Hinda Incentives Announces Closing of Its Acquisition of Universal Rewards Exchange

Hinda Incentives has announced that it has closed its acquisition of the Universal Rewards Exchange (URE) from Engagement Technology (ET) LLC, a division of Engagement Enterprises. The URE will become a division of Hinda and its current management team, including Vice President of Sales Jim Kilmetis and Andrea Lightman, will lead the new Hinda division, and will report to Mike Donnelly, President of Hinda Incentives.

“Hinda is excited about the early reaction to the news of this acquisition, says Donnelly. “While Hinda’s customer’s enjoy a full-service solution to their rewards and recognition programs that enables them to focus primarily on selling or on their other core businesses, the URE provides a unique, transparent marketplace for the incentive, recognition and other types of do-it-yourself solution providers who seek to have their own relationships with vendors, or who wish to utilize their own catalogs or front-end program management technologies. We are excited to be in the role of helping bring this invaluable industry marketplace to the next level to address the do-it-yourself solution providers who might not have considered Hinda in the past. We look forward to working with all of the wholesale suppliers in the URE marketplace to produce more volume for all and to improve industry efficiencies.”

Hinda will immediately add to its Value Chain Network strategy the technology and marketing services of the URE’s parent company, Engagement Enterprises. These include the Solata Engagement Express and Portal program management technologies and the Engagement Agency licensee program, both of which are designed specifically for marketing, HR, recognition and other solution providers seeking to help clients achieve specific goals by integrating all of the traditional levers of engagement. The program management technology is specifically built to support the engagement framework created by EE’s Enterprise Engagement Alliance Curriculum Development Program and to help solution providers and their clients profit from engagement.

The acquisition and marketing agreement demonstrates the commitment of both companies to helping incentive, recognition, loyalty and other engagement solution providers maximize their business opportunities by having access to the most complete suite of technologies and methodologies to help their clients of all sizes achieve the most measurable results.

Jim Kilmetis, a co-founder of the Universal Rewards Exchange, will join Hinda as Vice President of Sales. “My goal has always been to help the solution providers and vendors in this marketplace expand their businesses and enhance their customer relationships by providing the tools and support they need,” says Kilmetis. “The sale of the URE to Hinda helps not only the solution providers by providing them with even a broader range of services and support, but also the leading rewards suppliers who participate in the URE by expanding the potential marketplace for the benefit of all.”

The Universal Rewards Exchange, launched by Engagement Technology in 2010, is a virtual marketplace of rewards consisting of over 70 vendors and growing. It offers solution providers a choice between receiving real-time reward feeds or utilizing customized catalogs and a highly automated redemption system powered by a virtual logistics platform that serves up millions of merchandise, gift card, travel and digital rewards on a real-time basis. The URE is ideally suited for solution providers seeking a do-it-yourself, highly transparent pricing model and direct connections with suppliers.

The URE will now be able to offer its customers Hinda’s complete suite of full-service, customer service, award customization, pricing advantages and personalization services as needed for maximum program engagement. In turn, Hinda’s solution provider network will benefit from a new catalog platform for those who wish to manage award administration on their own, as well as a suite of front-end program management technologies to better measure the ROI of traditional incentive, recognition and loyalty programs.

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Merchandise Monday: Trade Show Photo Bonanza!

During the past couple of weeks, the Hinda merchandise team hit the trade show floors at the International CES and PPAI Expo and they reported back with some pretty cool new stuff! For this week’s Merchandise Monday column, we thought we’d let the items speak for themselves.

The PPAI Expo was just last week – January 11-15 in Las Vegas.

Bugatti bags held all the swag given out at this year’s Golden Globes®!

Collegiate products from Dooney & Bourke

New bags for ladies (as well as backpacks) from Victorinox

An assortment of watches at the Wenger® booth

A sweet take on the Batmobile! (Disclaimer: this probably won’t be available in Hinda’s assortment.)

CES was also in Vegas on January 6-9. Be sure to check out our previous post from CES, as well!

Wall-mountable fireplaces from Bell’O®

Fitbit®’s array of fitness tracking devices and…

… Tory Burch for Fitbit 

Intel® RealSense™ Technology puts you in control – without the need for controllers!

Lenses galore at Nikon

The Parrot® Pot waters your plants so you don’t have to remember.

Trying out Samsung®’s Oculus virtual reality headset

Be sure to check out our Facebook page for even more photos from the show floor. As always, we won’t know which of these products we’ll be adding to our assortment for some time, so stay tuned to Hinda Blog for updates on these and other great new items in our continuously expanding awards collection!

