TIMOTHY M. ANDREWS, 53, of Princeton, N.J., is president and CEO of the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) in Trevose, Bucks County. ASI connects manufacturers and distributors with companies seeking to promote their brands. The Norman Cohn family has owned the company since 1962.
Q: What's ASI?
A: We're a media-and-marketing company helping manufacturers of promotional products connect with distributors. Someone who wants to distribute a promotional product to a customer can use us to find the right manufacturer to make and imprint the product and order it through our online platform.
Q: How's that work?
A: For distributors, we have a database of more than a million products that can be imprinted with a logo. If a distributor is calling on a coffee shop that uses mugs to promote itself, the distributor uses our online tools to search for products the coffee shop wants and sends them a proposal. After the coffee shop replies, the distributor one-clicks and a purchase order is sent to each manufacturer, and products are shipped to the coffee shop. We also have about 15,000 websites we've built and host for distributors, we publish five magazines and we host trade shows in Orlando, Dallas and Chicago.
Q: The biz model?
A: Distributors pay an annual membership fee from $600 to as much as six figures, based on services they use. For suppliers, it's $2,000 annually.
Q: The value prop?
A: We have the largest collection of distributors. If you make a promotional product, we are the biggest single player for you to enter the marketplace quickly. For a small fee, you can have your product put into our database. Within 24 hours, a distributor may find your product and place an order.
Q: The industry?
A: It's an industry with $22 billion in annual sales in North America. The U.S. has 3,500 manufacturers of promotional products and 20,000 distributors who have 132,000 sales people who call on businesses. Almost every small business buys promotional products, whether it's a T-shirt, a pen or a tote they give out to clients or prospects.
Q: Some clients?
A: GForce Promotions in Center City is a distributor of promotional items, including totes, pens and apparel. Admints & Zagabor, based in Bellmawr, Camden County, makes candy and gourmet gift items. We have 39 distributors and 17 suppliers in Philadelphia alone.
Q: What's hot?
A: Wearables, such as a jacket or T-shirt or tie, are about one-third of our industry. New technology allows you to simulate leather on cotton, apply glitter to something. Things that light up, glow or blink are also popular.
Q: How big a biz?
A: We have 460 employees, and most are located here.
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