A hardhat tour at Purina Farms Event Center

Welcome to Purina Farms

This afternoon I had the honor of joining Brock Fitzgerald for a hard hat tour (I really had to wear one!) of the new Purina Farms Event Center.  Last march I visited the Purina facility and they had just broken ground for the new building.  Today there is a huge difference – the building is almost weather tight, and looks like it should certainly make the planned opening in September of 2010.

Below are a number of shots taken inside the building today.

This is a photo of the main event hall. This is a clear span building with 45,000 square feet of competition space.

Exhibit hall - photo taken from 2nd floor deck.

This is the upstairs banquet facility.  Glass windows on both sides will give views of both the competition hall and the grooming and preparation area.

Banquet and catering space for 600!

There will be dog bathing stalls along this wall.

Dog bathing stalls will line this wall in a few weeks.

This is the grooming area!

Dog grooming area - can you believe it!

This will be the cafe.

Future home of the cafe/snack bar.

This is without a doubt going to be the finest dog show arena in the country.  Brock says that they will be open for business in September of 2010.

If you are interested in bringing your event to Purina Farms, contact Brock Fitzgerald at Purina.  He can be reached at 314-882-3232.  Ask him about our special deal on ribbons for events held at Purina Farms – our neighbor in Franklin County, Missouri.

One of the existing outdoor competition areas.

Dock dog/agility course.

This is why we do it…

One of the most fulfilling parts of this job is the knowledge of a job well done and in turn a happy customer. We received an email today from a 4-H customer that let us know we had achieved both and I wanted to share it everyone.

I received my order of ribbons today and I am so excited. Thank you so very much, they are beautiful. This was my first time ordering ribbons for a show and you made it so easy and hassle free. I asked for shipping by the 26th and received them today, can’t ask for better customer service. I will definitely place all my ribbon orders from you in the future, as well as refer you when I am asked where the ribbons came from, which I am sure will happen because they are so unique. Thank you so much again.”

 

 

Kentucky Horse Park Visit October 2009

Today was a beautiful day to visit the KY Horse Park – site of the 2010 World Equestrian Games.  I am here to visit with USEF, USDF, USPC and USHJA – a busy couple of days!  I had not been here since Rolex in 2008, and wow, has it changed a lot

Welcome to the KY Horse Park!

It is obvious as you enter the park that a huge amount of money has been spent on improvements.  The most obvious changes are the new open air stadium and the indoor arena.  Scott Carling of USEF told me that they began construction of the open air stadium seating immediately after Rolex in 2008, and it was actually completed in time for Rolex 2009!  Here are some shots of the stadium on a day when the occupancy was 1.

View from the top of the stadium arena.

Here is a shot from the courtyard outside.

Bruce Davidson in the courtyard

After climbing the bleachers (all the way to row AA) I made it over to the new indoor arena.  It is kind of landscaped into the hill to hide its size, but as you can see, it seats about 5,000 in climate controlled splendor.  One of the early events in the venue will be the 2010 IHSA championships next May.

Inside the Arena

Here is a shot from the outside.

The new indoor arena.

Looking across the horse park

Outside the arena.

Fall is always an interesting time to visit the horse park as many things are changing.  One change is the new USHJA building.  Almost complete as you can see in these photos, but I was unable to go inside for a look-see.

USHJA Headquarters

As always, the horse park is a great place to visit.  If you are coming for WEG, make your plans early – and think about flying into Cincinnati – it is only 70 miles away and has much better access.  In addition, don’t be surprised if accommodations are not available nearby.  Hotels have already upped their rates, so an hour of driving may just save you a lot of $$!

How Do We… Print on Ribbons

You have probably never given a thought to how all the titles, places and dates get onto the ribbons you have won.  You still don’t have to (because that is our job!) but I am going to give you the basics of  how ribbons get printed, because it’s an interesting process…

All of our orders begin on a computer screen, when you explain your needs to our customer service rep, and they enter it into the computer system.  The order is printed, checked and we send you an acknowledgment.  Then the order travels to the plant office, and into production.

The typesetter takes their instructions from the printout, and pulls brass matts from a drawer like this one:

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They compose the type in the stick, like this, and it goes into the Ludlow, which casts a single line of type like the one shown below.  Each line of type lasts for 1,000 impressions, at most, before it must be melted down to be reused.

