Reciprocity Road Makes $7,500 Donation to PPEF

Reciprocity Road, an industry collective in its second year, made a $7,500 donation to the Promotional Products Education Foundation at its annual breakfast meeting held during the PPAI EXPO in Las Vegas. PPEF Foundation Manager, Sara Besly and Board Chair, Lori Bauer, were on hand to accept the check and share the stories of students who are improving their future through the industry-based scholarship program. This donation will run through the Reciprocity Road Roadies Scholarship Fund.

This year, PPEF has pledged to provide $200,000 worth of scholarships.
Reciprocity Road provides its members with a forum to exchange ideas, offer creative collaboration and provide support for mutual benefit, progress and business success.
Photo: Reciprocity Road’s Robert Fiveash, Danny Rosin, Toby Zacks, Scott Alterman, Todd Pottebaum, PPEF Foundation Manager Sara Besly, Reciprocity Road’s Brian Haner, PPEFBoard Chair Lori Bauer, Reciprocity Road’s Tom Goos, Eric Granata, Brad Storms and Barbara Brown.

Reciprocity Road Member, Todd Pottebaum, Elected to PPAI Board

PPAI has announced the election of Todd Pottebaum, Reciprocity Road member and President of Quality Resource Group, to the PPAI Board of Directors.

On his campaign Facebook page, Todd wrote,

“I’m incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support that enabled me to earn the PPAI Board Seat and the opportunity to make a difference. I will forever cherish your initial vote of confidence and work diligently to retain it. I’m also grateful to Steve Levschuck and Dan Frailey for running incredible campaigns. These gentlemen deserve the industry’s heartfelt gratitude for their efforts and dedication.”

Todd brings 17 years of experience and influence to the PPAI Board and his fellow Reciprocity Road distributor members look forward to his continued contribution to the promotional products industry.

Reciprocity Road PPEF Scholarship Awarded

We are delighted to announce that the Reciprocity Road “Roadie” PPEF Scholarship has been awarded to Nathaniel Jahns of Milwaukee, WI. Nathaniel’s father, Joel, is a Territory Manager for our good friends at SanMar.

The scholarship will assist Nathaniel in his effort to earn a degree in Industrial Engineering at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. Nathaniel currently works at Mid-States Aluminum Corporation as a summer intern where he is under the mentorship of a Mechanical Process Engineer. Nathaniel wrote in to tell us that this experience along with classes taken at Winnebago Lutheran Academy has confirmed that he belongs in the engineering field. What a fantastic way to begin what we hope will be a fulfilling and successful career! Nathan also writes,

I would like to thank everyone involved once again for this scholarship… My college education will serve as a springboard for the rest of my life, and this scholarship will be an important part of that.

It’s an honor to play such an important part in the development of such promising individuals. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for Nathaniel.

SwervePoint Joins BDA

Reciprocity Road Partner, SwervePoint, based in Boston, has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Seattle based BDA. Reciprocity Road is excited for Jamie and Kevin of SwervePoint and offer our sincere congratulations, although saddened to lose them as Partners in RR. We will be updating our preferred partners network after the deal has closed. Read the press release here.

Badger Graphic Systems Joins Quality Resource Group

This week Reciprocity Road member Quality Resource Group announced that Badger Graphic Systems has joined their family of companies. Fellow Reciprocity Road member and CFO Managing Director at Made to Order, Rod Brown, welcomed the news saying,

“Reciprocity Road is so pleased to see QRG expanding its reach. We are proud and pleased to have QRG as such an important partner on the Road Crew at RR and could not be more thrilled to grow with this exciting expansion of QRG.”

The full press release is below.

Badger Graphic Systems Joins Quality Resource Group

Plymouth, MN (June 1, 2017) – Quality Resource Group (QRG) proudly announces that Badger Graphic Systems of Madison, Wisconsin has joined the QRG family of companies. With the addition of Badger Graphics, a full-service print management and marketing company, QRG sales now exceed $40 million. Financial terms of the transaction were not released.

Todd Pottebaum, QRG President, noted, “Gene Davis has built a remarkable company that’s deeply rooted in core values, process, and the desire to exceed client expectations. We look forward to offering scale and resources to Badger Graphics’ esteemed client base. Our vision for continued growth and building value means the best people on our team offering innovative services and support for our clients. We’re excited to have Badger Graphics become part of the growing QRG brand.”

Badger Graphics CEO, Gene Davis, added, “Our partnership with QRG fuels our ability to drive value while maintaining our client-focused culture. We are excited about the enhanced services we will now be able to provide our clients and team.”

