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Branded promotional products keep your company top of mind with customers. When you choose merchandise to personalize with your logo, you’re looking to make a statement. And that statement is all about strengthening your brand. Your brand defines how you operate in your marketplace, your integrity and the value you provide every day. You have the opportunity to distinguish yourself using products such as branded tee shirts, sweatshirts, drinkware, coolers or writing instruments with your company logo. Many IMARK vendors have co-op programs in which they share the cost of this type of advertising.

Marc Mathios, a principal of IMARK service provider Ace Apparel, said the IMARK members that utilize co-op funds effectively have a very organized approach to these funds. The best way to capture all funds available is to analyze total purchases annually by vendor. Keep a list and ask your vendors what programs are available.

“You would be surprised at how many times a customer of ours says, ‘I just found out that I have some funds with XYZ vendor,’” Mathios said. “The best way to get he most advertising budget from vendors is to be very proactive and organized.”

The result will be large pools of funding from your largest vendors and of course smaller budgets from those whom with you do less volume. Mathios stresses that you can still use the smaller budgets effectively.

Embroidered jackets for your best customers can be run at low volumes. In addition, pens with your logo are an inexpensive item that can be purchased in high volumes at low cost.

“Your largest co-op funding should be used where you will get the deepest discounts from a branded products provider,” Mathios said.

Printed tees and sweatshirts that are run at high volume will have the lowest unit price. “Your promotional products distributor should know how to get the most bang for the buck,” Mathios said. “In my experience, many vendors who are providing co-op funds will need to see both a proposal and proofs of the product prior to production.”

From the vendor’s perspective, it is critical that their logo is used correctly. That includes using the correct pantone colors, logo scaling and logo position. Some vendors have different color scheme requirements when printing on a light background versus a dark background.

“The worst outcome for a co-op promotion is when the vendor refuses to contribute because the logo does not meet their brand guidelines,” Mathios said. “That is why you need to be fluent in these levels of detail or employ a promotional products vendor who is.”

According to Mathios, the best promotional items for supply houses are those that are used while the contractor is on the job.

“A cooler, water bottle or travel mug is in the contractor’s truck, and they see your logo when they need your product,” Mathios said.

A contractor may wear your company sweatshirt while inside of a competitor’s showroom, on a construction site or in someone’s home. In any case, it is extremely valuable to have your name front and center in an environment where people buy your products.

“Imagine a contractor receiving poor service at another supply house,” Mathios said. “They see one of your customers in your branded apparel. They might just say to themselves, ‘It’s time to switch.’ Co-op programs are a great way of funding these important marketing tools.”

Mathios believes that you can use co-op funds for incentive selling. For example, you can offer a higher ticket item, such as an embroidered jacket, for every boiler purchased. The branded product is tied into revenue generation and is a win-win.

Another great use of co-op funds is combining an event with collateral promotional products.

“One of my customers, Consolidated Plumbing Supply in Mount Vernon, New York, does fishing trips each year where all of his customers are invited for a day out on the water,” Mathios said. “They are given a tee shirt to commemorate the event. The cost of the trip and the shirt are sponsored by the co-op vendor. These types of events create deeper relationships, build loyalty and drive sales.”

Mathios believes that your staff employees should wear branded apparel as well. It creates a great sense of teamwork. In addition, employees will look more professional at work. The goal is for your staff to be comfortable and professional when interacting with your customers.

“For example, Ace provides branded apparel for the Lion Plumbing Supply staff in Miami, Florida,” Mathios said. “We use dry-fit fabric so that the staff is comfortable in the warmer weather of south Florida.”

When thinking about branded apparel for your business or your customers, consider seasonality. Just like you wouldn’t plan a fishing trip in the dead of winter, you of course want tee shirts in the spring and summer and sweatshirts in the fall and winter. The most effective plumbing supply houses start placing orders ahead of a season so that they are the first to give out their promotional products, making theirs the most worn and prominent apparel throughout the season. It also gives your vendor enough time to produce the goods within the seasonal timeline.

Ace Apparel is a team of branding specialists that helps IMARK dealers build their brand using targeted branded apparel and promotional items. All embroidery and screen printing are done on site at the company’s 80-year-old family operation.

For your promotional product needs, consider Ace Apparel, visit or email