ETCHING THE FUTURE OF PERSONALIZED AWARDS
Any awards manufacturer could etch a name into a stock award, but Allogram prides itself on being different and making each award feel truly unique. President Amanda Gianotti has made it her goal to exceed her customers’ expectations and turn the awards industry on its head through new tools and tricks of the trade.
Q: What sets Allogram apart from your competition?
A: Our extensive list of equipment, our working knowledge of using the equipment, creativity and our customer service set Allogram apart from our competition. We have brought operations in house that most of our competitors outsource. We are able to combine the output from different manufacturing processes to create unique products. There are many engraving businesses that can take a stock item off the shelf and engrave it. Conversely, what we do differently is we look to fill the customer’s need with a product that fits the role – in both design and budget. We ask questions to find out what the award is for and then we design the piece to fit the need. More often we find we can do a better job than our competition by combining these manufacturing processes, allowing us to provide a better suited, custom designed, unique and budget friendly product. Once we know the goals and the budget, we go to work to create an award that will fill the need as well as create lasting memories for the recipient.
Q: How does creativity play a roll in satisfying your customers?
A: Creativity is vital to our business and it is a team effort. Our creative team enjoys making unique products. Mixed media designs are unique and have an extremely high perceived value. Sometimes the budget won’t allow for the extras, however we like to offer the customer alternatives to the ordinary. One common practice is to offer “good, better and best” options so the customer can see the upgrades and make an informed choice to justify the cost of the added value. Our graphics team develops the layouts showing the customers message and logo as well as additional materials and components. Having the production processes in house allows us to be extremely competitive on price. Our knowledge and experience lets us select materials that will keep us in the budget. From the initial customer inquiry to design, edit, redesign and manufacture, creativity is a collaborative team effort.
Q: How do you stay ahead of the curve when it comes to technology?
A: Technology is one of our biggest and most important challenges. However, these sophisticated technologies do not provide us with a new or unique product. Staying ahead of the technology curve for business operations provides more efficiency in operations, which is critical for cash flow. Our primary technological challenge is in equipment – computers to run the equipment and processes used to manufacture the product. Technology changes so rapidly, we are often just perfecting the old technology when we have to learn the new; yet this is good and exciting and almost always means improvement. Staying ahead of the technology curve is a challenge with success as the reward. I invest many hours reading, networking and discussing technologies of many types with whomever will participate in my conversation. We belong to an association of noncompeting executives in the awards industry. We regularly share information on trends and developments. We attend trade shows and maintain an awareness of advances in industries outside of the awards industry. The future may bring advances in 3D scanning and modeling, multi-surface transfer printing and laser printing to 3D objects. One day the order may go from proof approval directly to the shipping department untouched by human hands. We plan to keep our eyes and minds open and continue to ride the waves of technology to constantly improve both how the business runs and the caliber of products we offer.
Q: Any customer success stories that you could share? Have you discovered any product you’ve created that you didn’t know you could?
A: Often we are faced with the challenge of how to turn what the customer envisions into a product we can produce. Many times the customer’s sketch will show components floating on top of each other – unattached to anything. Or they don’t consider the clear materials they want don’t allow for a hidden mount or a way to mask the backside. We spend a great deal of time trying to educate customers on why something cannot be done a certain way and then offer an alternative of how we can produce it. Crazy ideas presented to us by customers have led to some really creative and unique products. The best example is our Allolight.
Q: How did you go about creating Allolight? What has it meant for Allogram, Inc.?
A: Years ago a customer came to us with little acrylic blocks that had been struck by lightning. They wanted a base to sit the blocks on top of that would illuminate the lightning strike. We searched the entire awards, promotional products and sign industries for a base with a light and could not find one anywhere. So a few resistors, 3 LED bulbs and seventeen solder points later, we made one. It was a long and complicated process that ended with our patented Allolight base. Allolight is a black battery operated 2 part wooden base with 3 LED lights, an on-off switch and a power adaptor for extended use.
Q: Allogram, Inc. started as a retail store; how did it transition to a wholesale business?
A: Our first exposure to wholesale was at a trade show where the owner of a screen printing business approached us to see if we would be interested in making award products for him to sell to his customers. At about the same time, a local awards retailer approached us to ask if we could help him with a large order he couldn’t fulfill on time. That got us to thinking about how many other companies might be interested in a resale or cross selling arrangement. Then, with the invention of Allolight, we entered the wholesale market of the awards industry.
Q: What is your growth and development driven by?
A: We are driven by the Power of Recognition. We believe in the Power of Recognition. Recognition is rewarding positive behavior to get that behavior repeated. The benefit in eliciting desired behavior from staff, athletes, students and volunteers is enormous. Our goal is to make our customers look good by delivering a product that exceeds all expectations. We continue to invest in technologies which allows us to efficiently produce a top quality, unique product at a competitive price. We are driven by our customers’ requests and strive to fulfill them in the most economical fashion possible without sacrificing quality in craftsmanship.