Interview with Jason Black, CEO of Top Distributor Boundless Network
Every year for our Top Distributors feature (out now!), I interview a handful of presidents and CEOs from the top-earning companies. It's one of my favorite parts of my job. I guess I shouldn't be surprised given the subjects' statures, but I'm still always amazed at how interesting and insightful these executives are in their interviews. Their personal anecdotes, how they perceive the industry and business overall, and what they credit their success to, it's all so fascinating to me.
Unfortunately, print space in the magazine is finite and I can never print all the interviews I want. Interviews get shortened so they'll fit on the page, or sometimes dropped entirely. This year, my interview with Jason Black, CEO of Boundless Network (#19 on this year's list), was cut from print due to space, which is a shame since he's routinely one of my favorite interviews every year.
My entire interview with Black is reproduced below.
Promo Marketing: How did you get your start in the promotional industry?
Jason Black: My early mentor, Frank Krasovec, who was the Founder of Norwood.
PM: What changes do you see in the near future for the promotional industry, and what impact do you see them having?
JB: This industry is long overdue for change—and potentially a complete transformation—within 10 years. As for the immediate changes within the next 24 months, I see the following: 1) Technology playing a larger role in the customer/buyer experience (millennial buyers want more than a pretty face) and 2) Successful B-to-C players that have built a successful business in an ancillary industries will start to "dip their toe" into the $20B promotional space. Their mindset: "The promo industry is completely fragmented (and dominated by mom-pops ) ... we can take market share."
The impact will be similar to transformation in the travel agent business in the early 2000s. My belief is: 1) Traditional mom-pop distributors with no strong technology backbone will continue to lose market share (and eventually be limited to boutique merchandise needs) 2) Outsiders that have expertise in both the B-to-C space and business process will drive a new consumer experience that will be more consumable than the offline mom/pop services and 3) A player like Alibaba could come in and displace the supplier network which would have major negative implications to the distributors core service.