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!

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!

Hodges Takes Part in Rhode Island Environmental Summit

This past Wednesday, Hodges Badge Company’s Vice President, Jane Sousa traveled to Washington, D.C. to take part in Rhode Island Energy & Environmental Leaders Day.  Hosted by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s office, the day brought together members of Rhode Island’s environmental and energy groups with national leaders from Congress, the EPA, Department of Energy, Department of the Interior and the Council on Environmental Quality.

Given our company’s interest in green manufacturing and clean energy, not to mention our wind turbine in-the-works, we were honored to be included in the discussions with such high level policy makers.  Among the highlighted speakers were Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, Senator John Kerry, Senator Jack Reed, and Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the EPA.

Discussions covered topics ranging from current research at URI and Brown on the changing state of Rhode Island’s ecosystem and the Narragansett Bay aquaculture, to opportunities for green jobs, to federal programming and funding available to the state’s businesses and organizations for environmental projects.

When I asked Jane what she took away from the summit, she said she felt good about Hodges’ efforts to install the wind turbine, given the serious consequences of carbon pollution on Rhode Island’s environment.

“We’re doing our part, but there are many more things available [besides wind power] to help Rhode Island businesses preserve environmental resources” she added.

While the Leaders Day was a unique event, Hodges Badge will continue to pay close attention to local environmental policy issues leading up to the October installation of our wind turbine.   And of course, you can count on the blog for updates!

Update: Senator Whitehouse’s newsroom has put up a photo gallery of the event http://tinyurl.com/3almo3y

Hodges Badge Co. takes part in State House Rally

Our company’s President, Rick Hodges, was one of several hundred attendees at the rotunda of the RI State House for a rally yesterday to save job training funds.  As part of their plan to reduce the state’s $220 million deficit, the RI state legislature has proposed eliminating $1 million in state job training funds.  Hodges was part of a large crowd that included state business owners, labor leaders, and Governor Donald Carcieri.

Hodges Badge has benefited on numerous occasions from the job training and development grants administered through the Department of Labor and Training and RIMES.  In particular, we have worked with RIMES (the Rhode Island Manufacturing Extension Service) to bring our employees through Lean and 5S training.

“Elevating the skill sets of our employees is key to our ultimate success,
and having the job training funds eliminated and placed into the General
Fund is the worst outcome we, as Rhode Islanders, could have,” stated Hodges.  “Our state has a number of financial problems, but taking these funds (or the Renewable Energy Funds) is not a reasonable way to close the deficit,” he added.

No we’re not underwater, just really wet…

Some of you may have heard in the national news that Rhode Island has gotten six (6!) inches of water in the past two days.  That is on top of the five inches we had two weeks ago, which never really had a chance to dry up.  The water is everywhere- with ponds forming in yards, streams overtaking streets, and rivers setting new record levels while overflowing their banks. 

While our manufacturing facility and offices are holding up, there is definitely an impact on the people that work here.  Some are busy pumping out basements while others are worried about finding a way home after the roads they would normally take have been closed due to flooding.

I wanted to take some pictures to show you just how wet everything has gotten… but then another factor that Rhode Island is famous for (the wind) got in the way…

 No matter where you are, I hope your home and family make it through the storm without the water ruffling your feathers. 

We're Going Green!

Three years ago, we began investigating the idea of “going green” at our manufacturing facility in Rhode Island. Our goal: to reduce both our environmental impact and our energy costs; and, ultimately, maintain our commitment to American manufacturing of our products.

So, after a lot of starts and stops along the way, we’re thrilled to announce that, come spring, Hodges Badge Company will become the first manufacturer in our state powered entirely by a sustainable energy source. As we type, a 149-foot wind turbine 47.5-foot blades that will generate an estimated 451,000 kilowatt hours, is being built for us by Aeronautica Windpower in Durham, N.H.

Why a wind turbine? Well, our home of Aquidneck Island boasts a lot of wonderful features… and a blustery wind is one of the most constant!

Installation of the turbine begins in April, and we expect it will be complete by June. We’re proud that, with this turbine, we’ll reduce the plant’s carbon dioxide emissions by 10,000 pounds per year… allowing our customers to know not only that they are buying the finest awards and ribbons, but also that their Hodges purchases are an environmentally responsible choice.