We give an award to the top sales guy, to the person with 25 years of service, to the truck driver with 1 million miles without a chargeable accident. We believe in the power of recognition. The why we do it may seem obvious, but it is a lot more than that.

We use recognition to:

  • Create a culture within the company that affects every attitude.

  • Say thanks and applaud success.

  • Teach others what we as an organization want to achieve.

  • Increase retention of employees.

  • Support Mission and Values.

  • Engage employees.

  • Encourage loyalty.

  • Increase customer satisfaction.

  • In summation, we believe in using recognition everyday to improve the bottom line. If that's important to you, then we're speaking the same language. Come with us on this journey.

    Take a look at the topics we have and see if we can help you with your recognition programs.

  • Need ideas for wording on an awards? See the Thesaurus.

  • Want to implement a sales award program but need to present the concept to management? Check out Sales Awards: An Overview.

  • Want to know the inside scoop on the Lombardi Trophy or the Oscars? Take a look at our ongoing series on Famous Awards.

  • Talk to us. We are here to help you.

    Friday, December 10, 2010

    Formal vs Informal Recognition

    Research shows companies find a balance of formal and informal recognition is an effective way of keeping employees motivated and happy.  According to Greg Boswell, OC Tanner Recognition Company, the move to make informal recognition part of a corporate recognition strategy has been due in part to companies that are working to improve employee retention. In a study conducted by Robert Half International, 47 percent of executives surveyed said that recognition and praise were the most important factors in keeping an employee satisfied.  However, it’s often through formal programs such as career achievement or employee service awards, management can implement communication tools and effective training with the power to impact the entire company. “Formal recognition has the unique potential to tie every employee’s achievements to a company’s values and business goals,” said Boswell. “With ongoing formal recognition as a foundation, informal programs can be added to encourage spontaneous appreciation."

    Regardless of the size of the company and the scope of the work, all employees deserve the chance to be acknowledged for their contribution to the success of a company. It’s clearly a win-win situation for business, when people feel valued, they feel better and they perform better.  Not to mention how good it feels to be the giver.

    For more information, contact RCB Awards at 800-929-9110.

    Cash or Award?

    33% of people receiving cash awards will use it pay bills.
    20% of people will not recall what they used a cash award for.
    It is considered income and seen as an entitlement, so it is not as effective as a tangible award.
    Source: Gostick and Elton, The Carrot Principle, 2007
    For more information, contact RCB Awards at 1-800-929-9110.

    And the Winner is... How the Oscar is built.

    And the Winner is...
    How ARA manufacturer R.S. Owens builds the Oscar

    Its official name is the Academy Award of Merit, but the origin of the less cumbersome nickname "Oscar" is not clear. For years, Bette Davis claimed to have coined the name when she quipped that the statue's backside resembled her husband. However, Davis recently relinquished her claim when references to the moniker were found in print three years before her 1937 win.

    Bruce Davis, executive director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, has been trying to solve the mystery. "I had three claimants," he said. "I was able to disprove two, but I find the third one rather suspicious, which is a very unsatisfying conclusion."

    The preferred story is that in the early '30s, Academy librarian and eventual executive director Margaret Herrick commented to staff that the statuette resembled her Uncle Oscar - and the nickname stuck. Officially, the Academy started using the name in 1939.

    Golden Touch
    "The Oscar is better now than it was 25 years ago because the gold content has been increased," says Owen R. Siegel, founder and CEO of R.S. Owens & Co., manufacturer of the statuettes. "I believe the Oscar contains more gold than any other famous award." The specific dollar value, however, is a secret: "The Academy wants them to be considered priceless," says Siegel. But because of the simple design, he confides, "If there was no gold, they'd be worth less than $100 each."

    Each statuette takes 10 people and about 5 1/2 hours of labor to make, close to an hour in polishing alone. "Though we could probably do it quicker, we take three to four weeks to cast 50 statuettes," says R.S. Owens spokesperson Noreen Prohaska. "It may sound silly but each one is done to perfection and handled with white gloves. After all, look at the people who will be clutching it on Oscar night."
    The special care is not wasted on Bruce Davis, who first watched the manufacturing process about two years ago. "I was very impressed," Davis says. "I knew it was a complex process, but to see it done with such care was very reassuring."

