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EDPA

ASI Reunites And Energizes Promo Industry

 The hotly anticipated ASI Show Orlando earned overwhelmingly positive feedback and drew more than 3,000 supplier and distributor professionals excited to reunite and make valuable in-person connections on a busy show floor jammed with more than 500 booths showcasing the top, in-stock products of 2022.

ASI is thrilled to once again lead the way with the promo industry’s first, best trade show of 2022,” said Timothy M. Andrews, president and chief executive officer of ASI. “From the moment the balloons dropped, distributors rushed in, eager to meet in person with their trusted supplier partners. The action, deal-making and sorely missed human connections continued non-stop over three very productive days. We’re revved up and ready to head to ASI Fort Worth!”

ASI Orlando took place January 4 – 6, at the award-winning Orange County Convention Center. ASI’s show featured familiar favorites like an Education Day with 18 tracks, mini hot dogs and free networking receptions, along with a rigorous on-stage discussion between three Counselor Top 40 distributors and a Top 40 supplier sharing strategies for thriving in the coming year.

“I honestly found it to be a really great show,” said exhibitor Noelle Leverentz, of Top 40 supplier Hit Promotional Products (asi/61125).  “It was so good to meet with my customers again in person, and it was phenomenal that so many of them attended. We came in knowing that the overall show attendance might be down but were still excited and pleased with the actual turnout. The show delivered.”

Over three days, ASI Orlando attracted distributors from across the country, including 800 from Florida.  In addition, 288 female-owned and 107 minority-owned companies were in attendance.  

 ASI’s return to Orlando for its traditional January show also gave the Florida tourism and hospitality industries a much-needed boost, helping put more people back to work. The convention center estimated ASI Show attendee spending on Orlando hotels, restaurants and attractions generated about $9 million for the local economy.

According to ASI’s 2021 State and Regional Sales Report, the South remains the most robust region in the U.S. for promo sales, thanks to the promo powerhouses of Texas and Florida, which suffered more modest declines during the slowdown and generated over $4 billion in total 2020 promo sales, with Florida alone generating $1.3 billion.

“On behalf of the OCCC, we are delighted to have ASI Show and their vast network of marketing and advertising professionals at the ‘Center of Hospitality’ as we launch into a very active and robust 2022,” said convention center Executive Director Mark Tester.

Distributor Patti Donnelly of SunCoast Print & Promotions has attended ASI shows for years and was thrilled to finally attend a live show after over a year of cancellations, saying, “This is exactly what I needed to help build my business back up, find inspiration and new ideas and connect with new and old exhibitors.”

Veteran distributor Randy Eubanks of Suncoast Marketing was happy that after nearly two years of enduring slowdowns caused by the double whammy of COVID and recent supply chain struggles he got to engage with suppliers in Orlando, with ASI estimating that over 70% of Top 40 suppliers exhibited. “I’m really happy to be back and found it to be really helpful and educational,” he said. “I missed seeing things in person and being able to network online just isn’t the same.”

Suppliers were equally excited to engage with distributors. “I had a great first day here at ASI Show,” said supplier Sandy Nichols of COOLiBAR. “It’s the first show of the year and it was packed! Great people, great conversations and great connections. We are so happy to be back here in person. Thanks, ASI, for a getting us together and for a great show.”

Wednesday’s panel discussion, “Promo in ’22: No Challenge Too Big – Strategies From Top Industry Leaders,” hosted by ASI Vice-Chairman Matthew Cohn, featured Jo-an Lantz, CEO of Geiger (asi/202900) and ASI’s Person of the Year; Counselor Power 50 member Nancy Schmidt, CEO of AIA Corporation (asi/109480); Lisa Hubbard, vice president of sales and marketing at The Vernon Company (asi/351700); and supplier Sharon Eyal, CEO of ETS Express (asi/51197). The industry leaders discussed ways to attract younger, more diverse professionals to the industry along with tips for tackling supply chain snags and inventory issues.

Eyal suggested distributors be upfront about inventory challenges and ask clients if there’s any flexibility with products. “When you take an order, maybe it’s a good idea to have option two or option three … so you have a better chance of success,” he said, also urging distributors to do a final inventory check with suppliers right before finalizing orders to ensure the most up-to-date stock information possible. Click here for ASI Media’s recap story.

“To hear about their recent struggles and how they overcame them by being as honest and open with their customers was a huge takeaway for me,” said Chad Park, of ORCA Promo. “I was excited to hear about the potential for success in this industry and I’m looking forward to getting younger people like myself – I’m 28 –involved to have fun with it and to make money!” 

Thursday, the final exhibit day, ASI Product Editor Joe Haley hosted a live Promo Showcase, featuring Orlando’s most buzzworthy products along with winning ideas for 2022 promotional campaigns. According to ASI surveys, 96% of attendees report that live events are critical to product sourcing.

“These product showcases are always informative and enjoyable,” said Deirdra Rogers of Kritzer Marketing. “I find new ideas for my customers and it inspires creative thinking and new directions and applications on how to sell the products. I really liked the new packaging idea that was presented today.”

Supplier Jenna Smith of Navitor said Orlando fulfilled all her expectations. “It’s been fantastic,” she said. “People are so excited to be back and the energy has been great. There’s something to be said about being face-to-face that you can’t get virtually or over the phone, and these connections we are making are solid and memorable ones.”   

ASI also offered attendees numerous free networking opportunities, including a new Education Day Wrap-Up featuring ASI speakers, its popular New Product Preview Reception and a poolside Connection Reception featuring a live band, drinks and food along with a “Wild Florida” photo op on the show floor featuring live gators.

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