Marcus Lemonis Tells ASI Orlando Audience Vulnerability is Key to Success

The Profit reality TV star opens up during trade show keynote

ORLANDO, FL – January 6, 2016 – CNBC reality show host and turnaround king Marcus Lemonis told an overflowing crowd of entrepreneurs and small-business owners at ASI Show® Orlando that vulnerability is the true key to success.

“You don’t hear this stuff on my show, you won’t read about it in interviews I do, but this is who I am,” said Lemonis on Wednesday during an up-close-and-personal keynote at the Orange County Convention Center. “I was fat as a kid. I was bullied. I had an eating disorder. I was molested by a relative. I’m telling you all this because my number-one asset is vulnerability. It is the key to success.”

Lemonis strode into a rapt audience of nearly 1,000 and asked people to stand and reveal their own vulnerabilities, challenges and fears. Being honest, he said, is a conduit to stronger connections with employees, coworkers and prospective clients. “If you can, leave here today and be more transparent and more human,” said Lemonis, who advises and often invests in small businesses on his TV show, The Profit.

The adopted son of a Miami couple, Lemonis – who was born in Lebanon – started out buying a few RV dealerships and grew the enterprises into the $3 billion Camping World. After his presentation, he also toured the show floor, visiting with numerous exhibitors and distributors while gathering business cards, answering questions and taking photos.

“I’ll be sharing this tip with our salespeople: be more vulnerable, don’t be so salesy, and get to know someone on a more personal level,” said Cheryl Hokanson of Ironmark (asi/169127).

The Lemonis keynote, which attracted nearly 1,000 people, was a highlight of ASI Show Orlando (#asiorlando), hosted by the Advertising Specialty Institute® (ASI). The trade show attracted 715 exhibitors and nearly 6,000 attendees from 49 states and 18 countries. An all-time record of 27 distributor companies chose Orlando to host their sales meetings, an increase of 8%.

“I was delighted that Marcus emphasized the importance of authentic personal relationships to business success,” said Rita Ugianskis-Fishman, vice president and general manager of ASI Show. “At a time when so many of us are devoted to our devices, it’s more critical than ever to take full advantage of the face-to-face relationships you can really only build at trade shows like the ones ASI hosts in Orlando, Dallas and Chicago.”

Suppliers, distributors and decorators in the $22 billion promotional products industry gathered in Orlando Monday, January 4, through Wednesday, January 6, to check out the latest products, close deals, take classes and attend networking events like the Gala Celebration at SeaWorld, which closed to the public for the exclusive private party.

Busy suppliers raved about the show floor traffic. “We did our first ASI Show four years ago and our business went from being a hobby to a real business overnight, and we attribute that to ASI Show Orlando,” said Gino Gavoni, Brand O’Guitar Company (asi/41461). “It has the most traffic out of any other industry event and it has been the most profitable for us.”

Distributors were thrilled with the show’s business opportunities and networking. “ASI Show Orlando has been great and ASI made it so easy and affordable for us to bring 35 of our team members and give them the exposure and education to grow their client relationships,” said Sheila Johnshoy, of ePromos (asi/188515).

Tuesday night, ASI’s Counselor® magazine celebrated the winners of the 2016 Distributor Choice Awards, sponsored by, American Apparel, Ancient City Screen Graphics and BIC Graphic USA.

To determine supplier winners in 55 categories, distributors cast more than 50,000 votes. Brighter Promotions (asi/42016) took home the top prize: 2016 Counselor Supplier of the Year. “We’re honoring Brighter Promotions with this prestigious award because distributors swear by the quality of their products and their exceptional customer service,” said ASI president and chief executive officer Timothy M. Andrews during the ceremony, which was preceded by the Wearables® Fashion Show, sponsored by SanMar and Stahls’.

ASI introduced several new features at Orlando, including the “Sell to Win – Hot Markets! New Products!” featuring hosts Dave Vagnoni and Joe Haley, with Haley going head-to-head with audience members to see who could deliver the best product pitch for a $50 prize. The new Passport Plus… Ask the Supplier program encouraged greater engagement between suppliers and distributors while offering thousands in cash and prizes. Finally, show attendees took advantages of two sharp-looking lounges: The ASI Experience and ASI Family Room, which offered charging stations and comfy chairs.

ASI also offered demos of the soon-to-be released redesigned ESP®, which includes the new ESP Orders invoicing tool and CRM.

“We couldn’t be happier with ASI Show Orlando,” said Andrews. “We delivered a hundred new exhibitors while ensuring that everyone at the show enjoyed plenty of opportunities to make new connections and grow their business.”

For complete editorial coverage of the show, including photos and videos, visit

Upcoming 2016 ASI Shows are ASI Show Dallas, February 9-11 at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and ASI Show Chicago, July 12-14 at McCormick Place.

To learn more about exhibiting or sponsorship opportunities for 2016, contact Karen DiTomasso, vice president of sales, at [email protected].

About ASI Show
The ASI Show Family of Events – ASI Show, fASIlitate, ASI Roadshow and Engage – fosters business-building relationships throughout the promotional products industry. The flagship ASI Shows are large-scale convention center trade shows held in Orlando, Dallas and Chicago. fASIlitate is a three-day hosted buyer event that brings together top suppliers and million-dollar distributors for one-on-one meetings in resorts across the country. The ASI Roadshow visits 40 cities across the U.S. and Canada and is open to escorted end-buyers. Engage combines the best of all formats and features enhanced engagement among select, high-quality distributors and suppliers, with additional regional attendance and end-buyer participation. Visit for more information.