Apple Awards

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All things Apple Awards

Who is Apple Awards, what do we do and how can we help you honor and recognize achievement and loyalty to your organization and the people closest to you?

Think Pink

Pink has been showing up everywhere the last few years.  I first was inundated with pink before, during and after the 2008 Breast Cancer 3 Day Walk.  I got a pink jacket, a pink umbrella, pink pins, hair bands and well, just about anything there was came in pink. I got some very pink blisters on my feet before I finished the 60 miles.  Advances have been made in treating breast cancer since then but there is still a lot of research to be funded.


In the world of apples, the Pink Lady has become widely available in the fall.  And available all year around, is the Apple Awards Pink Crystal Apple.  With all the beauty and charm of the original crystal apple, plus a subtle pink hue that sets it apart, this apple is joining the fundraising effort for breast cancer research.  Apple Awards will donate 10% of annual sales of the pink apple to the fight to end breast cancer.  

There aren't many of us who haven't felt the impact of breast cancer in one way or another. We all know a friend, a family member, someone at work or school who has gone through the rigors of cancer and it's therapy.  Ownership and staff at Apple Awards is no exception to this and it is with eagerness that this project has been developed and offered.  It is our hope that many of our customers will consider whether the pink crystal apple would be an appropriate choice for their awards needs. Let's just think pink.  





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Etching, the Process

I was hanging out at Apple Awards one day when some crystal apples were being prepared for a client. The etching process was being done and I found it very interesting. By definition, etching is a type of engraving done with a corrosive material, sometimes acid, but in this case, very fine sand. Think of it as a small version of sandblasting where the sand actually marks the smooth surface of the glass. Couple the process with computerized graphics and you have a beautiful way of personalizing the crystal apple.

This process takes place in a dedicated workroom at Apple headquarters. Much like a photographic darkroom, it has special lighting and no windows (mysterious aura descends...) The client's logo and award wording has been laid out via computer and is now being developed onto a special film which will become a stencil. The developer is rinsed off in a water bath and the result is a sheet with multiple patches of the personalization which can be peeled off and placed like a template on the surface to be etched.










The surface in this case is the clear crystal apple. The patches are carefully placed by hand, and the surface of the apple around the patch is protected with masking tape. The apples go back into the etching room and, one by one, they go into the etching chamber. This small chamber is accessed through hand holes so the operator can be protected while handling the etching wand. Thick protective gloves are worn. The etching sand is directed at high speed over the surface of the apple and marks the areas not protected by the stencil. Voila! An etching is created. The stencil is washed off and the apple is cleaned and packaged.







As you can see, there is some careful hand work given to each award created in this way. Large orders take skill, time and patience and even small orders get focused attention– commodities that the Apple team members are happy to provide.   


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The Story Behind It All


b2ap3_thumbnail_20140527_135215_resized.jpgAn Entrepreneurial Tale

Entrepreneur, a very big word for someone who sees a need and proceeds with an idea to fill it. That's exactly how Apple Awards began.

Seeing the Need

Coach Dennis Smith got tired of traveling 60 miles to get awards and trophies for his athletes and teams that needed recognition – there was a need for something closer in northern Wisconsin where everything is pretty far from everything else. The idea was to start a small trophy and engraving business. The process began with purchasing a used engraving machine and finding a place to do business. Since he didn't have a garage to make famous (this is not Apple Computer), he started out in the pro shop of Roynona Creek Golf Course in Hayward, Wisconsin. The small, multi-tasking staff was either selling hot dogs and drinks to golfers or setting up an engraving plate.

The Early Years

Business was purely local in the early 1990's, before an easily accessed internet. But work increased enough that it was necessary to get a laser printer for metal plates and to computerize the engraving machine. Dennis continued to learn the business via membership in the professional association, now called the ARA, Awards and Recognition Association. A marriage to wife Mary Pat in 1994 moved his venture into the area of “family business” and a relocation to a store front in town in 1995 gave it the name “Special Moments”.

The Apple Takes Over

One day in 1998, sitting in a local cafe, Dennis learned about a business for sale called Apple Awards. They marketed trophies and awards for educators through their catalog which had national coverage. He bought the business and set about increasing the coverage. Friends and family helped with mass mailings to schools and businesses. By 2001, more space was needed so the business, now with three employees moved back to a new building on the family golf course. Marketing efforts through the first website gradually increased orders and by 2008 the catalogs were phased out entirely. The focus of the business had narrowed to a couple specialties, the crystal apple and the brass bell.

Challenges Continue with Growth

The challenge of the next few years was finding reliable vendors who could produce quality items. Whenever possible products were U.S. made, but as demand increased some items were sourced overseas. Dennis and family traveled to India to visit workplaces and meet vendors, always looking for workplace safety and quality control.

Today on the Internet

Since early 2014 a new updated website lists a wide variety of awards with specialty engraving and etching, making it a top rated source for businesses, educational institutions and personal recognition items. In house, the goal is that three pairs of eyes inspect each item before shipping and personal customer service is a top priority for Dennis and his six person staff at Apple Awards. 


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Apple Awards

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