A Family Tradition: The DePrees

Although Mike DePree of Moorhead, Minnesota, officially began his sales career with American in 1996, the roots of his involvement go back to 1982 when American Business Forms (now American Solutions for Business) was only a year old.

Mike’s dad, Dusty DePree, worked in the printing industry and eventually formed his own business that he called Mikim Business Forms, named after his children, Mike and Kim. As time went on, Dusty grew to have great respect for a certain industry competitor – Larry Zavadil. In 1982, Dusty joined Larry’s company, American Business Forms, and maintained a profitable sales territory and was eventually named Vice President. He functioned as a conference planner, vendor relations coordinator, was an outspoken supporter of the American Dream and a major contributor to what American is today. He died after a courageous fight against cancer. Dusty was inducted as the first member of American’s Hall of Fame after his death in 1999.

Mike remembers first hearing about American one afternoon when his dad picked him up from school and announced that he had taken a job with a new company. Also in the car that day was Gary Skordahl from Willmar, Minnesota, another new recruit on Larry’s team.

During the early days with American, Mike helped his dad with some basic tasks, the first being data entry for the first four salesmen of the company – Larry Zavadil, Gary Skordahl, Dan McAnally and his dad, Dusty. “We had the very first company computer sitting on our dining room table in Moorhead – not Glenwood,” said Mike. “I would input forms management data from physical inventory provided.” New duties were added to Mike’s ‘job description’ and he began delivering stock tab computer forms for his dad out of their garage and from the first American warehouse in Glenwood.

At the age of 16, Mike became a pilot and two years later began flying his dad and Larry all over the country. As the company grew, Mike came to know all 20 of American’s sales associates and became familiar with a number of vendors after flying associates to the first conference and vendor show.  Mike had his first taste of being a sales associate while he was in college but after joining the Air National Guard, his focus changed. In the mid-nineties, when he finished his pilot training, he began calling on clients. At the same time, Mike was considering a career as a commercial airline pilot but his dad encouraged him to join the family business as an American Associate.

Mike currently serves clients from his home office. He and his wife, Jodi, who joined in 2012, share all accounts and collaborate on all business. The healthcare industry had been a focus for Mike and Jodi but with the evolution to electronic medical records, they’ve seen a decline in that area. Mike and Jodi’s book of business is now quite diverse and they are always looking to acquire new accounts and existing business from associates who are transitioning to retirement. The couple has three young daughters who keep them on their toes as well.

Because Dusty was an innovator and always stepped up to help find new and unique solutions for clients, he probably wouldn’t be surprised to see how American Solutions for Business has evolved in the past 18 years. Mike learned a lot from his dad, but perhaps the most important characteristic Dusty instilled in Mike was a strong work ethic. Along with that, Mike acknowledges that he was fortunate to have learned his organization skills from his mom, Becky, who was also involved in sales at American.  Mike’s sister, Kim Mahli, is another in the line of DePree sales associates who are part of our rich history. Kim operates her business out of her home in Fargo, North Dakota, having joined ASB in 2009.

The hard work and dedication of DePree family helped build the foundation of this great company. Their involvement ensured that future associates will be able to find a place where living their American Dream can become a reality.

To learn more about American Solutions for Business, Click Here.


American Solutions for Business – We’re Owners!

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American Solutions for Business continues to celebrate our 100% employee ownership structure. Here are three more employee-owners who are achieving their goals with the freedom that ownership provides!

Greg Guyette – I have been an employee-owner at American Solutions for Business for three years. Having the independence and autonomy afforded to the American team, and yet the support of literally hundreds of owners around me, allows me to focus my book of business on the types of projects where I can add the greatest value for my clients, and to call on my co-owner/employees to step-in and help out where their expertise is stronger than mine. We are all pulling in the same direction, with a common goal of delivering the smartest solutions to our clients in a manner that is profitable for ourselves and for our business. I spent twenty years in corporate America, working with thought leaders in my industry. And while that was a great training ground for me, it did not afford me the freedom to run my business, my way.  We were part of a larger machine and often lacked the context of how our contributions were fueling the bigger engine. At American, every contribution is meaningful, and we see the immediate gratification of our hard work every day.

