Elaine’s 35th Anniversary at Hodges!

We are fortunate enough to have employees that have stayed with us through it all. To be specific out of our 155 employees, 38 of them have been with us for more than 20 years! That’s almost ¼ of our workforce!
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This year, Elaine Anctil celebrated her 35th anniversary with the company! We congratulated her on this enormous accomplishment recently at a company awards event in our Rhode Island plant. Rick Hodges, President, and Jane Sousa, Vice President, presented Elaine with a commemorative plaque designed just for her by our art department. After the award presentation we celebrated with cake for everyone.

We asked Elaine a few questions to get a little insight on her journey at Hodges Badge Company! Here are her answers:

First a little background:

Elaine graduated from Westport High School in 1976 and three years later a former employer helped her find employment at Hodges. Elaine’s first job like a lot of employees was stapling rosettes. (This is the first step in the handcrafting of our rosettes.)

• What have you seen change?

When I first started working here Rick Hodges was a high school student. I have seen him grow up and come back to be the president of Hodges Badge Company.

• What have you seen remain the same?

In 35 years the assembly of the flat ribbons (point top ribbons & square top ribbons) hasn’t changed.

• Any memorable moments you’d like to share?

I can remember when Hodges Badge Co, Inc. reached its first million dollars in sales. Jim Hodges (Rick’s father) gave every employee a bottle of Champagne and a tin of real butter cookies.

• Favorite thing about your job?

My favorite thing about my job is the variety. Throughout the course of a week or day even I perform so many different jobs. (Elaine has worked in our warehouse, our button department, our flat ribbon department, our rosette department, our medal department and more!)

• Name 1 thing your coworkers would be surprised to know about you?

I worked for my father and learned to be a mechanic.

• Favorite thing to do on down time?

My favorite things I do in my down time are spend time with my family, cross stitch and sew quilts.

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So again Elaine – THANK YOU for 35 YEARS OF SERVICE, you are an important part of what has made Hodges Badge Company what it is today!

Hodges Badge Company’s Core Value: Team Work

Core-Values-Word-of-Month PosterThis month (March) we are kicking off our Core Values celebration and the word of the month is Team Work.

One part of consistently applying the idea of team work at the office in a fun and engaging way is to plan social gatherings. The gatherings can be during business hours (usually lunch time) or off site, sort of like the field trips that we used to have in school. These gatherings not only allow employees to relax a little and get to know one another but if anyone has ever put a party together or planned a trip for more than a few people they know it takes team work!

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On March 4th, we had our Core Values Luncheon. It was just a coincidence (or was it?) that it happened on “Fat Tuesday” or Mardi Gras. I tried not to eat too much but lunch consisted of some tasty sandwiches from a local shop and it was topped off with a custom cake decorated with our very own Core Values. It’s amazing what you can do with frosting these days and who can resist cake to break up the work day.

DSC_0040As a special gift to close out the luncheon every employee received a light blue or white t-shirt with our Core Values printed on the front and sleeve. (March 28th is wear your company t-shirt to work day.)

All in all it was great break to the day; I was able to spend a little time with teammates I don’t always encounter during my daily activities and Rick Hodges gave a very inspirational speech to open the celebration.

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In Memory of Donna V. Combra

ImageOnce again here at Hodges we have had the privilege of making a special plaque that has a very extraordinary story behind it. This time, however, the plaque is being dedicated to a woman’s life that was sadly taken too soon.

Donna V. Combra was married to Russ Combra and had two sons, Andrew and Brian. She was an elementary school teacher for 30 years of her life.  She began her teaching career at the Cluny School in Newport RI, then taught at the Hathaway School, Elmhurst School, and ended her career teaching the second grade at Melville Elementary School, all located in Portsmouth RI.

Donna was one of a kind.  She devoted her life to educating children and was a great role model to them.  But Donna also had many other passions and an incredibly active lifestyle.  She loved to read books of all kinds and write stories and poetry.  She was a fantastic cook and baker, her claim to fame being her “Hershey’s Chocolate Cake” and “Pistachio Cake”.  When the seasons changed and it was warm enough outside you could find Donna riding her bike along Middle Road in Portsmouth heading to Newport to visit her mom.  Donna also had professional knitting and sewing skills that she learned from her aunt when she was younger.  She mainly knit children’s sweaters, but could make anything. She loved the ocean and spent countless hours at McCorrie Point Beach in Portsmouth RI and Second Beach in Middletown RI where a lot of her knitting was done. She also enjoyed swimming, kayaking, walking and traveling with her family.

