David Nicholson

Polyconcept North America (PCNA) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Polyconcept, the world’s leading supplier of corporate and branded merchandise. With headquarters in Pittsburgh, PA, PCNA’s family of supplier brands includes Leed’s, Bullet, Trimark, and JournalBooks. PCNA serves as a single source destination for the widest selection of products, cutting-edge decoration and unrivaled service to its network of 15,000 distributors across North America.

With over 20 years of industry experience, David was a key leader of the executive team responsible for growing Leed’s and ultimately PCNA into one of the industry’s largest and most respected suppliers. During his tenure, PCNA completed 4 successful acquisitions and became widely recognized as the industry’s most awarded supplier. He was awarded ASI’s Person of the Year in 2012 and was elected to the PPAI Board as its first at-large Director in 2013. David currently serves as President of PCNA and is also a member of Polyconcept’s Global Executive Committee.

Outside of PCNA, David has served on several non-profit boards with a particular focus on education. He served as a board member and past-chair at PACE, the Pittsburgh Council on Public Education, and is currently Board President of St. Edmund’s Academy.

David is a graduate of Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. David currently resides in Pittsburgh with his wife Tessa and three children, Mac (19), Campbell (17), and Neely (14).

The New (Supply Chain) World Order

Last fall, David Nicholson gave a very highly regarded talk at skucamp on the subject of “a supply chain in distress,” sharing a broad overview of the issues facing us that would reshape how we source, buy, and sell promotional products. In this session, David will share more insight as he looks at the impact of COVID-19 on the industry’s supply chain and the macro-trends emerging through this experience that might impact our businesses, plus, suggestions on how we can navigate our way through these tumultuous times.

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April Dunford

April Dunford is a consultant and author who helps companies make complicated products easy for customers to understand and love. She is a globally recognized expert in Positioning, having launched 16 products across her 25-year career as VP Marketing at a series of successful startups. She is the author of the best-selling book Obviously Awesome: How to Nail Product Positioning so Customers Get it, Buy it, Love it.

Positioning During a Downturn

Positioning - the art of deeply understanding who your true competitors are, what customers you can win and why, forms the bedrock of your company’s go-to-market strategy. In good economies, strong positioning can often mean the difference between rapid vs. anemic growth for companies. In a downturn, it can increase the chance that a new business will survive. In this keynote, April will share how to sharpen your positioning to ensure your value proposition resonates with customers grappling with a shifting operational and financial landscape. We will also discuss how your value proposition may need to shift to align with changing customer priorities and how best to make that switch.

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Jamie Mair

Jamie Mair became the top marketing executive at BDA in 2017 as a result of their acquisition of his company, SwervePoint.

After spending a decade working at two of the promotional merchandise industry’s largest distributors, Jamie set-out on an adventure in 2004 to launch SwervePoint - a boutique merchandise agency.

As an entrepreneur, Jamie has managed the start-up phase through the scale-up phase and the exit phase with a focus on brand building, customer experience, and corporate culture.

Over his career, Jamie has worked on global e-commerce programs, sponsorship activations, and B2B and B2C promotions that drive brand awareness and engagement for companies such as Carnival Cruise Lines, Fidelity Investments, and MasterCard.

Jamie is a member of YPO and studied biological science at the University of Toronto. He’s married to Tasha and together they have 18-year-old Emma and 16-year-old Jake. They make their home in Boston, MA. Jamie thoroughly enjoys hockey, maple syrup, tequila, and reading.

An Exclusive Interview Between Jamie Mair and Barry Deutsch

As the Chief Sales Officer for BDA, one of the industry’s largest distributors with nearly $500 million in revenue, Barry Deutsch has a unique perspective on the current state of the industry, from shifts in sales, to how customers are thinking, to how buyer demands and needs are changing. As a company that works with some of the world’s most notable brands, Jamie and Barry will discuss how large buyers are shifting their spending, the challenges with sports and events clients who are now in paralysis, and ideas on how we can approach the market with alternative ideas.

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Barry Deutsch

Barry has helped guide the strategic direction of BDA along with developing partnerships with numerous Fortune 500 companies and entertainment properties for nearly 30 years. He seeks out opportunities to drive the BDA business forward, including winning new accounts, strengthening customer relationships, and assisting with the company’s global expansion. An integral part of the company’s success from the early years, Barry was 19 when he joined the BDA sales force.

