Education Market: Standing Out in a Growing Industry

Did you know promotional sales in the education market increased 2% from 2015-2016, making it a $5.8 billion industry?

Because of this growth, now is the time to reevaluate school programs and take advantage of the latest tools and products on the market. Understanding the opportunities available can help beat the competition while ensuring that students and faculty remain engaged and devoted to a school’s message. Here’s a snapshot at the market numbers:

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In order to powerfully drive a specific message, color can play a big part in a school’s identity. Almost every school, sports team or organization establishes a color (or color scheme) to represent themselves and create a clear indication of their presence. Whether it’s demonstrated using apparel, bags, hats or accessories, there are endless style options to choose from. Whether a team is known for its bold red, bright yellow or vibrant blue, we have the tools and resources to find the perfect fit.

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Working with American Solutions for Business makes it both easy and fun to build team spirit programs that rock! To learn more, visit our website or click here to search for thousands of unique promotional products.

Family Matters – Bruce & Scott Zweber

American Solutions for Business has always been a family-oriented company with many family teams consisting of parents, children, spouses and siblings. We celebrate every sales team because we know the strength that comes with these dynamics. Families work as a unit and share valuable knowledge to take care of our customers.

Bruce and Scott Zweber are a father/son team out of Burnsville, Minnesota. Bruce has been with American for 24 years and encouraged Scott to join him 4 years ago. Since joining forces, they’ve grown stronger, smarter and more successful together!

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Scott & Bruce Zweber at American’s 2018 National Sales Conference in Las Vegas.

Why you love working with your family:

Bruce: It is a wonderful vehicle to transition the business as I get closer to retirement. It also allows me to phase out of the business at a timetable that suits my wife, Pat, and my needs. Scott & Camille can take on more of the burdens at a pace that fits his needs and lifestyle. It is also fun watching your kids prosper.

Scott: We have a constant support system. After 3 years, we have totally integrated our accounts and it really allows for the two of us to take vacation time without having to constantly be checking in with our client base. The ability to bounce ideas off of each other is great too.

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Bruce & Pat Zweber with children Chris, Lauren, Scott & his wife, Camille

What are some challenges (and how have you overcome them)?

Bruce: There is the father/son relationship that is different than a normal business relationship. It is a process to get to the point where I look at Scott as a business partner from 8:00 to 5:00 on weekdays and a son the other times. This job is the all-encompassing type, which makes it a bit more difficult to shut off business and turn on family.

Scott: We don’t always agree on methods of interacting with clients. Discussing how we should approach each client relationship and keeping an open line of communication is key. We ran into a few issues with this in the first year working together, but have developed a great rapport since.

What is your fondest memory working with your family?

Bruce: Sharing successes is great. It is also gratifying to have Scott come up with ideas that are better than what I’ve been doing for the past 24 years. His systems approach to selling is an absolute must in today’s business environment.

Scott: During my first large client meeting, Bruce came along. We discussed our ACES eCommerce programs and everything was going well. Then, the Vice President of Marketing joined the meeting, and started asking in-depth questions regarding print services. Bruce took over and ended up talking about ‘Old School’ print processes. The two of them really hit it off and they are still an account today!

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The Zwebers: Bruce & Pat, Chris, Lauren and Scott

Why should others consider working with their family?

Bruce: The ability to transition the business allows the fruits of your labors to be passed on to the next generation. It is also a great lifestyle, being your own boss and having that be passed down to your kids.

Scott: We enjoy working with each other at ASB. The best part about working with family is that we communicate on a daily basis. In my previous profession in accounting, it took a lot of effort to work and spend time with my family and friends. It has been a fantastic experience to learn from my father and we get to speak every day.

We’re proud to maintain a company culture that cultivates success and collaboration to support our sales associates and customers. To learn more about American Solutions for Business, visit our website or contact a sales associate near you!

Financial Market: Establishing Your Brand Mascot

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In the financial market, making your brand stand out among the competition can be a challenge. With all the options consumers have today, establishing a clear message and memorable impression is key.

A simple way to do this is to establish a campaign or savings club mascot.

A mascot is as much about getting the crowd engaged as it is creating a memory or experience. Think about those high school days of cheering on the team, led by the oversized animal, fierce character or historical figure.

Even within our own financial solutions team, we have implemented this idea. Using a little stuffed hedgehog as our tradeshow giveaway has been a fun, effective way to approach new customers and create a lasting impression. Follow-up calls and emails became even easier after reminding the recipient that we “were the ones with the little hedgehogs.” With all the booths present at a tradeshow and number of conversations attendees have, it’s likely you could get lost in the shuffle. Creating that memorable moment with someone is key to standing out.

