When I was a kid, I didn’t totally appreciate all the sacrifices my dad made. Now that I’m a father, the things he did to put food on the table and raise me as a single parent are great inspiration, and they inform the approach I’m bringing to my new position.

More than anyone else in my life, my dad defined for me what it means to be an entrepreneur. Unfortunately, it was often a struggle. My dad fixed up and sold used fishing boats, first working from a repair shop behind our house out in the East Texas country, and later at his own place of business. He liked to tinker on the old motors, and he loved that he controlled his own schedule, which allowed him to be there when I got home from school and to attend all my sporting events. That chance to do what you enjoy and have some personal flexibility is the dream so many promotional products distributors had when they got into business, and something our supplier members want for their teams, too.

But my dad couldn’t stand the pressure that came with being fully responsible for his income. He never embraced the sales mentality needed to grow the business, and he was too old-school to learn anything about online marketing after the internet turned his advertisements in the newspaper into a waste of money. As a result, he essentially just built a job for himself at that shop—a job he came to hate. Every night at dinner, I looked at his hands, bloodied and beaten by those old engine parts. He was always tired, beaten down by the 100-degree heat.

His business paid the bills, but he never got ahead. And after decades in this position, he really was trapped. Things looked bleak. Were it not for finally being approved for full disability by the Veteran’s Administration just after his 65th birthday—owing to a back injury he suffered in Vietnam—he would’ve toiled in that shop until the day he died.

His story is what first allowed me to connect with business media when I started down this career path a decade ago. It inspires me to serve our members now. Our content is meant to inform and empower the hard-working people of this industry. My dad needed the kind of sales know-how you’ll find in PPB and our daily newsletter Promotional Consultant Today. He needed a better grasp of how his market was changing day-to-day through digital transformation and key shifts in the economy, the stuff that is always present in our twice-weekly PPB Newslink emails. But he never found the kind of information and resources to help him and his business grow.

I respect and love Dad for struggling through it all those years, because he did it all for me. But I don’t want everyone to have it so rough. I want our audience to get what they need from us to be their best.

That was also the mission of my predecessor, the wonderful and talented Tina Berres-Filipski, who along with the leadership at PPAI has entrusted me and our team to do this work for you. Since joining the Association in December, I have been amazed at the effort, genius and creativity involved in this industry.

Time marches on, but we will continue to serve you faithfully so that you can grow—for yourselves, your clients and teammates, and the people you love.  


Ellis is the publisher and editor-in-chief at PPAI.