For a supplier to land a top-five spot on PPAI 100’s, it must be a well-rounded promo company. But it’s also hard to get there without excelling in one area so comprehensively that no rival company could honestly claim to outshine. For Hit Promotional Products (PPAI 113910, Platinum), the No. 4 supplier in the 2024 PPAI 100, that area is innovation. Wherever the promo industry is going in the future, Hit is prepared to help usher it there.

“Innovation is in the DNA of every Hit employee,” says chief information officer Raj Mukherjee. “In a sense, most of our organization, including operations and IT, works as a startup.”

Innovation was one of four high marks the St. Petersburg, Florida-based supplier received from PPAI 100, but it is that startup mentality that allows it to live outside of comfort zones while achieving success, making it an industry leader.

Picking out any one technological achievement by Hit is almost reductive as the company operates away from the idea of the “old fashioned,” at least when something newer can better serve customers and partners. In 2023, the company rolled out initiatives involving:

  • Robotics
  • State of the art printing automation
  • Sorting automation
  • Expansion of customer integration
  • Implementation of artificial intelligence
  • Transportation software

“Hit isn’t afraid to push the innovation envelope,” says Jon Norris, Hit’s chief strategy officer. “We often live on the bleeding edge of technology.”

The hiring of Norris, formerly of Starline, in late 2023 – and his subsequent promotion to his current role – only bolstered the trend of focusing on the ability to expand capabilities through technology.

  • Both Norris and Mukherjee are key figures in PromoStandards, a group of industry IT professionals who focus on the development of technology standards to enable system-to-system communication in an effort to reduce the cost of business between suppliers and distributors. Norris is a co-founder of PromoStandards.
  • CJ Schmidt, president of Hit, said at the time that bringing Norris to the supplier was “a testament to our commitment to lead, innovate and excel in the promotional products industry.”

No organization will be able to bring practical innovation to an industry without leadership embracing the possibilities it opens up. Earlier this year, Eric Shonebarger stepped down as president of Hit, In taking on that role, Schmidt has shown a commitment to letting people like Mukherjee and Norris make advancements.

“The leadership of CJ allows us to take risks, which is key to innovation,” Mukherjee says. “Anytime a new piece of technology is available, we try to use it to our benefit, and solutions like open AI are being used in multiple scenarios to expedite a task that normally may have taken days.”

High marks in innovation require more than just taking risks. A truly innovative company will use that trait to mitigate risk. Last summer, Hit successfully completed a SOC 2 audit in order to safeguard data.

  • Through the implementation of a comprehensive set of controls encompassing security, confidentiality, processing integrity, privacy and availability, Hit has successfully enhanced data security procedures, streamlined risk management and bolstered operational efficiency while fortifying its incident response preparedness.

Less innovative companies know what their future looks like. Hit Promotional Products is open to possibilities, and that is by design.

“Hit is at an exciting crossroads for innovation and growth, and everyone at the company is in a mindset to solve problems and use any tools necessary to solve them,” says Mukherjee.