Guest Blog: Perspectives from a Fifth Generation Hodges Family Employee

This summer, the five of us in Sales & Marketing have had the pleasure of working with Jeff, a high school senior who has been extra helpful in getting our new web technology online.  I thought it might be interesting for our blog readers to hear what it’s like being a fifth generation family employee, so I asked him to write a post for the blog.

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My name is Jeff, I’m a rising senior in high school, and this is my third summer working just about full time at Hodges Badge. I’ve been coming to Hodges and doing odd things for as long as I can remember, but for the past three years I’ve been doing some real work. I started out working on web pages and e-mails two summers ago and last summer I got a really cool job as we began work on our new website. 

I spent most of the summer (while my friends are at the beach) on two projects; Scene7, a dynamic imaging platform from Adobe that we now use to deliver all of the product images on our website , and a rosette configurator that will enable customers to preview their custom products before placing an order.  Every couple of weeks I’ll manage to find something really tough which needs some work, and usually I manage to figure it out after going back to it a few times. 

Working in the family company is interesting because I don’t work directly for my dad but I get to see him at lunch and at meetings. Being a family business, almost everyone in the Hodges family has worked here at one time. Before my sister went of to college, she spent at least two summers working here.   I know it might seem like I am obligated to return to Hodges when I’m done with college, but at the same time I’m not sure that’s what I want to do. When my dad got out of college he had another job outside the company, but when his dad wanted to retire he ended up packing up his brand new house in New Hampshire and coming back to Rhode Island to work at Hodges. So I guess we’ll see what happens.

This summer I began the college search process, and just last week I got back from a weeklong trip through the mid-Atlantic and semi-Southern colleges. Spending a week in the car wasn’t the most pleasurable thing I’ve done all summer, but it wasn’t all bad.  I did see some schools that I liked and I got visit my cousins in South Carolina. I do have a bit of an issue with the college search in that I really don’t know what I want to study.  In the end, I think my decision will probably be based on what I happen to enjoy that doesn’t really feel like work.

Well, now you know a little bit about me and what it’s like at a family-run business.  Feel free to drop me any questions (or suggestions for colleges) in the comments.

Equestrian Catalog Cover Contest, 2010.

We are once again running a contest for next year’s Equestrian Catalog cover. We had some great entries last year and  hope that the trend continues. If you want to take a look at last year’s winners for ideas as to what we think  makes a good cover follow this link:  www.hodgesbadge.com.
Winners

Winners

To enter, submit by mail a color photograph attached to an official entry form. The official rules are on the form. You can enter as many times as you’d like but each entry has to be accompanied by an entry form.

Check out these great awards:

  • Grand Prize – $2500 plus photograph appears on the cover of Hodge’s Badge Company’s 2010 Equestrian Awards Catalog
  • Honorable Mention – $100 each plus photograph appears in the Equestrian Awards Catalog

Hurry! Entries must be postmarked on or before October 1, 2009!

New website, coming Fall 2009!

This fall we should be launching our new website with the help of DMInsite for web design and Adobe’s Scene 7 rich media platform. Great change is coming and it’s something we hope that all our customers will appreciate.

The website we have currently was first built over 7 years ago and has evolved rather slowly over those 7 years into what you see today. During these 7 years a great deal has changed on the internet.

The following figure from Internet World Stats is a table showing the number of internet users in the United States over the past 8 years.

YEAR Population Users % Pop. Usage Source
2000 281,421,906 124,000,000 44.1 % ITU
2001 285,317,559 142,823,008 50.0 % ITU
2002 288,368,698 167,196,688 58.0 % ITU
2003 290,809,777 172,250,000 59.2 % ITU
2004 293,271,500 201,661,159 68.8 % Nielsen//NetRatings
2005 299,093,237 203,824,428 68.1 % Nielsen//NetRatings
2007 301,967,681 212,080,135 70.2 % Nielsen//NetRatings
2008 303,824,646 220,141,969 72.5 % Nielsen//NetRatings

As you can see; the internet usage in the US has just about doubled over the past 8 years. Since our switch to Verndale in 2002 the site has had one real face-lift that only changed the look of the site and didn’t really affect the underlying capabilities of it – this was four years ago. We hope that with this new website we can make it easier for you to get what you want in a much improved manner.

In 2008 alone our website brought 10.51% more visits than 2007 and generated 1.66 million pageviews. These numbers are nothing compared to Amazon or Google but if you look at how far we have come; the first year that we had analytics running on our website it had 90,000 visits but in the past 6 months of 2009 we have had almost 70,000 visits. With an increase this big in visitors it’s definitely time for a change, we realize that it isn’t the easiest thing to purchase off our website and we hope to improve customer experience come this fall.

Along with the new website we will be rolling out a personalization system for some of our most popular products which we hope will not only give you a way to preview your product before you get it, but at the same time also reduce any discrepancies between what you want and what you get.

For a little bit of nostalgia and to take a peek at what our website looked like many years ago you should check out the “Wayback Machine”, specifically here. You can even see what our website looked like when it first launched way back in 1997.

Having a new website not only makes the job easier for the web team here at Hodges but it improves the experience you have when you buy something off our website.

We are looking for customer feedback; what sort of things would you like to see on the new website, and what sort of things could we change to make purchasing your awards on www.hodgesbadge.com an easier task for you? Put your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section, we would love to hear them.

Not just quality awards, gifts too

Although I am a fairly new employee, I have become familiar with the various products that Hodges Badge has to offer but it wasn’t until recently that I realized firsthand what high quality work they really do. My mother was getting married in a week and I had no idea what to give as a gift. While conversing with a coworker, I was informed that the company creates a vast number of unique frames. Using dye-sublimation, I was able to choose a graphic that would encase the frame. I was also given the option to add text or make the gift a bit more personal. Not only did I receive the finished product in a matter of days, but it was affordable and of high quality. The frame was so beautiful that it sat beside the wedding cake for all to admire. Because of their exquisite work, Hodges Badge has obtained the business of several guests attending the wedding.

Kayla Kesson – Catalog list Administrator