An Exclusive Interview Between Jamie Mair and Barry Deutsch

As the Chief Sales Officer for BDA, one of the industry’s largest distributors with nearly $500 million in revenue, Barry Deutsch has a unique perspective on the current state of the industry, from shifts in sales, to how customers are thinking, to how buyer demands and needs are changing. As a company that works with some of the world’s most notable brands, Jamie and Barry will discuss how large buyers are shifting their spending, the challenges with sports and events clients who are now in paralysis, and ideas on how we can approach the market with alternative ideas.

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Denise Taschereau

Denise is chief executive officer (CEO) and cofounder of Fairware where she is responsible for business development, product sourcing and Fairware’s ethical sourcing and sustainability programs.

Denise got the idea to launch Fairware when she noticed how difficult it was to source promotional merchandise that reflected the social and environmental priorities of many of the brands and organizations she admired.

Prior to starting Fairware, Denise spent seven years as the Director of Sustainability and Community for Mountain Equipment Co-op, Canada’s largest outdoor retailer. At MEC, she oversaw the Co-op’s national environmental programs, community grant-making and ethical sourcing programs, and wrote their award-winning first Sustainability Report.

Denise is a member of ETSY’s Manufacturing Advisory Board, a Board Member with the Green Meeting Industry Council and the past co-chair of Vision Vancouver, Vancouver’s ruling municipal political party. She has a Masters of Resource and Environmental Management from Simon Fraser University.

When she’s not working, Denise obsesses about anything to do with bikes and municipal politics. She lives in East Vancouver with her partner, their two boys and lots of bicycles. Future plans include becoming an interior decorator for political backrooms and drinking coffee on the sidelines of Giro d’Italia.

Sustaining Values Through Difficult Times

Regardless of whether it’s the coronavirus or the economy, most of us will face a business crisis at some point, and navigating a crisis with authenticity toward our values is one of the most humane aspects of entrepreneurship. How do you handle difficult choices like handling layoffs with employees, or considering terms with clients who are struggling, all within the constraints of your own creative limitations? How do you adhere to values of sustainability when there is now all this pressure around budget cuts? In this session with Sarah White and Denise Taschereau with Fairware, we will talk about some of the real-time challenges many of us are facing and how to adhere to the values that give us the strength to handle tough choices.

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Sarah White

Fairware got its start in Sarah’s garage in 2005, and now has a bustling office in south Mount Pleasant where she and the Fairware team work on changing the world, one t-shirt at a time. Sarah’s day-to-day involves systems, human resources, project management, and making sure Fairware’s culture of humour, creativity, inclusion and high fives is alive and thriving.

Social justice and equity have been central to everything Sarah has been involved with. She believes creativity and collaboration, through the lens of social justice, makes positive change possible. A willingness to explore what it takes to hold others’ differing perspectives with respect, is a cornerstone of her leadership capacity.

Sarah is an active volunteer and serves as president on the Board for the Vancouver Street Soccer League, an organization that uses soccer to inspire and empower marginalized people on the downtown east side of Vancouver. She is also active in the B Corp community and has immersed herself and learning and sharing with her team the importance of diversity and inclusion.

In 2017, Sarah joining the Presidents Group, a network of change-driven BC business leaders who are champions for more accessible, inclusive workplaces. The Presidents Group is engaging with employers and business owners around the province to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities in BC and create a more accessible consumer marketplace.

Before Fairware, Sarah was doing what she still does today – working for something she believes in. Sarah’s path has always been one of creativity and building something new. Her passion for community, empowerment, and collaboration to reach shared goals has been realized through her work facilitating large scale community public art and design projects, including Mosaic Creek Park in East Vancouver, and in the elementary school system.

Sustaining Values Through Difficult Times

Regardless of whether it’s the coronavirus or the economy, most of us will face a business crisis at some point, and navigating a crisis with authenticity toward our values is one of the most humane aspects of entrepreneurship. How do you handle difficult choices like handling layoffs with employees, or considering terms with clients who are struggling, all within the constraints of your own creative limitations? How do you adhere to values of sustainability when there is now all this pressure around budget cuts? In this session with Sarah White and Denise Taschereau with Fairware, we will talk about some of the real-time challenges many of us are facing and how to adhere to the values that give us the strength to handle tough choices.

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Meg Erber

Meg Erber is an outside sales manager for the Top 40 Supplier, S & S Activewear and covers the region consisting of South Jersey and Philly to State College in PA. She loves long walks on the beach and ripping people’s arms off. Her DNA says she’s 89% Scottish, with 11% of everything else mixed in, but either way, she’s unapologetically American.

