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There was already a lot on Peter Clarke’s plate in 1988 when his father passed away and he inherited the family’s business, Clarkes Recognition Products Ltd. “I had a new house, a new baby, and all of the sudden I had to take over a business,” Peter says. “It was a bit overwhelming.”

Over the years, we’ve spent a lot of hours working to improve our time management and organizational skills at work. But when was the last time we spent even one hour focused on time management outside of the workplace? Our free time has become more crowded with things to do and things that did not get done. We are a society of hurry up, start this, finish that. Some may even look forward to Monday morning’s arrival, so they can have an excuse to escape from all the things they weren’t able to accomplish in their spare time.

Change is constant. That’s something Karl Scheife knows well, witnessing the industry’s shifting landscape as he’s run Competitor Awards and Engraving, Inc., for more than 30 years now. Just look at what’s happened with recreational sports leagues, he says.  

Sure, personalized tumblers make great gifts for teachers, parents or wedding parties across the country. But retailers are getting creative with what they engrave and personalize, including everything from whiskey and perfume bottles to the edges of coins, bomb shells and even cow patties.

As Sam Varn, CRM, sees it, there’s only so much you can automate in an industry with “personalization” in the name.

“When I think of automation, I think of robots and assembly lines,” says Varn, who is the owner of Awards4U, an awards and recognition company in Tallahassee, Florida. “But, in our business, there are still a lot of human beings involved. We are not in any mass production business. We’re in the personalization business.”

Can it really be the fourth quarter already? It seems like yesterday the APA Expo was in Las Vegas, and we were preparing for the busy season, doesn’t it? But before you can blink, the holidays will be here. Ah, the holidays—a time for beloved family traditions. A time for spreading good cheer. A time for gifts—both big and small. And, like it or not, a time for retailers to end the fiscal year on a positive note.

Can you imagine the world we live in today without the contributions of Henry Ford? Without Martin Luther King, Jr., or Mother Teresa? Without Franklin D. Roosevelt, Claude Monet, Walt Disney or John Glenn? Without the genius of Albert Einstein? Each of these individuals showed how much one person matters.

It’s any business’ dream—building a client base that is filled with steady, repeat customers who rarely pose a hiccup. But in this industry, that undertaking can come with unique challenges. Each customer may serve a different population, have hyper-specific personalization needs that require highly specialized equipment or have a workplace culture that more readily embraces one product but not another. And without an in-depth knowledge of every company and industry’s specific likes and dislikes, it can be hard to gauge where your offerings will be most successful.

There’s no way around it: Businesses across the country are feeling squeezed as workers are resigning from jobs in historic numbers every month. Consider that, in the United States, there are nearly twice as many open jobs as people willing to fill them. Plus, retail and service are two of the sectors hardest hit by labor shortages. As a result, awards and personalization employers are struggling to find workers, especially for customer service and warehouse jobs.

Well, we’re about to finish yet another busy season—fighting through long hours, working weekends and meeting the customers’ demands. Now that it’s nearly over, we have money in the bank, low inventory levels and satisfied customers. In short, success!

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Awards and Personalization Association

The Awards and Personalization Association is the organization for retailers and suppliers of personalized and customized items. By providing education, meetings, and access to a vibrant network of professionals, the Awards and Personalization Association is the one place to ensure the growth of your talent, your business, and your professional community.

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