After speaking about all of Donna’s hobbies, we still have not mentioned her biggest passion in life, her family and friends.  Donna’s husband Russ and one of her best friends Eileen were kind enough to share all this information about Donna with us.  Eileen also shared a few words that she believed described Donna, “kind, creative, daring, funny, positive, loving, loyal, honest, genuine, generous, brave, grateful, patient, happy and optimistic. All these qualities made her an amazing teacher and a wonderful friend”.  Eileen’s words made it clear how much she cherished the time she had with Donna.

Russ spoke of how good of a mother Donna was.  Her priority was always her family and she raised both her sons to have the loving personality that she did.  Russ also shared how kind she was to the elderly, even taking time to frequently pack lunches and visit her older aunts and uncles to have lunch with them. One of the most heart warming parts of Donna’s life that Russ shared was that she used to volunteer at the Soup Kitchen in Bristol RI without telling anyone because she never looked for recognition for her good deeds.  Donna’s humbleness is just a portion of her gracious character. Russ spoke with all of his heart when he said she was “an outstanding wife, a great mom, and my best friend”. It is evident that those who knew Donna were all given a special gift that can never be replaced.

Tears came to both Russ and Eileen’s eyes as they saw the plaque for the first time and felt that it was a beautiful representation of Donna and her spirit.  Watching their reactions to seeing the plaque was nothing short of amazing.   But, watching the way Russ and Eileen lit up as they spoke about Donna was miraculous.  The love that Donna’s family and friends emanate for her is something so special and rare in this world.

The plaque is 18” x 24” in size, UV processed in full color on aluminum and also includes a photo of Donna.  It is going to be hung over the entrance of the Melville School Library, soon to be known as the Donna V. Combra Library.  To Donna’s Family and Friends, we could not be more honored to have made this plaque for a woman that was so humble about her accomplishments and influenced children for 30 years.  She truly deserves to be recognized for all that she was.

Hodges Badge Company Continues its Environmentally Conscious Endeavors

In 2012 Hodges Badge Company went live with a wind turbine at our RI location.  Our project for 2013 is to take on solar power!

 

If you didn’t already know, Hodges Badge Company has long been firmly committed to conservation and to renewable energy.  Maybe it began with our CEO’s college time in Burlington, VT, or perhaps during his many years of volunteer work with the Aquidneck Land Trust, but it began (as it always does) with a series of small steps.  In the beginning we focused on reducing our energy consumption as we tried to make the entire plant more energy efficient.  Here’s a summary of Hodges’ Go Green History:

  • We installed a thick insulation on the roof in order to run the heat and air conditioning units less. 
  • We switched to on demand hot water heaters and removed our six 20 gallon hot water tank heaters scattered around the building. 
  • We used to have two trash dumpsters and a recycling dumpster that we filled every week.  Then we started a recycling program and now what we send away is 2/3 recycling  and 1/3 trash.  We aren’t aiming for zero trash, but we’d sure like to get close to that goal. 
  • We tied all of our heating and air conditioning units to a master computer to control their energy usage
  • We also bought a high efficiency vacuum pump and high efficiency air compressor because we previously used a 40 horse power motor to run these all of the time.

Having done all of this, we were still using 450,000 kW of energy a year – about a $50,000 electricity bill.  We realized very quickly that there were certain factors that we couldn’t eliminate.  Obviously we have to turn the lights on and provide workers with a heated or air conditioned work place.  Another example is the fact that we also constantly run hot stamping presses that have to be heated.  These hot stamping presses often heat the room too much and then we have to cool it.  We found that we were facing a few vicious cycles that were inevitable if we were going to run our business properly. We then began to brainstorm what the next step would be. 

We thought briefly about putting solar panels on the roof at our Rhode Island facility, but realized that the building was built in the mid 1970s and had no way of figuring out if the building would hold up the solar panels.  We turned to wind.  As devout readers of this blog know, we installed a 250kw wind turbine in Portsmouth two years ago.  To date, it has generated more than 225,000kw of power!

The wind is strong at our RI facility because we are located near the ocean, but our plant in Washington, MO doesn’t get much wind.  It just so happened that in Missouri we came across a company called Microgrid Solar from St. Louis who had already done other commercial projects.  We also had access to engineering drawings of the Missouri building and were able to determine that the grade of steel it was made of could support solar panels.  After several discussions with Microgrid Solar we determined to put solar panels on the roof of our Missouri facility.

