Garden Signs

Garden Marker Signsgarden signs are a new product line we have added at QuickTrophy this past year. Garden signs are used as formal markers in garden plots or arboretums. They are, for instance, used for recognition in community garden plots that are taken care of by volunteers.

We’ve had many requests for garden signs over the years and finally found a solution that works. They offer the customer a wide variety of choices in the size, shape and color of the sign. You can even change the font size and style to fit the “mood” of the garden plot.

For needs of a more permanent nature, we also offer some cast aluminum garden signs and park bench plaques with an engraved anodized plate. We offer these signs with a stake attachment for sticking into the ground, or with screws for attaching them to walls or park benches. Deep cast custom aluminum signs usually cost over $500 each, but these affordable signs are available at a fraction of the cost.

Dual Purpose Awards

A customer came in recently looking for ideas for Dual Purpose Awards – Something that could be presented as a trophy or award, but that had a practical use as well. Something like a belt buckle, a drinking glass, or some other custom gifts. He noted that his personal trophy case was full of trophies and medals and he wanted something to present to the contestants they could use beyond the event. Recognition for successfully completing a challenging event, even something as intense as a marathon or an ultra-dual purpose awardsmarathon, was great and well deserved, but he thought presenting an award that could be used day to day like a coffee mug, would be appreciated as well.

QuickTrophy offers several such items, such as the ever popular flasks. But with this practical suggestion by a customer, we plan to add more dual purpose awards to our trophy and awards selection.

Crystal Disc Golf Trophy

crystal disc golf trophyQuickTrophy has recently introduced what may be the most beautiful crystal award disc golf trophy ever. It is a piece of optic crystal 4″ high, 2″ wide and 1″ thick with a full color, digitally printed picture of a disc golf basket. The image is printed on the back of the crystal so you look through the glass to see the picture. This gives the award a great depth. Your personalized engraving is printed as part of the image. our digital printer uses a UV ink curing process that has an extremely high-definition, photo quality that is simply stunning.

Truly, this crystal disc golf trophy is more a piece of art deserving of a place on the home mantle!

Recycling Old Trophies

At QuickTrophy we get calls from customers on a regular basis regarding reusing or recycling old trophies that have accumulated over the years. After the events are long past and the commemorating trophies have accumulated dust, they sometimes shift from being a source of pride to a burden of “stuff”. What can be done with something that once Old Pickup Championship Trophyheld a special place in someone’s heart? It is difficult to just toss them, they deserve a better fate. Can’t they be reused and given to someone who will cherish them as much as the original recipient?

But when people buy trophies from us, they want them all shiny and new, and matching each other. Parts and trophy designs change over time, so the styles of columns and figurines used in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s are different than those used today. And finding matching pieces from decades past is difficult, if not nearly impossible.

So what is the solution? Would people be open to receiving a “vintage” trophy? We could clean them up and put new engraving on them. They could be marketed as “Recycled Trophies” or “Vintage Trophies” or even “Legacy Trophies”. What do you think?

The Cost of Shipping

We often have customers comment on the cost of shipping – how expensive it is to ship them a trophy, award, or name tag. We do what we can to keep the cost down as much as possible, by offering First Class Mail shipping if the item ordered is light enough. But when we ship items by UPS or FedEx Ground, it costs $8 to $12 dollars just to ship an empty box, depending on your location. So a $5 trophy can easily cost twice as much to ship! With larger orders, such as 12 soccer trophies for the team, the cost to ship them is a much lower percentage of their value – it will typically cost $15 to $20 to ship 12 trophies. And with orders over $100, we will pick up the cost for Ground shipping.

We don’t control how much the shipping companies charge, but we do what we can to make the cost of shipping as low as possible. To see an estimate of what the shipping charges will be before you place your order, we have a Shipping Estimator built into our web site. It is not 100% accurate, but it will give you a ball park estimate.

Why Employee Recognition Awards?

Star AwardWhy do we hand out employee recognition awards? Are they a waste of money? Do we get any return on our investment?

Your employees work hard – but usually there are a few or one in particular that excel in their accomplishments. Maybe they pushed hard on a project to make sure it came in ahead of schedule, or they worked longer hours to make sure the system upgrade went smoothly, or maybe they helped to energize the team when things looked grim. Whatever the reason, when you publicly recognize an employee in front of their peers with custom corporate awards, the effect is amazing! Their pride generates a positive wave in the workplace and other employees are positively affected by it. They too, are encouraged to put forth the extra effort. The atmosphere is changed and charged up in a positive way resulting in a better work environment for all.

