Facilisgroup’s REBOUND-20 Reveals Key Themes for Managing Through Uncertainty
The rapid spread of COVID-19 triggered many event cancellations that adversely affected the promotional products industry, and Facilisgroup’s annual Partner Summit and Supplier Showcase, previously scheduled to take place this week in Nashville, Tenn., was no exception. The decision was made to postpone the event.
With no “how-to” manual on working through a pandemic, Facilisgroup was left trying to find a solution to the question, “How do we build and strengthen our community, an integral part of who we are as a company, if we can’t be together?”
Fast-forward a couple weeks, and the concept for REBOUND-20 was taking shape at Facilisgroup. The event, spurred by a virtual town hall featuring Jeremy Lott, president of SanMar, and CJ Schmidt, president of Hit Promotional Products, that was already on the calendar, expanded to a four-week-long virtual event with daily virtual sessions hosted by both industry leaders and members of Facilisgroup’s leadership team.
REBOUND-20 centered on bringing Facilisgroup’s partner community together to discuss managing through the uncertainty, identifying new opportunities and developing short-term and long-term roadmaps for success.
Some of the key takeaways heard throughout REBOUND-20 include:
Potentially the overarching theme of the entire series, innovation has been the topic of conversation at many promotional product companies over the past few months. Lott shared that his company holds an annual State of SanMar meeting with a different theme each year. This year’s theme, in the wake of COVID-19, is “In times of crisis, average companies fail, good ones survive and great ones transform.”
Quality over Quantity
Moving forward, product quality and safety will be at the top of consumers’ lists. With regard to the jump to selling PPE, quality is absolutely essential.
“PPE sis not the same as a stress ball,” said Jonathan Isaacson, chairman and CEO of The Gem Group. “If a stress ball goes bad, the risks are relatively low. If you have a problem with PPE, the risks are much more consequential.”
As for other more traditional promotional products, such as pens, antimicrobial properties, single-use products and individual packaging will be the wave of the future.
Rich Berg, vice president of new business development at Facilisgroup, sums up the new normal as a “reset of priorities, personally and professionally for everyone,” and highlights the importance of taking into consideration all of the changes your customers have gone through lately, as well as the changes their customers have gone through and how that impacts your client’s business.
Chuck Fandos, chief strategy officer for the Pebble Group, highlighted culture and communication as part of the business plan he delivered. He emphasized the importance of looking at your company culture from several different standpoints and asking others, including employees and clients, how they view your culture.
“Culture is not your beliefs, it’s your actions,” said Matthew Lamb, executive vice president of development for Facilisgroup. “It’s a shared set of behaviors. It’s what people do when nobody is watching.”
During his interview, Paul Bellantone, president and CEO of PPAI, pointed out the distinction between what we call “social distancing” and what we’re actually practicing as as society. He added on the importance of maintaining connections and shared experiences.
“We’re talking about physical distancing as it relates to keeping people separate, safe and healthy,” he said. “But how do we still drive social engagement in that environment?”
Fandom dove further into the importance of personal touches, recommending creative, proactive plans for clients and their future products; keeping open communication via mail or packages sent to a home address; and not assuming that communication and ordering will go back to normal any time soon.
Schmidt talked about their venture into KN95 masks and the hoops Hit has had to jump through to get products from China, even from their heavily-vetted manufacturers, including U.S. and Chinese packaging regulations, FDA and CDC regulations and transportation hang-ups as a result of the ongoing trade war.
“This was such a productive use of my time,” Nicole Delatinsky of Shippam and Associates said. “I created a reading list and action list from what I learned in the REBOUND-20 sessions. [It was a] great way to increase morale and provide insight into the industry.”
Facilisgroup had participants from 85 percent of its partners join, with 575 total registrants.
The next Partner Summit and Supplier Showcase is scheduled for June 14-17, 2021.
For more information on Facilisgroup, visit www.facilisgroup.com.