We are going to install 68kw of solar capacity, which should generate 89,000kW hours of energy a year – about 25% of our total usage.  The cost of the project is $204,000 and thanks to rebates and incentives from our power company, the payback is just over a year.   Installation should start in November, and be complete by the end of 2013!

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Rick Hodges’ hope is for Hodges Badge to be the best environmental steward that it can possibly be with the goals of minimizing the companies impact on the environment, preserving the earth for future generations – oh, and saving money to keep costs down whenever possible.  Rick says that he doesn’t know what Hodges next environmental project is going to be, but he’s sure to announce it here on this blog when the time comes.

My Personal Favorite New Equestrian Awards

Each catalog we strive to find new solutions for your awards. We just published our Equestrian catalog (in January) with over 35 new products.

I wanted to tell you today about my personal favorite new equestrian awards in the new catalog.

My first favorite is our new vintage equestrian plaque. We actually have three versions. Two, the “Treasure” and the “Character” are sold as is with no customization but offer inspirational messages with beautiful imagery. The third version is the custom version of the vintage plaque. This version allows you to put any type of artwork, photograph, logo, design, text, event information or names on the plaque while still keeping the vintage look.

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My second favorite product is the new Windsor Rosette. It offers something a little different from what is currently in our extensive line of equestrian rosettes. The Windsor Rosette features a ¾ rosette top made of hand sewn petals and three 12” streamers. Just like our other rosettes, you can still choose a button, gold rim, or satin center rosette center with your logo or a stock design, any ribbon color or combination of ribbon colors including exclusive multicolor side streamers and 10 lines of custom print. The Windsor Rosette can also be customized with up to 24” streamers to accommodate if you are looking for a larger rosette.

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My third favorite product (which by the way I am definitely suggesting to be given as employee appreciation gifts at Hodges) is the Rosewood Pen & Pencil Set. This set can be engraved with you logo or event information on the case. I know it is the age of tablets and smart phones but who doesn’t need a good pen & pencil set.

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So I’ve listed my personal favorites here but we have so many more new great products in this catalog. Go on-line, find your and let us know. We would love to get your feedback. Happy browsing!

It’s Winter Sale Time!

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It’s that time of year again! Time for our annual Winter Sale!  Place an order and get 10% off your merchandise total when you prepay with a credit card.  All our awards are included: rosettes, ribbons, silver, trophies, medals and more!

Use keycode W12120213E to get your discount over the phone or online.

Don’t need your awards until the spring? We can schedule your delivery for a later date so you can still get the discount!

 

Student Recognition and Award Programs Reinforce Achievement

Today’s students are involved in a wide variety of activities in and out of the classroom. They participate in Spelling Bees, athletics, reading contests, clubs, and Science Fairs to name just a few. There are also many classroom opportunities to celebrate success and accomplishment every day.  A simple, budget friendly recognition program can provide the tools needed to encourage achievement and motivate students to perform at their highest level – while still having fun.

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Rewarding students for positive contributions and achievements builds self-esteem and confidence. With feelings of confidence come positive behavioral choices immediately apparent to teachers, school administrators, and parents alike. Sometimes a well-timed “excellent!” or “good job!” is all that is needed.  

Opportunities for Recognition
Take every opportunity to celebrate and reward successes – the small ones and the big ones.  Think about using simple recognition awards every day when you are asking your students questions about homework, helping out other students, or participating in class.   Here are some recognition opportunities to consider:

  • Academic excellence – Celebrate specific milestone accomplishments in Reading, Writing, Science, and Math. Students who show extraordinary scholastic achievement deserve recognition along with students who are working hard to improve their grades.
  • Classroom participation – Maintaining a high level of classroom participation can often be a struggle. Simple classroom participation ribbons are a great way to get students excited about participating in class.  If they are participating they are learning!
  • Spelling Bee – The Spelling Bee is a traditional competitive event where there can be many winners.  Consider participant awards for all of those students that participated in the event.  Adding your school identification to any award makes the award important and special.
  • Citizenship – Recognize students with all around good behavior, manners, and respect for others. A most worthy award!
  • Attendance – Good attendance should be rewarded at end of year award ceremonies but also consider using attendance awards more frequently during the school year.  Try a monthly attendance award.
  • Student of the Month – Create your own Student of the Month Award to reward students exceeding your expectations.
  • Leadership – Reward the students that provide leadership for classroom projects and activities.
  • End of the year award ceremonies – All students have unique abilities and interests and it is important that their individual qualities are recognized at end of the year award ceremonies. From an award for “Being on Time All the Time” to “Always Completes their Homework” to the “Mad Scientist” award (most creative with their Science experiments), these rising stars all need a pat on the back.