When you get right down to it, publicly recognizing your employees for a job well done and commemorating it with achievement awards – no matter how simple – results in a big payoff for the investment made. A waste of money? No way – in a big way!

Flowers or Trophies?

We often give people flowers when they are ill. Why? Is it because flowers represent life, spring, or new growth? But sometimes I wonder: What would be more appropriate – Flowers or trophies?

People who are injured or ill, or end up in the hospital for some reason are ofteflowers or trophiesn faced with a tough personal struggle. The healing and recovery process often requires a lot of personal sacrifice, changes in lifestyle, and hard rehab work. In many ways it is similar to an athlete preparing for an endurance challenge. When the athlete completes his or her event, we reward them with a trophy or award to commemorate the event and as a reminder that all the hard work paid off. But when someone goes through the same endurance challenge battling an illness or injury – in many cases a life threatening ordeal – we treat them with a bouquet of flowers. A nice gesture, but fleeting at best. I propose we develop a line of awards for those who have successfully won the battle of health. To let them know we recognize the struggle they have endured and to encourage them to continue in their endeavors.

In the any particular case, it will be up to you to decide which would be more appropriate – flowers or trophies?


Cycling: Tour de France

Lance Armstrong has dominated the news in the run up to this year’s Tour de France. The doping scandal rocked the cycling world to its axles last year. How can he take the lead from here?

Cycling’s premier tournament, the Tour de France, took a big hit in 2013 after the revelations of seven-time winner Lance Armstrong’s admissions of doping. It’s difficult to keep faith with a sport built on endurance and personal triumph when it’s revealed that the best of the best cheated. The sport is trying to clean up its act, but it’s like cycling up a mountain.

This year the Tour de France has started strong and gradually the news media are concentrating less on the past and more on the future. The focus is now where it should be, on the teams of riders battling through the 21 stages and the true winners going forward into the future.

Cheating is not New

Sadly despite the scandal last year when Armstrong confessed after being retroactively stripped of his wins between 1999–2005, doping in the Tour is not a new thing. As early as its beginnings in 1903 the dubious use of substances to enhance performance has resulted in disqualifications and bans. At the turn of the century riders used strychnine, cocaine, chloroform, aspirin, “horse ointment” and other drugs to give themselves an edge.

These days the drug of choice is something called EPO or Erythropoietin, a drug that helps oxygen uptake in the blood and is popular in all endurance sports. Lance Armstrong admitted he used EPO throughout his Tour career. Although he was by no means the first to cheat in this way, he was by far the most high profile.

The disappointment from fans and riders who take honesty seriously was huge. Sports are supposed to be about man versus his own limitations as a human being, not man assisted by chemistry attempting to bypass them.

The Tour de Force

The first race was in 1903 as an attempt to boost the sales of a magazine called L’Auto. The first 6 stage Tour was a success, leading to an 11 stage Tour the following year. The modern race takes place over 21 stages spread over 23 days.

Rest days and limits to the distances travelled were imposed in the 1960s after another high profile doping scandal, this time resulting in the death of rider Tom Simpson. Simpson died in 1967 on the 13th stage of the race after the ascent from Mont Ventoux. A diuretic combination of amphetamines and alcohol proved fatal to Simpson in the heat of the mountainous stage.

Now for safety reasons the stages are broken up with rest days and train journeys around France and the surrounding countries, while still maintaining a loop of some kind. The distances travelled in a day are carefully judged by sports medicine experts to ensure that the route is challenging but not potentially fatal.

To keep the energy up, the modern prize for the winner of the race is in the region of €500,000.

The Tour Going Forwards

Although doping is not a new phenomenon it is still a hot topic and causes dispute and anger among riders. Lance Armstrong didn’t help when he recently rather foolishly asserted that it was impossible to win the Tour without doping. Riders were understandably outraged. None more so than David Millar, a former colleague of Armstrong’s and a self confessed doper who is now a vocal anti-doping campaigner.

“What needs to change is that we need complete truth and transparency into what happened in the 15-year era of the 1990s and early 2000s,” he said in an interview in June with Eurosport TV in the UK “so we can understand what mistakes were made and we can make sure those mistakes do not happen again. Because I think racing has cleaned up a lot, I think the Tour de France can be won clean.”

Let’s hope he’s right. The trouble with cheating is it taints all other exponents of a sport. The eye of suspicion is on everyone, guilty or innocent. This makes all sport tougher. Not only are you attempting to surpass your own limitations, you now have to prove that it can be done free of illegal enhancements. For some sports people that pressure may prove too much.

