The PPAI Expo 2024 lived up to the hype for industry veterans, as well as first-time attendees.

“Bonding with suppliers is the most important thing,” says Dylan McLain, senior executive account manager at El Segundo, California-based DSG International (PPAI 518096, D1). “When you have that massive order, you call customer service and they’re like, ‘We can’t turn it.’ After Expo, you say, ‘Well, I know Bill, and then Bill is like, ‘We can do it and we’ll take 15 cents off.’”

McLain has been coming to The PPAI Expo for nearly a decade and is still fascinated by the new products displayed.

“It’s good just to come and reconnect with people we haven’t seen in a long time and who we interact with on email all the time but don’t know their face,” McLain says. “PPAI is always a good confidence booster and a way to expand what you sell. If you ask vendors how to sell their products, they actually tell you these are the people you want to sell to. It’s like, I have these people in my contacts, but I never knew they’d buy a Swiss Army knife.”

Anna Throckmorton, account executive at DSG International, is glad that new attractions continue to be added to the festivities.

“I like that they’re adding more stuff to the event itself, like the pop-ups and the pickle ball,” Throckmorton says. “It’s more interactive, fun stuff to do. It’s a nice touch.”

Back To Normal

Ellen White of Olathe, Kansas-based Dew Ad Specialties (PPAI 235992, D2), a division of HALO (PPAI 106462, D16) – ranked the No. 2 distributor in the inaugural PPAI 100 – has been coming to The PPAI Expo for more than two decades.

“It’s coming back to pre-COVID days,” White says. “There are a lot more people here this year, plus a lot of the old standards with some new twists. I come to take it all in.”

The PPAI Expo 2024 drew more than 10,000 distributors to the trade floor, which covered roughly 1 million square feet in scope and featured more than 2,500 booths and nearly 1,000 exhibitors.

“I’m always looking for great new ideas, things that are unique to the marketplace,” says Jodi Frank, CEO of Wilmington, Delaware-based Frank Communication Solutions (PPAI 491480, D1). “Everybody is into eco and sustainability, so what is going to be different about it? What kind of product with a purpose am I going to find that’s going to help that client?”

A 28-year veteran of the promo industry, Keith Wilson, self-described “promogenie” of Public Identity, powered by BAMKO (PPAI 242148, D11) – ranked the No. 4 distributor in the inaugural PPAI 100 – stood out in the sea of eager attendees with his custom dog photo-collaged pants of his pet Bucky and all his furry friends.

“Anybody in this game needs to come to Expo to get ‘edumacated’ in promo,” Wilson says.

Expo Newcomers

After five years in the industry, Kelli Brown, owner of Huntsville, Alabama-based GoodPeople Promotions (PPAI 798474, D2), attended The PPAI Expo for the first time this year. She had no idea what to expect “except total awesomeness,” and the largest and longest-running promo trade show delivered.

“The first word that comes to mind is ‘overwhelming,’” Brown says. “I would be completely lost without the SAGE app. I can’t imagine trying to navigate and stay organized without it. All of the suppler reps I’ve talked to are so friendly and not pushy, which is great.”

Another first timer, Tyler Merriam, MAS, owner of Lake Placid, New York-based Adirondack Awards and Promotions (PPAI 276905, D3), says the overall experience of The PPAI Expo 2024 has been phenomenal.

“It’s been energizing and insightful to connect with so many professionals in the industry,” Merriam says. “The product floor is overwhelming and inspiring, and I love the strong push for sustainable products. Desk Plants is an awesome example of a clean and elegant presentation of desktop plants with an eco-friendly model.”

“The PPAI Expo has more than met my expectations,” Merriam adds, “and I wouldn’t even mind an extra day to let the whole experience soak in!”