Gary Goes to Washington
A few weeks back, PPAI conducted their annual Legislative Education & Action Day or LEAD. Each year, industry professionals travel to Washington D.C. to educate members of Congress about the effectiveness of promotional products and the strength of the industry in the U.S.
Over the course of a day and a half, approximately 80 volunteers held nearly 260 meetings, carrying the message that promotional products work.
I had the privilege of representing the state of Wisconsin and PPAW in this event, conducting (7) meetings with the Wisconsin delegation to discuss the importance of promotional products, and how some pending legislation can affect the livelihood of the people who make their living in our industry. Among the issues discussed were the pending Border Adjustment Tax (BAT), issues affecting the independent contractor status that many sales reps operate under, and the potential effect of a proposed change in the amount companies can deduct in their advertising campaigns.
The meetings I had were received very well, and in looking around the offices, it was easy to see why. In almost every office, there were examples of promotional products throughout. In Congressman Ryan’s office, there were (3) bookcases dedicated to promotional items that he had received from constituents, the same with Senator Tammy Baldwin, and every other office that I was in. With these examples, it was easy to connect the dots and tell our story, of how important the promotional products industry is to the state of Wisconsin.
The impact nationally is measured by:
$ 21 billion in total impact
37,000 promotional companies
510,000 promotional jobs
The impact to Wisconsin is measured by:
$ 1.8 billion in total distributor sales
$ 563 million in supplier sales
674 promotional companies in the state
9,928 promotional jobs in the state
PPAI did a great job of educating and preparing the volunteers with an array of promotional products to show and discuss during these meetings. One of my favorites was the ‘onesie’ for babies, designed to help new mothers remember to always lay newborn babies on their back to minimize the risk of SIDS. This demonstrates that promotional products are more than just a giveaway or an advertising medium, but can help save lives as well.
During my time, I traversed the capitol complex, which consists of (4) office buildings, (2) for House members, and (2) for members of the Senate, and the Capitol itself. Going between the buildings is the Capitol subway, and I found the company store version for the house, showing how promotional products are found all over. Some distributor is doing well with this business.
This was an great experience, and the opportunity to represent Wisconsin and PPAW for this event was special indeed.