Dos and Don’ts for our Cover Contest

I am fresh from reviewing all of the entries for the Hodges Badge Company 2011 Equestrian Catalog cover contest.   Thank you to everyone that submitted an entry! With next year in mind, I want to offer you a few tips on what works (and what doesn’t).  While the next deadline isn’t until October 2011, we will accept your submissions at any time during the year.

Here are the Don’ts:

  • Don’t submit another company’s ribbon or trophy.  The awards must be from Hodges.  No exceptions.
  • Don’t submit an out-of-focus award.  We need to be able to read the print.
  • Don’t try too hard to be cute. 
  • Don’t demonstrate unsafe riding.  Make sure your helmet fits, and don’t stand next to a horse while barefoot.
  • Don’t fail to consider your background composition- a porta-potty behind your horse, or telephone pole sprouting from the rider’s head etc.
  • Don’t cut off heads or feet!

And the Dos:

  • Do send photos of less frequently awarded items  such as trophies, medals and plaques. 
  • Send entries that are different- llama or donkey shows, driving, side saddle, vaulting, sledding rallies.  While I realize the majority of our customers ride English or Western, we need to represent all horse pursuits.
  • Feel free to send multiple photos.  If you send more than 10, please vary the composition, lighting, etc.
  • Follow the rules for your discipline – helmets on in the ring, keepers in place on your bridle, etc.
  • Respond when we call you! Every year at least one ‘winner’ fails to get back to us and we have to dig deeper for another photo.
  • Use a fill flash on sunny days – otherwise foreheads under helmets are too dark for us to use.

How to Attach Replacement Streamers

Several of our customers have recently had questions about how to reuse rosettes with an old date or donated ribbons with a different show name.  I thought I’d help out by offering the answer on our blog for any other show managers with the same issue.

There are two options.  The first is to return the rosettes for a partial credit- (the amount will depend on the size and complexity of the rosette, and not all rosette types qualify- please call for details).  We will disassemble the rosettes and use the tops on a future order. 

The second option requires a bit more effort, but ends up being the more economical choice.  After ordering replacement streamers, it is quite simple to replace the dated ones with your new ribbon.  Here’s a little “How To” for guidance.

What’s the story behind that ribbon?

Once in a while, I come across an article that not only states who won an award at a fair, dog show, or horse show, but goes beyond to explain what the ribbon or trophy means.  Often times, it takes years of preparation and hard work to be competition-ready. 

This article from the Victoria (TX) Advocate shares the story of Rebecca Crain, a high school senior who just completed her last 4-H livestock show.    Eyeing her Grand Champion rosette, she says “This is ten years of work, right here.”  I hope you’ll click through for the full story.

I’m sure many more of our customers have a similar story to share about what it means to have won a ribbon or award.  I’d love to help you share your story here on the blog, so leave a comment or send an email to info@hodgesbadge.com

Come Visit Us at the 2010 NAE4-HA Conference

Next weekend, we’re heading out to Phoenix for the 2010 NAE4-HA National Conference.  The exhibit hall is open Sunday and Monday while the conference runs from Saturday to Thursday. 

We’ll have a wide selection of rosettes, ribbons, trophies, and medals for you to examine in person, and we’re also giving away a $100 gift certificate.  We’re excited to meet with 4-H leaders and volunteers, so if you’re going to be at the conference, please stop by and say hello!

Customer Feedback- We’re Listening!

If you’ve ever unpacked an order from us, you might have noticed a little white postcard asking for feedback on your experience dealing with our company.  If you ever wondered what happened to that card, I’d like to let you know that each one is read the very day it is received.

While positive feedback and compliments are great, what really motivate us are suggestions of things we could do better or differently.  As proof, I’ve put together a list of recent changes (within the past year) that were largely because of our customer recommendations:

  • Our larger selection of trophies came about because of your requests!  Brand new this year are the Superstar, Signature and Walnut series.  And now you can put any one of our 92 trophy tops on any base.
  • Our completely redesigned web site was launched with your suggestions for how to make ordering easier in mind.
  • You can now view neck ribbon, and medal designs straight from the main page instead of clicking through a product.  We’re working on adding similar pages for trophy tops and stock designs, and ribbon colors.
  • You asked for budget-friendly silver items at $10 or less.  We now have a 6″ round tray for $8.95 and a 6″ wave tray for $10.

 Have an idea or suggestion?  You can comment, leave a note on our facebook page, or email us at info@hodgesbadge.com.

The IHSA Gets Back in Gear

While the return to college football undoubtedly receives more public attention, we at Hodges Badge know that fall college athletics are back for another reason- the start of IHSA (Intercollegiate Horse Show Association) horse shows.   As a proud sponsor of and the Official Ribbon Supplier to the IHSA, we are happy to contribute to an organization which has made horse shows both more accessible and competitive.

Personally, I competed for four years as an undergraduate and will be back on campus to support my alma mater as a volunteer for Smith College’s home show this weekend.  So I understand how hard students work to prepare not only to compete, but to host events.  Know that here at Hodges, we strive to make ordering awards as easy as possible, so that at least one aspect of planning a show can be worry free.

If you’re a rider, coach, parent, volunteer or fan, good luck at your events this weekend and for the rest of the season!  We hope to meet you in person at Nationals in May!

PS- Need some creative ideas for your horse show ribbons?  We’ve recently seen orders using the school’s colors on side streamers, as well as universities putting their mascot in the rosette center.

PPS- If you are an IHSA rider or alumnus who’d like to share  your story about winning a memorable ribbon or award, we’d love to feature you on the blog.  Leave a comment and we’ll be in touch!

It’s National Customer Service Week!

In 1992, President Bush signed a Congressional Proclamation designating the first full week of October as National Customer Service Week.  Ever since, Hodges Badge has celebrated the week (and our valued Customer Service employees) with special events to lighten the mood in the office and say thank you for their hard work.

This year our staff working in both Missouri and Rhode Island will be treated to breakfast served by our President, there will be an outdoor cookout, and employees will take part in a trivia contest as well as a dessert bake-off. 

Most importantly, this week reminds us that our company would not be what it is today without our continuing commitment to customer service.  Despite the rise in online ordering, we maintain a full staff of customer service reps who go through months of training before even answering their first phone call.  We know that our commitment to service separates us from the competition and hope it keeps you returning each year.

Do you have a particular story about an interaction with our reps that you’d like to share on the blog?  We love feedback, so leave a comment or send us an email at info@hodgesbadge.com.

10 Random Facts about Hodges Badge Company

Our company is gearing up for an employee trivia contest next week… and in the preparation I have heard some random facts about Hodges Badge going around.  I’ve investigated to see which are true, and decided to post them here to share with you.

  1. Our company sells over 1,000,000 medals each year.
  2. Our Rhode Island staff all works on an island (OK, so it’s 12 miles long… see this post)
  3. The Ideal rosette has been popular ever since its introduction in 1961.
  4. Before World War II, our ribbons were printed with real gold leaf.  Yes, real gold.
  5. The company takes Halloween very seriously.  Employees who don’t come to work in costume on Halloween stand out more than those who do.
  6. Our wind turbine (in the works- stay tuned for construction updates) will make us the first manufacturer in Rhode Island to be entirely powered by renewable energy.
  7. We  travel across the country to exhibit in many different trade shows- I’ve been to 15 just this year so far!
  8. While horse shows remain our largest market, dog shows are the fastest growing.
  9. We print awards not only in English, but have made ribbons in Swedish, Portuguese, French and Spanish (that I know of)
  10. We have two sets of mother and daughter that currently work at our Rhode Island office and factory.

Do you have a random question we could answer on the blog?