    Building a Legend
    The Oscar stands 13-1/2 inches tall, not including the 3-inch base, and weighs a deceivingly hefty 8-1/2 pounds. The figure is hand cast in brittanium - an alloy of tin, copper and antimony that is much like pewter - in a 45-pound steel mold. The statuette is then deburred, degreased and polished to a mirror finish. "We spend about 45 minutes just polishing each one," Siegel says.

    Several layers of metal plating and polishing between each application give the statuette its perfect finish. The brittanium cast first receives a light copper electroplate, then heavy copper. Nickel plating is applied to seal the pores of the metal. Then the statuette is washed in silver-plate, which adheres well to gold. Finally, after more polishing, the statuette is plated in 24-karat gold and receives a baked lacquer finish.
    Of course, they're not engraved until later because the winners are top secret, even to the people who polish and primp the Oscar. R.S. Owens receives the list of winners only after the ceremony, then engraves the plates to ship back to Hollywood.

    Timeless Design
    The idea for the Oscar was hatched in 1927, when then-MGM President Louis B. Mayer proposed that the one-week-old Academy create a special film award. Cedric Gibbons, MGM art director, and sculptor George Stanley are credited for the design - a knight holding a crusader's sword standing atop a reel of film whose five spokes symbolize the five branches of the Academy: actors, directors, producers, technicians and writers.
    Unlike many other big-name awards, the Oscar has changed very little since its birth in the late '20s. The design has remained identical except for slight variations in the base, which was originally slightly smaller and made of Belgian black marble. Even the base - now made of spun brass and plated in black nickel - hasn't changed for 53 years.

    The only other variations were in materials. For the first three years, the statuettes were made of gold-plated solid bronze, which was changed to brittanium to ensure a flawless finish. Later, during World War II, the statuettes were cast in plaster when manufacturing with metal was restricted. But the plaster casts were replaced quickly after the war.

    All of the plaster versions were thought to be lost until recently when one was discovered in the Academy vault. More than a half century later, it's amazing any survived. "I imagine the Academy was quite embarrassed about [the plaster versions] at the time," says Davis. "They were probably all banged against a trash can or something."
    In addition to the Oscar, ARA member R.S. Owens manufactures scores of other big-name awards such as the Emmy, the MTV Music Video Award and the NFL's MVP Award. Upscale awards may be old hat to Siegel now, but he still remembers the uphill battle of the early years.

    Humble Beginnings
    Siegel grew up in working-class Chicago, the son of a Romanian immigrant who rented rabbit cages, coops and other supplies to county fairs. His entry into the trophy business was a result of a last-minute errand for one of his father's customers. During the 1936 Rockport County Fair, a teen-age Siegel was given $20 to pick up two $10 trophies, but when he arrived at the store it was closed, a casualty of the Depression. Not wanting to disappoint the customer, Siegel searched the phone book for another trophy store. He ended up at a manufacturer, where he was able to get the same trophies for far less money.
    "Well, I only paid $12 for those two trophies and kept the rest," Siegel remembers. "It would have taken me two weeks to make that much at my job after school."

    Soon, Siegel identified an untapped market for guinea pig figures (since none existed, guinea pig shows used rabbit figures). He tried to convince local manufacturers to create one by exaggerating his sales possibilities: "They asked me how many I could sell and I told them 100 (I thought that was a lot)," Siegel says. "But I knew I couldn't sell that many."

    Still, no one was interested, but Siegel saw an opportunity he wasn't going to miss. He hired his own sculptor, had a mold made and had the figures cast himself. "I made $375 on that order," he says. "From then on I encouraged people to buy trophies from me."

    Siegel opened his first factory in 1940, hiring workers from a competitor. His business wavered during World War II, when metal was scarce and trophy manufacturing was prohibited. But after a stint in the Army, he began to rebuild.

