GOODBYE! – After 11 years as director general of the BPMA, Gordon Glenister is moving on.

Product Media gave the man we all know as GG his exit interview

Q.What initially attracted you to the position at the BPMA?

A. I was, at the time running my own rewards agency having previously really enjoyed working in the drinks industry using promotional products to raise the profile of the brands. I was also working all spare hours running a landscape garden design company and my wife felt I was working too hard. I thought maybe I could do this for a couple of years. The rest is history…

Q.What were you expecting?

A. It is always difficult to know what to truly expect but I do remember it was a very turbulent time for the whole country as a recession was looming. The BPMA were impacted resulting in casualties to the membership, however, moving offices to Russell Square and enhancing the secretariat gave us the boost we needed to refocus and helped give the BPMA brand significant status. The turnaround and the growth of the association really started from there.

Q.What have been the biggest challenges?

A. Keeping everyone happy! The BPMA is a truly fantastic association with a unique blend of members, large and small, suppliers and distributors – all connected but with subtly different perspectives. It’s very easy to be criticised in such a role, but I have always tried to be fair and honest. I want the BPMA logo to represent a badge of trust where buyers of merchandise can be reassured there are getting the very best products, price and service. The BPMA has a great reputation among the major associations around the world and any major marketing bodies too.

Q.What are you most proud of during your tenure?

A. Certainly, the launch of the BPMA Academy and seeing our first intake graduating at the House of Commons was a hugely proud moment! Since then the academy has evolved and grown into a more comprehensive professional development programme and I am very proud that education remains one of the cornerstones of the association. Also launching and running our first major product show at Silverstone. We all worked tirelessly to ensure our members’ experience was a positive one and so it was reassuring to receive such positive feedback from exhibitors and visitors alike! Developing Product Media magazine into THE industry read is something I am incredibly proud of–we have been twice shortlisted for magazine of the year in the Trade Association Awards. Recently launching the Briman and Branded Clothing member groups to give additional focus to British manufacturing and clothing. They have gone from strength to strength. Lastly, it has to be the student design competition which has always been a real passion of mine.

Q.How would you describe the state of the industry today compared with then?

A. There are many more operators now selling merchandise, particularly ,from other sectors like print and stationery. Online ,has superseded offline ,engagement. The market is larger and growing ,steadily, and there has been a significant growth in technology led items. There are fewer major shows now with bigger shows consolidating. We are seeing a rapid growth in the larger distributors either by takeover, merger or overseas expansion.

Q.What’s the favourite piece of merchandise that you’ve been given?

A. I have one item that’s been with me for 20 years and it’s a wooden whistle. How’s that for longevity? I have probably shown that to about 5,000 people I reckon. If it’s a branded product, then probably the personalised Tracker Cross pen in a beautiful box.

Q.What has been the most enjoyable aspect of being DG?

A. Meeting people is easily the most enjoyable aspect of the role, but I have also loved just being involved in this industry. Working with Daniela, the secretariat and board has been a hugely rewarding experience! 

Q.What will you miss about the BPMA?

A. The members – I have honestly met some amazing people, many of who I would now call friends. I have had some great moments in the Irish bar in Germany, at PPAI in Vegas and Merchandise World events. I will certainly miss my team, particularly Daniela who has been my trusted colleague for 11 years. We’ve been through a lot together and I know she will carry the BPMA mantle forwards.

Q.What do you think your legacy will be?

A. Someone that came in and did their best and tried to make a positive difference.

Q.Looking back what was your most memorable moment.

A. Being recognised by the members who nominated and voted for me to win the award for Personality of the Year. The BPMA awards evenings are always great fun! For one of the biggest gatherings at the BPMA Awards events we had nearly 900 people in attendance. Seeing the room all laid out before the visitors arrived was an emotional moment.

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