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Moving Forward Together: Bill Cobbs on PromoAdvantage’s Legacy with Boundless

Bill Cobbs is no stranger to hard work and commitment. After founding PromoAdvantage in 2001, Bill remained dedicated to the brand for 24 years. Known for their reputation in warehousing and fulfillment—particularly for Fortune 500 accounts—Bill knew PromoAdvantage still had room for growth. 

The small, fifteen-person company steadily built both a hefty client list and a name for themselves through their commitment to the client experience. When one of PromoAdvantage’s owners, Phil, decided it was time to retire, he and Bill struck out to find a buyer for the established company. After vetting over 50 potential distributor partners, Bill knew Boundless was the perfect partner to take PromoAdvantage to the next level. 

Building a successful business isn’t easy, but Bill wouldn’t have it any other way. After merging with Boundless, his team feels a renewed sense of purpose and excitement. He shares how PromoAdvantage’s scrappy team built an impressive presence and his vision for the future of the company with Boundless. 

Growing PromoAdvantage, One Relationship At A Time

Bill Cobbs co-founded PromoAdvantage in 2001 and spent over two decades building the company. Headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota, PromoAdvantage targeted customers with an operating presence in Minnesota, Nashville, and Indianapolis. 

The secret to their success? “We steadily built the business. Our focus was always on large Fortune 500 companies. They purchase a lot over the course of a year, and there was never a receivables problem,” Bill says.

Not only do these enterprise accounts bring in a lot of business, but Bill Cobbs quickly learned that they preferred repeat orders, too.  “To get embedded in the company and be their resource for branded merchandise fulfillment kitting and everything, it gives you a good stronghold,” he says. 

Of course, it wasn’t always easy. PromoAdvantage had to continually prove themselves to keep their Fortune 500 clients happy. “We have clients we've done seven or eight RFPs for over the year,” Bill says. “You have to prove yourself over and over again when the individuals that own our relationship change.”

Bill’s team always took a relationship-first approach to their work, although technology underpinned these relationships, too. “We're a small company, but we've always tried to be under the leading-edge solutions for our clients,” he says. “We were very early in the eCommerce stores for our customers. We were first in our area creating online ordering templates and customized web-based ordering processes for our clients."

PromoAdvantage's Bill Cobbs & Lance Wiersma at their first Boundless Founders' Circle

The Synergy Between PromoAdvantage and Boundless

After over 20 years of hard work, Bill and his PromoAdvantage co-owner Phil Osheim decided it was time to sell the business. While Phil was eager to retire, Bill wanted to stay on for a while, so he needed to pick a new partner with a strong vision.

Bill and Phil worked with an investment team to prepare the business for sale and carefully vet potential buyers. They quickly generated interest from more than 50 buyers and whittled the list down to 12. From there, Bill held Zoom calls with the prospective partners and conducted three in-person meetings. 

It was clear from the jump that Boundless was the leading contender. It’s a small industry, so Bill was already familiar with their work. “I knew a little bit about Boundless from their really strong social media presence,” he says. 

However, Boundless’s biggest selling point to Bill was their commitment to cutting-edge technology. “One of my main points in who we're going to sell to is they have to be on the leading edge of technology as far as for customer interface and art and graphics,” he explains. “And that's one of the things that brought us close to Boundless. They’re committed to that.”

It was a great match on both sides, and Boundless finalized the deal with PromoAdvantage in December of 2022. Since then, the partnership has led to so many amazing outcomes. 

Cutting-Edge Technology

An exciting element of this partnership is that Boundless is implementing a new ERP system in 2024. “We have the warehouse and the fulfillment piece here, and that runs smoothly, but the technology tools and the customer interface that NetSuite is going to offer us for how we communicate and how we stay in touch with our customers, that's what excites me,” Bill says. 

The enhancements that come with this new system will make it much easier for the two entities to work together, bringing everyone into one clean, modern interface.”

Growing client relationships

Both Boundless and Bill are stoked about the possibilities of expanding their business through this partnership. “I'm real strong on trying to build what a lot of people call ‘sticky’ business. It's building client relationships that last a long time,” Bill says. 

Together, Boundless and PromoAdvantage plan to serve clients’ needs better. “Warehousing for them, managing their inventory, managing their budgets on larger projects, the kit and fulfillment piece of it, and even doing other things, incorporating other pieces of their business that maybe we don't sell them like some of their collateral that inventoried and fulfilled out to their locations,” he says.  “It's building something that makes it easy for them to call you and do business and makes it hard for them to replace you.”

Solid culture

Not to brag, but Boundless is known for having an enviable culture built on fun, respect, and out-of-the-box thinking. Since Bill wanted to continue working after the sale and he cared about how his team felt, personal fit and culture mattered a lot. He could tell from his first meeting with Boundless that the team was something special. “Once we got to meet a few of their people, they're absolutely fantastic, and I think that they have great salespeople around the country. They're very motivated and their culture just seems to be super strong, and that fit in really well with us,” he says. 

It was an unexpectedly pleasant change for Bill. ”The working atmosphere with our support staff has continued to improve since they’ve been involved with the Boundless team. Even the salespeople comment that we’ve always been good, but we’ve never been this good,” he says. “Our staff is very glad that we made the decision for Boundless. It’s just fantastic. It’s been a good process for our operation and our support staff.”

The Horizon Ahead: PromoAdvantage and Boundless Unite

The future already looks bright for PromoAdvantage and Boundless. “It’s going to be work, but we’re not afraid of it,” Bill says. In fact, one of Bill’s salespeople decided to delay their retirement because of the dramatic improvements. “It's not because he needs the money, it's just because he likes his job, which is pretty cool,” Bill explains. 

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