DSC_0421

Type is composed in a chase, and placed in a hot stamping press.  These presses operate at 325 degrees, and stamp the ribbon with 12 tons of force.  The gold leaf is really embossed into the ribbon with that much pressure.  We use specially modified presses from Vansco Manufacturing because they print better than any other press available.

Using these presses, we can print and cut 100 ribbons a minute.  Or, if each ribbon needs to be individually titled, about 1 per minute.  If you have a long list of titles, we ask that you send them to us as an excel file – and we have a special press that can use that information for the printing instructions, saving time and expense over hand setting all the type.  Most importantly, it helps us get the right spellings of dog names.

Next week – putting rosettes together!

A Taste of Our Specialty Items

Our vast selection of ribbons, rosettes, sashes, silver, trophies, etc., covers pretty much every award a dog could ever hope to win. But, what about after the show or event? Well, for the humans out there, we have several specialty items… all great ways to recognize allegiance to a club, to show off your affection for your dog, or as thank-yous to volunteers that support your group or organization. Here are some of our favorites…

Canvas Prints:

An economical way to capture your favorite dog. Transfer photographs onto durable, high-quality canvas (in 6 standard sizes) that is treated to protect fingerprints and fading.
Prints are available in color, sepia tone or black and white.

canvasprints

Window Decals:

Show off your club affiliation (and get your name out into the community!). Decals are full color in adhesive or cling material that is customizable. (50 piece minimum)

rectanglewindowdecal

Mugs:

11 oz. ceramic mugs can be printed with your colorful logo (36 per case minimum).

mugs

Banners:

This vinyl banner is a great affordable alternative to promotional signage! Wipes clean easily and features gold cord and fringe.

vinyl banner

Other selections available on our website

Incredible Dogs and an Incredible New Dog Show Facility

There is a multitude of dog shows happening at any given time, but we were just reading about the Incredible Dog Challenge, an, er, incredible event that recently took place at Purina Farms in Gray Summit, Mo.

increddog

The Incredible Dog Challenge is a series of televised competitions that showcase “incredible dogs” competing in activities like Freestyle Flying Disc, Agility, Diving, and Head-to-Head 60-Weave Pole racing. The events take place in various places across the country, and culminate with the national finals at Purina’s home-base in Mo. (Great photos from the event here)

Aside from the amazing talent of these dogs (congratulations to all the winners!), the event caught our interest because Purina is not only such a powerhouse in the dog market, but because they are our neighbors! Purina Farms is just a few miles from our manufacturing facility in Missouri, and we’re very much excited about the new Purina Event Center is building to house dog shows.

If you haven’t heard, this new indoor-event center, slated to open in Fall 2010, is one of a kind. The facility will have a 45,000-square-foot main exhibition hall a 13,500-square-foot benching and grooming area (which can also be used for smaller shows and events), handler changing areas, a dog bathing room and a dog water station, a fully-equipped show office, a café, a banquet room with seating for over 350, and a conference room.

We can’t wait to see it and are especially excited that Hodges owner Rick Hodges is heading to Missouri next week where he’ll be treated to a hard-hat tour of the site. It is sure to be quite an experience, so stay tuned for updates! And, as always, we’d love to hear about your incredible dogs and events, whatever their size…

A Call to Excellence – Customer Service Week 2009

Every year in October we celebrate our Customer Service department with Customer Service Week. This year is no different. The whole company realizes what an important part of the team customer services is.

It’s a fun week, filled with games, food, contests and sometimes costumes. Every day this week has been something different. This year there were three contests – Guess who!, ID competitor rosettes from a photo  & Who’s gonna win the football game  on Sunday.

We started the week with a “Guess Who!”  Almost everyone brought in a childhood photograph and you had to match the employee with their photo.

  

Apparently  I haven’t changed much because everyone knew this picture was me.

The next part of the week was fun too. Everyone had a chance to role play. Each department in the company tried their hand in another department for an hour. Of course the most popular request was to be the president!

This Friday is causal day with cheese  ‘n’ crackers with the winners of the contests being announce but today is my favorite day. It’s the lunchtime picnic. Rick Hodges heat up the grill and cooks a mean burger. I can taste them already!