A jack of all trades, Megan has held different positions all throughout this industry, from being an account executive at a small web-based distributor in 2004, to running production at Jetline Promo in 2009, to a VP of Sales in 2014, but she’s finally found a home at legitimately the best supplier to work for in the industry, S & S Activewear since 2016. And she’s pretty good at her job too, just ask any one of her customers and they will tell you that Meg Erber is like family. Meg has been training/competing in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA for 13 years. She has taught several women’s self-defense courses all over the country.

Accolades include Supplier Sales Rep of the Year (CPPA), Peake Award (highest honor of excellence and creativity in the CPPA association), and ASI’s Hot List, Supplier Sales Rep of the year (runner up). Follow her on social media if you dare, but you may need a nap when you are through…

skucon Story

Big order fails. Brillant client saves. Narrow margin orders that went south. Product disasters. Embarrassing client moments. We've all had them. Most of the stories in the industry are normal, the simple price we pay for being in a crazily-adventurous, anything-can-happen, deadline-driven business. But these stories? The best of the best of them. 5-minute promo tales to put a smile on your face. Make you think. And mostly, to remind you ... you are not alone.

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Cola Svec

Cola Svec (will be Henderson as of 8/29/20), *MBA, **VP, **AOW, is a volleyball athlete turned entrepreneur. She is a major supplier of awesomeness, spreader of gratitude, and she pours out the joy of Cola on a daily basis. She was a 2019 PPAI “Rising Star,” and the winner of a local Business Person of the Year Award. She belongs to numerous business organizations, but one of her greatest pleasures is serving as an officer for her 30-something Happy Hour Club.

Her natural fit as a winner probably stems from her runner-up finish in the 2001 Dodge County Spelling Bee or possibly through her decorated career as a collegiate volleyball setter where she was rewarded as an All-American. One of her favorite things in life is that she gets to work with her beautiful momma everyday. Her role with Soul & Swag as Soul Train Conductor means that she is in charge of literally everything and can basically move mountains. She’s a philanthropist and giver of the heart. But, she will kick your ass in games of irrelevance such as Table Tennis or Stump. She enjoys a good Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, Sushi, golf, red wine, cold beers and traveling about anywhere in the world. A few little known facts about Cola: She has lived in Croatia. Her given name is Nicole. Her hashtag is #coolasvuck. She’s in love with a cheesehead. She is a lover of foods and a bit of an expert as she has been eating all of her life.

*Major BadAss
**Volleyball Player
***Adventurer of the World

Raise Your Glass!

At every skucon event, we cap the day's education and networking with a cocktail hour and skucon at home is no different! Angie and Cola Svec have a weekly video series called "Above the Bar” or “ATB.” They will show you how to ignite a swagtastic experience with the official "skucon at home" signature drink! We will share the necessary provisions so you can make your cocktail right along with the Soul & Swag mixologists, or grab your favorite concoction so we can raise a glass and imbibe together!

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Angie Svec

Angie Svec is a born and raised farm girl, a wannabe comedian, movie quoter, storyteller, coach and author of ridiculous poetry. She opened her soul to the promo industry back in 1988 and is a dedicated lifer. In her world, ageism is non-existent. She is a learner, loves strategic planning and acknowledges her weakness to overthink every piece of swag artwork. As co-owner of a seasoned start-up with her daughter, Cola, she serves as the Creative Soul Provider and serves on boards, committees and other projects probably because she is a recovering “YESaholic”. Through her highly-classified work, in just three short years, Soul & Swag has acquired many leather bound books and numerous crystal awards. She loves comedy, public speaking, golf, volleyball, whiskey and traveling to exotic lands including, but, not limited to Iowa and Minnesota. While she has many favorite, inspiring quotes, this one stood out at the time of writing this incredibly, relevant content: “I’m telling you, hitting bottom is a good thing. Because there’s nowhere to go but up.” -Annie’s Mom, Bridesmaids, 2011

Raise Your Glass!

At every skucon event, we cap the day's education and networking with a cocktail hour and skucon at home is no different! Angie and Cola Svec have a weekly video series called "Above the Bar” or “ATB.” They will show you how to ignite a swagtastic experience with the official "skucon at home" signature drink! We will share the necessary provisions so you can make your cocktail right along with the Soul & Swag mixologists, or grab your favorite concoction so we can raise a glass and imbibe together!