Cathy Armando – After teaching and working with children for nearly 15 years, I was strongly encouraged by Sarah to join American 5 years ago and I could not be happier.  To me, employee ownership means that I can make the decisions that are needed to grow my business and take things to the next level. It gives me the motivation to be 100% invested in the company and the ability to have a say in the direction ASB moves into in the future. As an employee owner with American I am in an position where I am able to exchange expertise with other like-minded employee owners that are just as invested in this company. It truly is an amazing thing to be “Powered by American”!

Sarah Thomas – I have been with American for nearly 12 years!  Starting my career as a sales support assistant and moving my way around and through ASB has been an awesome experience.  I have loved getting to know so many of our sales associates around the country and I really enjoy seeing how everyone runs their businesses, who they sell to, how they sell etc.  Working for American and embracing employee ownership gives us the ability to really create our own destiny but we aren’t on our own.  Through regular meetings over the course of the year and other communication channels, we are able to lean on our colleagues around the country to help us make the right decisions to move our business forward.

Click HERE to learn more about American Solutions for Business!

“I’m An Owner” – Celebrating Employee Ownership!

Chip Brady
I’ve been a part of American for a little over 5 years.  In my career, I’ve worked for publicly-held companies and those owned by private equity firms. Being a part of an employee-owned company is a complete game-change. Not only do I feel a deeper stake in my client relationships, it’s also great to know that the Home Office staff I work with have a truly vested interest in customer satisfaction. There’s nothing like it!

Jan Barrett
Almost every day I wake up and say to my husband, “I love my job!” Hi, I’m Jan Barrett and I’ve been a sales rep with American for 10 years. I came to ASB with a sales background, but most recently had been a stay-at-home mom for 13 years. American was a perfect fit for me! This job provided the flexibility to be my own boss and develop my book of business at a convenient pace. I get to work with businesses I love and customers have become good friends. The support team at the home office is superb and frees me to do what I do best – sell. They have come along on sales calls to present large RFPs and always do an impressive job. And I love the family culture at ASB – from personal notes from Larry for large orders to the camaraderie between the sales reps who provide great ideas and help find products that are difficult to locate.  I love this company and am proud to be an American sales rep!

Mike Pasqual
Hi, I’m Mike. I’ve been with American for a little over 2 years now. After 27 years working with majors in the industry, I’ve found American to represent by far the best opportunity for career sales reps like myself. Offering support in all aspects of the business, yet independence, allows you to choose how you manage and grow your business. The culture within employee ownership is very refreshing as well. Everyone genuinely cares…about everything! Business, family and more. I’m very happy and proud to be part of the American Team!20171012_104219.jpg

If you’re interested in joining the American team, CLICK HERE or contact an American Sales Associate near you to learn more about American Solutions for Business!

Breaking News: American Now Offering The North Face Apparel!

2018_TNF_ZOOM-8American Solutions for Business will now offer popular brand North Face as part of our apparel selection! Choose from several styles, colors and fits for a high-end, quality look. Not only does The North Face offer some of the best technology in thermal wear, but the retail name will enhance your organization’s branding and ROI.

The North Face was founded in 1966 by two San Francisco hiking enthusiasts. Since then, it has evolved into a worldwide brand that still represents a passion for exploration, quality and environmental responsibility. Key markets include:

-climbers, hikers & mountaineers
-skiers & snowboarders
-professional athletes & sporting organizations
-college students/education
-outdoor enthusiasts

Here are just a few of our new favorite styles: 2018_TNF_ZOOM-52018_TNF_ZOOM-6



CLICK HERE to see our full The North Face offering and contact your American Sales Associate and incorporate this stylish line into your branding!
To find a rep near you, CLICK HERE! 