Just so you see what I’m talking about,here are a couple of pictures from years past:  

Dog Awards in the Making, Behind the Scenes

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Hodges' Rhode Island Factory

As always, the factory here in Rhode Island is abuzz with activity this week. Those of us who work here every day take for granted the size and scope of the facility, but when we watched a visitor take a tour recently (with her mouth slightly agape) we realized that many of our customers probably have no idea of how things run behind the scenes at Hodges Badge Company, the largest ribbon and awards manufacturers in the country.

Hodges Badge Company has two facilities: our headquarters in Portsmouth, R.I., and a second facility in Missouri (more on the latter factory in a later Good, Dog! post). We process roughly 40,000 orders and turn 12 million yards of satin ribbon into rosettes, flat ribbons and neck ribbons for medals annually. We also make more than 1 million medals and 100,000 exhibitor numbers each year. So, while a single order of ribbons doesn’t take up a whole lot of space, 12 million yards of that ribbon is a different matter entirely. Our Portsmouth warehouse and production facility alone is 45,000 sq. feet and has 100 employees (101 if you count our pup, McKell).

This week, one of the orders we’re finishing up is for ribbons and kennet, jersey, guernsey, holsworthy, and chatham rosettes for the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and the Hudson Valley Dog Club. To create the rosettes, Hodges staffers pleat (ruffle) satin and form it into a circle.  The club logo is then placed in a gold bezel and glued into the center of the rosette.  Finally the rosette and streamers are  glued to the center.  (That is the short version.  We will detail the process in a future post).

dog discs-1dog empire-1

Rosettes for the Association of Pet Dog Trainers

Rosettes for the Hudson Valley Dog Club

Once finished, the items will be boxed and shipped to the Hudson Valley Dog Club for the final, and most important, step in our process: presentation to the Hudson Valley Dog Club’s winning dogs and their proud owners.

NEW Silver Presentation Trays for Fall

We are constantly looking for NEW solutions to the same questions we’ve been asking for over 89 years now – What kind of new awards can we offer our customers?

Wave Tray

New Wave Tray

As the world is changing and we are too. We continue to bring you the classic awards like  Ideal Rosettes, Point Top Ribbons, and LX Medals but year after year we bring in new ideas to keep our products up to date and fresh. This year we are adding 5 New Silver Presentation trays.

These silver trays are an economical solution to special awards that you want customized. Text engraving is free and for only $5 more a tray you can get your custom logo engraved as well. Check them out >> NEW SILVER AWARDS

Our Story: Who, When, Why, Where… and Woof

As Hodges Badge Company approaches its 90th year (or 630th dog year), we sat down and thought about the markets we serve and the customers we love. And, as we planned for the next 90 years, we decided to put a special focus here on one of the markets we’re particularly fond of: Dogs.

We’ve long served the dog show market with custom-made dog show ribbons, dog show rosettes, dog show sashes, dog show medals, dog show trophies and other prizes. Now, we’re excited to build upon those relationships and connect here with dog show organizers and participants, canine clubs, and, generally, anyone who loves our four-legged friends. Here on Good, Dog!, we’ll be keeping everyone up to date on our products, company, and partnerships; exchanging information on upcoming shows and events; commenting on news in the dog market and, on occasion, sharing some personal anecdotes about dogs.

Inspiring us in this new, enhanced venture into the dog market is someone McKellnew we have around the office… Labrador Retriever mix puppy McKell, who was just adopted by Hodges Badge Company owner Rick Hodges and his wife, Jenn. Year-old McKell joined the family here in Rhode Island last week, after a long trek up from Tennessee (special thanks to the wonderful rescue groups petfinder.com and pawsnewengland.com, by the way). Now, while we know McKell will never be a show dog, and her greatest skill from what we can tell is chewing slippers, she nevertheless gets a very special award for winning the hearts of everyone here at Hodges.

Hodges Badge Owner Rick Hodges With McKell

Hodges Badge Owner Rick Hodges With McKell

Stay tuned for more from McKell and about what’s happening here at Hodges Badge Company and in the dog show world. Meanwhile, we’d love to hear from you regarding dog shows and events, feedback or questions on our products, or simply your favorite puppy stories…
(Click here to join us on our new Facebook page, as well!)