Counselor® PromoGram®
Volume 822 / June 7, 2011
Click here to read this and past issues online.

Bill Would Reduce Tariffs On Performance Apparel
A bipartisan bill introduced in the House of Representatives last week would reduce tariffs on performance apparel. If enacted, the U.S. Optimal Use of Trade to Develop Outerwear and Outdoor Recreation Act would create harmonized tariff schedule breakouts for knit and woven recreational performance outerwear and change tariff rates for these items to duty free, eliminating what bill sponsors say is a "hidden tax." Current duties far exceed state sales, supporters say.

The upshot of reduced tariffs is that shirts, jackets and pants made for performance activities would be more affordable for consumers and help domestic designers and vendors better compete in the global economy, the bill's sponsors maintain.

"The enjoyment and exploration of the outdoors is not just a cornerstone of American recreation, but it is also the basis of a major job-creating industry," said Congressman Dave Reichert (R-WA), lead co-sponsor of the bill along with Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). "Many local businesses cater to this adventurous spirit, and I am happy to have found yet another instance in which smart trade policy can help these employers spur growth, remove a hidden tax on consumers, and foster greater interest in outdoor recreation. This bill is a needed update to the antiquated, unreasonably high tariffs set on recreational performance apparel that will both boost sales and enable families to more affordably outfit themselves for weekend camping trips and summer vacations."

Major outdoor clothing brands like REI and Columbia support the legislation. "The U.S. Outdoor Act helps encourage development of innovative and affordable performance outerwear, which in turn supports enjoyment of the outdoors by consumers," says Matt Hyde, executive vice president of REI.

Both the United States International Trade Commission and the Committee for Implementation of Textile agreements have concluded that imports of recreational performance apparel will not disrupt domestic markets or adversely affect domestic producers.

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Postal Strike Ongoing In Canada
Postal workers in major Canadian cities like Montreal, Hamilton and Winnipeg have taken part in scheduled walk-outs, continuing a rotating strike that is now in its fifth day. To date, workers have left their jobs for a 24-hour period and then returned to their posts, slowing the flow of mail in selected regions but not completely disrupting national delivery. "Some people may find that their mail doesn't get delivered but that will be the exception and not the rule," said Canada Post spokesman Jon Hamilton. "The majority of our routes are being covered."

In total, 37 Canada Post-owned outlets in the Montreal area were closed Monday. Postal workers in Victoria and Moncton will walk off the job for 24 hours later today, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) has announced. "We want a negotiated collective agreement and we had no other option but work stoppages to put pressure on Canada Post," said Gayle Bossenberry, vice president of CUPW. "Rotating walkouts were chosen as the least disruptive measure for the public."

While Canada Post and union negotiators continue to talk, no deal is considered imminent. Similar to conditions in the U.S., Canada is also experiencing declining mail volumes spurred by greater electronic communication. The latest union proposal was rejected by Canada Post on grounds it was too costly. "It's just too expensive and still doesn't help us get anywhere near where we need to be in terms of addressing the challenges facing Canada Post," Hamilton said.

Among the major contract sticking points are reduced wages for new employees, accumulation of sick days and safety issues for members working with new mail-processing machines.



Correction: ASI Restates Supplier Revenue Results
In last Thursday's edition of Counselor PromoGram, we reported on a new ASI survey showing that supplier revenues increased by 8.4% in the first quarter of 2011. Included in that report were some misleading statistics regarding the breakdown of the revenue increases generated by large (revenues of more than $10 million) and small suppliers (revenues of less than $10 million). What should have been shown is that large suppliers grew their revenues in the first quarter of 2011 by an average of 10.3% and small suppliers increased their sales by 5.3%. This accounted for the total average increase from all suppliers of 8.4%.

Click here to read a corrected version of the article.



The Joe Show: Items To Go
In conjunction with Counselor's August Hot Issue, The Joe Show will feature items in six different categories over the next few weeks. In this special Hot Products edition of The Joe Show, Managing Editor Joe Haley shows off some of the latest vacation and travel products to hit the ad specialty market.

Click here to watch this travel-products episode of The Joe Show.

Want more videos? Subscribe now to our YouTube videos.


Mobile Apps Increasing Business Productivity
Technology-driven mobile applications – specifically those tied to smartphones and tablet devices – are saving small businesses time, reducing overhead costs and improving sales, according to a new survey. Using collected data, researchers estimate usage of mobile apps by small businesses now saves 725 million hours annually, translating into $17.6 billion, based on average pay for employees.

“The time savings derived from the use of mobile apps among small businesses is impressive,” says Raymond Keating, chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship (SBE) Council, which published the study. “If all small businesses were to take advantage of mobile apps, annual owner hours saved could reach an estimated 1.2 billion.”

The majority of respondents (51%) say mobile apps have made their firms more competitive and nearly 50% report the technology has helped them grow their business’ revenues. More than three-quarters of small-business owners (78%) say mobile apps are saving them significant time each week. Data shows related weekly time savings averages 5.6 hours. Even further, 36% of respondents say usage of mobile apps has led to reduced overhead costs, with 10% able to add workers because of savings and increased revenue generation. “Mobile apps are allowing small business owners and their employees to get more time from their day and to focus on higher value work,” says Karen Kerrigan, SBE Council president.

