Traveling Back in Time

Earlier this week, I was heading to dump my paper recycling into the larger office bin, when I noticed a box of catalogs that looked quite different than the ones we are used to browing through today.  I did a little digging, and found that the catalogs went back to the early 1960s.  I thought you, readers, would be interested in seeing what our “vintage” catalogs looked like, so enjoy the pictures for a brief trip down memory lane…

In the early 1960s, our catalog was really a 24 page pamphlet

Products sold in 1964 included individually lettered felt banners and 3-streamer ribbons

In the pre-computer era, we used illustrations to demonstrate how to use products like this flagpole ribbon

These fair rosettes were probably just as popular as horse show rosettes at the time. Also note the metal rosette centers.

We didn't even have an order form until the 1970s. This letter was used to demonstrate how a customer should request their ribbons.

Catalogs in the late 60s and early 70s used a variation on this cover with a diagonal row of stock designs.

By the mid 70s catalogs were in full color and some of the products (like the Beauty) more closely resemble what we produce today.

In the 80s and early 90s we manufactured European style rosettes.

Is there any particular product  or catalog you remember from years past?  I’ll do my best and attempt to dig it up for the blog!

Need a squash? We’ve got 30

Back in May, Rick set out to turn a patch of land behind our warehouse into his annual garden.  After four trailerloads of manure from Sandy Point Stables, and a few trips with the roto-tiller, he started planting seeds and seedlings for herbs, fruits and vegetables. 

Come July, the produce has become so plentiful that the cafeteria has turned into a veritable farmstand.  Loaded up with cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, green beans, and broccoli, the tables offer up fresh vegetables to any employee who wants them.  The peppers and tomatoes tend to go quickly, but people are hesitant to pick up the 28 inch zucchini or six pound squash.  Not that I blame them– what do you do with that much squash?!  We are still waiting for the cantaloupe, watermelon, carrots and onions to grow bigger, but they should soon join the pile.

Contenders for 'biggest vegetable' filling an 8 foot table

Some employees put in some time in the garden in exchange for picking their own produce.  Others have simply gone out to gather some fresh vegetables for dinner because nobody has had time to pick them all.  Either way, it’s been a great way to get a little sun on your lunch break and bring home some fresh food for dinner.   

Where are we? An Introduction to Portsmouth

You might have seen our address printed on our catalogs or on correspondence with your order, but exactly where is Portsmouth, Rhode Island?  I thought I would use a blog entry to tell our readers a little bit more about the area. 

As you can see on the map, Portsmouth is located on the original island that gave Rhode Island its official name, which still today is the “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations”.  While Aquidneck Island, as it’s known locally, is not small at 12 miles long, you still have to cross one of three bridges to get here.

Other than being the current home of our offices, Portsmouth is also known for the competitive polo played at Glen Farm (former site of the International Jumping Derby in the 1970s and 80s), the well-respected Portsmouth Abbey School, and the wind turbines that rise above the landscape (ours will be the town’s third).  Other random unique sites include the annual corn maze at Highland Farm (see below), the Green Animals topiary garden, and the historical marker of the Portsmouth Compact, where followers of Anne Hutchinson set up an independent colony in 1638.

If you’re in the area, or even just visiting nearby Newport and the famous mansions on summer vacation, you are more than welcome to stop in.  We have an awards showroom set up for visitors, and would be happy to talk with you!

Meet our Customer Service Reps- Part VI

I’m back with another opportunity to meet our Customer Service Reps, and this time I talked with Gail, a native Rhode Islander who has ten years experience working for Hodges Badge.  Like Donna, Gail remembers working with orders kept on paper (instead of electronically), but shares that she was one of the first to learn to scan in orders to our  database.

In ten years, Gail has heard a lot of interesting things from our customers.  There was one equestrian customer who was treating her horse’s colic while calling to check on an order, and another who had to hang up after the tornado warning sirens went off.  She also is understanding when a customer stays on the phone a little longer to share a story or vent about a show they’re planning.  But at the end of the day, it’s these same customers that make her laugh, and make her work worthwhile.

Outside of work, Gail says her one and three-year-old granddaughters are her world, although she wishes they were closer (they’re in North Carolina).   She also notes that despite being from a Navy family and living almost her entire life in Rhode Island, she dislikes both the ocean and seafood.  (I guess that’s similar to living in Texas and hating barbeque.)

Do you have a question about one of our reps that they could answer here on the blog?  Send an email to info@hodgesbadge.com with “blog” in the subject line.

2011 Equestrian Cover Contest

Summer is often a busy season for horse show enthusiasts, with plenty of options on the calendar each week.  That said, I thought it would be a good time to remind you about our annual Cover Contest, where we award $2500 to the person who submits a photo with a Hodges ribbon deemed most “cover worthy.”  There are also ten $100 prizes for Honorable Mentions, who will get their picture printed inside the catalog. 

So what does it take to win?  There’s no exact answer to that question, but here are some tips:

  • Choose your background carefully.  Be mindful of tree branches and fence posts that seem to grow out of your horse’s head.
  • We should be able to see the front of a Hodges rosette somewhere in the photo. 
  • Kids are cute, but don’t discount pictures of adult riders, miniature horses, yearlings or even donkeys.  Any person or animal that wins an equestrian ribbon is eligible.

