-on-one meetings in resort venues across the country. The ASI Roadshow visits top cities across the U.S. and Canada and gives member-distributors an opportunity to escort their top clients to the show. Engage will continue to evolve, and serve as a hybrid event, combining the best of all event formats. Visit www.asishow.com for more information about our full event portfolio.