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Sixteen senior executives from across the gift industry met in Chicago June 10th and 11th for a United Sales Association summit entitled "Envisioning the Ideal Gift Industry."

Representing manufacturers, manufacturers' representatives, retailers, shows, marts and publications, the group made a sweeping review of the current industry sales and marketing structure, what current trends are impacting that structure and, most importantly, if the industry could be re-engineered to meet those needs and trends, identified how an ideal gift industry might be structured.

“Rarely does an industry take a step back and look at its own structure, functions and costs. With the formation of USA, the gift industry is in a unique position to take such a look,” remarked Andy Bjork, president of BrassSmith House and current president of USA.

The meeting was facilitated by Kirby Martzall of the Pennsylvania consulting firm KL Martzall. "From my experiences working with a wide range of executives across the US it seems to me that for a group of people not knowing each other at the start of this session, this group came together very quickly. Within the second hour they were placing real, central issues on the table, discussing adversarial perspectives and finding solid mid-ground for industry innovation and improvement," commented Martzall. "Clearly within less than two days we are at a point that commonly requires twice the time if not more. It is reassuring that so much can be achieved by bringing together and focusing a collection of experienced, creative and enthusiastic people who are capable, mature and high-functioning in pursuit of things that capture their passion."

After reviewing the current industry organization and trends, the group was divided into four sub-groups who began the process of identifying the ideal gift industry over dinner and into the evening. When the group reconvened the next morning, each sub-group presented its vision to the other groups. A consensus of key industry issues quickly emerged and the group moved on to refine the major areas that need to be addressed in the report.

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United Sales Association Summit Looks at Gift Industry Structure

by Gregg Marshall

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