Promotional Products: A History of Printing

Jasper Freemont Meek

Jasper Freemont Meek

By Seth Barnett, VP of Operations, Think Promo Now

What are promotional products? Why do people love them so much? More importantly, how can an integration with this industry help your business? To get us started, let me take you back to the beginning, a beginning that without the print industry would not have happened.  

It is 1881 in Coshocton, Ohio. Industry pioneer Jasper Freemont Meek is wanting to find ways to bring new revenue to his printing business and use his printing presses during their downtime. One day Meek is outside of his office and watching school children as they walk down the muddy streets to the schoolhouse. He notices a schoolboy drop his books into the mud and got an idea. An idea that would turn into the $23 billion promotional products industry we know today. 

Meek went to local merchant Cantwell Shoes who he was already doing printing business with and asked them to buy advertising that he would then print on school bags. These bags would then be given away to the local school children. His sell was that, along with Cantwell’s print advertising, the bags would become walking billboards for the company. The gamble paid off and the promotional products industry as we know it was born. “Buy Cantwell Shoes” was displayed across town and not only drove revenue to Cantwell, it created a full-scale printing operation for Meek. Soon, Meek would begin supplementing his printing business with bags, calendars and other promotional items for merchants in the Coshocton area. 

The history of promotional products would not have existed without the printing industry. It has been a natural partner to those in print advertising since the industry’s infancy. This partnership and the need for the partnership is even more obvious today. Thousands of print businesses are already involved in the promotional products market in some regard. Now, you can be part of this living history! 

We at Think Promo Now understand this relationship and the roots of the printing and promotional businesses more than anyone. In fact, the entire team at Think Promo Now is built of veterans of the printing and promotional businesses. What we offer is a chance for you walk in the footsteps Jasper Freemont Meek and the thousands of other printers who have integrated their businesses within the promotional products space. We are not seeking for you to give up your own identity, but simply work to build a more lucrative business for you and your clients. 

The best part? We will do this together. Our Think Promo Now team offers you the opportunity to become involved in the promotional product market, develop custom websites, and provide an unmatched user experience for your existing and future clients, all as a benefit to you as a Printing Impressions subscriber. 

To learn more, please visit or give us a call at 877.338.6321. 

We look forward to developing our histories together! 

By Seth Barnett

Sam Beurthe