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PPAI Restructures Membership Categories

By Jun 22, 2005

The Promotional Products Association International has changed its membership categories to no longer permit international suppliers to exhibit at its trade shows unless they have a physical presence in the U.S., Canada or Mexico, among other changes

The change is one of a number recommended by the PPAI Membership Composition & Structure Task Force with input from the Asian Manufacturing Influence Task Force, a committee specifically created to look at the issue of how to handle increasing competitive pressure from Asia manufacturers who are working to make inroads into the American promotional products market by bypassing suppliers and selling directly to distributors or end buyers.

“The task force believed, and the board concurred, that a physical North American presence would best support the supplier/distributor distribution channel and provide consistent, high-level service to both supplier and distributor members of the association,” PPAI said in response to questions sent via e-mail.

PPAI said that the task force was comprised of distributors, suppliers and a supplier representative who, in making its recommendations to the board, considered their own experiences and opinions as well as the findings of the Asian task force and the responses to a survey sent to 6,000 suppliers and distributors.

Under the changes, which were approved by the PPAI board of directors in May, PPAI supplier and distributor members are defined as only those companies that have a North American presence. The international membership category for companies based outside the U.S., has been divided into two categories— supplier and international distributor. Companies located in Canada and Mexico can choose between the U.S.-based or international classifications.

As part of the new mandate, only supplier members with a North American presence will be permitted to exhibit at PPAI tradeshows, advertise in PPAI publications or rent PPAI lists. The changes will eliminate less than 10 international suppliers that had been exhibiting at PPAI trade shows, PPAI said. PPAI holds it annual trade show each year in January and draws about 1,800 supplier exhibitors.

Many American suppliers have been vocal in their concerns about increased competitive pressure from international manufacturers.

“While the concerns of suppliers and distribution were on the table, there was a larger mandate to provide clarity and consistency between how the global industry goes to market and how that aligns within PPAI’s strategies, goals and member-owners wishes,” PPAI said.

PPAI said the task force, in addition to the member survey, looked at the membership models of other international associations including PPA Canada, the Australasian Promotional Products Association and PROMOTA in Great Britain.

The changes take place immediately but will not be fully implemented until January 2006.