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Counselor Senior Editor Michele Bell's slanted view of the world.

Oh, Canada…

Filed under: Editorial, Travel

Hi Everyone!

I just returned from another fabulous PPPC Toronto Show, the association’s annual convention and trade event. As usual, our friends to the North do an amazing job with their show. With informative education sessions, fun special events and an always-well attended show, this event is one that’s consistently good. Though the industry may be small to compared to the U.S. (Canada’s estimated annual sales hover around $3 billion; Promogram announced last week that the U.S. market is on track to report $20 billion in sales for 2008), it is a vibrant and sophisticated market.

For example, there is a lot of multicultural and ethnic diversity in the Canadian market, which adds various and layered perspectives and creativity. Also, just having returned from the PSI Dusseldorf Show, it struck me that the PPPC Show is more like that one — the booths are designed for consultative meetings with distributors, and distributors come into exhibiutors’ booth with specific promotional campaigns for their clients in mind. Also, this is one of the few shows I attend that is always still crowded in the afternoon on the last day of the show — attendees are very loyal to this event.

“This week’s PPPC show and strong attendance was a good indication that distributors are forging ahead with business as usual in what will be a challenging start to the year,” says Marc Giroux, vice president of sales for Spector and Co., one of Canada’s most prominent suppliers. “It was really reassuring to see our customers getting past the ‘gloom and doom’ talk of the economy and sharing their strategies to double their marketing efforts, be even more creative and working hard to provide solutions to meet the needs of budget conscious end-users.”

At PPPC’s “Go for the Gold” Image Awards recognizing the best distributor campaigns and the top three suppliers – as voted on by distributors – in the Canadian marketplace, Leed’s Canada took the top Gold prize, followed by second-place Silver winner Debco and ESP Wholesale garnering the third-place Bronze award.

Toronto itself is one of the great, cosmopolitan metropolitan areas to which I get to travel. Yes, it’s cold, but Philly isn’t exactly balmy this time of year either. I only had one “issue” (if you know me, you know there’s always an issue… ): Despite the fact that it’s only a 90 minute flight from Philly to Toronto, and despite the fact that I have “Preferred” status on USAir, the airline lost my luggage for 24 hours. Consequently, I had to attend PPPC’s “Spring Break” networking event in the jeans and snow boots in which I traveled (again, if you me, being without my fancy clothes and stilettos is like having my vital organs removed with a shrimp fork). And, because I packed my fur coat, I had to walk around in a heavy, long white robe the Hilton graciously lent me — like a wandering patient let loose from the mental facility.  Other than that, however, the trip was a blast — as evidenced by the photos below.

More next week when I talk about a feature I wrote in the upcoming February issue of Counselor, titled “The Fall & Rise of Sweda,” and what went on behind the scenes. Those guys rock!


