2020 Top 50 Distributors: iPROMOTEu is Optimistic for 2021—Here’s Why
Over the last decade, industry talk has turned to extending the value proposition of the supply chain partnership. Companies are no longer categorized as “manufacturers” or “distributorships” (except when it comes to Print+Promo’s respective Top 50 lists); rather, “marketing service providers” has become the preferred descriptor. MSPs are expert communicators who excel at hearing the voice of the customer and responding to that voice. But what happens when organizations slash marketing budgets because of downswings in revenue or the economy? A savvy MSP maximizes adaptability because they know success depends on pivoting quickly and efficiently in the face of disruptive change.
Just look at the distributors, or MSPs, that comprise Print+Promo’s 2020 Top 50 Distributors chart. Before COVID-19 ravaged the world, personal protective equipment (PPE) never had a place in their product lines. Now, it’s a lifeline–and, for some, it has taken them above fiscal year projections. That’s not to say these business leaders have it all figured out. They are humans grieving lost routines, social connections and a sense of security like the rest of us. They lie awake at night worrying about the welfare of their employees.
To provide additional context, we spoke to Ross Silverstein, CEO and president of iPROMOTEu, No. 3 on the list.
How has the COVID-19 climate impacted iPROMOTEu?
Ross Silverstein: Remarkably, iPROMOTEu’s sales have been roughly flat during the pandemic. There are many reasons for this. One reason, though, is that iPROMOTEu provides its independent distributor affiliates with the tools and resources (technology, marketing, financial, accounting and administrative support) to help them succeed—in good times and bad.
How do you motivate and inspire teams to achieve big goals, especially when things feel so heavy right now?
RS: Speak to them—my employees and customers—and keep them apprised of what is happening in the industry and within the company. Be optimistic and enthusiastic. Explain that changing circumstances always create new opportunities. We need to identify these opportunities and then pursue them relentlessly.
What is the biggest professional risk you’ve ever taken?
RS: [It was] leaving a successful career as a corporate attorney and business executive to start iPROMOTEu. I had no experience working in the promotional products industry (but I studied it extensively). When I quit my job to start iPROMOTEu, I had three young children, and my wife was nine months pregnant with our fourth child.
What goal(s) are you most excited for in 2021?
RS: Increasing the number of independent distributor affiliates to be a part of the iPROMOTEu network. During challenging economic times, iPROMOTEu tends to do very well. This, in part, is due to the fact that so many distributors and salespeople realize, during these challenging times, that they need (or at least can benefit from) all the resources that iPROMOTEu provides.
What is the greatest lesson that 2020 has taught you?
RS: You need to be nimble and act quickly when circumstances require it.
How are you decompressing during these unprecedented times?
RS: While times certainly are stressful, there actually is less scheduled—no trade shows, no travel, no business meetings. Work is hard, but not frenetic.
Is there anything you would like to add to give our readers a better sense of your business approach and the industry at large?
RS: “I’d rather be a pirate than join the Navy.” Meaning, I prefer to be aggressive, to push limits and to try new things rather than be the same as everyone else [with] all of us behaving the same way and doing the same things.
View the full 2020 Top 50 Distributors list here.
Click here for stats, trends and analysis from the list.