Nick Clemens understands the value of hard work. The Trophy House, which his mother Jennie Clemens purchased in 1974, has been part of the family for nearly five decades.
At just 13 years old, Nick Clemens started working for his family business, only taking a brief break while he was away at college.
“Friends of my mother owned the company. She bought one out, and then bought the other out,” Clemens said. “Us kids — three boys — were still in school. While raising us, it gave her some independence as an incentive to get out there and have something to do to make a little extra money.”
The Trophy House specializes in trophies, plaques and medals for sports teams, company awards or even personalized items that need to be engraved.
In 1980, they expanded to include All American Advertising Specialty.
“My father Gene left his job after working at a company for over 20 years,” Clemens said. “He started the business All American Advertising Specialty-offering T-shirts, pens, pencils, calendars, coffee mugs, you name it.”
At the time, The Trophy House and All American Advertising were located at 1301 Allen Street, best known for their 4×6-foot concrete eagle out front.
In 1997, when the business moved to their current location at 511 Frederica Street, they added a third business, Trisons, specializing in unique gifts such as lamps, wind chimes, and pewter trays.
“I had the idea to name it Trisons. My mom wanted to name it Three Sons after her three boys, but that’s where I came up with Trisons, all one word,” Clemens said.
Today, Clemens said the three businesses work hand in hand to offer customers personalized items for special occasions.
“Someone might come in and want to give their employees an award and a gift. I engrave the awards, and my brother is printing the gifts for the meeting at the same time,” Clemens said. “Trisons has items that can be personalized too. It’s truly a one-stop shop.”
While All American Advertising Specialty is located upstairs, the other two businesses are located side by side on the first floor.
“My brothers Mike and Randy are upstairs, I work the trophy side, my mom runs Trisons, and my dad is retired,” Clemons said. “We love our jobs because it’s something different everyday.”
With 2020 being a tough year for many small businesses, the family does not take their customer base for granted.
“COVID was very trying for us,” Clemens said. “I do banquets, tournaments, sports — all which were nonexistent for the most part. It was pretty trying, but we have been around for a long time and didn’t want to give up. No one got together for tournaments for a whole year. I’d say we cut back 70 percent.”
As he counted his blessings, Clemens said he feels fortunate that all his employees stayed with him, even after having hours cut during the pandemic.
“We are very fortunate to still be here. I was also very fortunate to not lose our workers. Some of my girls who work in the back building trophies or engraving have been with me for over 20 years,” Clemens said.
As far as what fuels his passion for working for his family business after all these years, Clemens said there is something special about receiving a personalized keepsake.
“We all played sports. I know what it was like to win something and get that trophy or medal with my name on it,” he said. “This goes all the way up to adults who are given a watch or plaque after 25 years of service. It’s great to know that they are being recognized with a smile on their face and we were a part of that.”