A4 Promotions & Incentives is an iPROMOTEu Affiliated based in Sacramento, California. This third-generation-owned promotional products distributor was founded by Bruce Anderson’s father in the early 1970s. A4 Promotions & Incentives is a leading supplier of promotional products and incentives with a focus to provide one-stop shopping for its customers, including Print and Custom Packaging. A4 Promotions & Incentives endeavors to employ an integrated marketing strategy approach in order to help meet the growing marketing needs of its clients.
A4 Promotions has worked with a lot of different clientele that are big powerhouses, but they’ve really found a niche with fitness clubs and insurance companies over the last couple of years.
Bruce’s family got into the promotional products business in the early 1970s in part because of Joe Coulombe, the owner of Trader Joe’s, who was also just beginning his business at the time. Joe not only helped Bruce’s father begin his business, but the two of them also partnered on creating a two-prong cork puller that was a big hit.
They put a Trader Joe’s logo on it and sold hundreds of thousands of them. Soon after, A4 Promotions started to get calls from wineries, companies like Bank of America, Federal Express, and other big companies asking if they could put their name on their product, too. This led to inquiries from additional wineries as well as other people who were interested in the product. From there, they began to get requests for hats, shirts, and much more.
When Trader Joe’s sold in 1980, A4 Promotions moved their operations to Sacramento to be closer to what was their bigger account base. From there, they’ve grown into a full-service promotional products company.
Searching for a Solution
A4 Promotions was independent up until the recession hit in 2008 and until 2010. At that point, it was obvious that there was a huge consolidation taking place in the industry. “We needed to do something,” said Bruce who has now stepped down to the role of Sales Manager. “It was getting harder to finance receivables and maintain banking credit lines.”
And so they discovered iPROMOTEu as many others had before them. Having had a previous relationship with Cliff Quicksell, MAS+, MASI, who had just begun working with iPROMOTEu, they gave him a call. “We called him and said that we knew he was at iPROMOTEu and that we were interested in hearing about their Affiliate program, what they do, and what the advantages of affiliating are, and so as quickly as the next day, we got a call directly from Ross Silverstein.”
For Brittany Smith and her brother, who took over the company from their father, Bruce, in 2011, the big attraction to iPROMOTEu stemmed from iPROMOTEu’s business model for experienced promotional products companies. “They make things extremely easy for businesses because of their back-end support,” Brittany said.
Having taken over as president of the company, Brittany was looking for an opportunity to really focus on A4 Promotions’ sales while still getting to remain themselves. iPROMOTEu offered just that. “The biggest thing about iPROMOTEu for us is that we get to keep our identity. Many other companies we looked at Affiliating with involved them taking over our business, which isn’t what we were looking for,” Brittany said. “iPROMOTEu just really checked all the boxes for us in that aspect and allowed us to keep it as our family-run business, all while still having the back-end support that we needed.”
The goal was to shift focus back to sales and Affiliating with iPROMOTEu allowed them to do just that. “Once we affiliated, we were able to settle down and get rid of our accounts payable and accounts receivable departments and that really allowed us to just focus on sales which is all we really wanted to do,” Brittany said.
Benefits of Affiliating with iPROMOTEu
When asked what some of the benefits of Affiliating with iPROMOTEu, Brittany said, “There are so many. Their back-office support, accounts receivable, accounts payable, and their marketing services have all been instrumental. Being a third-generation company, we have a lot of knowledge, but we wanted to know how to use that knowledge and take it a step further. Guy Dupuis, MAS, has been a big help in that aspect. We have conference calls with him about every other month, and he will look at our business and tell us how we can grow, which is huge, because sometimes as a business owner you get stuck in the day-to-day work and forget how to think outside the box about how to continue to grow.”
How iPROMOTEu Has Supported A4 Promotions’ Growth & Independence
A4 Promotions is grateful for the support they receive from iPROMOTEu, especially when it comes to their backing when working to land big deals. “We had a large bid with a longtime client for their awards business. We were going up against a few of the large powerhouses of the awards industry and ended up getting a request for a quote. We had Rick Badiner fly in for the presentation, which we prepared with iPROMOTEu’s help. We wanted to emphasize that even though we look small, we are not. Rick was able to help bridge the gap with one of the largest insurance companies in the United States, and it resulted in a nice contract for us,” said Brittany.