    Siegel attributes his early success to technical innovations, such as making trophies with zinc, a much harder metal than the standard lead (he got the idea by talking to the makers of car hood ornaments). Some of his first sales were to bowling alleys, whose bowler trophies tended to break at the wrist. Siegel liked to impress potential customers by demonstrating the trophies' strength. "I'd throw them on the floor and they'd gasp," he laughs, "then they'd notice they didn't break." Siegel prides himself on insisting on high standards: "We don't push junk."
    R.S. Owens gradually attained semi-prestigious accounts by the 1970s. Siegel won the Oscar account in 1983, when the previous manufacturer, which was having financial trouble, recommended him to the Academy. R.S. Owens improved the process by refitting the mold and reworking the tooling.

    Semi-retired after 60 years in business, Siegel is visibly proud of his accomplishments. "We make such beautiful awards," he says. "Sometimes I look around and say, 'Gee, what a beautiful trophy.' "

    Today, R.S. Owens is run by Siegel's son, Scott. In addition to the famous awards, the company serves many of America's top corporations, such as McDonalds and Microsoft, as well as thousands of everyday customers. In January, R.S. Owens hosted about a dozen media outlets interested in the making of the Oscar. While the Oscar brings priceless publicity, the company's bread and butter is the scouts and the schools that provide the volume orders. "I couldn't stay in business one day from the money we make on the Oscar," Siegel says.

    Name Recognition
    The Oscar is arguably the most widely recognized trophy in the world. The Academy's Davis attributes its notoriety to three things. First, its age: "[The Academy] was the first organization to begin giving awards in film, so the public has been aware of it since the early 1930s."

    Second, its status in the film industry: "I think it has retained that aura because, even if people aren't absolutely sure what the Academy is, they do know that it's the people who make movies looking at all their accomplishments for the year and selecting the outstanding examples."

    Third, its timeless design: "It's a gorgeous piece of sculpture with a machine-age, streamlined design that was popular in the 1920s and has managed to continue to look modern to this day," Davis says.
    Its popularity has made the Academy Awards an national tradition each spring, having been interrupted only three times in its 70-year history. The first delay was in 1938 when destructive floods hit Los Angeles; the second, in 1968 out of respect for Dr. Martin Luther King, whose funeral was held on the day originally scheduled for the awards; and most recently, in 1981 after the assassination attempt on former President Ronald Reagan.

    Precious Cargo
    Every year the Academy orders 50 to 65 new Oscars from R.S. Owens, depending on how many are left over from the previous year and the number of potential winners. "We have to plan for the maximum to win in every category - a maximum assault," Davis says. More than 2,300 statuettes have been awarded since the first one was presented in 1928.

    Leftovers will be kept in a vault until next year's ceremony and are sometimes used to replace damaged statuettes. Recipients who request replacements are required to turn in the damaged trophy. "The only way to accumulate them is to keep doing wonderful film work," Davis says.

    The Academy owns many historically significant Oscars. "Often heirs of recipients will return them to us, or recipients themselves will leave instructions to return their Oscar to the Academy," Davis says. "They don't want something undignified to happen to it." The statuettes are displayed from time to time at Academy headquarters or at the nearby Herrick film library.

    Of course, security is always a concern when the statuettes are transported from place to place. Fifty statuettes were shipped on March 11 from R.S. Owens' Chicago factory to Hollywood by Brinks truck and a special United Airlines charter. Fortunately, none has ever been lost in transport, but there are at least a few Oscars on the lam.
    "We recently became aware that we lost one," says Davis. During the 1972 ceremony, two winners were called but only one was in attendance. One winner came up and claimed her award and the other statuette was left on the podium as they broke for commercial. Someone must have pocketed it, Davis says.
    Recently it turned up on the black market. "The Academy will make every effort to get it back," he says. The Academy is able to track missing Oscars because they are numbered, starting in 1949 with the somewhat arbitrary number 501.

