WHY WE EXIST…

TO CREATE & INSPIRE
BRAND INTERACTIONTM

Welcome to Touchstone. We’re glad you’re here.

Create & Inspire Brand InteractionTM… What does it mean? It is our WHY and the reason we exist. Throughout your discovery of Touchstone, here on the web or in contact with Touchstone colleagues, you will understand the brand position and point of difference that is truly “tip of the spear” and disrupting the world of brand building.

Dig deep into our information and be as inquisitive as we are, everyday, to ask WHY?, and push the limits of what can be expected. You will find us running with you while fueling your passion to grow your brand and connect it to the hearts and minds of your consumers.

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EVERYONE HAS A STORY.
HERE’S OURS.

Six shirts hanging in the door,
and a box of key chains on the floor…

EVERYONE HAS A STORY.
HERE’S OURS.

Six shirts hanging in the door,
and a box of key chains on the floor…

That was the start of Touchstone (then, The Aztec Group, Inc.), which I started in June of 1996. My introduction to the industry was as a buyer for an environmental company in Cincinnati, OH, which was owned by my father-in-law (girlfriend’s dad, at the time). After graduating from Miami University (40 miles north of Cincinnati) and after a few jobs in the entertainment business, I started working at an environmental company called Aztec Environmental.

While working at Aztec Environmental, I was exposed to promotional merchandise as a marketing buyer. (Little did I know, this would be the introduction into the world of promotional products, and what would later grow into my business of today.)Not long after, the environmental company was merged with another company and I found myself wondering what to do next. In the weeks following, I connected my promotional products vendor to my network of contacts. Then I thought, “I should try this.”

In a deal made with my girlfriend’s dad/investor/now father-in-law, I made a deal to still answer the phone “Aztec” (and forward any calls that were environmental) and to borrow $30,000. With that, the Aztec Group, Inc. was born. Armed with six shirts hanging in the door and a box of key chains on the floor, I took to the streets, from my make-shift pole barn office, to sell (not really knowing what to sell). I fondly recall the first t-shirt order I received from a client. I called Fruit of the Loom and reached someone on the factory floor in Tennessee….. that was my introduction to the term wholesalers and what the term “ASI” meant. Soon one client was landed, then another, and another, and sales started to take off. Back then, doubling sales every year was easy.

By 2002, we were well on our way to something big in the promotional products industry. Then, I met Larry Sheakley. Larry would prove to be the most influential person in our business’s future and the person that would provide me the guidance, mentorship, and resources to allow Touchstone to grow into what it is today. Larry is a self-made business magnate, living in Cincinnati, Ohio. He started in business when he was 19, working for his father in the workers’ compensation and unemployment business. It was a family business that Larry would eventually buy from his father and turn into an empire through “bootstrap,” “pound the street” hard work, much like the path I was on.

On January 1, 2005, Larry bought a majority interest of Aztec. We changed the name to Touchstone Merchandise Group, LLC., and we became partners. Today (in addition to Touchstone) Larry has ownership interest in some 26 companies, including Il Mulino (a world-class restaurant in NYC, Las Vegas, Chicago, and others), a shampoo company, many real estate properties, and the Cincinnati Reds.Since our partnership in the business, Larry and I have purchased other businesses in the branded merchandise space. Most notably is Pro Procure U.S., LLC., a technology platform business to the promotional products industry that is revolutionizing the way buyers and suppliers work with each other.

As we move into the next chapter of Touchstone, we are poised for growth. In a very fragmented, undercapitalized industry of mediocre distributors, we are giving our clients value every day. I’ve assembled an executive management team of the finest and most successful people in the history of the promotional products business. Additionally, we are financially committed to our business. With the financial resources we have, Touchstone will continue to grow in our service offering to our clients.However, through all of this, our most important assets are our Culture and People. Anyone who engages with Touchstone as an employee, vendor, or client recognizes it right away.