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Nick Lateur

Nick Lateur is National Sales Manager at IMAGEN Brands. He lives in Austin, TX and has a quirky, sick fetish for Mondays. When he is not busy strategizing with his IMAGEN Brands sales team or brainstorming new product video ideas, Nick enjoys cooking with his daughter and jamming with his cover band. You can find @mondayswithnick on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

skucon Stories

Big order fails. Brillant client saves. Narrow margin orders that went south. Product disasters. Embarrassing client moments. We've all had them. Most of the stories in the industry are normal, the simple price we pay for being in a crazily-adventurous, anything-can-happen, deadline-driven business. But these stories? The best of the best of them. 5-minute promo tales to put a smile on your face. Make you think. And mostly, to remind you ... you are not alone.

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Renya Nelson

Renya Nelson is the founder of Brand+Aid. A former talent liaison and agency professional whose career already spans an impressive repertoire of work with companies like Pepsi, Trident, RayBan, Sundance, New York Fashion Week, SXSW, The Grammy’s, and Levi’s, Renya started her distributorship in LA and combines her passion for fashion-forward trends with intelligent branding that kills with strategic results. Recently featured on the cover of ASI’s Counselor Magazine as a 2017 Hot List honoree, and recognized by Utah Business as one of “30 Women to Watch,” Renya’s company Brand+Aid works with clients all over but are now headquartered out of their home base in Salt Lake City. UT.

Growing Sales Through Adversity

Despite massive declines all across the industry, there are fascinating opportunities popping up with distributors and suppliers, and many are seeing success in places they have never fathomed. And even if opportunities are not landing in people’s laps like before, there are ways you can still grow sales through adverse times. In this session with sales powerhouses Renya Nelson of Brand Aid and Tom Rector of Screenbroidery, we’ll have an open dialogue about the kinds of new actions they have implemented and new opportunities they are uncovering at this time that are leading to sales.

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Tom Rector

Tom Rector is the CEO and founder of ScreenBroidery out of Indianapolis.

Like many innovative startups, Tom founded ScreenBroidery in his living room in 2008. It has since grown it to a multimillion-dollar enterprise with multiple locations and fortune 500 customers from coast to coast. In 2012 the company was named Counselor Magazines’ fastest-growing company and in 2018 one of the industry’s best places to work. ScreenBroidery is now headquartered in a 15,000 square foot building designed to build teams through culture, collaboration, and creative thinking. Tom also manages a successful real estate investment company, a medical education company, and invests in several local startups.

Growing Sales Through Adversity

Despite massive declines all across the industry, there are fascinating opportunities popping up with distributors and suppliers, and many are seeing success in places they have never fathomed. And even if opportunities are not landing in people’s laps like before, there are ways you can still grow sales through adverse times. In this session with sales powerhouses Renya Nelson of Brand Aid and Tom Rector of Screenbroidery, we’ll have an open dialogue about the kinds of new actions they have implemented and new opportunities they are uncovering at this time that are leading to sales.

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Brian Gill

Brian Gill is the Chief Experience Officer at Thumbprint, “Guardians of the Brand,” who use cloud-based, variable data-tech to build memorable experiences for their customers. Experts in branded products proficiency, and crossing the chasm between digital marketing and physical marketing, Thumbprint uses data and analysis to uncover trends and develop new marketing potential through globally scalable tech. Brian began his career in the industry building the tech that powers their multi-million dollar enterprise and now leads a team of brand heroes who guide their clients through sophisticated solutions that enhance the personalized experience through the most difficult logistical challenges.

Creative E-Commerce Ideas to Drive Sales

Online shops are seeing a resurgence in demand and activity. Social distancing has put a spotlight on ecommerce solutions and opened up new opportunities. Join Brian Gill and Rich Patterson as we talk through the new types of opportunities they are working on as well as discuss best practices around building shops.

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Rich Patterson

Rich Patterson is the founder of Patterson Brands. Born and raised in a small town in Canada’s Rocky Mountains, Rich graduated from Simon Fraser University in 1992 with his Bachelor of Arts in Communications. He worked in government and the private sector in senior public relations & marketing roles — most notably as Roots’ marketing manager. Since 2005 Rich’s own company has been transforming client brands into elevated and engaging products, designs, and packaging.

Creative E-Commerce Ideas to Drive Sales

Online shops are seeing a resurgence in demand and activity. Social distancing has put a spotlight on ecommerce solutions and opened up new opportunities. Join Brian Gill and Rich Patterson as we talk through the new types of opportunities they are working on as well as discuss best practices around building shops.

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Brandon Mackay

Brandon Mackay, MAS, is the Owner and CEO/ President of SnugZ USA based in Salt Lake City, Utah. His laid back, employee-empowered leadership style has taken a small family business of six and transformed it into an industry powerhouse with $40 million in annual sales and over 500 employees. Brandon has served on various boards, committees, and workgroups inside and outside the promotional products industry. He is Six Sigma Lean Certified and is a strong advocate for process improvement and employee development.

