Greg Muzzillo and Paul Bellantone on Trump's Impact on the Industry
Last night (well, this morning), Donald Trump shocked the world and won the 2016 presidential election over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The changing of the presidential guard means a potential shift in the country's economic landscape. So, to get a good look into what this election means for promotional products professionals, we spoke to Paul Bellantone, president and CEO of Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), Irving, Texas; and Greg Muzzillo, founder of Cleveland-based Proforma, to gain a little insight into what you, as promotional products professionals, can expect over the next four years.
Bellantone said that he thinks it is far too soon to make any sweeping generalizations about how Trump's election win will impact the industry.
"It's still too soon to know how the Trump presidency will affect the promotional products industry," Bellantone said. "We'll learn much more over the coming weeks and months, but at least in the short term, we can expect to see typical party-driven changes to the political landscape as political appointments are made at the various federal agencies."
Bellantone added, however, that it's better for members of the industry to pay attention rather than look to predict the future.
"As your nonprofit trade association for the promotional products industry, it is PPAI's responsibility to be vigilant, engaged and quick to respond to developments in Washington, D.C.," he added. "This coming April, we will once again bring a contingent of industry professionals to [Washington], D.C., to hold face-to-face meetings with senators, congressional representatives and their legislative staffs to ensure that they understand the unique challenges faced by our industry and the power of promotional products as an advertising medium."
Muzzillo agreed that it's too early to tell, and was optimistic that any change would not be drastic. However, he noted the possibility of regulatory changes due to Trump's small-government leanings.
"I doubt the promotional product industry will see much of an impact from this election," Muzzillo said. "My hope would be that President-elect Trump's business orientation and distaste for government regulation will stop any further regulations that could negatively impact our industry and small business."
One change that could come about through Trump's presidency is his proposed 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods. Muzzillo said that, if it goes through, it could have a negative impact on the industry. But that, of course, is contingent on whether or not he goes through with it. And, like most things in life, it's a two-sided coin.
"President-elect Trump has said many things that I think may be softened and changed as the reality of being President of the United States sets in," Muzzillo said. "That said, any tariff on Chinese goods could have a short-term, negative impact on pricing in our industry and our overall economy. However, in the long term, if we are able to bring more manufacturing and jobs back to the United States and significantly improve our economy, it could have a very good impact for our industry and most U.S. businesses."
Finally, both Bellantone and Muzzillo said that they hope that, no matter what policies come into place, the country and industry continue to work together for good.
"I think very few people from both parties expected this outcome," Muzzillo said. "That said, it seems to me that we have become a very divided country. Divided by politics, race, religion, nationality, financial status, gender, sexual orientation and more. It is my hope and prayer that President-elect Trump and our leaders can create a path for us all to become more unified, accepting and loving."
"The promotional products industry has been around for more than two centuries—dating back to President George Washington's commemorative election buttons," Bellantone said. "Through one election after another, the promotional products industry has stood the test of time, demonstrating resilience and strength through the success of the thousands of industry companies, as significant contributors to the U.S. economy as employers, and as a highly effective marketing and advertising medium. I have tremendous confidence in our indusry, and particularly the people who power the industry."