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Hinda Incentives Announces Acquisition of Universal Rewards Exchange

Two Companies Focused on Supporting Incentive, Recognition, Loyalty

and Engagement Solution Providers Join Forces to Expand the Marketplace

Hinda Incentives has announced that it has signed a letter of intent to acquire the Universal Rewards Exchange (URE) from Engagement Technology (ET) LLC, as well as a co-marketing agreement with ET’s parent company, Engagement Enterprises LLC, to support incentive, recognition, loyalty and other engagement solution providers with a full suite of state-of-the-art solutions to offer clients of all sizes. The URE will become a division of Hinda and its current management team, including Vice President of Sales Jim Kilmetis and Andrea Lightman, will lead the new Hinda division.

The URE will now be able to offer its customers Hinda’s complete suite of full-service, customer service, award customization, pricing advantages and personalization services as needed for maximum program engagement. In turn, Hinda’s solution provider network will benefit from a new catalog platform for those who wish to manage award administration on their own, as well as a suite of front-end program management technologies to better measure the ROI of traditional incentive, recognition and loyalty programs.

Jim Kilmetis, a co-founder of the Universal Rewards Exchange, will join Hinda full time to head up sales, both for the URE and for Hinda’s full-service solution and other offerings. Says Hinda President Mike Donnelly:  “Few people in the industry better understand the needs of our solution provider partners than Jim; he is dedicated to helping the industry grow, and understands all of the ways rewards, technology and well-designed programs provided by the companies in our value chain network can become a critical part of the success of our partners and their clients.”

As part of the co-marketing agreement, Hinda will immediately add to its value chain network strategy the technology and marketing services of the URE’s parent company, Engagement Enterprises.  These include the Solata Engagement Express and Portal program management technologies and the Engagement Agency licensee program, both of which are designed specifically for marketing, HR, recognition and other solution providers seeking to help clients achieve specific goals by integrating all of the traditional levers of engagement. The technology is built to support the Engagement framework created by EE’s Enterprise Engagement Alliance curriculum development program.

For a complete article on the acquisition, click here.

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Happy Birthday to Dave Peer!

Last Friday, the whole office gathered together to celebrate the birthday of Dave Peer, Hinda’s president. The day started out business as usual. Our quarterly meeting was about to wrap up in the warehouse when all of a sudden, music started blaring and “Puddles,” the mascot for the Oregon Ducks football team, came running out from between the aisles to surprise Dave for his birthday. As you can see from the pictures on our Facebook page, Dave is probably the world’s biggest Ducks fan.

After the meeting, everyone loaded up on beef sandwiches, eggplant parmesan, sausage and peppers and salad from Ferrara’s. Mid-food coma, we were called into the kitchen for another surprise for Dave. Soulful singer Joselyn Sims came to sing “Happy Birthday,” along with hits by Aretha Franklin and Beyonce. Safe to say she did a much better job than we would have done. After her serenade, everyone enjoyed Dave’s birthday cake and tried their hardest to concentrate on work for the rest of the day.

Happy birthday, Dave! We hope it was the best one yet!

Check out pictures from the party here.

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PIP Mag Talks to Dave Peer about the Benefits of Traditional Incentive Distributors

The recently released March/April 2012 edition of Premium Incentive Products (PIP) magazine features an article by guest columnist Ira Ozer, CPIM, titled, “10 Compelling Benefits of Traditional Incentive Distributors.” The article focuses on the reasons why many incentive companies are turning away from big retailers, such as Amazon, for their award fulfillment needs and coming back to incentive distribution houses.

Ozer states that the primary reasons for going with the big retailers in the first place were to be able to offer a broader selection of merchandise, and second, that the pricing seemed more attractive. As it turns out, this does not seem to be the case.

In the article, Ozer speaks to Hinda president Dave Peer about a couple of the benefits of using traditional incentive distributors. For one, incentive distributors tend to have longstanding industry experience in designing, administering and fulfilling programs for their clients. Peer says that these companies aren’t just interested in filling merchandise orders – they are committed to delivering a fully orchestrated system of recognition for program participants.

Additionally, Peer notes that incentive distribution companies are able to offer special events to their clients that retailers are not. Hinda offers the “Warehouse Dash” event in which program participants are given a specific amount of time to run up and down the aisles and grab as much merch as they can. Several other distributors offer similar events, and excitement is built around this premise, with food, music and cheering. Since distributors control their own warehouse space, this type of event is much more plausible than it would be with a big retailer.

Find out more reasons why companies are choosing traditional incentive distributors by clicking here.

PIP also showed some love this month to Hinda’s corporate social responsibility partner Helping Hand Rewards (HHR). The magazine features HHR product L.I.F.E. Jackets in its latest issue. Check out the blurb here and visit Helping Hand Rewards to browse more socially responsible merchandise options.