From our new, state-of-the-art headquarters, in Mason, OH, to every person in our organization, every touch point is the real deal. Our facility is a showpiece of the Culture of Touchstone. Our people are our biggest asset and we treat them that way.

Today, Touchstone operates around the world with sourcing offices in Seoul South Korea and with Chinese sourcing offices in the city provinces of Hong Kong, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Ningbo.

OUR TIMELINE

20 YEARS OF AWESOMENESS

Aztec Group, Inc

Derek Block enters promotional products industry as Aztec Group, Inc.
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Derek Meets Larry

Business magnate, Larry Sheakley meets company founder, Derek Block.
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Touchstone Merchandise Group, LLC

Aztec Group, Inc. is reborn as Touchstone Merchandise Group, LLC. after Derek Block and Larry Sheakley become business partners.
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ProProcure

Touchstone acquires ProProcure USA, a London-based company that provides marketing material spend management & procurement solutions.
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Touchstone Opens New World Class Headquarters

Construction complete, Touchstone relocates to new, state-of-the-art headquarters/fulfillment center, in Mason, OH
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Touchstone Expands to Bloomington, IN

Touchstone takes over operations of Bloomington, IN based, Apparel Design Group.
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Touchstone Expands to US West Coast

Touchstone puts a “stake in the ground” on the West Coast of the USA, opening offices in Los Angeles, CA and Irvine, CA.
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PPAI Top 50

Touchstone cracks PPAI’s top 50 largest distributors.
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ASI Names Touchstone Fastest Growing

ASI recognizes Touchstone as the fastest growing distributor of the Year.
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ASI, Distributor Entrepreneur of the Year

ASI awards Derek Block was the industry’s Entreprenuer of the Year and names Touchstone as one of industry’s best places to work in annual awards.
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ASI Power 50

ASI recognizes Touchstone CEO, Derek Block, as part of industry leaders in ASI’s Counselor Power 50
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C3 Marketing

Touchstone acquires C3, Atlanta’s industry leader
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PPAI Top 50

ASI awards Derek Block was the industry’s Entreprenuer of the Year and names Touchstone as one of industry’s best places to work in annual awards.
Read more

Fanattik

Touchstone acquires Fanattik, a Cincinnati based company specializing in school based intern based custom design spirit wear.
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ASI Power 50

ASI recognizes Touchstone CEO, Derek Block, as part of industry leaders in ASI’s Counselor Power 50
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Thunder Road Brandworks

Touchstone acquires TRB, Charlotte’s leading provider of innovative branding solutions.
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Factori ®

Touchstone develops and launches game changing user experience platform, Factori®
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Factori® DesignLab

Touchstone launches Design Lab application within Factori® providing zero inventory, custom 1x1 apparel production.
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Rebrand

Touchstone combines years of experience, key acquisitions and progressive thinking to create a new strategy for revolutionizing the branded merchandise industry.
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PPAI Top 50

Touchstone recognized #25 of industry largest distributors, in Promo Marketing Top 50.
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ASI Power 50

ASI again recognizes Touchstone CEO, Derek Block, as part of industry leaders, in ASI’s Counselor Power 50.
Read more

Cintas delivered by Touchstone

Cintas and Touchstone enter into a strategic alliance partnership, maximizing their collective strengths.
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PPAI Top 50

Touchstone recognized #25 of industry largest distributors, in Promo Marketing Top 50.
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ASI Power 50

ASI again recognizes Touchstone CEO, Derek Block, as part of industry leaders, in ASI’s Counselor Power 50.
Read more

AWARDS

YEAH, HERE ARE JUST A FEW

PPAI TOP 50

YEARS

2009     2013
2010     2014
2011     2015
2012     2016

FASTEST GROWING

YEARS

2009

40 UNDER 40

YEARS

2007

ASI TOP 40

YEARS

2012
2013
2014

MOST INFLUENTIAL

YEARS

2009
2010
2011
2012
2013

SPIRIT AWARDS

YEARS

2009