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?

What They Were Really Doing: Part 1

As promised, here's another peek behind the scenes as to what really happens at Apple Awards when the boss is gone (which, to his relief, is pretty much the same as what happens when he's there.) 


Several clipboards were up on the order board the day I dropped in.  Stacey, Kate and Bill were all occupied at their stations. I thought Kate's project was interesting and different from the "apple" theme I'd seen so often.  

She had a number of metal plates with scrolled edges lined up on her desk and was watching another one go through the laser engraver.  The plates were one element of retirement plaques being made for a major organization in the eastern U.S.  Each one was taking about 10 minutes to engrave and she had over 40 of them to do.  That's a lot of minutes.  



These plaques also had an emblem with a logo, that was to be applied to the circle on the metal plate.  And to finish, the metal plate was to be mounted on a dark walnut wooden base. The many details of this product took a lot of attention and focus (Kate's specialties).

All the information about this plaque, including its custom logo was digitally stored and will be available for future orders as well.  That is one of the conveniences that Apple Awards offers its customers, aiming to please, as usual. 


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What We Know

I'll bet you are wondering where I'm going with this title, eh? (Eh with a question mark is Canadian for "do you agree?") I'm thinking about that elusive commodity called customer service, specifically, good customer service.  It's my experience that, definitions aside, WE KNOW when we've gotten it.  And when we haven't. 

I'm often a little anxious whenever I have an issue with a company and am looking for that "contact us" number or web address.  It becomes apparent so quickly what customer service does or doesn't mean to that company.  I know I'm not alone in this because I'm a dedicated reader of online reviews of products I'm thinking of buying.  Dissatisfied people have a voice these days and a bad review... well, it can be a death sentence or an opportunity for a business.

One of my favorite stories of customer service which is kind of legendary, is from the Nordstrom files, again.  They take seriously their motto about the customer always being right, apparently even when the person wasn't even their customer. A person returned a tire - not an item Nordstrom had ever sold - and was given credit for it. I should add that Nordstrom also has effective fraud control or they would no longer be in business.  

And don't we all have some horror stories of products that were not what we expected or service that wasn't up to par? Stories about being ignored, being harassed or argued with, having to present all kinds of details, fill out multiple forms, make dozens of phone calls, and still not being satisfied?  We know how important we feel to this company, eh?

If you haven't already had the experience of doing business with Apple Awards, now is the time for me to share their philosophy of customer service.  It is included with each shipment and it is their invitation for you, the customer, to dialogue with them, be heard and taken seriously.

Some Old Fashioned Ideas

Never Go Out Of Date! 

You are the most important person in our business.

You are not dependent on us,

We are dependent on you.

You are not an interruption of our work,

You are the purpose for it. 

You do us a favor when you use us,

We are not doing you a favor by serving you.

You come to us with your needs,

It is our job to fulfill them.

You pay our salaries ... without you we

Would have to close our doors.

You deserve the most courteous

Attention we can give.

Let us take this moment to say,

"Thank you. We appreciate

having you as a friend."

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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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