Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Trophy-maker provides memories for many

By Alex Miley

Trophies, as a kid you dream of receiving them as a reward for your achievements and accomplishments, whether it is from a sporting event or academic achievement these trophies will serve as a memory for the rest of your life that your hard work paid off.

Making trophies is a pretty simple process.

Walt Spencer at his engraving machine

Walt Spencer of Arcade has been making trophies in his basement since 1977. He first started buying trophies from Laux Sporting Goods for a bowling league he was in. He then realized he would make more money if he made the trophies himself. So, he started buying the parts and taught himself how to make the trophies.

“Can’t even count the number of trophies I’ve sold,” Spencer said.

Making a three-piece trophy is a five-step process:

1)    Spencer takes the column, the middle piece that holds everything together, and inserts a stem, a rod, right through the middle of the column

2)    Then he takes the topper, a figurine of what activity the trophy is for, and screws it into the stem on top of the column

3)    To finish off the trophy he takes the base, usually made of marble or plastic, and screws the base onto the bottom of the stem and screws a nut into the bottom of the base to keep the base screwed in tight to the stem

4)    Once the trophy is finished, it is time to make the engravement plate and put a message on it.

a)     Spencer cuts the engravement plate to fit the desired size to fit on the trophy

b)    Next he puts the plate onto the engraver

c)     Spencer then spells out of the desired message on the plate with plastic letter on the engraver

d)    The engraver machine follows the letters like a pentagram, there are gauges to change the size of the letters to fit the message on the plate

5)    Once the engravement is finished Spencer sticks double-sided tape on the back of the plate and sticks it right onto the base of the trophy.

This entire process takes about 20 minutes on average. The bigger the trophy the longer it will take. The largest trophy he has made was four feet tall for the local little league team.

 The price of the trophies is also dependent on size as the average trophy sells for about $15-$20. The bigger the trophy the more it will cost.

Covid took a hit on his business with fewer events happening and people trying to save money fewer people are buying trophies. He was making about $5,000 before covid to about $3,000 last year.

The engraver can be used for other purposes than just trophies as Spencer uses the engraver for plaques, and business labels like for office doors, among other things. One time he engraved a plate for an outhouse.

Throughout the years Spencer has received many repeat customers including Jenny Tackentien who runs a local bowling league and has been buying trophies of Spencer for the last seven years.

“I believe he takes pride in his work,” Tackentien said

Tackentien’s children have received many trophies from different sports that spencer has designed and after seeing the quality of those trophies she decided to also start buying trophies off him. She said all the parts of the trophy are of great quality and well put together.

“His engraving is nicely done, and I have never had to question anything that he’s made, and he has always charged a very fair price,” Tackentien said.

Another customer of Spencer’s is Eric Pump who is an assistant baseball coach of a local youth baseball team, the Chaffee Muckdogs. Pump started buying trophies of Spencer three years ago.

Pump has known Spencer for over 40 years, and he has had the opportunity to watch him build and sell trophies for years.

“The quality of his trophies has always been top notch and above other vendors in his profession, He has always built them to our specific colors and sizes we have asked for.

Spencer’s trophies have been a staple of the community for the past 50 years. He has made trophies for basically every sport out there among other events and awards. The engraver allows him to make signs for businesses. Whatever the person requests, if he has the time and the supplies he will do it.