Badger Graphic Systems sales office and manufacturing facility will remain in Madison Wisconsin, and Davis will stay on with QRG in a leadership position.

About QRG
Recently named one of PPB Magazine’s Greatest Companies To Work For in 2017, QRG is ranked among the top 1% of all promotional products distributors and is the 8th largest independent print company in the United States.  Headquartered in the Twin Cities, QRG serves clients nationally and internationally with offices and/or distribution centers in eight cities.  QRG’s passion is empowering brands with trendy lifestyle merchandise, stylish logo apparel, impactful incentives, meaningful recognition, and full service digital & offset printing. QRG is led by the core values of professionalism, perseverance, doing the right thing, caring, and reliability. Recognized for donating time and resources to more than 200 worthwhile causes, QRG believes in giving back to the communities in which its employees live and work.


Reciprocity Road Members Represent in DC

Toby Zacks and Rick Brenner (past CEO of Prime) in front of the Capital Bldg. at L.E.A.D.

Recently, Reciprocity Road Members Tom Goos (Image Source) and Toby Zacks (Zagwear) visited our nation’s capitol to advocate for our industry and small businesses as a part of PPAI’s Legislative Education and Action Day (L.E.A.D.). Tom and Toby along with 78 industry leaders held over 250 meetings with our elected officials or their staff.

When asked about the experience, Toby stated, “This opportunity gave me a renewed commitment to the value our industry brings to the marketplace. I would encourage others to get involved on legislative issues that will protect our industry.”

Discussions focused on three legislative issues that could greatly impact the industry and have a ripple effect on job creation.

  • Border Tax
  • Independent Contractor Status
  • Advertising deductions

Toby continues, “The entire experience was meaningful, fulfilling and time well spent. Not only were we spending time to help causes which affect our industry, but it was also great to meet others from our industry and discuss these matters in person.”

Tom says, “PPAI’s Legislative Education & Action Day (L.E.A.D.) is critical to the future success of our industry. Our elected officials need to hear the impact of promotional products and how effective they are in the marketplace as well as how their legislature decisions effect our businesses.”

View the PPAI L.E.A.D. agenda here.

2016 Annual Update: Our First Year

To our vital partners:


  • DEFINED (AND REDEFINED!) OUR MASTER SERVICES AGREEMENT. No small feat when you are trying to corral several hyper-busy entrepreneurs plus their lawyers and accountants!
  • DETAILED SUPPLIER PARTNER ANALYSIS. Over three years, and across nine diferent distributor companies, we compiled a spreadsheet of over 700 vendors (this reflects only the vendors with whom we spend over $10K a year). The reason for our analysis? Reduce our partner network; increase spending. We are, admittedly, not there yet, but we’re making progress. This analysis helped lay the groundwork for Reciprocity Road. We will soon stand on our feet and celebrate: fewer vendor partners; longer (richer) lifetime values.
  • ESTABLISHED OUR CORE CHARITABLE PARTNERS and, more importantly, plotted our path toward becoming greater supporters of our communities in the future. Reciprocity distributors already give time and money to important causes, but our concerted effort toward a few key charities is something new. It is also the brightest point on the horizon for our future. We started small, but now that we have initiated this journey, our vision is to grow charitable contributions at a significant pace. You will hear more about this in the near future.
  • INTEGRATED QRG AND SWERVEPOINT INTO THE FAMILY OF RECIPROCITY DISTRIBUTORS. QRG’s mid-year integration was an unexpected path on our journey but, thanks to you, our partners, we quickly on-boarded a substantial business associate, projecting year-end sales for Reciprocity at $150MM. The addition of SwervePoint for 2017 is equally substantial, projecting 2017 year-end group sales at $200MM. Our commitment to you is that we will continue to attract only the brightest and boldest distributors in the industry.
  • DETERMINED WHO WE’RE NOT. We will not compromise size nor passion. Distributors have approached us to request inclusion into Reciprocity. For various reasons, some of these distributors were not accepted. This is a direct reflection of our commitment to you: stay relatively small, yet attract significant partners that will maintain the integrity of our agility and strength. But we are passionate about attracting the right kind, if you know of a distributor that fits the spirit of Reciprocity, please let us know.
  • MINIMUM 25% REBATE COMMITMENT: Since the final supplier partner agreements rolled in (most finalized late Q1, 2016) we have been communicating with our sales teams this rock-solid, non-negotiable commitment to return a minimum of 25% of the rebate back towards the sales drivers. This is one of the strongest pillars (returning rebates back to our teams) in the Reciprocity foundation, a deliberate tactic to drive sales with our respective supplier partners.
  • SUPPLIER PRIORITIZATION, SALES CONTESTS, AND INCENTIVES: Some distributors within Reciprocity have already begun sales contests directly benefiting Reciprocity Road suppliers. This is a category we plan on growing and sharing, including possible (shared) group-wide incentives. We have also adjusted our ESP and Sage systems to prioritize results toward our Reciprocity partners. Efforts have been made to curb or eliminate non-Reciprocity partners from our rep meetings, and some have even adopted penalties for non-Reciprocity partner orders.
  • LOOKBOOK, 2016-2017: Creative teams from Reciprocity Distributors, along with many of you (our Reciprocity supplier partners), allied together to produce the first Reciprocity LookBook, released for winter (for 4th and 1st QTR sales opportunities). This elegant catalog was the first merchandising foray from Reciprocity and represents many more merchandising tactics to come.

