View Full Version : Promotional items

tony mazzone
12-08-2013, 10:31 PM
Hi all,

I have been working with a local promotional products company for about 6 months now. They have a product line of wood, glass and stainless steel products that I engrave their customer's logos. They drop off and pick of the items every week as they get orders.
My question is do most promotional product companies engrave their own products or do they farm them out to guys like us. I wouldn't mind hooking up with a few more of these companies if I could.


Mark Sipes
12-09-2013, 12:26 AM
In my area it is hit and miss. I do some knives for one company and some sublimation for another. For short runs it is cheaper to farm out the work. Most ASI and SAGE distributors purchase their items from a catalog which are shipped from companies set up to pad print and laser large numbers of common images. We make out in the custom short run.

Mike Null
12-09-2013, 8:00 AM
It varies widely but generally most promo items are marked by the distributor. When you get involved with lower volume or unique items then the marketing company will look for local assistance in marking. I've been marking lids for cookware sets for several years for a promo products marketing company.

I recently did custom wooden boxes for another and will be doing some knives this week.

David Somers
12-09-2013, 4:26 PM

Just a thought about sources for Promo companies in your area.....do you have a good sized county or state fair relatively nearby? The people in the fair operation might be able to share the names of the companies who do the booths in their consumer/products tents. That would be a large source for companies that might be interested in this type of thing, or who might also want to develop and make a certain amount of "swag" for the fairs and other venues they do. It will be a mix of national and local vendors with a lot of names to choose from. Assuming of course the fair operators are willing to share that kind of detail. Alternatively, you could ask them for their tent layouts or map of the most recent fair and that will have the names of the vendors on it as well. No addresses, but that would be a way to get around any reluctance they have to release names and contact phone numbers.

Good luck!


Mike Null
12-09-2013, 5:49 PM
If you happen to be in a medium or large metro area these people will have their own trade show and they would love to have you attend. Be forewarned--nobody floods you with spam like the promotional products industry.

Richard Rumancik
12-10-2013, 11:50 AM
Tony, in my experience, it is hard to get lucrative work in that area. You are lucky to get the current job. What you will find is that the large distributors have glossy catalogs with prices or marked ware (the pricing is coded for the consumer, so they don't know the wholesale pricing, or else there is a separate price list).

So the "average" (business) customer goes to a rep who takes the order; in turn the order for marked merchandise is placed and delivered. No hassle for the local rep.

Now if the local rep needs to do something very unique for a customer, the rep may go to a local shop like yours, but it is a lot more trouble for them. You might get the jobs that the rep/distributor don't really want as volume is too small or labour to pack/unpack too large.

That is not to say there are not some good opportunities for promotional products, but you really have to dig to find them. If you are willing to go to PP reps in your area and tell them you will do "specials" on a quick-turn basis, they might give you a call when they are in trouble. But you have to decide if you want to go after small quantity, rush jobs.

I went to one PP rep some years ago - they were so excited someone local could supply laser engraving to them - but after a few visits I never did get an order from them.

The main thing that I have done is Cermark on stainless knives. The volume is high enough that it can be a good opportunity. I have marked BBQ sets some years ago but the labour to unpack, mark, and repack was just too onerous to make it work financially.

Mike Null
12-10-2013, 11:58 AM
I am in agreement with most of what Richard says. I have been lucky to have a handful or promotional reps contact me for unique marking jobs that they couldn't get done elsewhere. In the case of the cermark pan lid job it produces several thousand dollars a year but I ran into this point of Richard's
I have marked BBQ sets some years ago but the labour to unpack, mark, and repack was just too onerous to make it work financially. I turned down the job unless they would unpack the cookware sets and ship only the lids to me. My customer is a fairly high volume operation and has his own distribution center so he handled my request.

I do get many calls from PPI salesmen but they are unwilling to pay the prices I quote.