    "[Oscars] have always been among the most valuable things that a person in this industry can acquire, but they recently have gained a secondary financial value," Davis says.

    This value can be attributed in part to R.S. Owens and the team of professionals who build the trophy.
    People often ask Siegel for his Oscar Night predictions. "I'm not a movie fan," he says, but he does watch the awards ceremony. "I enjoy seeing the recipients' faces when they receive the Oscar. And I watch when people pick it up - they don't expect it to be so heavy."

    By Sara Geimer
    Recognition Review, April, 1998
    © 1998, Awards and Recognition Association
    For more information, contact RCB Awards at 1-800-929-9110.

    Thursday, December 2, 2010

    Vince Lombardi Super Bowl Trophy

    Recognition Review, February, 1998
    Super Trophy: The NFL's highest award is a sterling success
    by Kellee Van Keuren
    It started in 1966 on a cocktail napkin--a humble beginning for the Vince Lombardi Super Bowl Trophy, one of the world's most prestigious sports awards. The scene was a luncheon attended by both Pete Rozelle, then-commissioner of the National Football League, and Oscar Riedner, then-vice president of design for Tiffany & Co. in New York, N.Y.

    Riedner sketched it extremely quickly," says Ed Wawrynek, vice president of Tiffany & Co. and the firm's official historian. "And that sketch became an icon of modern-day sports--the symbol for what no one knew at the time would be one of today's most popular sporting events."

    The first Super Bowl, called the AFL/NFL World Championship Game, was played in January following the 1966 football season. At that time, the game was a contest between the champions of the National Football League and the American Football League. Around the third championship game, the media started calling it the Super Bowl, a title coined by Lamar Hunt, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs and founder of the AFL. He thought of the name after seeing his daughter playing with a toy rubber ball called a superball.

    After Super Bowl IV, the two leagues merged into one under the NFL name, with teams divided into two conferences: the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The Super Bowl is now a match between the two conference champions.

    Test of Time
    The actual design of the Super Bowl trophy was nearly identical to Reidner's first sketch. And since the first one was made in 1966, that design hasn't changed one iota, Wawrynek says. "That's one of the secrets of the trophy's success and durability," he adds. "It's always been the same, which makes it instantly recognizable."
    It was dubbed the Vince Lombardi Trophy in 1970, just before Super Bowl V. Lombardi--who died of cancer on Sept. 3, 1970, at the age of 57--was a well respected coach who had led the Green Bay Packers to victory in the first two Super Bowls.

    The trophy is a perfect blend of modern and traditional, Wawrynek says. Made entirely of sterling silver, it depicts a regulation football atop what resembles an elongated kicking tee--a plinth with three tapered, concave sides. "It's a traditional football, modernized by the sculpted triangular base," Wawrynek explains.

    At least 72 hours of labor are required each year to manufacture the trophy. "It's done entirely by hand," Wawrynek says. "It's hand spun, hand assembled, hand hammered into the base, hand engraved and hand chased." The work is done at Tiffany & Co.'s workshop in Parsippany, N.J.
    Because the trophy uses a heavy gauge of silver that is difficult to bend and shape, the manufacturing process demands great expertise. First a spinner places onto a lathe a wooden chuck carved into the shape of half a football. A thick sheet of silver is placed on the chuck. With forming tools, it's spun until it assumes the shape of the chuck. After both halves are formed, they are soldered together to form the ball. "They are joined so perfectly that there's no evidence of a seam," Wawrynek says. Then a silversmith hand chases the seams and laces onto the ball so that it resembles an actual football.

    The base is formed from sheet stock, which is hand hammered and soldered. The football is attached by a silver rod that comes up through the base and is secured by silver nuts and bolts. "It has to be sturdy enough to hold up under handling by those 'little' football players," Wawrynek says.