We’re fond of our road analogies here at Reciprocity but a different analogy that befits our future best is that of a small oak. A sapling. We’ve tilled the soil. Planted. Watered. Our roots are established. We’re young, strong, and nurtured toward growth. With no paid staff, we have spent these past months establishing governance within Reciprocity and within our respective businesses in order to grant priority to you, our partners.

Some of you might not see this reflected in the numbers yet, but you will. Q1, 2017 will be the first time we return rebate funds back to sales reps within our organizations.

Money speaks with a convincing tone. When our reps see that we have reduced the frictional cost of doing business, built a pathway toward compassionate causes, while streamlining rebate funds that directly benefit their future, they will proudly claim our mission: PROFIT. PROGRESS. PURPOSE.

We are excited to turn our first corner and begin our second year. Thank you for your belief in this journey we travel together.


Reciprocity Road Welcomes SwervePoint, Projects $200+ Million in 2017

Houston, TX (December 28, 2016) – SwervePoint, a full-service merchandise agency headquartered in Boston, MA, joins fast-growing collective Reciprocity Road, bringing the group’s projected sales for 2017 to over $200 million.

Nine businesses now comprise the community known as Reciprocity Road, a consortium of distributors who find resonance around shared values in exceptional design, robust technology, creative merchandising, supporting best-in-class sales teams, and contributing back to their communities through shared charitable initiatives.

“We think there’s something really special going on at Reciprocity Road and we’re thrilled to be part of it,” said Kevin Phoenix, Co-Founder and Principal of SwervePoint.

Fellow Co-Founder and Principal Jamie Mair added, “The spirit of collaboration was evident from our initial conversations with the partners, and the genuine enthusiasm for the shared mission is inspiring.”

“This was not a decision either of us took lightly; we spent a lot of time considering SwervePoint, and SwervePoint thoroughly explored the option of partnering with Reciprocity,” said Robert Fiveash, Co-Owner and Co-President of Brand Fuel, Inc. “After an on-site visit and many discussions involving the principal leaders of both organizations, we came to the unanimous conclusion that SwervePoint possesses the right DNA for Reciprocity Road. Moreover, the value and expertise they bring to our collective knowledge propels Reciprocity to even greater heights than imagined.”

Rod Brown, Chief Financial Officer at MadeToOrder, Inc, stated, “The criteria for a Reciprocity Road member involves three key areas: a stellar reputation; proficient, profitable, and creative business practices; and a generous corporate spirit. SwervePoint is an obvious partner for Reciprocity, they exceed our requirements and will clearly help fulfill our obligation to our stakeholders and our supplier partners, guaranteeing the fastest return possible,” Rod continued, “the addition of SwervePoint accelerates that progress. We’re excited about the shared learning ahead of us and the value we can deliver to the entire community.”

Barely a year old, the Reciprocity Road collective now projects over $200 million in revenue for 2017; they will be celebrating their one-year anniversary at the PPAI Expo in January.

About Reciprocity Road

Reciprocity Road is a community of nine distributors projecting over $200 million in sales by 2017. Allies in vision, smart marketing, philanthropy, and purposeful partnerships, they are committed to fostering transparent support and creative collaboration. Each year, the Reciprocity Road distributors select a charity (or charities) as their mission to make an impactful change. The 2016 charities of choice are PPEF (Promotional Products Education Foundation) and CMN (Children’s Miracle Network). To maximize the impact and scalable nucleus of the group, Reciprocity requires a minimum threshold of $5 million in annual sales to join.