We understand that every financial institution is unique in their needs and strategies to reach their customers and members, and our creative, knowledgeable team is ready to support your branding efforts. Here are some ideas for your next promotion:

Animal Shorties – An assorted group of animals only a couple inches high is perfect for a giveaway or friendly desk item.

elephant shortieAromatic Plush Bear – use all the senses with this soft, aromatherapy plush! Each style is available in Lavender, Jasmine, Cinnamon or Vanilla.
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Temporary Tattoo – this cost-effective promo has awesome staying power and is a fun, unique product to get your brand noticed.

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Rubber Duck – Include this classic mascot in your next promotion! Chances are, it will stay in the customer’s hands (or tub) for a long time!

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Financial Solutions, a division of ASB, is here to serve your specific needs in the financial industry – from money handling supplies to digital strategies of customer acquisition and retention.  Our total program solution can provide 15-30% savings on non-interest expenses like marketing, materials management and distribution, resulting in cost center accountability and overall budget maintenance. Find out more at http://www.ASBFinancialSolutions.com or by calling us at 800.721.7135.

 

American Success – Company Ownership

Employee ownership is something that sets American Solutions for Business apart in our industry. In 2001, our founder & CEO, Larry Zavadil, sold this company to its employees in order to maintain its integrity, traditions and success. To this day, Larry remains at the heart of American as the CEO. For our hundreds of employees and sales associates who benefit, this ownership means many things.

Lynne Shillinglaw.jpgName: Lynne Shillinglaw
Location: Charlotte, NC
Joined: 2014

Why you love American: The support I receive from the home office allows me to focus on and run my own business. I’m also seeing a lot of new opportunities for growth with vertical markets, and the support there is encouraging.

What employee ownership means to you: It gives me the freedom to enjoy business success based on my plan!

Brady JohnsonName: Brady Johnson
Location: Glenwood, MN
Joined: 2016

Why you love American: The best part about American is the culture and team atmosphere. Everyone is willing to help out and work together to accomplish our goal.

What employee ownership means to you: Employee ownership is all about empowering each individual employee. We all have a say and we all have a voice.

Melissa AndersonName: Melissa Anderson
Location: San Diego, CA
Joined: 2016

Why you love American: American gives me the freedom to service my clients the way I want to. Great people work here!

What employee ownership means to you: Employee ownership helps provide security for my family and creates a sense of community within our company.

Click here to learn more about American Solutions for Business!

ASB Associate Awarded for Exceptional Service

American Solutions for Business Sales Associate, Jay Lewis, was recently honored with an award from his customer, Turn It Gold, for his dedicated service to them over the years. Jay’s customer, Michelle Payne, Director of Marketing for the organization that works to raise awareness and funds for research for childhood cancer, helped to present this award.

Jay Lewis Bold 2Since its early stages, Jay has provided them with products and services to help publicize their brand message across the nation to fund research. He began providing tshirts, flags, patches and wristbands for the organization, and since then has introduced custom awards. The award design was very important to the Turn It Gold organization. The “Bravery Medals, Crystal Brave Life Honors and Bold Awards ” are special awards that Jay and Michelle designed together. The design phase and wording were so critical, as these awards would be handed out to such precious children. These Bravery Medals, designed to look like olympic gold medals, are awarded to children who have fought hard against cancer. The Crystal Life Honors are given to families who have a child that have lost their battle with cancer and the Bold awards are given to individuals or organizations that have been Bold in their dedication in the fight against childhood cancer.

Jay Lewis Bold 3.jpgJay has hand delivered every medal and Bold Award to an engraver and back in the hands of Turn it Gold to present to these precious children and their families all over the nation. For the last 3 years, The Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University Storytelling Institute has been filming a documentary by following the journey of Turn It Gold as they work to turn the nation gold for childhood cancer. At the Houston debut for this film, it was only fitting that Michelle surprised Jay with a Bold Award of his own, the very ones he had helped to design and engrave for so many others over the years. The same evening, Jay got to witness one of the Bravery Medals that he engraved being put around the neck of a young leukemia survivor, while surrounded by his family on stage.

Cancer Survivors exchanging bravery medal2.jpg“Even in a pinch, Jay has always come through for us,” says Michelle. “On a 48-hour turn, Jay is on it. He’s been phenomenal to work with. Jay truly cares about our cause and always does the right thing. He is a remarkable man of faith, honor and integrity. Even through the tragedies and health issues in his own family, he has never stopped supporting us and we wanted him to know how grateful we are for his dedicated service to our cause!”

