AIA Hosts 2021 Virtual National Sales Meeting
Unite 2021: The Promo Evolution” Brings Together Owners and MVP Suppliers for Collaboration, Learning and Celebration
APPLETON, Wis. (August 23, 2021)—More than 150 participants had a front-row seat at AIA Corporation’s (AIA) annual Virtual National Sales Meeting this month. Hosted virtually for the second year in a row, Unite 2021: The Promo Evolution was packed with educational sessions, industry guest speakers, interactive workshops and AIA’s annual Be Bold Awards.
“Last year, we were faced with the abrupt reality of needing to quickly reimagine how to successfully move forward during the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Nancy Schmidt, CEO of AIA. “Although we were virtual again this year, our collective energy was at an all-time high as we shifted our focus to the evolution of our Owners’ businesses. Our goal was to provide Owners with the confidence and training to implement bolder thinking, be open to new ideas and rethink possibilities to gain new perspectives, own their journey by embracing and living their purpose and to surround themselves with people who inspire them to drive change.”
Over four days, attendees participated in 12 main sessions, six small group breakouts on major topics impacting the industry and business owners, meetings with AIA’s leadership team, and 423 one-on-one sessions with MVP suppliers. Highlights include:
- A keynote speech from Dan Pantano, CEO of alphabroder | Primeline that discussed the current state of the industry’s evolution and the importance of providing value to the end- user beyond simply selling and sourcing products.
- Marketing consultant, speaker and best-selling author John Jantsch helped Owners build a compelling brand story. Jantsch worked with participants to unlock their story through a series of exercises.
- Chris Blakeslee, president of Bella + Canvas, discussed how evolution is possible by sharing the Bella + Canvas story of bringing premium retail-inspired fashion to the wholesale t-shirt and fleece promotional world.
- Promotional Hall of Fame leader Paul Kiewiet, MAS+, discussed the importance of discovering and living your why, and how to be an indispensable part of your client’s team.
- Jeremy Lott, owner and president of SanMar, shared what makes SanMar one of the most reputable suppliers in the industry from supporting communities and customers, to reducing environmental impact and creating positive change.
- Breakout sessions connecting business owners on topics of interest such as women- and minority-owned business owners, young professionals and multi-generational family business owners
“Unite 2021 was fun-filled, informative and extremely helpful,” said Mindy Moss, owner of Moss Marketing, who was inducted into the AIA Hall of Fame at this year’s meeting. “I am very appreciative that I was able to learn from the speakers and meetings. I can’t wait for the AIA Community to all be together again!”
To close the meeting, AIA hosted the YOUNITE Under the Stars Awards Gala recognizing Owners and Suppliers across a variety of categories. Three Owners received the AIA Lifetime Achievement Award, which honors former AIA CEO David Wood, including:
- Peter Kubanyi, Promotional Connection, LLC
- Bruce Steinman, Image Pros
- Tom Bagli, Bluestone Marketing, Inc.
In addition, more than 60 Owners were recognized for sales milestones with awards including:
- AIA Hall of Fame Award - Recognizes individuals who have been a part of AIA for 15 or more years and made significant contributions to the industry.
- Top Five Fast Track Award - Recognizes Owners with the highest increase in sales year over year.
- Multimillion Dollar Summit Award - Recognizes Owners who billed over $2 million in the past calendar year.
- Million Dollar Circle of Excellence - Recognizes Owners who billed between $1- 1,999,999 million in the past calendar year.
- Evolution Award - Recognizes an AIA newcomer who has shown outstanding integration of the AIA core values.
- Peak Performer Award - Recognizes an Owner who had the largest volume of growth and dollar volume of sales in 2020.
AIA also recognized MVP Suppliers with awards including:
Platinum Supplier Awards
- Largest YOY percentage growth - Headwear USA
- Largest YOY dollar growth – aaa innovations
Gold Supplier Awards
- Largest YOY percentage growth – Cloth Promotions Plus
- Largest YOY dollar growth – Logo Included
Silver Supplier Awards
- Largest YOY percentage growth – NUCOM
- Largest YOY dollar growth – Links Unlimited
Workplace Engagement Award
AIA partners with distributors in the promotional products industry and provides them with the professional services they need to run an efficient and profitable business. With AIA, distributors maintain their independence, gain the support of like-minded entrepreneurs and are empowered to Be Boldly You. AIA distributors have access to advanced technology to streamline sales and operations; back office support and order financing; supplier relations; sales coaching and planning; and marketing programs. These business services enable distributors to work smarter, freeing up time and resources to focus on professional and personal goals. For more information, visit www.aiacommunity.com or call 800-460-7836.