Kim Hamlin Appointed to UMAPP Board of Directors

American Solutions for Business is excited to announce that our sales associate, Kim Hamlin, has been appointed to the UMAPP (Upper Midwest Association of Promotional Products) board!
As the Distributor Director, her role is to serve as the voice for the distributor members. She will help lead UMAPP to better support its distributor members, engage more young professionals, elevate organization events and connect distributors and suppliers for the overall growth of our industry. Kim’s biggest time commitment will be serving as Co-Chair for the May 2018 UMAPP Fire & Ice Tradeshow, which will be held at US Bank Stadium (just 3 months after the SuperBowl).

“I’m excited to give back to a great organization, full of industry leaders, that mentored me into the industry I love.” -Hamlin

Kim started her career in promotional products 3 years ago after working 9 years as an event planner for the University of Minnesota. She started on the supplier side of our industry in a national/key account management role, and learned how suppliers can better serve their distributor clients. Since moving to the distributor side this summer, one of her main goals is to help attract younger talent to the promotional products industry as a whole.

We are so proud to have such an active sales force dedicated to improving the quality and growth of our industry. Click Here to learn more about UMAPP or visit our company homepage for more information about American!

Fall 2017 Luggage Trends – Sleek, compact and practical

The KAPSTON™ Pierce 19″ Foldable Carry On is an exclusive design featuring two tone polyester, plenty of space, and durable, elegant functionality. Best of all, storing your luggage is not an issue – just fold it together and slide under your bed or dresser! Just watch how practical this piece is.


The KAPSTON™ Stratford Business Briefcase is another exclusive design featuring multiple pockets and a carry-on laptop sleeve for convenient travelling. Elegant and super durable – this one will stand up to any road warrior’s travel schedule.


62402_Black_EMBStyles informed by athleisure and sports continue to gain in popularity as well. The 62402 adidas® Medium Rolling Duffel is the perfect example of a strong sports brand lending itself to travel and leisure. With wheels and a pull handle, this spacious bag is the perfect bag for broad audience.

BIC Graphic Blog

As the economy improves, so does luggage sales in the consumer marketplace. There has been growth in sales of travel bags, owing to the increasing consumer interest in travelling and experiences. Overall, bags and luggage grew by 5% in current value terms in 2017, to reach USD33.0 billion.*

Luggage trends continue to evolve – fabrics get sturdier and more durable, lightweight and compact designs are highly desirable both while on the road and for between-trip storage. Super high-function construction that makes it easy to get through security reigns supreme. When looking for just the right piece to order for your sales force or executive team, or if you are planning a corporate gift or incentive program, look to BIC Graphic.

The KAPSTON™ Pierce 19″ Foldable Carry On is an exclusive design featuring two tone polyester, plenty of space, and durable, elegant functionality. Best of all, storing your luggage is not…

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Trend Alert: Glass Drinkware

While plastic and stainless steel is often the go-to for on-the-go drinkware, glass pieces have begun to rise to the top. It’s not just a fluke – here are the reasons a glass bottle may be right for your program:

  • High Perceived Value – glass drinkware is often heavy, resulting in a greater perceived value and price
  • Sleek Design – smooth edges and thoughtful construction create a polished look and feel.
  • Safe & Clean – glass is free of BPAs and other chemicals that some disposable plastic water bottles have

Here are some of our favorite glass bottles – find one that fits your organization!

12 Oz Aqua Pure Glass Bottle – complete with a neoprene sleeve for easy imprint and customization. 6027_HIT

Lela Glass Bottle – Pick a fun, bright accent or keep it sleek and professional with cool gray. This wide-mouth glass bottle comes complete with a silicone sleeve for a pop of color and easy grip.

JarGo – This unique piece uses a glass mason jar along with a twist-off silicone top, creating the perfect combination of retro and modern design.

Glass Bottle with Koozie Kooler – This playful bottle comes complete with a straw and neoprene Koozie sleeve.

H2GO – This sleek, weighty bottle comes in a variety of colors as well as a retail box – talk about high perceived value! H2go

There are few organizations where a stylish glass water bottle isn’t a great fit. Sell the trend to universities, grocery & health food stores, retail, real estate, finance and more!