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Feature article
12 August 2022

A Glance at APPA Through the Eyes of A Distributor Member

Pictured below with his family, Guy Dawson of APPA member Payless Promotions gives an insight into his experience of being an APPA distributor member.

Q. When and How Did You Find Your Way Into The Promo Industry?
Guy Dawson (GD): It was the year 2000, and I was virtually straight out of university. I was super-keen to own and manage my own business, but I had no specific skills and very little money. The promotional industry has low barriers to entry, so it suited where I was at. A couple of decades later, I am still slugging away and loving every minute of it!

Q. How long have you been an APPA Member?
GD: I tried to join APPA early on, as I knew they would be a valuable resource for me in finding suitable suppliers. However, in those days, APPA had a minimum turnover requirement which I could not meet. I wasn't particularly impressed at the time, but a few years later, I had forgiven them and was meeting the turnover requirement, so I joined. 

Q. Is APPA active and beneficial in the industry?
GD: APPA is an essential part of the industry and has increased its activity over the last few years. They are doing many things to improve the credibility and sustainability of the industry. Most importantly, they are very contactable and extremely willing to help. The more you look to APPA for your support in your business, the more you can get out of it. 

Q. What do you feel APPA contributes to your business and the industry?
GD: The two prominent roles I see for APPA are as a regulator and a collaborator. APPA has worked hard to develop and maintain standards in areas such as the separation of supplier and distributor businesses, modern slavery and our industry's environmental impact and carbon footprint.

They also have some great programs encouraging the collaboration of suppliers and distributors and bringing competitors together to work on problem-solving for the industry. I love the work they are doing in this space.  

Q. Has being an APPA business helped your business grow?
GD: Yes, APPA has allowed us to source suppliers we were unaware of and benchmark ourselves against some of the bigger and better players in the industry. Through their 'Promodata' project, they have recently combined supplier data files (notoriously inconsistent) into a single file, allowing API integration. Promodata will enable our business to grow further as it is something we could not have executed as a single business.

Q. What are the biggest challenges facing the Promotional Product Industry?
GD: I feel the world has reached a tipping point regarding how we treat the earth and our people, and we are on the precipice of change. Social procurement, modern slavery and carbon footprint are terms very few people were aware of just a few years ago. Now they are front and centre of most large organisations' thinking, and they are uber-relevant to the promotional product industry as historically, our industry has performed poorly in these areas.

APPA seems to have identified this already and is already taking steps to improve the performance of our industry. However, there is still a long way to go. 

Q. What would it be if you could give just one piece of advice to a startup business in the promotional product industry?
GD: Fortunately, the essential factor in being a good business operator and leader is also crucial in maintaining a good work/life/family balance. Concentrate your efforts on improving your people and developing them into great leaders, as you can't do everything at a high level yourself. 

"Guy Dawson is the founder and CEO of Payless Promotions. He has been a leader in the promotional product industry for over 20 years and voluntarily works with APPA on our annual benchmarking survey.'

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