Brandon currently resides in Utah with his wife of twenty-two years, Liz, their four children, and two dogs. In his free time, you’ll find him outside enjoying all that Utah has to offer from skiing, biking, and running, to watching his children in their various sports. Passionate about life and an optimistic entrepreneur, Brandon enjoys the scenery ahead of him and the sun on his back.

Embracing the New Normal (Supplier Session)

Many suppliers are adjusting to a new kind of normal with operational challenges like we’ve never seen before. In this open dialogue, Brandon Mackay, CEO of SnugZ USA, will field questions about a variety of topics as they manage this new environment such as managing inventory, cash, working with distributors, and a look at how this might change our businesses for the long term.

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Pierre Martichoux

A serial leader and dreamer, Pierre Martichoux made an early shift in life from politics to building businesses, with an emphasis on USA Made products and an inspired team.

Born in Paris, Pierre found early opportunities as a leader in politics and military service – his studies at Sciences Po, The Paris Institute of Political Sciences, lead to the key position as Student President overseeing and rallying student leaders throughout Paris. During his required military service in France, Pierre served as interim captain, leading all incoming recruits. Those early successes in motivating large groups were the bedrock of his evolution into an entrepreneur.

After graduation in 1990, Pierre pursued the opportunity to create a US presence for a European entity - Prat Pressbooks. Forging a sales channel in US markets proved a challenge and was the first foray into the start-up environment for Pierre but within 2 years, he grew US sales to $4M.

With success in motivating teams and creating sales, Pierre founded Chameleon Books and Journals in 1998. The inspiration then, as it is now, was to harness US manufacturing to create thoughtful, curated, and on-trend products in the journal space.

Along the way, through his vision, the company has grown organically to $10M. From QCA accreditation to process perfection and line development, the company was poised to use its process-based creativity and extend into custom packaging. Through the acquisition of The Platform Group Gallery in Summer 2018, Pierre is ready to take the company and his team to the next chapter in ChameleonLike’s success.

Preparing for “Day One” (Supplier Session)

As states begin to open back up again, many suppliers are beginning to think of their reopening plan. In this session, Pierre Martichoux, CEO of Chameleon Like, and Kate Plummer with Clearmount welcomes other suppliers as they have an open chat about the challenges of reopening their business. What should the day one plan look like? How are you successfully handling manufacturing with the new distancing rules? And how do we get back to a fully operational status in as short a time as possible?

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Hayley Green

Hayley Green is the Marketing Coordinator at Rightsleeve, a branded merchandise agency in the heart of mid-town Toronto. Content creation is the name of her game, and she uses that to run the blog, social media and email marketing for Rightsleeve. Her favourite content pieces are interviews and sharing stories from around the industry. While she's always working towards building the brand, prior to joining the team she gained her experience in the media industry. While in University and subsequently completing a Post-Grad program, she's worked for brands such as Corus Entertainment and Ticketmaster.

In her downtime she can most often be found reading LinkedIn for hours (and hours), making some expressive embroidery creations or painting her nails.

Marketing Matters

It has never been more apparent that sales is marketing and marketing is sales. In this breakout discussion, two of the industry’s marketing leaders from two of the most imaginative distributor brands, will talk about where their marketing focus is going and where they are looking to see results. This will be a highly tactical conversation about the kinds of activities Hayley and Anna are focusing on now and how marketing is supporting and driving sales efforts in a time when marketing has become the new selling.

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Anna Branch

Anna Branch is a Marketing and Brand Strategist at Creative, a design-based promotional marketing agency and 2019 PPAI Gold Pyramid winner located in Fayetteville, AR. Anna has helped re-engineer a 20-year brand to become a fashion-forward, design-centric boutique agency serving clients from multi-billion dollar retail giants to franchised organizations, tech start-ups, and ad agencies. With ten plus years in marketing, brand and creative for independent fashion and beauty brands, Anna brings her experience and eye for design and trend to Creative, elevating their brand and helping clients tell their story via enriching experiences through product with purpose.

Marketing Matters

It has never been more apparent that sales is marketing and marketing is sales. In this breakout discussion, two of the industry’s marketing leaders from two of the most imaginative distributor brands, will talk about where their marketing focus is going and where they are looking to see results. This will be a highly tactical conversation about the kinds of activities Hayley and Anna are focusing on now and how marketing is supporting and driving sales efforts in a time when marketing has become the new selling.

