2021 Top Suppliers: What We Know So Far
The losses of 2020, which we’ve covered all year, were widespread and deep — both on a human level and from a financial perspective. Management teams had to strike a balance between staying safe and keeping the doors open. And although print, specifically, was deemed an essential business from the pandemic’s onset, many of the verticals it serves quickly learned they were not.
PPE and other COVID-inspired products became lifelines for companies looking to soften revenue pressures. Vaccines gave hope that an economic resurgence would lead to a better 2021. In a way, our hope was realized, but recovery doesn’t happen overnight, as seen with current widespread staffing shortages and supply chain woes. Those who read Print+Promo Marketing’s 2021 State of the Industry Report may also remember this sobering estimate from PRINTING United Alliance: Print industry sales declined between 15% and 18% in 2020. While it was unclear which part of the slope end-buyers would fall on in the predicted K-shaped recovery, our economists foresaw total industry sales increasing 2.5% to 4% in 2021. (Keep in mind that even 4% growth gets the industry only about 20% of the way back to pre-COVID sales).
We now know how these events influenced our expanded 2021 Top 65 Suppliers list — the first under the Print+Promo Marketing brand. According to our data, the Top 65 Suppliers totaled $5.18 billion in 2020 sales. Because this is a newly combined effort, it is not possible to make a direct comparison to last year’s list for this analysis. However, to provide perspective, Print+Promo’s 2020 Top 50 Suppliers produced $2.5 billion, and Promo Marketing’s 2020 Top 50 Suppliers generated $7.5 billion, putting our number right in the middle. We would be remiss not to mention several big names decided against submitting their 2020 financials (more on that later).
Of the top 65 suppliers who reported annual sales this year:
- 18 had revenue increases.
- 45 had revenue decreases.
- Two finished even.
Faithful followers of Print+Promo and Promo Marketing’s respective lists will recognize the names of our top five, just not in the order they’re used to seeing. Billion-dollar-plus supplier alphabroder | Primeline comfortably held onto the No. 1 spot. But with S&S Activewear and Polyconcept North America sitting this one out, Hit Promotional Products Inc. advanced to second place ahead of Print+Promo’s perennial top-ranked supplier Ennis Inc., which appears third on the 2021 list (though first among printers). Koozie Group, formerly known as BIC Graphic North America and new owner of IMAGEN Brands (Crown and Vitronic), placed fourth. On the print side, 4over LLC, which typically holds the No. 2 spot on Print+Promo’s list, did not submit their information, making room for OneTouchPoint in our top five. None of the top five suppliers had revenue increases. Two suppliers in our top 10, Sportsman Cap & Bag (No. 7) and Gemline (No. 8) enjoyed 44.58% and 10% jumps in revenue, respectively.
In addition to S&S Activewear, Polyconcept North America and 4over LLC, other notable entries were missing. For Promo Marketing, that was Next Level Apparel (2020: No. 6); TSC Apparel (2020: No. 9); Sweda Company LLC (2020: No. 12); Showdown Displays (2020: No. 14, and No. 7 on Print+Promo’s list); Cutter & Buck (2020: No. 18); Evans Manufacturing (2020: tied for No. 28); iClick (2020: tied for No. 28); Tri-Mountain (2020: No. 31); Spector & Co. Inc. (2020: No. 32); Delta Apparel (2020: No. 34): AAkron Line (2020: No. 39); Otto International Inc. (2020: No. 41); CPS/Keystone (2020: No. 46); and Tomax USA (2020: No. 48). And even though they don’t typically report, powerhouses like SanMar and Gildan have the revenue to shake up our top 10.
For Print+Promo, it was Zoo Printing (2020: No. 9); New Jersey Business Forms/Hampshire Label, which sold its InfoSeal division to Ennis Inc. earlier this year (2020: No. 19); TLF Graphics Inc. (2020: No. 24); Design Distributors Inc. (2020: No. 25); Data Papers Inc. (2020: No. 29); Luminer Converting Group (2020: No. 37); Labels West Inc., which was sold to Resource Label Group late last year (2020: No. 38); Bradley Graphic Solutions (2020: No. 39); and ASAP Printing (2020: No. 44).
While their absence was felt (collectively, those companies earned $3.1 billion for PM, and $595.9 million for P+P), it created room for BreathIQ and FPS Apparel — the latter of which had 160.98% year-over-year growth. Also, HPG, which ranked No. 7 on Promo Marketing’s 2020 list this year, opted to submit through its individual brands, with six appearing on the list on their own.
We could go on, but why not let the suppliers do the talking?
Download the full 2021 Top Suppliers and Supplier Excellence Awards Resource here.
In this resource, readers will see a detailed analysis of this year’s findings, followed by an expanded (!) Top 65 Suppliers chart, individual product category breakdowns, a Top 20 Fastest-Growing Suppliers chart and company profiles featuring senior executives.
And that’s not all. This resource also includes the full results of the 2021 Supplier Excellence Awards, our 15th annual celebration of the industry’s best supplier companies. This year’s awards feature 135 gold, silver and bronze winners in 44 product categories, as selected by reader vote.
Elise Hacking Carr is editor-in-chief/content director for Print+Promo magazine.