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Turn It Gold co-founders Mike & Angela Dina, parents of a neuroblastoma survivor, along with Michelle Payne congratulates Jay on his dedication.

To learn more about American Solutions for Business and the services we offer, visit our website or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram.

American Gives Back to Local School

As many may know, the headquarters of American Solutions for Business is located in a small, laketown community. Naturally, as one of the largest employers in this little community, we strive to always give back to area organizations and schools.

When it was time for our offices to update our computer monitors, we took the opportunity to donate them rather than resell. As a result, we donated 50 monitors to Minnewaska Area High School to help complete their new Applied Technology Computer Lab. This year, the school purchased 25 new computers to run a new Solidworks (CAD) program to support student design and graphics for the metals and wood shop areas.

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American’s IT team helped Principal Cory Larson load 50 monitors into his truck for transportation to the school. Pictured: Nick Drever, Cory Larson, Nate Disrud, Dean Schwendeman and Mike Pfeiffer

“Our goal is to increase programming and student interest within our Applied Technology Areas,” explained Cory Larson, principal of MAHS. “This started a few years ago with regular monthly meetings talking about how we can improve our facility and programming to grow programming in our metals and woods (Vocational) areas. In addition, we are looking for growing all applied tech areas/electives including medical, agriculture, culinary, woods and more.”

This past year, MAHS supported $30,000 worth of facility improvements and another $20,000 to support new equipment through a tech levy through the State of MN. An additional $20,000 has been raised thus far from area business and industry to support new and updated equipment.

“We’re fortunate to have area communities care about growing these programs and see a benefit to their own organizations as well if we can raise student interest and keep them here following graduation,” said Larson.

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Principal Cory Larson with the donated computer monitors

Many of our employees or their children have attended Minnewaska Area High School and are deeply active in the academics, sports and extracurricular activities facilitated there. “American Solutions for Business is incredibly proud to partner with MAHS to positively impact our community,” adds founder and CEO, Larry Zavadil. “We owe so much to our local school system and will do everything we can to keep it thriving.”

To learn more about American Solutions for Business, click HERE to visit our website.

A Zavadil History – Larry’s Visit to Eastern Europe

To anyone who’s familiar with American Solutions for Business Founder and CEO, Larry Zavadil, it’s clear that his company was based on American values like hard work, equality and honesty – he even named his company after it! Patriotism was top-of-mind at its foundation and remains an integral part of our company’s makeup.

What many people don’t know is the story of the Zavadils before the family ever stepped foot on American soil. Larry was born and raised in the United States, but fondly remembers growing up in the Czech (Bohemian) community near Lake Reno, MN where generations of his family shared stories and traditions of their roots. He (and his sister, Tammy Stottler, who is an American sales associate) are 4th generation Zavadil decedents in the Central Minnesota area.

Larry recently spent some time in Europe exploring the culture and landscape his ancestors called home. Larry, along with his wife, Diane, and her sister and brother-in-law (Kathy & Tom Kretschmer) took a cruise tour, stopping at many ports before venturing to the Czech Republic.

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Stopping in places like Bucharest, Russe, Vidin, Belgrade, Vukovar, Kalocsa and Budapest, their party toured museums, old fortresses, churches, the Serbian Opera and more. One of their first stops was in Belgrade, Serbia, where they toured the Saint Sava Temple (pictured below).

Fun Fact: “Zavadil” is derived from the name “Sava” – The translation from Serbian to Czech changed from an “S” to a “Z”.

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One of their favorite places they visited was in Budapest, where they rode the “Funicular” cable car (pictured below) to see the Buda mountains and across the river to Pest side.

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Their last stop in Prague was fruitful as they explored Prague’s Old Town and other hot spots. Larry felt a special connection to the St. John Nepomuk statue on the St. Charles Bridge. Nepomuk is the patron saint of the Lake Reno Catholic Church where he was baptized, confirmed and served as an alter boy. Below the statue, visitors can choose to rub the right side and make a wish or rub the left side as a promise to return to Prague.

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Fun Fact: while in the Czech Republic, a local told them that “Zavadil” roughly means “to brush up against something”. According to Ancestry.com, the Czech word “zavadit” means “to touch”.

Larry is already planning a return trip for next year and hopes to see and learn even more about the cities and areas where his great-great-great grandparents and family made their living. Until then, enjoy these snapshots of his adventures:

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To learn more about American Solutions for Business, click HERE to visit our website. Find out how American’s company culture, structure and support teams can help you live your American Dream!