ASI Keynote Speaker J.R. Martinez Says ‘You’re Stronger Than You Think’

Wounded vet delivers awe-inspiring keynote address at promotional products trade show

DALLAS, TX – February 11, 2016 – J.R. Martinez, a U.S. Army veteran who suffered debilitating burns while serving in Iraq, brought a business audience to tears Thursday at ASI Show® Dallas with a keynote address on his awe-inspiring journey from hospital bed to Hollywood.

“You can control your attitude, your willingness to learn, your willingness to grow,” said Martinez, who refused to let his injuries define or stop him, instead devoting his life to motivating others after his near-death experience at age 19. Now 32, Martinez went on to become a sought-after speaker,New York Times best-selling author, actor and winner ofDancing with the Stars. 

The keynote was a highlight of ASI Show Dallas (#asidallas), hosted by the Advertising Specialty Institute® (ASI). The annual promotional products trade show was held Tuesday, February 9, through Thursday, February 11, at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, bringing together distributors, suppliers and decorators from 38 states and five countries. 

Martinez shared his touching story of survival, hope, persistence and success with a rapt audience who applauded his strength and perseverance with two standing ovations. “It all starts with your attitude,” said a lively, often funny Martinez. “Focus on controlling what you can control.”

Distributor Thelma Leal Robles, of McAllen, Texas, said the “amazing” speech made her realize how critical attitude is to success. “It’s what we need to remember: Start every day with a positive attitude,” she said.

“Being at the keynote with J.R. Martinez taught me the importance of adaptation and the ability to change, and, in our business, the competition is consistently changing,” said Quip Turner, of Turner Leadership Strategies, asi/348368.

Over 3,000 distributors and 466 suppliers (including 75 new this year) visited ASI’s Dallas show, which took place in the No. 1 region in the country for ad specialty sales of branded or logoed products, with Texas alone representing $2.3 billion in sales. The show featured 143 Dallas-area companies, 233 women-owned companies and 215 minority-owned businesses.

“ASI’s Dallas show continues to be a strong draw for suppliers, distributors and decorators who want to extend their professional network, close deals, take classes and preview the very latest products in a destination city that has it all: easy access, great restaurants and historical significance,” said Rita Ugianskis-Fishman, senior vice president and general manager of ASI Show. 

The Fox 4 TV news station in Dallas featured the hottest products in the $22.2 billion promotional products industry during a 4-minute morning show segment with consumer reporter Steve Noviello. 

All told, 22 distributor companies chose Dallas to host meetings, a 10% increase over 2015. ASI also partnered with three large regional associations at Dallas – the Promotional Products Association of the Southwest, Houston Promotional Products Association and the Sunbelt Promotional Products Association.

“The ASI Show is the one mecca place to go to put our distributors in a setting with our preferred suppliers,” said distributor Forrest Fairley, of Safeguard, asi/316203. “ASI is so generous in providing us the meeting space and hospitality. The show is just a great networking opportunity for the exchange of ideas.” 

An active trade show floor showcased the newest and most sought-after promotional products for 2016. In between visiting booths, distributors attended networking events like indoor skydiving with the Explorers Club and the traditional Gala Celebration at Eddie Deen’s Ranch, complete with a Texas-style spread, live country band and cowboy-themed giveaways from party sponsors, Next Level Apparel, Cooler Graphics and Caro-line/Bandanna Promotions.

ASI’s opening day of education featured nine new speakers and all-new classes dedicated to the latest industry trends, sales tips and marketing strategies, including sessions on mobile branding, digital marketing, apparel decoration, time management and pricing. 

Busy suppliers said they appreciated steady show floor traffic. 

“We exhibit at ASI Show Dallas because there is nowhere else we can meet all of these distributors and make these relationships,” said David Dick, of Sling Grip, asi/50164. “There is no way we could get in front of this audience unless we were at the ASI Show.”

The show also featured the “Sell to Win – Hot Markets! New Products!” with ASI 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 delivered thousands in cash and prizes. And show attendees could relax, recharge and get their questions answered by ASI staff at the ASI Experience and ASI Family Room.

“Everywhere you go at the Dallas show, there are new people to meet and great connections to be made,” said Timothy M. Andrews, ASI president and chief executive officer. “You can discover unique products in the morning, close a deal by the afternoon and kick back at dinner that night, knowing you’ve put in the time to make the most of the show experience and really grow your business.”

For complete coverage of the show, including blogs and videos, visit and

ASI’s next large-scale trade show is ASI Show Chicago, Tuesday, July 12 through Thursday, July 14 at McCormick Place. This year, ASI Show is also launching Engage, a new hybrid event that combines the best of traditional trade shows, intimate hosted buyer events and roadshows. Engage West takes place Monday, March 14 through Wednesday, March 16 at the Anaheim Marriott, in Anaheim, CA and Engage East is Monday, May 9 through Wednesday, May 11, at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. 

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.