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By Nathan Pace
Southsider Voice correspondent
It might be easier to list the companies that don’t use Chuck Sampson and his trophy business than companies that do. From schools and universities to police departments, the Trophy House has done work for them.
“It’s a wonderful business because you are selling stuff people like to talk about,” Sampson said. “It would be a lot tougher for me to sell insurance or burial plots. Everyone likes to buy because they are typically spending the boss’s money or the committee’s money anyhow.”
Located at 5048 Madison Ave. (782-3779), the Trophy House has been cranking out trophies for more than three decades. Sampson opened the business in 1983 after working for another trophy company. Since then his customer base has expanded into a trophy in itself.
Clients include nearby school districts like Perry and Franklin townships and distant ones such as Speedway and even Union County. The University of Indianapolis turns to Sampson for its award ceremonies, and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is also a client, as it has plaques made for its retiring officers.
Sampson, a Perry Township resident since 1952, graduated from Southport in 1958. He and his wife, Barbara, try to be involved in the community through their church, Center United Methodist Church, and through sponsoring scholarships for Southport students.
Some of the most prestigious products in the Trophy House include replicas of the state championship trophy for high school bowling and color guard. Youth sports have always been a business mainstay, with trophies for fantasy football leagues growing in popularity.
Although the Trophy House has only four full-time employees, it is able to produce a plethora of trophies, plaques, banners and other items because of technological advances.
“When I first started we were engraving everything by hand, one letter at a time,” Sampson said. “We did a job yesterday where we engraved 30 plaque plates in 42 minutes with a laser engraver. Would have taken me a day and a half by hand.”
The changes in the industry have kept him on his toes as he admits he was never big on computers when they started becoming popular. Today, graphic design is just as important as assembling the trophies and plaques.
“We do a lot of art and files via the Internet,” Sampson said. “When we got a computer for the first time I told my wife that was probably going to be the only one we’ll ever need. We now have eight of them in here.”
For those looking to get involved in the business, Sampson suggests visiting the Awards and Recognition Association website, ara.org, and applying for a part-time job at an established company.
“It’s not something you can try to learn in one day, that’s for sure, It’s a lot more complex than it used to be.”