— M 

(From left): The perpetually chipper Jay Ostrow, ASI’s director of distributor services for Canada, the vivacious Meghan Bogarde, an account rep in ASI’s Distributor Membership department, and D.J. Jungling, from ASI Computer Systems at the Hilton bar in Toronto. D.J. once led a group of funny rummies on an Advantages road show across the border from San Diego into Tijuana for a tequila pilgrimage. Can’t tell you how sorry I am I missed that!
D.J.’s lovely wife Dawn, schmoozing with ASI’s senior vice president Dale Denham. As I’ve said before, at every show, I always spend time with one person who turns out to be a complete revelation to me. On this trip, it was Dale, hand’s down. He tells me that if he were an animal, he’d be an eagle, soaring and majestic. So to him I say, “CA-CAW.” (I incidentally, would be a bear — is there anything more glorious than five months of sleeping?)
Dale and I attended PPPC’s “Spring Break” beach party, which drew quite the crowd and was a blast.
Here are my pals Harry Fotopoulous from Custom HBC Corp. and Melissa Jillett. Mel left the industry last year to pursue another opportunity, but misses the fun and friends in this industry and is dying to come back. I hope she does — we miss her!
Here’s Dale (left), with Michael Woody (third from left) and some friends. Michael is a past recipient of Counselor‘s International Person of the Year award and was at the PPPC show facilitating an education session on the topic of “The Future of Our Industry Structure,” which focused on how technology and globalization are impacting the industry.
Dale “Moondoggie” Denham attempts to hang ten on a mechanical surfboard. If these photos came with soundtrack music, it would be “Wipeout.” ; )
The calypso-style band had everyone dancing… And lest you doubt the level of fun, there was, indeed, a conga line.
Dale, sadist that he is, insisted that I pose in the beach hammock at the party. The only problem? I fell out, wearing a lei no less, with all the grace of a wounded wildebeest. Dale was laughing so hard as he took this photo, he let me lay there like a turtle on my back…
Donald O’Hara, (shown here on the right with Dale), PPPC’s new president, was a gracious host. He is certainly a welcome addition to the association.
One of the many great giveaways PPPC had at their Spring Break beach party was this towel, which Dale hilariously described as “Sham Wow!”
Paul Bellantone, PPAI’s executive vice president, and I in the Hilton bar. Paul, one of my favorite people at PPAI, had just returned from another successful Las Vegas show. He, like myself, is on the traveling show circuit. ; )
ASI senior vice president Dale Denham (second from left) and ASI’s director of distributor services for Canada, Jay Ostrow, selflessly offered to have their photos taken with these two girls, obviously wallflowers in need of warm clothing. Kidding! In fact, these two very cool chicas were Playboy bunnies resting their tails and warming up at the Hilton bar.
I told you that ASI distributor sales rep Meghan Bogarde was vivacious and these photos are evidence of that. Relatively new to ASI, she fits in perfectly with her easy-going nature, fun personality and whip-smart banter. She also, by the way, speaks fluent French… Tres magnifique!
Dale and ASI Canada vice president Fred Oesen, one half (along with his fabulous wife Leslie) of Canada’s bon vivant couple. Freddy is one of my favorites and is definitely a celebutante in the Canadian market. It seems as though everybody in Canada has a “Freddy story” and one is more hilarious than the next. Freddy loves his scotch like I love my Grey Goose… ; )
On Sunday night, I went out with my pals from Counselor Top 40 supplier Sweda. I just wrote a profile on the company for the upcoming February issue of Counselor, so be sure to check it out next week. Here, veteran sales rep Paige Millard (is there anyone who doesn’t know Paige?) and new vice president of sales Suzie Gunsauls enjoy a night out on the Toronto town.
Scott Pearson (left), Sweda’s vice president of product development and the man with the most infectious laugh ever, and Jim Hagan, Sweda’s president. These guys are so awesome, so fun and so genuine, I just think the world of them.
Oh, let me count the ways I adore Jim Hagan, Sweda’s president:
1. A true Irishman, he likes his beer dark and his shots strong.
2. He’s one of those people that the more you spend time with him, the more you like and trust him.
3. He plays hard, but works even harder. He has, as Winston Churchill once said, “all the virtues I like and all the vices I admire…”
4. His team is almost rabidly devoted to him, which speaks volumes to me about what kind of leader — and person — he is.
5. He has seen me at my most rock-star degenerate, and hasn’t fled for cover in a bunker. ; )
Sweda’s Scott Pearson, Jim Hagan and one of my favorite wild chicas, Shauna Feldman, a sales rep with the Quebec-based distributorship Hannah Promotions. Shauna was on Counselor‘s in augural Hot List in the August issue and she lives up to it! Rock on, Girlfriend!
Sweda’s Paige Millard, standing at about 6′ 5″ tall, juxtaposed with the petite, though formidable, Shauna Feldman.
The annual PPPC convention and trade event was well-attended and exhibitors were thrilled with the quality of distributors who came.
Marc Giroux, vice president of sales for Spector and Co., one of Canada’s largest and most respected suppliers, poses in front of their fabulous booth. This booth, more than any other, reminded me of the booths in Europe at the PSI Show — lots of space for clients to come in, sit, and meet with their reps to discuss projects. Spector also gave out Good Humor ice cream to its booth visitors.
Sweda’s trade show manager and industry veteran Paige Millard braved the Toronto snow and freezing temperatures yesterday to pose with a statue of one of his heroes, Winston Churchill. “I ventured out in the snow storm, and this statue was across the street in the park,” Paige says. “My dad is my real hero, but I liked the quote on the statue and am using it throughout my day today to inspire all around me.”