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Johanna Gottlieb

Axis Promotions is an award-winning promotional products agency with five locations across the country. Axis has been named to Counselor Magazine’s Top 40 Distributors 5 years in a row, as well as PromoMarketing Magazine’s Top 40 Distributor, and PPB’s Greatest Companies to Work For.

Johanna has been at Axis for over 14 years, starting as an associate account manager and rising to her current role as a VP of Sales, Midwest. She holds many years of account management and understands the importance of every step in the campaign, from idea generation to order fulfillment. Drawing on both domestic and international procurement, she is able to ensure high quality and competitive costs, while complying with the myriad of regulatory issues. Johanna plays a role in new business development at Axis as well account management. She heads up Axis’ Chicago office. She is bilingual, fluent in English and Spanish. Johanna received her undergraduate degree from Iona College and a Masters in Mass Communications from the New York Institute of Technology.

Johanna is also current chair of PromoKitchen. PromoKitchen is an all-volunteer, 501c3 non-profit organization led by professionals in the promotional products industry. PromoKitchen represents a cross section of the industry: suppliers, distributors and service providers, men and women, salespeople and business owners, young and the young at heart. PromoKitchen's mandates are education and mentorship. Johanna is really inspired and proud of the work that is being done by the organization.

Johanna lives with her husband (who she met at Axis) and her daughters, Olivia Bella and Lola Grace. Johanna, known as Jo, loves working out, family time and all things promo. She believes that connections are key and that a strong work ethic is crucial to success on all levels.

Navigating Sales in the New Climate

Direct selling has become complicated in a volatile business environment. What sales tactics should we shift to when old tactics no longer work? How do we need to reposition ourselves when budgets shift? What markets present the best opportunities now? How do we measure success in this new environment? In this breakout, Johanna Gottlieb and Sam Kates will chat about these questions and more and they share how they are shifting their sales strategy and the changing world of tactics and tools they are using to move the needle on sales.

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Kate Plummer

Kate Plummer is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Clearmount. While it was never her intention to go into the family business, Kate joined Clearmount over twelve years ago and has since carved a unique position in her business and in the industry as a thought-leader and voice of conscientious creativity. As Vice-Chair of Promokitchen, the industry’s only peer-led non-profit dedicated to industry education, Kate is passionate about growth and challenging our industry to strive for greater progress in creativity and collaboration. What she loves most about the business is interacting with interesting and diverse clients, designing beautiful pieces and working together with distributor partners to build innovative awards and recognition programs.

Preparing for “Day One” (Supplier Session)

As states begin to open back up again, many suppliers are beginning to think of their reopening plan. In this session, Pierre Martichoux, CEO of Chameleon Like, and Kate Plummer with Clearmount welcomes other suppliers as they have an open chat about the challenges of reopening their business. What should the day one plan look like? How are you successfully handling manufacturing with the new distancing rules? And how do we get back to a fully operational status in as short a time as possible?

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Chris Ferriter

Chris Ferriter is the Vice President of Business Development at SoBe Promos, and one of the industry’s rising stars!

From $222,000 in sales in 2013, to $5 million in sales in five years, distributor SoBe Promos based out of Miami, Florida burst onto the scene in a flash, and was honored as one of Inc. Magazine’s 500 Fastest Growing private companies in 2016 and recognized by ASI in 2017 as the fastest-growing distributor.

The three millennials that lead SoBe -Chris Ferriter, Scott Latimer, and Spencer Kramer- have blurred the lines of the traditional supplier/distributor relationship. With their focus on custom work and thanks in large part to their promotional lineage, they excel at direct importing and unique, hard to find items that can’t be easily sourced.

Alternative Resources for Revenue

Some clients immediately halted spending, while other clients started spending in different categories. Suddenly, a Wild West of options emerged, and where new opportunities weren’t apparent, some distributors found a different way. Join us as we chat with Chris Ferriter about the types of opportunities that have presented themselves to the SoBe team and how their business has pivoted to embrace the new business environment.

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Roni Wright

Roni Wright, MAS, vice president of supplier The Book Company, based in Delray Beach, Florida, is a 30+ year veteran of the promotional products industry. In her volunteer and leadership roles, Roni has served on the boards of PPAI, PPEF, the Regional Association Council (RAC), PPAF and other leadership organizations. Over the past seven years ago, Roni has cultivated a love of yoga and has become passionate about teaching to others the benefits she has gained from her yoga practice. She achieved her 200-hour certification and has journeyed to India twice to study at the renowned K. Pattabhi Jois Institute twice.

