Trophex magazine talks to Tim Wilford from Glenway

Glenway is a family run business dedicated to the supply of trophies and awards, they are one of the UK's leading wholesale supplier's and offer a huge range that are beautifully designed in house and manufactured to the highest standards. Their range includes school trophies and awards, a huge range of sporting trophies, medals, plaques, bases and trophy components.

How and when did you start working in the industry?

I've been a trophy person nearly all my life. I started in  October 1979 just before my 21st birthday (am I old or what)?, for a now defunct company called Eurawards.

I’d been working as a stock controller for a decorative ribbon Manufacturer in Nottingham. I got into trophies, by a quirk of fate, the MD of eurawards was an old next door neighbour. I bumped into him on a Friday night out, in the world famous Trent Bridge Inn, and asked if he had any jobs going.

The rest is History, my career was set in motion. After Eurawards I joined another wholesaler, for a few years before getting on the Glenway bus on 1st july 1991.

What has been the highlight of your career to date?

Highlight of my career? that’s a good question. Probably a bit of a drawn out highlight really, it would be when I joined Glenway in 1991, we were probably the smallest of 8 or 9 wholesalers at the time. During the next 25 years we have now risen towards the top of the pile. So I would say being a part of that team has been a great thrill.

What changes have you seen over the years that have had an impact on the industry?

In the last 37 years ive seen some amazing changes. In the early days darts, pool & pigeons were massive users of trophies, football overtook everything for many years, now we have schools and corporate presentations. As well as the end user changing so has the product. Back in the late seventies it was wood shields & silver cups, then the eighties, plastic tubes & marble.

The nineties we became continental with the launch of Italian bowl trophies. The Noughties became resin & glass. And finally now we have a little bit of everything. And the suppliers have had a bit of a merry-go round as well. Some have ceased trading some have carried on all the way through, and theres a few new ones as well.

How do you think your organisation has contributed to or influenced the industry?

As an organisation Glenway has influenced the trade considerably. In the early days we were real innovaters in  product finishes and design. The fact that we were the first company to employ a full time designer, gave us a major advantage. We also put time & effort into good customer service, as well as taking catalogue production to a different level. A lot of the trade have followed what we have led which I think has made it a more professional trade all round.

How do you think the UK leaving the European Union will impact the future of business?

Short term leaving the EU, or should I say preparing to leave the EU, is having a say on the UK marketplace. The currency differentials have made our products a lot more expensive in our home market. On the other side of things at the moment while we still have no tariffs, our products become more competitive in the EU., it will also make it more expensive for retailers to import from EU countries, so that’s a double whammy. But I honestly think its too early to tell what impact it will have.

Do you think technology in the industry has kept up with consumer demand or exceeded it?

I think technology in the UK market is a long way behind other countries such as America. In the states every serious trophy dealer would have laser & sublimation systems. This allows them not only to sell to traditional markets but also to new and more lucrative ares of the awards industry. In the UK although some retailers have invested in lasers etc, it is a small proportion, but those who have are reaping rewards.

Do you think 3D printing will become a cost effective way to create Trophies and Awards in the future?

Call me old fashioned but I can't see 3D printing becoming a cost effective way of producing trophies other than perhaps bespoke one offs. For making protypes fine, but at the moment they wouldn’t be able to produce the volumes required.

What role in your opinion does the internet play in the industry?

The Internet, is an amazing selling tool. The trophy trade has embraced it. The largest retailer in the UK is a website which is less than 10 years old, all the leading suppliers have great websites to order on as well as virtual sites for their customers to use. Shops will still be around as, bigger clubs, leagues, associations etc, will want to see the product. They also may want different payment terms to the internet.

Do you feel an online presence is essential to increase profitability and product range awareness for suppliers and retailers alike?

In this day and age, it is essential to have an online presence. Both for a wholesaler and retailer. As a wholesaler our online presence is used more and more. Busy retailers can check stock and order at their leisure, evenings, weekends etc, when the office wouldn’t normally be manned.

I also think that every retailer should have some sort of web presence. In the modern world the end user often wants to buy out of hours, or at lunchtime. Its not always possible just to nip out & buy something. Buying a trophy isn’t like nipping to Tesco for a loaf of bread, there are thousands of different products for thousands of different sports, added to that personalisation, its not a five minute job. 

Websites for trophies are ideal, the customer even types in their engraving, so any mistakes are down to them. A good online presence is ideal for gleaning business that would never have walked through your door, a bit of a win win scenario.

How important is brand exposure in addition to product sales?

I think brand exposure is becoming more and more important in our trade. Every other trade you can think of has brands, in fact brands which are household names. I think because we have a slightly different supply chain to a lot of other trades it is difficult to shout out our actual company name. In the world of supermarkets everyone knows who Heinz, Walkers & Coca Cola are. In the world of trophies, does the end user have a clue who Glenway or another brand are? So the trophy branding has become slightly different. Our brand is seen
as being “” So hopefully the next time the end user has an order to place they’ll want to buy from the “” brochure, as that is a perceived quality brand.

Where do you think the industry will be in 10 years’ time?

Where will it be in 10 years?, me personally I’ll be retired & living the life of riley. There will always be a trophy trade, as long as people compete against each other, or against the elements. I'm sure in 10 years there will be new sports and pastimes and more competitions. I think there will be more competitions and tournaments for things like computer games, but possibly less people competing in the more traditional sports. In the mass trophy markets, price has become a bigger factor, so perhaps more medals will be sold, as well as more plastic product. As for styles in 10 years time, I wish I had a crystal ball!

The way trophies are sold will alter over the next 10 years. Even now the big movers and shakers at the retail end are either web based or have a good web prescence, which will continue. There will still be a place for the trophy shop, as a lot of the bigger clubs, leagues, associations etc, like to be hands on. They are often spending other peoples money, so want to see what they are getting. A large club who has dealt with a shop before may also be able to pay a deposit & balance on collection. On the net its “money with order“.

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