Based in the Twin Cities of the state with a thousand lakes (AKA, Minnesota) is a seller of awards and promotional products, justly named Viking Trophies. This year is the shop’s 50th year in the recognition business.
Lori Moen has been the shop’s owner since 2003. According to her, the shop was founded in 1969 by a man named Don Zakeer. When Zakeer decided he was ready to sell the shop, Moen, who had worked in the advertising and radio industry for 25 years, was looking to take a step in a new direction. It became a match made in heaven. With the help of a broker, Moen linked up with Viking.
“I did not come into the industry knowing (it),” Moen confesses. That’s not to say she came in empty-handed — she was able to bring her sales and marketing background to the store. “I still haven't learned how to put together a trophy, or etch glass, and that’s okay. My general manager would probably rather I never did,” she jokes.
Viking Trophies’ general manager, along with one of the other employees, have been loyal employees since the ‘80s. “We have a legacy of knowledge in the industry and with our clients here at Viking Trophies,” says Moen. Currently, the shop has 12 employees, including Moen, who work together to produce a variety of items for corporate customers, as well as award shows in the Twin Cities area.
Through its online site, Viking Trophies’ products sail all around the world, but the majority of its customers are in the Twin Cities, Minnesota regional area. Moen explains some of the clients who come back annually have been doing so for the last 40 or 50 years.
Over the years, the shop has taken on new technologies while slowly shifting away from some of the old. “We’re working to move away from rotary engraving, but we’ve brought on UV printing as a process,” Moen elaborates. Viking has also increased the number of lasers in use and fine-tuned its sublimation production capabilities.
A newer element that Viking Trophies focuses more on these days is providing customers with promotional products and corporate apparel. “If we’re doing a Years of Service program for somebody and they say, ‘Boy, I need some coffee mugs and pens,’ we want to be able to say ‘yes’ to that also,” Moen says. “We’re really here to serve our customers so they return and tell others.”
Customer service is just one core value the shop operates by, the second one being a focus on the staff. “We’re a small company, so everybody has a huge impact on how our business is successful or not,” states Moen. As the owner of Viking Trophies, she’s dedicated to investing in the company assets, which includes the staff, infrastructure, and growth opportunities.
Many customers stop by the shop on a regular basis just to visit Charlie, the store greeter, mentions Moen. Charlie, a cat who came to the shop in 2012 by way of Moen’s daughter, had been found in a dumpster. The staff couldn’t say no when he had nowhere else to go.
In tandem with its 50-year anniversary, Viking released a new logo along with some promotional items with that logo for customers to celebrate. Moen anticipates the logo will be incorporated with the staff later on this year. “50 years is a pretty big deal these days,” Moen concludes.