In this column last month, I told you about our exciting new hires who are transforming PPAI. What I didn’t tell you was how hard it was to find some of those people.

Like many of you, we were having trouble recruiting talent this year despite significant effort. Before long, it just made sense to hire help for hiring help. Luckily we didn’t have to look hard for the resource, and contracted with Affinity HR Group, a PPAI business services member. They have significantly improved our ability to find and hire the right staff.

Business services members like Affinity are incredibly important to PPAI and represent huge value to their fellow members. Distributors and suppliers recognize one another as partners. But what about your potential industry partners outside of those distributor/supplier relationships?

Every PPAI member should be leveraging the community of PPAI business services providers who are dedicated to this industry. You can find solutions that fit your needs at
I’ll give you another example. As the cover story of this issue of PPB details, large distributors use technology as a competitive differentiator – it’s one of the reasons some distributors choose to join a distributor network in the first place. But every company in our industry should have technology systems that fit their needs. In at least one key way, PPAI did not. We needed to replace our outdated financial systems, so we purchased NetSuite from PPAI business services member Oracle NetSuite. The transition has put our accounting team in a much better place going forward, and we didn’t have to look far to find the help we needed.

With some noteworthy exceptions, most PPAI business services members provide tech solutions. The Association’s financial and order management needs are different than most members. Although NetSuite works well for us, it is not right for every promo company.

Fortunately, the business services members represent a wealth of options.

Many distributors successfully use SAGE order management, included with your PPAI membership. If you haven’t taken a look at SAGE order management, you should explore its powerful features. In addition to SAGE, other solutions are available within the industry, such as commonsku, Distributor Central, Essent and more. For those with complex integration or implementation needs, firms such as eXtendtech, Virtuace, Web Services Pro offer integration services.

Company stores and ecommerce continue to grow in importance to our industry. Using a PPAI business services member makes the process much simpler and far more cost effective. Business services partners such as SAGE, Order My Gear, BrightStores, CompanyPromoStore and others can help.
Likewise, staff augmentation and outsourcing has become very normal for most suppliers and is gaining traction with distributors. This category once focused on perfecting vector artwork, but can now handle complex order entry and follow up. Firms like Artwork Services do more than artwork, and others have joined the outsourcing model, such as Office Beacon, Delegate CX and more.

We even have a growing list of business services members focused on meeting your compliance and sustainability goals. From logistics solutions, to marketing, consulting and many other needs, PPAI business services members should be your first stop when you are looking to solve a problem in this industry.

If you don’t see a solution listed and need assistance, contact your PPAI membership services team. And of course, join us in January at The PPAI Expo, where most of these business service firms will be in one place, along with so many industry suppliers.

The mission of PPAI is to be the voice and force to advance the promotional marketplace for the benefit of our community. PPAI business services members play a critical role in helping us do that.

I have no doubt they can help you fulfill your organization’s mission, too.