It’s hard to believe 2023 is already in the rearview mirror – and what a year it’s been for Vermont Awards & Engraving! We launched a new custom built digital invoicing system in February that has made order tracking and organizing customer data a breeze!
We’ve continued to grow our reach and gained a number of fantastic new customer relationships around the country and beyond — newly adding names like Nokian Tyres, Zenza Capital and Experian. We even had our work displayed in Japan this year when we created some very impressive trophies and plaques for the World Karate Organization’s Shinkyokushinkai Championship in October!
We got news in January that our main plaque supplier was moving to brass plated steel, which requires flat unattractive laser engraving because the material oxidizes beyond readability within months if
traditional diamond drag engraving is used. Instead of caving and dropping our quality standards so we could continue offering those products we stood our ground and belief in the superior results of our methods, removing over 100 products from our website. We could have panicked and moved away from most plaques in general but we decided to lean into that challenge and begun expanding our lines of custom plaques that we build in house using verifiably high quality materials. We also wanted to make up for the loss of the fancy gold leaf borders included on many of their plaques so we let our designers run wild and create new beautifully textured engraveable borders — from our imaginations or utilizing elements of customer brands to make their awards even more aligned with who they are.
We’ve added new suppliers and also created some new products of our own — my personal favorite being the custom cocktail flights or serving trays I dreamed up as a special thank you gift. I created the prototype to hold two Krosno highball glasses, two copper Viski straws, a bottle of Runamok maple
syrup and Stonecutter’s fantastic gin. The design for the two layer tray — including leather carry straps, the recipe engraved on the top face and decorative engraving on the base — was created in a format that’ll allow me to easily customize it for any standard or oddly shaped bottles and number of glasses too!
One I’m particularly proud of is a big jump forward we’ve made in terms of the inclusivity we can offer in our products. In chatting with friends at the Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired it came to light that there’s really not much available, in terms of awards or other customized items, for those who need braille. That got me a bit ticked on a personal level, so I started working to solve that problem. With some invaluable guidance from VABVI we can now translate your submitted text and offer comfortable to read subtractive braille engraving on wood, glass, acrylic awards and into stone — no metals quite yet, but that R&D is in the progress! We’re really proud to be able to offer awards that can be engraved so they’re readable by a blind recipient as well as having plain text to ensure everyone seeing the piece displayed knows the achievement they’re being celebrated for!
There’s much more to tell but in closing I’ll add the much delayed announcement that at the end of July I took over majority ownership — making VAE a small woman/LGBT+ owned and operated next gen family business. Also, as of writing this, have a kickass all-female staff in a stereotypically male
dominated industry, which I think is pretty darn cool and worth a shout out!
I look forward to getting to know and working with even more of you in the future and to the exciting milestones I’m sure we’ll encounter throughout 2024!
Jessie Swétel (she/they)