This past week, I had the opportunity to attend the largest trade show in the Promotional Industry in Las Vegas. The PPAI Expo is the industry’s premier event and features education, networking and a huge trade show full of “trade show items.” I love this event. First of all it’s become a yearly class reunion for me because of the wonderful, diverse and dynamic people I get to call my peers. In addition, I get the chance to learn the latest and greatest going on in the industry. Oh, and the PPAI Expo would not be the same if I did not attend Skucon, the coolest conference in our industry as well. It was a lot to get to, so I wanted to share some trends and themes I noticed at the event. Tariffs are a huge concern: The Promotional Products industry is a 24-Billion-dollar industry built on the back of importing. A huge number of “imprint able items of awesome-ness” come from China. The impact of tariffs on the industry could be big. The cost of many promo items are likely going to be effected. With that in mind, let’s have the conversation and a plan. I think this means that products that are already domestically produced will see a boost in the coming year. Dream Teams are being built: There is a ton of consolidation in the promo industry…and quite a bit of concern about it. But that is not what I am talking about. Though some Venture Capital Groups are acquiring some awesome brands, I am noticing individual teams that are creating “dream teams” of talent. These are the brands that I see making huge gains in the coming year. Commonsku, Starline, and Snugz are brands in our industry that come to mind as talented, cool teams that I (and many in the industry) admire. Good Seems To Be Winning: As I walked the enormous show floor, I found myself saying “she is a great person,” or “that is a great guy,” a lot. Not coincidentally, these are the companies I am looking for opportunities to work with. In an industry where we can often source the same (or very similar) product from multiple vendors, the quality of the people really matter. The same is true, I think, for nearly any industry. Despite the concerns surrounding tariffs, I did notice an air of positivity in the industry. My hope is that this is a good sign for the economy in general. Time will tell. Either way, here’s to a happy and healthy 2019! Make sure you never miss an update. Sign up for our VIP list today.