The mobile apps most often used by small businesses are related to GPS navigation, contact management, remote document access, travel planning and social media marketing, the study showed. The study also found that small business owners are using mobile devices much more frequently than typical Americans. For example, about half of respondents use smartphones compared with well under a fifth of the general population.



ASI Radio: How To Build A Financial Cushion
This morning's Tuesday Morning Show on ASI Radio provided listeners with answers to questions about how they can improve their cash flow and build a financial cushion for their company. Plus, the hosts shared their "Favorite Things," offered strategies for raising prices, and gave tips for dealing with rising health-care costs. 

If you missed the show, a recording is now available at www.asicentral.com/radio. And, don't forget to join us for our next broadcast – Tuesday, June 14 – when we'll broadcast live from the ASI Virtual Trade Show (sign up at www.asicentral.com/vts). Log on at 10:30 a.m. ET to listen to the show – and give us a call at (215) 953-4979 to hear your voice on the air.



Study: Employee Satisfaction Helps Drive Success
You already know satisfying customers is key to success. Now, a new study from the University of Missouri determined that satisfied employees help boost customer satisfaction and drive up the number of customers who intend to purchase products. "We found that keeping your employees satisfied with their work experience, providing them with challenges and allowing them to have a sense of ownership in the business can have a tremendous effect on customer satisfaction and loyalty," says Christopher Groening, assistant professor of marketing at the Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business. "The link between customer satisfaction and customer loyalty is almost twice as strong when you have high employee satisfaction compared to when they are not satisfied with their jobs."

Groening and his study co-authors arrived at this conclusion after studying a large European retail franchise system that has about 300 outlets, 933 employees and more than 20,700 customers. Satisfaction data came from employees and customers regarding their working for or buying from the firm. "The relationships among the CEO, the employees and the customers are all linked," the report states. "It's important for CEOs to know that they can have a large impact on customer service without ever talking with a customer or implementing a new customer service policy."

Tips for creating employee satisfaction include: train and empower employees so they have the tools to make good decisions; hire managers who serve as examples and who act as mentors; and create a good working atmosphere by offering incentives and intangible benefits, such as flexible working hours.

The study on employee satisfaction was published this month in the Journal of Service Research.



Counselor Unveils Top 40 & Honors Award Winners
At a ceremony in San Diego last week, Counselor magazine named Marty Lott, president of Top 40 apparel supplier SanMar (asi/84863), as its Person of the Year. Click here to view Counselor's Person of the Year profile of Marty Lott.

Also at the Counselor Awards black-tie ceremony, held at the San Diego Air & Space Museum, the magazine unveiled its annual Top 40, the ranking of the largest suppliers and distributors in the industry. This year's distributor list is headed up by Staples Promotional Products (asi/120601) and the supplier Top 40 is lead by Norwood (asi/74400) & BIC Graphic North America (asi/40480).

Click here to view the 2011 Top 40 distributors and click here to see the Top 40 suppliers.

Also honored at the event were the winners of Counselor's International Person of the Year, Entrepreneurs of the Year, Women of Distinction, Family Businesses of the Year, and Bess Cohn Humanitarian awards. Click here to see all the winners of the 2011 Counselor Awards.



Are You Multi-Million Dollar Material?
Counselor magazine is currently updating its annual Multi-Million Dollar Roundtable lists. The exclusive lists, which honor distributors with more than $2 million in 2010 sales and suppliers with more than $5 million in sales last year, will be revealed in conjunction with our State of the Industry issue in mid-July. To be considered for this exclusive group, please click here now and update your 2010 revenue information.

Don't delay. Update your 2010 sales now for possible inclusion in Counselor's Multi-Million Dollar Roundtable.



In The News
ActNow Media (asi/31015) announced it has lowered prices and lowered the minimum order quantity on Mat Messages Standard Hard Top and THINS Ultra Lite Counter Mats.

BDA (asi/137616) announced that it has reached an agreement to be the preferred U.S. merchandise supplier for FremantleMedia Enterprises.

The Book Company (asi/41010) announced the introduction of a completely new product category to its line – Fine Journals and Notebooks.

InnerWorkings (asi/231438) announced an enterprise print management agreement with Morningstar Inc. InnerWorkings will provide outsourced print procurement and print management services for Morningstar, including direct mail, charts and commercial printing.

Lapine Inc (asi/67895) announced that it has teamed with Lava Lite LLC, the only manufacturer of the trademarked Lava Lamp to provide the Lava Lamp to the ad specialty and incentive markets.

Moisant Promotional Products (asi/275276) announced that Teresa Moisant, owner and president, was named one of 2011's six Oklahoma's Most Admired CEOs for small businesses.

Newton Manufacturing Company (asi/283300) has published a free white paper providing information on QR codes. "How to Sell QR Codes" is a guide for industry distributors, agencies and suppliers for implementing QR codes in promotions.



People On The Move
Fossil Corporate Markets (asi/55145) has announced several personnel additions: Jeff Wells as national sales manager for the ASI division, Kim Johns to the southeast region, Meghan Ehmann to the northeast region, and Amber Grimes to its marketing and product development team.

Proforma (asi/300094) has announced that it added 11 new offices to its network in the month of May.


ASI SHOW

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All distributors are invited to attend this full-day event for free, featuring education, tabletop exhibits and networking. Join the excitement of this new industry event and reserve your space today for the ASI Holiday Preview at www.holidaypreviewtour.com. Or, call 800-546-3300 with any questions.

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