What Types of Recognitions and Awards Should You Give?
There are many factors to be considered when choosing the right recognition program for your school or classroom, including: What milestones or behaviors do I want to reward?  Do I want my recognition awards customized with school logo and personalized messages? How do I get the most value on a limited budget?

The following is a list of recognition award solutions to help you make the right choice for your program.

  • Ribbons and Ribbon rolls – Kids love ribbonsRibbon rolls are one of the most cost-effective choices teachers and school administrators can make to reward students. A teacher or principal can easily store hundreds of customized ribbons on a single ribbon roll and just cut them off the roll to award students as needed. Ribbons and ribbon rolls are make great on-the-spot awards – economical and easy to use when you want to reward a student immediately in class.  Customized ribbon rolls can be printed with your school logo and your own personal achievement message.
  • Buttons and pinsButtons and pins are another economical way to appreciate students for a job well done. They are also a preferred choice for building school spirit.  Why not hand all students a button customized with the school mascot to display their pride at major athletic events, musical performances, or even to welcome them back to school. Any school sponsored activity can be acknowledged with personalized buttons, giving students who wear them a feeling of belonging and pride.
  • Medals Medals are an exceptional way to recognize a student who has achieved a great milestone or goal. They are typically given at award ceremonies where a student is called upon to take center stage before his peers and be recognized for academic or athletic excellence.
  • Dog tagsDog tags are the hottest trend! Kids love wearing customized dog tags on chains and using them as key chains.  Customized dog tags provide a unique way to recognize students and give them a sense of pride and honor when participating in school activities and athletics. They are a great choice for recognizing individual or team accomplishments.
  • Plaques and trophiesPlaques and trophies are the traditional recognition awards preferred for End of the Year Awards ceremonies. These are awards students will cherish for a lifetime and frequently are displayed on a student’s bedroom shelf or hang on their wall as a constant reminder of their achievements.

Recognition and award programs can have a major impact on academic performance and are easy to implement, especially in K through 4th grade classrooms.  All students have a need to be recognized for jobs well done. Confidence soars, grades improve, school pride escalates, and students are primed for continued success throughout their educational careers.  After all, who couldn’t use a little recognition for a job well done every now and then?

4-H Field Trip

This morning we were the lucky hosts to members of the 4-H club from Franklin, Connecticut.  After earning a few of their own ribbons, they took a field trip to visit our Rhode Island factory and see how awards are made. 

Here are a few photos from the tour with Rick Hodges:

Snapping together freshly printed Cloverbud dog tags

Checking out rosette assembly (the red, yellow and green boxes are Empire rosette tops)

Standing with our Holsworthy rosettes- they were almost as big as the girls!

Posing with our Hodges mascot after the tour.

Are you part of a school, equestrian, 4-H or community group that would like to tour or Rhode Island or Missouri facilities?  Let us know and we’ll be happy to work something out!

Get Creative With Your Awards

Over the past year our Art Department has been at work increasing our offerings of stock designs and available artwork for your use. Now that we’ve got a wider selection, we want to make it available for your use across product lines.  Here are a few of the customization options that are now possible with your ribbons, medals and trophies.

 First, you can now color-coordinate your pieces to match by using the same design on rosette side streamers, neck ribbons attached to medals, and trophy columns.  Check out the full selection of designs on our webpage here.  

These products all use the Red Equestrian design.

Here is an 11" trophy, Empire Rosette, and XBX medal all using the Agility Course design.

 Second, you can match your rosette button centers to your medal centers.  In addition, our full color equestrian stock designs are now available as stock options for our full color plaques

All products shown with our Combined Training design.

 Have you ever had the opportunity to do something creative with your awards?  What did you do?

Assembling a Wind Turbine- Part II

This past Wednesday, the weather, availability of the giant cranes, contractors and other factors finally aligned and enabled us to erect the remaining portion of our wind turbine.  Here are a few photos to show you what “went down” (or up, rather).

First the third and final section of the tower had to be raised up and lowered into place. The tower is 98 feet tall.

Then the nacelle, which houses the gear box and generator (and is bigger than a truck) was bolted on top of the tower.

Here's a better shot of the full tower. Cables were used to help align the nacelle.

Next, the three 49-foot blades were attached to the hub and raised up.

Then with more careful alignment, the hub was attached to the nacelle.

With the structure in place, we are now waiting for the electric company to test and commission the turbine.  Of course, we’ll let you know once it’s fully operational.