Meditation / Seated Yoga & Mindfulness

We care for more than just your sales health, we want you to be healthy in mind, spirit, and body! Have you used your time at home to get your daily yoga and meditation in? Or maybe you just want to try yoga or meditation for the first time? Either way, we’ve got you covered! Join us as our friend and respected yogi, Roni Wright, guides you through a peaceful and relaxing yoga or meditation session.

If you select this breakout session, we encourage you to have your yoga mat and exercise area ready in advance.

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Gillian Utesch

Did I want to be a promotional product distributor when I was little? Nope!

And honestly, I’ve yet to find even one person who wrote this career choice on construction paper for their 4th Grade Career Day bulletin board.

Yet, I can truthfully say: This is the best job in the world!

Every day is different. Its own expression of a volcano erupting. Epic, yet beautiful. I thrive on the symphonic collaboration of people working in varied time zones, in varied roles, all coming together to get ink on product delivered on time. It’s akin to threading a needle in the dark with a team you’ve often never met. And with the help of my award-winning Brand Fuel team we do this successfully and with joy every.single.day.

Through my decade and a half at Brand Fuel, I’ve had many diverse opportunities to work with clients all over the world in developing creative and effective promotional product campaigns. Ranging from employee/client incentives, client/employee appreciation, marketing/tradeshow efforts employee/ client recognition and simply putting their logo on cool shit.

My days ebb between interacting with vendors in sourcing cost effective, creative merchandise for my clients, domestically and overseas. Then flow to assist with Company's trade, sponsorship, and charity relationships along with complimentary marketing tasks.

While every day I wake-up and am so thankful I stumbled into this crazy, energetic industry which allows me to stretch my brain and constantly push what is possible. I’m truly #livingthedream

Leading Your Sales Team Through Tough Times

Creativity and innovation thrives with constraints. How do you inspire, motivate, and challenge your team through tough times? How do we redefine success by setting relevant and realistic goals? Whether it’s leading a sales team through a decline in sales or selling through a difficult economy, in this session, Gillian Utesch and Sam Kates will talk about the ways their sales team is changing their thinking and shifting their actions to approach new ways of selling.

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Janie Gaunce

Janie Gaunce started Grapevine Designs, a promotional marketing agency, in 2000. In her prior life, Janie enjoyed a 13-year successful career as VP/Sales for two KC radio broadcasting stations. After radio, Janie discovered the creative and fun world of promotional marketing in 1996, forming her own company, Grapevine Designs, four years later. Grapevine Designs was honored as “Best Places to Work” by the KCBJ in 2007, consistently ranks as one of the top “Women Owned Businesses in KC” by the KCBJ, and has earned 8 top industry awards from PPAI for outstanding client work. Janie, a graduate of KU, is active in the community, most recently serving as Marketing Chair for the University of Kansas Hospital Advancement Board; Membership Chair for PPAM (an industry organization), and is a founder of “100 Jobs for 100 Moms,” a program that provides jobs that include mentors for women who have transitioned out of addiction. Janie enjoys investing back into entrepreneurs in the business and is an active PromoKitchen mentor with six mentees over the past few years.

Not Revolution: Evolution! (Expanding Your Services for Greater Client Loyalty)

Many of us are using this time to expand our horizons and reimagine our purpose but it’s also a daunting task to think of “reinventing” oneself. Through her journey from a pure promotional products company to an agency, Janie learned that the diversification of your product line and services is more an evolution than a revolution. In this session, Janie Gaunce wants to take the mystery out of “reinvention” and “transformation” by sharing ways that you can expand your business and shift your model by simply adding more services beyond promo. Learn how expanding your horizons and making small adjustments can create lasting relationships with clients.

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Catherine Graham

Catherine Graham is the CEO of commonsku. Catherine has been named to the Counselor Power 50 list, PPB’s Best Boss and an ASI Rising Star.

Catherine was the President of Rightsleeve before co-founding commonsku. Prior to Rightsleeve, she spent several years doing financial planning for fast-track individuals and entrepreneurs at TD Bank. She then went on to pursue an MBA at the Rotman School of Management during which time she joined the newly formed eBay Canada and launched two categories in the Canadian marketplace. After leaving eBay, Catherine worked as a management consultant at A.T. Kearney, working with Fortune 500 companies in a wide variety of areas including merger integration, marketing strategy and operational efficiencies.

Outside of work, Catherine is a mother to 3 children ranging in age from 15 to 10 years old and spends a lot of time in the hockey rink, coaching the teams for all 3 kids. She also sits on a variety of boards and committees in the non-profit space including the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network, the Loran Scholar Foundation, Communitech, Next Canada and Futurpreneur.

