Mike Wapniarski, the graphic design specialist at Ahwatukee Trophies & Corporate Awards examines some artwork in the business' new location in the strip mall on the northwest corner of 48th Street and Warner Road.
Special to AFN

The owners of Ahwatukee Trophies & Corporate Awards want everyone to know they haven’t left town – it just looks that way because of forces beyond their control.

Brian McHale and Larry Prine moved from the store’s nearly 20-year location in the 4900 block of East Warner Road next to Phillys Sports Grill back in January.

They figured that they had done enough by leaving a sign telling people they could now find Ahwatukee Trophies a few blocks away at 4730 E. Warner Road next to Nello’s Pizza.

But then Starbucks came along.

The coffee giant tore down the old building – and the redirectional sign along with it.

“No sign of our business exists at this location any longer,” McHale said. “While many customers look up our number and call to see if we are still in business, we’re clearly concerned about the customers that may not.”

An 18-year resident of Ahwatukee, McHale teamed up with Prince to buy Ahwatukee Tropies a year ago.

“In 2016, this business experienced significant growth,” McHale said early this year. “We want to capitalize on this momentum by adding better technology to support this growth, along with very aggressive and targeted marketing/advertising.”

To accomplish that goal, they figured they needed a bigger space, so they found it on the northwest corner of 48th Street and Warner Road.

The two men are especially enthusiastic about their added emphasis on awards.

“Awards have always been a staple in any organization, it builds healthy completion among groups and teams,” Prine said. “It allows the organization to grow and reward their employees for doing a great job. The employees are being recognized for their contribution to the overall growth of the organization.”

Added McHale: “I’ve utilized trophies and awards in the workplace for years and highly value the impact that they can have on your workforce.”

“As an athlete and a senior manager,” McHale said, “I’ve received and presented quite a number of trophies and awards over the years, so I honestly have seen the value on both the giving and receiving end of personal recognition and rewards.”

Prine also recalled his experience in corporations to explain his attachment to the trophy and award business.

For him, it is always now a case of better to give than receive.

“I have received multiple trophies and awards for myself, but frankly, there is nothing like giving an award and watching the face of someone who is receiving it,” Prine said. “The pride they feel at that moment, you can see it, and it’s contagious throughout the team.”

Their business includes handmade trophies built entirely in their office.

“The crystal and acrylic awards we can buy already manufactured, then personalize them in virtually any way that a customer desires,” McHale said, adding:

“We have two world class commercial grade laser printers, along with a color printer that is possibly the only one in the Valley of this caliber. We can add logos and color to virtually any flat surface, and even generate a 3-D look and feel to these surfaces.”

Prine and McHale also hope to add their personal mark on the business.

“We felt these awards were getting a bit ‘stale,’ so we are attempting to add life back into these recognition/motivational tools,” McHale explained.

And while they like their home base in Ahwatukee, they’re aiming for a bigger market. As McHale explained, “We will start target-marketing the corporate market throughout the Valley.”

Information: 480-785-5292, ahwatukeetrophies.com

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