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Skylight Creative Ideas Joins The Premier Group

Skylight Creative Ideas of Bel Air, Maryland, has joined the Premier Group, a member-driven alliance of more than 75 suppliers and independent distributors dedicated to improving business relationships through networking and sharing best practices.

Skylight Creative has been in the industry for 39 years and is owned by Bob Titelman, Sr., and Bob Titelman, Jr. The company is also active in its regional association, the Chesapeake Promotional Products Association. Bob Jr. is currently treasurer of the industry organization.

“We at Skylight appreciate this opportunity to join The Premier Group,” the Titelmans say. “We look forward to strengthening our relationships with suppliers we have worked with for years. We also anticipate creating new relationships for the future.”

Jeff Marks, chairman of the Premier Group Network and principal at Promotional Considerations, adds, “It is the addition of outstanding companies like Skylight Creative Ideas that help the Premier Group Network maintain its leadership position as a key group in the industry. We look forward to getting to know the Titelmans and their team.”

Alphabroder and Bodek and Rhodes Complete Integration

Exclusive: The full details behind the integration of a $1 billion industry supplier.

Alphabroder (asi/34063) and Bodek and Rhodes (asi/40788) have completed their integration, finalizing its December merger that brought together two companies with a combined $1 billion in promotional product revenue.

‘The integration has gone very well,” said David Clifton, chief marketing officer for alphabroder. “We are pleased to now be able to offer our customers the complete alphabroder and Bodek and Rhodes assortment and services through one unified website and sales/customer service organization.”

The integration was finalized on Monday, June 13. Prior to that date, Clifton said, Bodek and Rhodes’ interaction with customers and available inventory was unchanged while the companies worked quickly and quietly behind the scenes to integrate. “Our number-one focus throughout this whole process has been to not disrupt any customers’ business,” Clifton told Counselor in an exclusive interview.

Clifton said alphabroder has brought over every style that was carried by Bodek and Rhodes, including the company’s UltraClub private label brand. In total, the supplier now carries over 2,000 styles of apparel, nine exclusive brands and 100,000 SKUs. Clifton allowed for the possibility in the future of narrowing the company’s assortment in places. But alphabroder is committed to carrying Bodek’s private label brand even though alphabroder carries its own assortment of private labels. “In our experience, private label in particular in our industry is often tied to programs,” said Clifton. “And so that style is important. Even though you may have a similar style from a different brand, if that particular brand is sold into a program, that is what’s important to the customer.”

Beginning this week, inventory from three of Bodek’s warehouses (in Orlando, FL, Fresno, CA, and Norton, MA,) were moved to alphabroder’s pre-existing warehouses, all of which were just a mile or less away from the Bodek locations. Over the next two months, Bodek’s remaining two facilities in Niles, MI, and Philadelphia will be transitioned over. Clifton said the company will still offer pickup and local delivery service from Philadelphia because of the location’s heightened usage and the distance from alphabroder’s next closest warehouse in Harrisburg, PA, which is two hours away.

Clifton noted from the sales and customer service teams to the companies’ inventory, alphabroder had an eye toward building out its capabilities and offerings instead of trying to eliminate redundancies. “The focus was about combining these teams,” he said. “It wasn’t about consolidation as much as it was expansion.” While the Bodek and Rhodes name is still being prominently used, Clifton said it will be phased out “over time” and that there was no rush to remove it.

In December 2015, alphabroder completed its deal to merge with Bodek and Rhodes for an undisclosed sum. One year prior in January 2014, alphabroder acquired another Top 40 supplier – Ash City. Overall, alphabroder has merged with or acquired three industry companies since the supplier was recapitalized by private equity firm Littlejohn & Co. in 2012.

PPEF To Award Eight New Named Scholarships

The Promotional Products Education Foundation (PPEF) is awarding eight new named scholarships for the first time this year. The move brings to 25 the total number of named scholarships—those established in honor or memory of an individual or company—presented each year.

This category of PPEF scholarships offers outstanding students attending a two-year or four-year accredited undergraduate college or university a one-time award of $1,000 toward their education. It is funded at three levels. At the Associate level, the named scholarship is awarded for five consecutive years; at the Colleague level it is awarded for 12 consecutive years, and at the Lifelong Friend level, the scholarship is endowed in perpetuity.

Among the new scholarships is the Lifelong Friend level scholarship in the name of Bill Schmidt, Sr., CEO of Largo, Florida-based supplier Hit Promotional Products, who passed away in April 2016. The scholarship is funded by a personal gift of $50,000 from Schmidt’s wife, Liz, and son, CJ, Hit’s president.

Industry buying group Reciprocity Road has also endowed the Reciprocity Road Roadie Scholarship at the Colleague level, while six Associate level scholarships are new for 2017:

  • Ted E. Dennison, MAS, Scholarship
  • Maureen & Thomas Dugan Scholarship
  • PMANC Campbell M. Brown Memorial Scholarship
  • PPAS Scholarship
  • Jack & Marty Nadel Scholarship
  • Paul E. Smith Scholarship

“Reciprocity is not a usual name for a business enterprise or a scholarship. However, it is fundamental to our members’ beliefs and values,” says Rod Brown, chief financial officer at Reciprocity Road member company MadeToOrder, Inc. “In our formation, Reciprocity Road committed to systemic giving back. We are so proud and excited to work with PPEF and participate in helping to fund education through our Reciprocity Road Roadie Scholarship. We want to both reward students and remind other companies that giving back is good business.”

The Premier Group, an alliance of suppliers and distributors, sponsored the Paul E. Smith Scholarship in honor of one of the group’s founders, who currently serves as the group’s chairman emeritus. Jeff Marks, current chairman of the group, says, “The group has consistently supported the business practices of all members and helped each of us to improve. Paul has been instrumental in all of those years as a supportive supplier member and tireless contributor to the group. It is an honor for the group and its members to support this worthwhile scholarship in Paul’s name.”

Funded by PPAI and donations from the promotional products industry, the PPEF scholarship program enables youth and professionals to continue their education at the collegiate level.

In 2016, PPEF awarded $150,000 in academic scholarships and since its inception in 1989, has awarded more than $1.56 million in financial assistance to 926 recipients. The program will award $175,000 in total scholarships for the 2017-2018 school year. For more on PPEF, click here.