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Mark Graham

Mark is the co-founder of commonsku, a business software application designed specifically for the promotional products industry. Mark is one of the founding chefs of PromoKitchen and is the host of the popular PromoKitchen podcast where he interviews industry thought leaders as well as business luminaries such as Seth Godin and Dan Pink. Recognized with multiple honors in the industry, including ASI's Distributor Entrepreneur of the Year, ASI’s Hot List, and PPAI’s Rising Stars, Mark has been featured in several major media publications (PPB, Counselor Magazine, Stitches, and Advantages). An innovative leader, Mark frequently mentors promotional entrepreneurs through writing, speaking, and training, and shares his technology expertise with promotional professionals across North America (PPAI Expo, ASI Chicago, ASI San Diego, PPPC, MAPPA, SPPA, Promo East, Partnering Group, NALC, ASI Power Summit).

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Bobby Lehew

Bobby Lehew is the Chief Content Officer at commonsku, a cloud-based CRM, order management platform designed for the promotional products industry by promotional product experts. A 25-year industry veteran, Bobby was formerly the CEO at Robyn, a branded products fulfillment company that specialized in private-label, e-commerce company stores. A PPAI Gold Pyramid Award winner, a PPAI Silver Technology recipient, an Addy Award recipient, and recognized (in his work with Robyn) three years in a row by Inc. Magazine as one of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in the U.S., Bobby is co-host of the popular industry podcast, skucast and he is a national speaker on topics related to B2B marketing, company stores, productivity, and storyselling. Featured in ASI’s Counselor magazine as one of “41 people who are shaking up the market with new and innovative approaches,” Bobby is an ardent bibliophile and loves working at the intersection of art and commerce.

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Samantha Kates

Samantha (Sam) Kates is the Vice President of Sales at commonsku. Samantha has contributed to the sales success of some of the most notable brands in the industry, including iPROMOTEu, Charles River Apparel, and Fruit of the Loom. With over 15 years experience as a successful distributor and supplier, she is known as a catalyst for sales growth and for her ability to develop robust sales teams. After helping iPROMOTEu develop a national sales organization, Sam was recruited by Charles River Apparel as the Vice President of Sales. At Charles River, Samantha expanded the sales team and, during her tenure, the company’s revenue doubled, with major gains in its retail and corporate divisions. Sam also founded the franchise Wholesome Tummies, a technology-driven, first-of-its-kind concept that provides nutritious lunches to kids in private schools; the concept grew to serve over 100 schools and 25 franchise locations.

Leading Your Sales Team Through Tough Times

Creativity and innovation thrives with constraints. How do you inspire, motivate, and challenge your team through tough times? How do we redefine success by setting relevant and realistic goals? Whether it’s leading a sales team through a decline in sales or selling through a difficult economy, in this session, Gillian Utesch and Sam Kates will talk about the ways their sales team is changing their thinking and shifting their actions to approach new ways of selling.

Navigating Sales in the New Climate

Direct selling has become complicated in a volatile business environment. What sales tactics should we shift to when old tactics no longer work? How do we need to reposition ourselves when budgets shift? What markets present the best opportunities now? How do we measure success in this new environment? In this breakout, Johanna Gottlieb and Sam Kates will chat about these questions and more and they share how they are shifting their sales strategy and the changing world of tactics and tools they are using to move the needle on sales.

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Ashley Colautti

Ashley Colautti spent twelve years working as a distributor in Toronto. Her background in graphic design and advertising lead her into the world of promo where she filled just about every role within a distributorship. Along the way, she and her team deployed commonsku to streamline the order process and utilize a cloud-based system enabling them to work from multiple locations across Canada. Ashley loved the experience and the community so much, she insisted on being a part of it! Now, Ashley is instrumental in guiding distributors toward a new way to work, not only providing insight on how to effectively use cloud-based solutions, such as commonsku and shops, but as a vital advisor for those who are making transitions to a virtual workforce.

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David Shultz

David is the Vice-President of Supplier Partnerships for commonsku. With more than 17 years of industry experience, David enjoys collaborating with his supplier, distributor, and business service provider peers to address technical challenges affecting our industry with a focus on workflow connectivity. Prior to joining commonsku David served as the Vice-President of Operations for industry service provider, DistributorCentral. He currently sits on the board of directors for the Promotional Products Association Midwest (PPAM), serves as a member of PPAI’s professional development committee and is an incoming member of PPAI's Regional Association Council board of directors.

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