ASI stands for Advertising Specialty Institute. ASI i a for profit marketing organization that promotes partnerships between its supplier members and its distributor members. They have a number of trade shows, education, discounts and membership gives you access to ASI's ESP software. Many consider ESP to be the gold standard in software for promotional products distributors., I am sure most of you are familiar with the ASI organization. My readers are usually promotional products distributors so probably half of you reading this are members. I am guessing most of the other half subscribe to SAGE and many of you are probably members of PPAI. Today we are going to talk about ASI and ESP.
Richardson Seating has been a member of ASI for 20 or more years. I know it is at least 20 because we were members when I joined the Richardson team and that was back in 2001. Back then, we were members of ASI and nothing else. We had an ASI pricing catalog and we had our items on ESP but that was about it. We didn't understand how to actively market our products to the ASI distributors. If someone was looking for a bar stool, there was a decent chance that they might find us. Unfortunately, what we were seeing is that distributors were telling their customers that they didn't have access to bar stools because they didn't know we were part of the industry.
We took it upon ourselves to change that. We joined additional trade organizations like PPAI and SAGE. We tried to SAAC and SAAGNY. We also tried Canada and checked out Europe with a marketing mission to let people know that we exist. New distributors may not know our name, but we home that old industry professionals think of Richardson Seating when they think of adding a logo to a bar stool.
We aren't the only company selling logo bar stools. A few competitors popped up over the years. Our biggest competitor was probably MLP Seating. MLP which stood for Modern Leatherette Products was a small bar stool maker like us. They focused a little more on waiting room furniture and casino furniture. They also had a line of logo bar stools that competed with ours. The main difference between our products was that they tended to make a stool that had a hard plastic side while we made a bar stool seat that had upholstery on the side. Our side allowed you to add imprints to the side.
MLP Seating is no longer in business. Many of their customers have begun using our products for the programs. We are not able to replicate the plastic ring they put on the side of their seat so people have been switching over to our style of seat and the customers seam to be really happy.