by Leo Jakobson | February 09, 2017
The push to expand the incentive industry's reach by convincing promotional products sellers to add incentive-quality merchandise award and program support to their offerings got a big push forward today when one of the largest promotional products distributors in the U.S., HALO Branded Solutions, announced that it had purchased a leading motivation and engagement firm, New York-based Michael C. Fina Recognition.

The 50-year-old firm offers customized motivation, recognition, and reward solutions on its Total Vision Recognition platform, as well as global reward fulfillment with merchandise, gift cards, experiential awards, and event tickets. The potential for cross-pollenating customers of Fina and HALO were the key reason for the acquisition, said Marc Simon, HALO's CEO.

"We are thrilled to partner with Michael C. Fina Recognition and utilize their expertise to help our clients offer their employees memorable experiences for their workplace achievements and milestones," Simon said in a statement. "We are confident we can grow both the employee incentive and recognition business, and the promotional business, by leveraging long-standing relationships with many of the top global brands."

That cross-fertilization fits a goal that two leading industry associations, the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA) and Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) have been working on for more than a decade.

"This deal is verification for those in the incentive industry who have become increasingly aware of increased interest by promotional product distributors in leveraging their business connections by expanding into the incentive marketplace ," said Sean Roark, president of the board of directors of the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA) and vice president, incentive programs for Spring, TX-based PromoPros/IncentPros, Inc. "In the last 30 days we have had IMA education presentations at three promotional products industry events, by PPAI and the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI), that attracted well in excess of 500 promotional product distributors. In previous years we'd have been happy to have 20 or 30."

Paul Bellantone, CAE, president and CEO of PPAI, added, "PPAI has long been a strong proponent of strategic opportunities for our members to grow and diversify within the incentives marketplace, as well as for the recognition industry to expand within the promotional products sector. Now, more than ever, buyers are looking to the industry to bring integrated services and solutions to the table."

Since 2009, PPAI has had a special section -- the "brand. showcase" -- dedicated to incentive-quality merchandise awards at its main annual trade show, the PPAI Expo, which takes place in Las Vegas every January. 

Roark, who is the IMA educator who has been presenting the IMA sessions in the last year or so, added, "The depth and sophistication of the questions we've gotten in the last 30 days indicated that they are not just coming and kicking the tires. They are serious about this. And are actively pursuing an interest in expanding their practices to include consulting with their existing client base on incentives."