You can access an entry form and all the official rules here: http://64.14.24.22/images/art/CoverContest2011.pdf

Friday Funnies

Those of you that follow Hodges Badge on Facebook probably already know that I’m a fan of the Cheezburger sites, where cat and dog photos get hilarious captions.  Once in a while a horse picture will pop up… so for today’s Friday Funnies I’ve collected a few of the better ones for you. 

Do you have a funny horse show or dog show picture that is just asking for a creative caption?  Send it to me with “blog” in the subject at info@hodgesbadge.com

 

Why a Badge Company?

I realize there’s a small chance some of you may have ventured over to the Hodges History section of our website, but for those that haven’t, I wanted to write a post to explain why our company has its name– or more specifically, why it’s called Hodges Badge Company and not Hodges Awards, Hodges Ribbons, or some other variation on that theme.

While people today tend to use the word “badge” for police officer medallions, or company IDs, in 1920, when Hodges Badge Company was founded, a “badge” also referred to the name tag and attached ribbon frequently worn by fraternal orders, or social clubs, such as The Elks or the Knights of Columbus.  That’s how the company got its start- making badges for lodge meetings, parades, funerals and other fraternal gatherings.

Horse shows didn’t really become popular until the late 1930s, and Hodges didn’t start selling ribbons and awards to additional markets (gymnastics, swim, athletic, school) until much later.  Therefore, by the time we were manufacturing far more ribbons and rosettes than badges, the company name had already existed for several decades.

The company actually has considered changing names several times, as recently as last summer, when Hodges Ribbons & Awards was the popular choice.  Yet ultimately, honoring the 90 year family history of the company and keeping the original name won out. 

So now, when I travel to trade shows or meet someone and explain who I work for, I do have to take a moment to describe the type of products Hodges offers.  But honestly, it would seem strange to be working for Hodges Awards, since when I turned over my first horse show ribbon at age 10, it definitely said Hodges Badge.

Sharing the Blog Love

As you may know, Hodges products cater to a variety of markets.  It’s tough to blog about material that interests equestrians, dog show enthusiasts, gymnasts, swimmers, county fair organizers and even teachers.  But I do try to keep up to date with news from all of these arenas, and blogs tend to be a fairly simple way to do so.  Here are a few of the blogs that I enjoy reading on a regular basis:

  • 4 Dog Craziness- Blogger Diana competes her beautiful sheltie Miley in agility.  In addition to posting competition and training videos, she also has a knack for gorgeous photography such as in today’s post.
  • Jane Savoie Dressage- Well-known and respected dressage coach and competitor, Jane Savoie, writes a blog from her horse’s (Moshi) and dog’s (Indy) perspectives.   Great introspection on the bonds between animals and “their people.”
  • Gymnastics Coaching.com not only highlights training drills and impressive routines, but also features fun gymnastics-related videos, like the one of the kid who practices his double twist on the playground swingset.
  • The Equinest is a non-discipline specific blog featuring everything from interviews with equine artists, to features about breeds, horse organizations, and other equine blogs.  Check out this entry on horse treat recipes.
  • Many state fairs run their own blog letting readers know about events happening (or in the making) at the fairgrounds.  One that stands out is Deep Fried, the official blog of the North Carolina State Fair.

Our NEW Website

So you may have noticed (and I admit to hinting at it here and on Facebook) that our new company website launched last week.  The site is the first major relaunch since 2001, and has taken advantage of newer technology in order to make ordering online easier. 

You can now browse by both theme (gymnastics, school products, equestrian etc.) and type of product, as well as preview all stock designs and logos within each product.  Our search option has also gotten much more functional, product photos are larger, and you can now upload titles and artwork as part of your order.  Given the endless ways you can customize Hodges products, I’d say it works pretty well!

We also have another new feature in the works- an image configurator will enable you to preview the ribbon that you are ordering complete with your choice of color, design and print.

In the meantime, if you have any issues with ordering online or finding a particular product, Customer Service will be glad to help you out.  Give us a call at 800-556-2440 or send us an email at info@hodgesbadge.com

PS- Kudos go out to our Webmaster Jennifer and her web helpers who have been working hard on the new site for quite a while.

Bristol R.I.’s 4th of July

Every year, since 1785, Bristol, Rhode Island, has hosted an Independence Day celebration, which makes the town title to the Oldest Continuous Celebration in the United States.  Bristol happens to be the next town to the north of Portsmouth, where our headquarters are located, and Hodges happens to play a small part in the festivities. 

Besides having resident Bristolians (that’s what they call people from Bristol) work in our office, Hodges has made the buttons for the town’s art contest since 1992 .  We scan in the winner’s artwork and shrink it down to button size.  This year’s winner (shown on left) is 8-year-old Bowen of Colt-Andrews school.

Besides the button contest, the town celebration is probably best known for its parade, which attracts visitors and performers from across the country.  There is also a concert series, carnival, pageant, 4th of July ball, orange crate derby, and visiting Navy ship, not to mention that the town’s main streets are painted with a red, white and blue stripe. 

If you’re in New England, or will be for the Holiday weekend, you can find the full slate of events on the town committee’s website, www.july4thbristolri.com.   No matter where you are, I hope you enjoy the 4th!