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Standing In The Clouds

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From Counselor Senior Writer Dave Vagnoni, our guest blogger who’s reporting from the land of China …

Just got back a little while ago from a VERY late dinner where I visited with distributors from four different continents. The table conversation was direct and engaging. It’s true that a salesperson in Brazil faces different challenges than a salesperson in Japan, but the bottom line is they’re both still trying to do one thing – convince clients and prospects that promotional products are a great way to advertise.

Certainly, selling direct was a topic of heated discussion at dinner. Here’s my simple take on a complex subject. Hey, we know some distributors bypass suppliers. We also know some suppliers cut out the distributor and sell to end-users. This is reality. It’s not going to change. The companies that display the most integrity are the ones that have the most staying power in the industry. Margins might be trimmed sometimes, but there is money to be made through ad specialties. If you’re not making it, your competitor will.    

Now, onto the rest of my day. It started with a breakfast meeting with Gene Geiger and Jo-an Lantz. I interviewed Jo-an on camera to get a domestic distributor’s take on the role of China in the industry. You’ll be able to hear Jo-an’s thoughts in a video to be posted in a few months. Gene, as always, also had some sharp insight, too. His comments will be included in my Counselor feature later this year.

I also had the chance to spend time today with Philippe Varnier of Polyconcept and Trevor Gnesin of Logomark. I asked them what country could eventually emerge as the next China. Philippe said it could be India. Trevor said it could be North Korea. After our respective interviews, as a parting gift, Philippe gave me a pen. Trevor, meanwhile, offered me gifts – as only he can – that can’t be written about in a blog. If you know Trevor, you can understand what I’m talking about. If you don’t, he’ll be at the ASI Show in San Diego. Be sure to say Hi.

Also today, on the advice of ASI’s Ron Ball, I journeyed to one of the top tourist spots in all of Hong Kong – Victoria Peak. The site attracts seven million visitors every year and is home to private residences and four signature restaurants. The view itself today was incredible, although much different than the scene you often see on postcards. Today was rainy, dreary and foggy here. Being up so high (nearly 2,000 ft. above the harbor), it’s as if I were standing in the clouds. Literally, it was like being surrounded by blankness.

ASI Publisher Rich Fairfield (who came along) and I couldn’t even see the water from the highest overlook at the peak. We certainly couldn’t see the stunning city skyline. Hong Kong was basically invisible. Our enthusiastic cab driver kept urging us to come back on Sunday when the weather is predicted to be nicer, even though we mentioned at least four times that we’re leaving Hong Kong on Saturday. It’s all the more reason for me to make a return visit here someday.

Before I sign off for the week, I want to thank everyone that helped me along the way, especially Danielle and Randee from Dard. What great people! They’re down-to-earth, hard-working, sincere and very patient. I hope you’ve enjoyed the blog. I’m sure I’ll write a few entries again sometime in the future…from wherever I am. Please keep in touch. Zai Jian!

-Dave

Hong Kong's Victoria Harbour
Danielle and Randee helped this group of children with a school project this morning.
Easter Eggs in Hong Kong China
Here I am with one of the supplier mascots at the Hong Kong Gift Fair.
Shower in Hong Kong
I enjoyed dinner with distributors from all over the world.
Shower in Hong Kong
My treat to myself after a busy week in Hong Kong.
   

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