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A Message from Michael Arkes, CEO of Hinda

It’s no secret that some manufacturers in Asia and other parts of the world have come under scrutiny due to workplace conditions and the questionable treatment of their employees. Most of us who hear these types of stories assume that the exploitation of workers is an unacceptable business practice that is only occurring in under-developed or developing economies. Unfortunately, many will be surprised to learn that the same kinds of conditions and treatment can be found right here in the United States.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I came across the Mother Jones article “I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave” – an expose by reporter Mac McClelland, who worked at fulfillment warehouses last holiday season in order to report on the conditions there. It is a 14-page article, but like any gripping story, you will not want to put it down.

But why is this on a blog focused on the incentive industry? How does this apply to us? While we at Hinda ship about 92 percent of our orders from our own warehouse, this is not the norm. Most of our competitors ship few of their orders from their own facilities, and some don’t ship any at all.

This means that the fine, upstanding corporation with the impeccable reputation might actually be having its award orders fulfilled by a “warehouse wage slave.” I’m suggesting that sometime in the future, corporations will not want their award orders fulfilled by fulfillment companies that blatantly exploit their workers. They will not want to be associated with these companies.

Fortunately, there are award fulfillment companies like Hinda that appreciate how important every team member is to delivering quality service to both our customers and their program participant. This past December, instead of abusing our employees in an effort to get them to perform, we provided them with an incentive for coming in to work every day during this short, busy season. We have created a culture where everyone wins – the program participant, the customer, our employee and our company.

We are a socially responsible award provider for your socially responsible corporate customers. Again, here is the link to the article “I Was a Warehouse Wage Slave.” Let us know your reaction.

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The Incentive Research Foundation Talks Top Trends for 2012

The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) recently released a new white paper titled “2012 Trends in Rewards & Recognition,” which highlights 12 key areas of focus in the incentives marketing arena for this year and what changes we as an industry can expect. The folks at IRF make several great points with regard to noncash incentives that we’d like to summarize here on Hinda Blog, and feel free to peruse the research for more information.

The report opens by explaining that change is in the air, and companies are starting to re-evaluate how they do business and utilize their human capital. “Fast HR” is a movement that the IRF points to that “encourages throwing out standard tools in favor of more expeditious methods to direct, focus, and energize employees.” The report goes on to add that non-cash is aligned with the Fast HR model and is becoming increasingly attractive to the C-suite, which it views as being one of the biggest trends to watch this year.

“Today,” reports the IRF, “a new wave of respected thought leaders that include McKinsey, Harvard Business Review, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Aberdeen acknowledge the effectiveness and/or strategic business value of noncash components.” In one example, the IRF points Aberdeen’s annual “Sales Performance Management Study,” in which it was uncovered that 21 percent of best in class companies – those that out-performed rivals across all major financial categories – utilized reward and recognition programs, while only 10 percent of non-best in class did.

Studies conducted by the other thought leaders named in IRF’s report realized similar outcomes. Noncash is on the rise, though it doesn’t come without its share of challenges, specifically that “noncash programs must complement other strategies and initiatives, the nomination/winning process must be clear and the evaluation/selection processes must be transparent” in order for noncash recognition to be effective, according to IRF’s research.

Incorporating another hot trend but staying within the realm of noncash, IRF explains that wellness programs are high on the list, and goes on to say that, if your company does not utilize a reward and recognition program currently, wellness is a great place to start. In 2009, the US spent about 17 percent of its GDP on healthcare, and yet America as a whole is not a healthy country, according to World Health Organization statistics.

Wellness programs can and should be worked into an organization’s current incentives bundle, according to the IRF. “Noncash incentive additions to wellness programs have been shown (Johnson & Johnson, for example) to increase voluntary participation by up to 90 [percent], a finding from ‘Big Fat Truth about Use of Incentives for Wellness Programs,’ published by the Incentive Federation.” Not only does this make for healthier people overall, but as we all know, fewer sick days makes for more productivity and lower health insurance premiums for companies – a winning situation all-around.

One final trend of note with regard to noncash – or any type of incentive, really – is retention and culture, which acknowledges, among other things, that “a lack of consistent recognition has impacted the ‘cooperative’ nature of some work environments,” according to the IRF report. “Recent research… show[s] that employees at ‘rewarder organizations’ generate ideas 250 [percent] more frequently than employees of organizations that are not rewarders.”

Whether your company has a stellar rewards and recognition program in place, a less-than-stellar one or none at all, the IRF has provided plenty for you and your employees to consider as we move along in 2012. Again, check out the full report and feel free to let us know your thoughts in the “Comments” section below.

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