Bountiful Trophies puts it in writing

Family business takes delight in creating unusual, original items

Published: Friday, May 20 2005 12:00 a.m. MDT

Chad Smith, co-owner of Bountiful Trophies, helps customer Kim Fawcett with an order.

Keith Johnson, Deseret Morning News

BOUNTIFUL — It's not every business that can say it makes its mark on people's lives.

But Bountiful Trophies does it, with owner Chad Smith engraving names, dates and achievements on trophies, plaques and other items to commemorate special events and accomplishments.

"I sometimes get people who come in with crazy ideas about things they want mounted onto a plaque or engraved," said Smith, who owns the business at 45 E. 400 South with brother Dick Smith. "Sometimes they're embarrassed to tell me what they want on it, but I'll say, 'Whatever you want me to do, I'll do.' "

Bountiful Trophies offers trophies, of course, but plaques for businesses and organizations comprise much of the business, as does engraving.

"I've done engraving on a lot of different things — the inside of wedding rings, the backs of wristwatches, different types of jewelry, silver trays, cups and goblets," Chad Smith said, adding that "tags" for companies and individuals also are popular. The Utah High School Hockey Association, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Utah Hunter Education program are among regular customers.

"I love being able to do something for people," he said. "Most people kind of leave it up to me to lay it out and pick different designs in print. I like to do something really creative more than just 'basic block.' I like to do something unusual."

Acrylic work, where engraving is done in reverse to be seen through the material, "is always fun," he said.

He's even engraved samurai swords and a Civil War sword.

"When I'm doing something like that, or the Instructor of the Year rifles for the Hunter Education program, which is donated by Browning, it's always scary for me to do," he said. "I make sure it's after hours or before hours when I'm closed and nobody will interrupt me."

Smith's mother and stepfather started the business in their garage in the mid-1970s under the name The Tree Shop, because the company's specialty was engraving wood from cedar trees. But the stepfather's pipefitting activities got him engraving "tags" for companies he worked for, "and that mushroomed into engraving trophies," Smith said.

Smith worked a few years for his parents before he and his brother took over the business 21 years ago, renaming it Bountiful Trophies.

"I pretty much run it on my own, but at times I'm super-busy and work late hours. But other times it's not quite as busy. But over the years, I've tried to keep it in the family. I've had nephews and nieces work with me, and then they'd move on. My own children are getting older and helping me a little bit."

Longtime customers have seen the family influence firsthand.

"My wife works full time, and because I own the business, I could bring the three kids with me and take care of them from the time they were babies until they were in kindergarten," he said. "I was kind of 'Mr. Mom' for several years until they were in school. My repeat customers — the ones I've had for years and years and years — have kind of watched my kids grow up. They'd see me with them.

"Sometimes I'd be holding them with a bottle and trying to help a customer at the same time, and the customer would say, 'Here, I'll hold them.' That's been a while ago. My youngest will be 8 this next month."

Bountiful Trophies is in the midst of one of its busiest times of year, with school athletic and academic awards keeping Smith busy. The other hectic time is before Christmas, when engraved gifts are common.

"I don't see any immediate change in what we do," he said. "It's been progressive over the years. Sales have increased. I've never had it really go down.

"Most of our business is repeat customers, and there's a lot of word-of-mouth (advertising). I try to stand behind my work. I take pride in what I do. It can be a lot of fun, and some of the customers are so appreciative of what I do, they just rave about it."


E-mail: bwallace@desnews.com