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Community Centered

John Stangle, CRM, Creative Awards & Screen Printing
President, Awards and Personalization Association


(March/April 2022) I recently saw a football helmet that had a phrase that stuck with me. It said, “It takes all of us.” While I like that sentiment, I feel the message should go one step further and say: “Success—it takes all of us.” After all, one thing the pandemic made abundantly clear is that we need each other—as friends, as family and as a larger business community.

For those who don’t know me: I’m the owner of Creative Awards & Screen Printing in Wichita, Kansas. I got into this industry on a whim in 1995 after going through job ads in a newspaper. (Remember those days?) I was burned out from the insurance industry and ready for something new.

I’ve often found that you learn so much from other people without even realizing it. So, for me, diving into a completely foreign industry meant leaning on others’ expertise. It was immensely helpful to talk with other retailers—seeing how they grew, seeing how they ran their shops. Seven months into the new gig, I attended my first annual APA expo.

Things were a bit different then with no cell phones and email just getting off the ground. I hired one of my nephews to keep the lights on and answer phones while I was away. (The main way to check in with the business was to go to the phone banks on a break to call the shop and get messages.) But that first show was so well worth it—for the education, the connections, to even just handle products in person. I made a point to keep attending the expo in future years.

As your new president, I’m hoping to build on our past work and create an even greater sense of community for all our members. Building out these relationships can happen in so many ways. While the conference that just concluded in Las Vegas is one of the best places to learn and connect, it’s far from the only one. Our Member2Member Forum is active every day, and it’s a great way to learn from, connect with and help your fellow members.

Of course, you can learn from fellow members in the pages of this Insights magazine, too. This issue contains lots of tips for sorting through issues central to this industry, including: exploring if fiber lasers are right for your business (page 18), navigating supply chain shortages (page 24) and a guide for combining UV printing with laser cutting (page 34), to name a few.

As I look back at my career, I couldn’t be happier with the switch I’ve made. I’ve come to love this industry, and I want to do everything in my power to increase our visibility not just with members, but with the general population, too. I encourage you to check out all of APA’s offerings, which include everything from scholarships and education to local networking opportunities. Be sure to visit for all the latest opportunities to get involved.

Remember, with success, it takes all of us. And with all of us working toward one common goal, I’m sure we’ll have a great year together.

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