But what we wish more than anything is that all the data showing that doping is on the decline are true, especially for the Tour de France the toughest bike race in the world. We need heroes we can trust.

Why Trust is Important

The purpose of sports is to be an example of heroism. You perform your sport to show what you can do through training and persistence. Doping scandals shake faith in sports, and diminish the efforts of those who achieved under their own steam.

The task of all athletes in the wake of doping scandals is to work to prove that sports performance and achievement is real. That sports people are real heroes.

Bicycle Economy TrophyWhen you look at the trophies on your shelf, no matter what they’re for, can you really live with yourself, knowing that they should belong to someone else?

As a sportsman or sportswoman you need to take pride in knowing that you not only did what you did, but you did it yourself. Cheating with performance enhancing substances is a lie and the person you’re lying to is yourself.

Further Reading

Little League Baseball

Little League baseball is an American family tradition. You yourself may even look back on your own experiences with a nostalgic warmth. Do you want to provide that same experience for your own children? How can you explain to them why it’s such a great pastime?

Parenting is full of choices. Some of these choices are fun and some… not so much. One of the more challenging choices for some families is how to get your kids out of the house, get some exercise and join in with something. Sports is great exercise and socially very rich, but it can be a tough sell to the kids.

Modern children have a distressing tendency to stay home, or stay at a friend’s home, indulging in the new entertainment technologies that the 21st Century has to offer. But we all need to get outside once in a while and interact with people who are not made of pixels on a computer screen or TV… right?

It may be that there is a strong tradition of sports in your family, if so, this isn’t something you will ever really have to think about. Sports is an automatic part of your life. But what if that’s not the case? What if your family never really engaged in sports, but you think it might be a good idea? What are the real benefits of something like Little League?

Family Sports Tradition

Let’s start with a little history. Little League was founded by Carl Stotz in 1939 as a small league in Williamsport, PA, and started composed of just three teams. Over time it has grown and spread in popularity into a nationwide league and the largest organized sports organization in the world. Children between the ages of 4 up to 18 years old can participate in the league.

It’s well known that many Little League baseball players leave the league to go to high school and continue to play. Sometimes they even go on to play college baseball and turn professional. It’s potentially a career path for those talented and enthusiastic enough to pursue it.

So it’s recognized that Little League is organized, healthy and potentially can result in high earnings way down the road. But these notions may be meaningless to a 4 year old going into the program. How can you sell it to children that this might be one of the most rewarding things they ever do?

Why Play Ball?

First of all. there’s the fitness aspect. We call it “exercise”. Children call this “play”.

As adults, we know that there are some alarming statistics on childhood weight problems. Some say as many as 30% of the child population is obese or overweight  (Source: Trust for America’s Health). Even without the statistics and scare stories about weight, it’s obvious that active kids are healthy kids. You need some reason for them to get outside. Bottom line, baseball keeps kids active and the game itself is play.

Another worthwhile upside of taking part in a sport that is watched by others is confidence. Children love to be watched showing off that they can do stuff, showing mastery of their world. But staying in too much damages their social skills and makes them uncomfortable being observed by people. Playing ball in front of an audience gives them confidence, and even makes them enjoy attention. This feeling of confidence and self-awareness can carry over to the rest of their daily life.

In addition, being out there on the field is a potent lesson in teamwork; you can’t win a game on your own. You have to work with others, enjoy the company of others and begin to learn how to get along with other people. This is a positive and a negative. Rivalry in groups can cause friction and difficulty. Learning to get past these problems and forge friends from rivals is a valuable life lesson.

And finally  –  although it’s in danger of fast becoming an archaic concept – there’s the idea of sportsmanship. In this day and age of instant gratification and sore losers, it’s vital to educate kids in the ideas of winning and losing. But also doing so with grace. Yes, that is a slightly old fashioned concept, but is it a meaningful one worth perpetuating? Absolutely.

Get Involved

You can even make it a family bonding exercise if you yourself get involved in organizing the local league, or just helping out as a volunteer. It’s a great way to spend time with your kids, get to know other kids and parents in your area, and generally provide the glue that keeps people together working for common goals.

Whatever you decide to do, and however you end up pitching it to your children, Little League is packed with good stuff for kids to learn and grow. It will be something they will, like you, look back on with pride and warmth.

Oh, and it’s really good fun!

Further Reading