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Celebrating our Shared Community

Niels Norby, NetSoft Studio, LLC
President, APA - Where Personalization Pros Connect


(January/February 2024) Leaders strive to leave a lasting impression on their organization. The way they want to make their mark—from passing along a legacy of innovation or being remembered for their empathy—is unique to each individual.

In my case, recent changes to APA’s branding will be part of my legacy as president of the organization. I couldn’t be prouder! As we previously announced, APA made important updates to our brand in November:

  • Our URL is now
  • Our trade show, the largest in the industry, is now called the International Personalization Expo.
  • You’ll see our new logo paired with our new tagline—“Where Personalization Pros Connect”—rather than the spelled-out version of APA.

These updates have an immediate visual impact and, more importantly, an emotional effect.

We are not just awards. We are personalization. These changes make that clear, loudly declaring that it’s been years since our members focused only on awards—and decades since trophies were our mainstay.

These branding changes properly reflect who we are. They assert a warm welcome to everyone in the personalization business, including our colleagues who may have felt like APA wasn’t the place for them because awards didn’t make up the bulk of their sales. They didn’t know that we’re all in the business of personalization, not just awards, because our branding suggested we were excluding personalization professionals. We weren’t—and now everyone can tell that we welcome new members, specialties and ideas to help us all thrive.

Our branding changes end any implied gatekeeping of APA membership. I’m happy to announce that the gate is wide open; if you are involved in personalization, come on in! We’re delighted to welcome you. If you use lasers, UV printers, vinyl cutters, large-format printers, computerized engravers, CNC machines or other equipment to produce amazing products, you belong in APA, too.

Whether you are assembling trophies, sandcarving crystal awards, engraving gifts, embroidering hats, engraving ID plates for machinery or are otherwise involved in product personalization, you belong in APA.

We all use the same machines, the same processes and the same types of software. We are all leaping the same hurdles to ensure our businesses succeed. We all belong in APA, so we can gain and share valuable insights on what we’re capable of.

If you aren’t already a member, visit to learn how to join us. We’d love to share business solutions and learn from your experiences.

These public, meaningful changes form part of my APA leadership legacy. At the International Personalization Expo in February in Las Vegas, I’m passing the gavel to incoming President Dan Messerschmidt. He has an incredible mind for business, and I look forward to seeing what he achieves during his year leading our community.

Before I step into the role of past president, I wholeheartedly thank:

  • My fellow leaders—Dan and the rest of the APA Board of Directors
  • Our staff, especially Executive Director Louise Ristau, CAE, and Senior Operations Manager Liz Giannini
  • APA’s extensive assortment of volunteers, from committee members to Expo helpers.

The experience and expertise each of you bring makes APA the great organization I’ve been proud to lead.

APA - Where Personalization Pros Connect.

The APA is the organization for retailers and suppliers of personalized and customized items. By providing education, meetings, and access to a vibrant network of professionals, the APA is the one place to ensure the growth of your talent, your business, and your professional community.

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