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Inside Business: Dakota Awards

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You may think those beautiful bowling trophies, retirement plaques and engraved specialty items you see every day are made out of state, but they might just be made right here in Bismarck. For this week's Inside Business, Jim Christianson takes a look at Dakota Awards.

When Bill and Alva Townsend started Dakota Awards, necessity was truly the mother of invention, as they couldn't find trophies for their four kids, who were involved in BMX racing at the time. So, they remodeled the old Capitol Laundry building at the corner of 3rd and Front and opened Dakota Awards.

"We focus on corporate awards primarily, everything from sales awards to safety awards, programs, years of service. But we also do sports awards, all kinds of engravings, glass, etching, sign making. We're a pretty diversified company," says Bill Townsend.

Thirty-two years later, Dakota Awards is still going strong.  Their market extends well beyond the Bismarck-Mandan trade area, with customers on both coasts and in Canada. They do all jobs, big and small, from a single rubber stamp to directional signs to large corporate recognition programs. 

Technology has changed the way they do their work, but the end product is still something you can hold in your hand, display on your desk or hang on your wall.

"When we started in this business we type set thing one letter at a time. We had a paragraph engraver and when you made a mistake, it was always in the last line of a plaque  so you had to start all over again. Now its all computerized," says Townsend.

"We're a company with thirteen employees I think right now and we've got about twenty five computers. In the building, plus the servers. Everything is run by the computer around here," says Townsend.

Dakota Awards employs 15 people. Townsend says coming to work every day is still rewarding, but he is also looking forward to taking more time off as his son gets more involved in the business. 

To find out more about Dakota Awards, visit them at their website, dakawards.com.

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