    During the manufacturing process, the trophy must be annealed five or six times because the repeated hammering hardens the surface. The annealing loosens the bonding of the molecules in the silver, allowing it to be shaped.
    After the trophy is complete, the NFL symbol and the Super Bowl number are hand engraved into a sheet stock of silver, which is applied to the base. When finished, the Lombardi stands 20-3/4 inches tall and weighs about seven pounds. And while it's officially valued at $10,000, it's a priceless symbol of hard-earned victory for the players and their fans. "The trophies are a great source of pride here," says Ann Dabeck, administrative assistant for the Green Bay Packers, who won trophies from the first two Super Bowls, as well as the 1996 championship.

    Taking It Home
    Green Bay is one of only 12 teams in the NFL--out of a total of 30--that has earned the title of Super Bowl champion. Of those 12, eight are multiple winners. The Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers tie for the most wins with five apiece. 

    Immediately following a Super Bowl victory, the NFL Commissioner presents the winning team with the trophy. "Sometimes it is slightly damaged in the champagne celebration," Wawrynek says. "We always have an extra in case a catastrophe occurs, but so far nothing major has ever happened." The trophy is then returned to Tiffany & Co. for any repairs and the engraving of the team names and the final score onto the base. Then it goes back to the team for permanent possession.

    The teams are free to display the trophies where they want, so they end up in a variety of places. Until recently, Green Bay's trophy from Super Bowl I was on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Now the Hall of Fame has a copy of the trophy, while all three of the Packer's awards are housed behind glass in the entrance of its administrative offices, next to its pro shop. The number of fans who come to see the trophies increased greatly after the team's 1996 win, Dabeck says.

    The Dallas Cowboys' five Lombardis are on public display only once a year at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas. The rest of the year they are kept in the office of Jerry Jones, the team's owner. The 49ers display their five awards in the lobby of the team's administrative offices in Santa Clara, Calif. The team's marketing department occasionally takes the trophies on "field trips" such as luncheons and other promotional events.
    Only one championship team doesn't have its original trophy. The Baltimore Colts (who moved to Indianapolis in 1984) had to order a copy of the Lombardi from Tiffany's after Carroll Rosenbloom--who owned the team when it won Super Bowl V--took the trophy with him when he traded the Colts for the Los Angeles Rams. Although the Colts are now in Indianapolis, the team's copy of the trophy is still on display in Baltimore.

    Sweet Victory
    In addition to the trophy, the individual players on the championship team receive custom-designed rings and a cash award, which currently is $48,000, says Pete Fierle, information services manager for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Each player on the losing team receives $29,000--quite a hike from Super Bowl I in which players from the victorious Green Bay Packers each got $15,000, while the losing Kansas City Chiefs received $7,000 apiece.
    But for most players, the monetary awards that accompany a Super Bowl victory are secondary to the thrill of achieving the title of world champion. And after 32 years, the Vince Lombardi Trophy still stands as a sterling testimony to that accomplishment. "It's a wonderful iconographic symbol of sports in modern times," Wawrynek says. "In every way, the trophy is a success."

    © 1998, Awards and Recognition Association

    For more information, contact RCB Awards at 1-800-929-9110.

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    Corporate Awards Instill Motivation

    There are many reasons for giving corporate awards to employees:
    • recognizing results
    • exemplary behavior
    • motivation
    • dedication
    • showing appreciation for their loyalty. 
    Corporate awards allow recipients to display their accomplishments and take pride in their work. Even better, an award on an employee’s desk or in his or her office makes them feel appreciated, motivated, and dedicated to doing the best job possible. Here are some suggestions for corporate awards.

    • Plaques—Choose either solid-wood, acrylics in striking and unusual colors, or sustainable materials like bamboo.
    • Sculptures or Art Glass—Many are now made using recyclable glass materials.
    • Gift Sets—Golf, poker, cigar, and wine accessories are packaged in cases that feature space for personalization.
    • Crystal—These elegant items can include cups, desk ornaments, and art crystal.
    • Clocks—Time pieces are a classic choice and come in many shapes, sizes, and styles.
    • Creative Custom Awards—Consult with your local awards professional to create unique recognition items that portray or reflect the intended recipient’s accomplishments.