35+ years of crafting some of the very best race medals and awards in the business
We recently caught up with Kim Ashworth of Ashworth Awards, the Official Awards Partner of Running USA, as Ashworth talks at length about how the company has evolved over the years, what trends they are seeing in the industry and much more.
Running USA (RUSA): How did Ashworth Awards start out and when did the company first get highly involved in the running industry?
Kim Ashworth (KA): Ashworth Awards was founded in 1965 by the late Douglas R. Ashworth, Dan Ashworth’s father, as a consulting manufacturer of emblematic and recognition jewelry and service awards for corporations in the United States.
35 years ago, Doug Ashworth was sought out by the Boston Athletic Association as they were looking for someone who worked in the jewelry industry to make the first pewter finisher medals for the Boston Marathon. They made medals for the first 300 finishers. This year, they are awarding more than 30,000 medals to finishers of the Boston Marathon.
Ashworth Awards continued to be a key manufacturer of emblematic and recognition jewelry along with service awards for corporations. The decision of the BAA to award finisher medals to their athletes started the trend of races giving out finisher medallions to their athletes. Manufacturing finisher medallions for the BAA was the introduction of Ashworth Awards into the endurance sports market.
RUSA: Tell us a little bit about your company?
KA: Dan Ashworth took over as President in 2001 and I joined my husband in the company in 2004. Together they have led Ashworth Awards through numerous growths and into tremendous success in design, customer service and manufacturing. These growths have helped expand their product offerings to include nearly limitless award and recognition products, as well as supporting materials for event marketing and branding, and personal achievement recognition.
Having established manufacturing facilities both domestically and abroad, as well as the addition of a distribution center on the west coast, Ashworth Awards has been able to develop and maintain long standing working relationships with some of the most recognized endurance events, skill competitions and industry leaders in the world.
The Boston Marathon, IRONMAN World Championship, USA Triathlon, United States Figure Skating, Army National Guard, American Solutions for Business, Disney and many others have recognized our years of experience, putting the design and manufacturing of their medallions, pins, awards, ribbons and more in Ashworth Awards' care.
Ashworth Awards works with over 5,000 separate customers. The majority of our customers put on an average of five races a year, some customers as many as 20 or more events. In 2016, Ashworth Awards sold over 2.6 million items to their customers.
RUSA: Is there a favorite example of working with a race to produce truly memorable finisher medals?
KA: All races mean the same to our team at Ashworth Awards. It’s really hard to pin point one special event—they are all special to us. No event is too small and certainly not too big. We work with all sizes of events from an early existance 5K with 200 athletes to a well established marathon like the Des Moines Marathon or the Bay State Marathon, all the way to the established triathlon brand of IRONMAN with thousands of athletes each year.
The same amount of time, customer service, design techniques, etc., are given to all of Ashworth Awards races and events. We feel it’s imperative to give the same amount of service and creativity to those events because all of the athletes feel the races they participate in are so important to them. We work with our customers to help highlight their brand/event in every way.
We begin our process with the initial design phase. Our account executives work in conjunction with our extensive art department to create and design our customer’s medallions, awards and other recognition products for their events. The account executives then work hand in hand with our production departments, both domestically and overseas to see to it that every step of the manufacturing process goes smoothly.
RUSA: How can races more effectively use their medals and awards to enhance their runner experience?
KA: The medals and awards are a key piece of marketing for the events we work with, from the beginning stages, using our designs to promote their races on social media pages and their website, to the finish line as the last impression the athletes are left with showing the athletes how they are valued by the race director. This finisher medal or age group award is the first piece of marketing to their next event!
I can’t tell you how many times I have seen athletes posting images of their medals/awards on social media saying how much they love it and will return the next year because it was such an awesome piece of hardware! Nothing makes us prouder than seeing our products being featured by race directors and athletes!
RUSA: What trend(s) are you seeing right now in the awards and medals space, particularly in sporting and endurance events?
KA: Multi-function/multi-use medals, special finishes and all around cool designs are the trends moving forward in the medal industry—the round finisher medal is a thing of the past. Innovative designs of our products on all levels is what Ashworth Awards excels at!
KA: Ashworth Awards is the leader in the industry. We have the best customer service with the most innovative account executives and designers to bring our customer’s ideas to life. We are the only company in the industry that has manufacturing facilities domestically and overseas to ensure we are able to service any size event both large and small.
Another thing to note, innovation does not mean we are more expensive, it just means we think “outside the box”...thinking does not cost more. The overall cost of medals, awards and recognition products begins with the raw material and shipping cost. This is the basis for our pricing structure. The innovation and creativity of our team is part of our business model and customers are not charged more for this. It’s part of who Ashworth Awards is!
To learn more about Ashworth Awards and their amazing work, visit www.ashworthawards.com