At Federal Way trophy shop, it's all in the family
By DEBRA FEAMMELLI
Federal Way Mirror Business Buzz
June 16, 2009 · 10:39 AM
For more than 20 years, business has been a family affair for the husband and wife team of Dale and Jan Pool, owners of DJ Trophy Awards and Engraving in Federal Way.
In 1986, Jan Pool received her first order, engraving soccer team trophies. Soon, word of mouth brought more customers. Today, 23 years later, the business occupies three contiguous office units at 33110 Pacific Highway S.
During the company’s early years, Jan’s parents, Edwin and Thelma Rortvedt, helped the Pools fill orders. Edwin passed away in 2006. Thelma still lives in Federal Way and is 95 years old.
Today, three of the four adult children of Jan and Dale Pool work at the company: Michelle Hoagland, Sherri Jansson and Darin Pool. The older Pool grandchildren also help out at the store.
The family’s work philosophy is taught early. Jan Pool told her children, “You work, you get paid.” Now, her grandchildren are learning the same adage.
Reflecting on industry trends over the decades, Jan Pool said technological advancements have changed the business the most. A key advancement was laser engraving, bringing quicker turnarounds and a broader selection of materials that could be engraved, such as crystal, acrylics, marble, glass and wood.
“Most anything can be engraved, sandblasted or etched,” she said.
The Internet has opened new opportunities for the company and customers as well. By visiting www.djtrophy.com, customers can design an award, then order and pay for it online. DJ Trophy was one of the first 100 companies in the nation to start using the “build an award” Web program, Jan Pool said.
To stay competitive, company personnel regularly attend industry shows and pursue continuing education in technology.
In 2000, the company expanded its product line to include apparel, managed by Darin Pool. Demand reached a point to where a separate division, DJ Imprints (www.djimprints.com), was named to better serve customers, including help with logo artwork. In addition to its main product line of embroidery and screen printing of apparel, the division includes other promotional products, offering a “one stop shop,” she said.
Pool continually focuses on one of the company’s most important assets: Its employees.
“I don’t have all the answers so I encourage fresh ideas that can take the company to new levels,” she said. “Their opinions count.”
“We treat people the way we would like to be treated,” she said.
This same philosophy applies to customers, the focal point of the business.
"I am thankful to all our loyal customers over the years," Pool said.Contact Federal Way Mirror Business Buzz Debra Feammelli at firstname.lastname@example.org.