Get to know Amanda Gianotti, president of Allogram, a Maryland-based retailer of trophies, awards, plaques, and promotional products.
How long have you been in the recognition industry?
What is your background?
I graduated from Loyola College in 1986 with a degree in biology. My first job out of college was selling medical supplies. In 1988, my father recruited me into the family business to sell awards with the promise of opening a storefront once I built my territory up enough to support it. Then, in January of 1991, we opened the Timonium (Maryland) store.
What is your favorite aspect of your work?
The creativity and seeing my designs come to life.
What has been the biggest challenge of your career?
The biggest challenge is keeping up with technology and figuring out what the next greatest thing is and how it can benefit the business.
How can other women succeed in this business?
I don't believe this industry favors women or men – anyone can succeed in this business if they are committed to doing the best job possible and continuing to learn and evolve with technology.
Describe the most memorable moment in your career.
The most memorable moment of my career was when Barbara Bizier (co-owner of Marco Awards Group) read a poem she had written about me in front of my entire family, 50 or so other awards shops, and many of my favorite vendors. It was the summer of 2014 and I hosted a large meeting... During the shop tour, Barbara and Marcel (Bizier) presented me with a tiara and read the wonderfully written poem. I turned the poem into a plaque that now hangs in my office.
What has had the greatest influence on your professional career?
The greatest influence on my professional career has come from networking with my peers… The knowledge I have attained from our meetings is invaluable and has allowed me to advance my business.
What motivates you to succeed in this industry?
My goal is to build a business worth transitioning to the third generation and beyond.
What strategies are you focusing on to build a business that moves into the future?
We focus on equipment to increase our abilities and productivity. Any shop who is complacent and does not invest in new equipment is at a disadvantage. The more abilities you have, the more relevant you are to a larger number of customers.
I am always looking to learn and evolve with new technology. Future growth will depend on incorporating technology to make the buying experience as easy as possible for our customers.
Shifting gears… How has the market for awards changed in the past year? In the past five years?
The addition of color to anything with direct-to-substrate printing has changed the market. I think this will continue to intensify as customers want color more and more.
Color offers a more vibrant way of producing the same awards customers have been buying for years. How many times have you been asked, "What's new?" or, "What's different?" Color provides a way to sell the same piece of glass, acrylic, or wood with a new and improved look, allowing you to charge a premium.
We put color on anything the customer is willing to pay for. Color adds a “wow” factor you cannot achieve without it. Examples include: glass, crystal, plaques, coasters, acrylic, and anything else we can fit in the UV printer bed.
What contributes to these changes?
The demand for a logo, image, or brand to be represented with color and consistency is growing.
Since people want their brand/logo on their products, are awards becoming synonymous with promotional items?
In my opinion, promotional items are inexpensive giveaway items. Awards are personalized, usually with the recipient’s name. Companies do, however, want their brand represented on the awards they give, so having color capabilities makes this possible. There is an upgraded class of promotional items we call “premiums.” They are used as targeted promotional items but have a higher value and can include personalization. They are a valuable asset as a step above promotional items that the typical promotional products distributor doesn’t offer. This is an area where awards dealers can prosper.
What would you say to other awards retailers who haven’t added color to their services?
Adding color adds to the sale. It should be offered as an upsell to every customer - if you have the capabilities. The best advice I could give to anyone in the industry looking to grow their business is to get the equipment to offer color. Start with sublimation and advance to UV.
What are some other unique decoration techniques/styles you’ve seen recently?
Combining decoration technologies provides a more unique product than just one process. To give an example, combining the full-color logo on the front of a clear award and etching the back side gives the award dimension and appeal that an award marked on just one surface can't do.
Given that projects like that involve more work, materials, and time to produce – therefore increasing the price – how can retailers pitch jobs like this?
Having examples in your showroom helps start the conversation. A picture or sample tells the story. The added process justifies the added cost and many customers are willing to pay more for the effect. Although color isn't revolutionary, it does add significantly to the look of the product.
What area of the industry do you see has the greatest room for growth? Why?
I see the corporate market as one of the best markets for custom awards. Since our economy is on an upswing, corporate America will continue to recognize excellence within their organizations to keep top talent and prosper.
What can customers expect for the future of Allogram?
Allogram will continue to evolve with technology and provide high-quality products. We will continue to invest in equipment and technology to bring our customers the best possible answers to their recognition needs.