“The client said that we were too valuable not to use. They chose us because we’re much more flexible than bigger companies. We’re more nimble, quicker, faster, and more responsive. Rick hopping on a red-eye flight, doing the presentation, and then flying back spoke volumes to how we can partner with iPROMOTEu to make ourselves look bigger as an Affiliate. Telling people that you’re affiliated with a $200-million-plus company is a big benefit.”
For Brittany, it’s important that she’s able to run her business the way she sees fit. “I don’t have someone dictating me in how I want to run my business and how I envision my company growing. It was important for us to keep our identity because that’s who our clients know.”
How A4 Promotions Has Responded to COVID-19
A4 Promotions has been faced with the challenge of client event cancellations and the slowdown of traditional promotional product orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many other iPROMOTEu Affiliates, A4 Promotions had to quickly switch gears to find end-users that were in need of products. “We quickly decided to hop into the personal protective equipment (PPE) supply business, focusing on the part of our account base that would be purchasing these types of products, along with themed COVID-19 promotional products,” said Brittany. “We also focused on stay-at-home promotional products for clients wanting to recognize their new style work force. iPROMOTEu played a pivotal role, with key vendors, especially with the finances to make this new focus happen.”
Bruce has been on iPROMOTEu’s COVID-19-related conference calls with other Affiliates. “I cannot state how well iPROMOTEu has worked to keep Affiliates up-to-date on COVID-19-related vendor sources, talking through various sales strategies, and offering advice on how to stay marketing-focused through this crisis,” Bruce said.
Brittany’s sister and A4 Promotions Vice President, Jennifer Laret, suggested that through this COVID-19 crisis that A4 Promotions should reach out to the local community to assist those that are in need. Jennifer worked with the city government and Interfaith Council and set up A4’s warehouse as a depository for food items, sundries, and hygiene kits for community donations. Many pallets of food items were delivered to the local “Blessing in a Backpack” non-profit organization, for distribution to underprivileged children. Hygiene kits were assembled with the help of volunteers at A4’s warehouse, and delivered to the local school district homeless outreach project for distribution.
Local Sacramento NBC affiliate, KCRA, ran a story on the hygiene project as part of its nightly COVID-19 news update. “Our team all agreed that we should give back to the community through this crisis. It has helped us think outside ourselves, and help in some small way, to alleviate the suffering of others that are less fortunate than us,” Brittany said.
A Successful Affiliation
Both Bruce and Brittany feel that they’ve had a great nine-year relationship with iPROMOTEu thus far and are looking forward to continuing it. Since their affiliation with iPROMOTEu in 2011, A4 Promotions has seen an increase in growth of approximately 140%. They were also named Affiliate of the year in 2018 and were iPROMOTEu’s largest-producing Affiliate in 2019.
“We’ve really taken a look at working smarter, not harder, and because we’ve found this niche within the fitness industry, we’re doing a really hard push in 2020 to continue growing within the industry. We’ve found that there’s this need for assistance there. If we can assist them in any way where they’re not needing to pay a staff member, then we become more valuable to them. It makes them want to continue to come back to us with the fact that they don’t have to coordinate things. They don’t have to think. We do that all for them.”
Now sitting in the president’s chair of a successful Promotional Product Distributor, Brittany reflects on her past. “I never wanted anything to do with the family company when I was younger, but when a sales position opened up, I decided to take the leap and now as I sit here in the president’s chair, it really felt like a 180,” she said.
“When I took over the business, my husband said that everything was going to change and he was right. It has changed, but without iPROMOTEu, I don’t think I could be in the growth that I’m in and also be a mom to an eight-, six-, and two-year-old. I was the mom on the conference call yesterday, but with iPROMOTEu backing me, I was able to make it to my son pitching in his very first baseball game. iPROMOTEu has been important to me because I can still be a mom while also running a successful company at the same time and I don’t think I could do it all without iPROMOTE.”