MARSHALL - Two decades ago, a business that sold trophies and plaques started in the backroom of a jewelry store in downtown Marshall.
Since then, it has grown into a new location with customers across the country.
Awards Plus is marking 20 years of business in Marshall this year, but it had humble beginnings, said owner Brian Kor.
"It started as a small business in the backroom of Marcotte Jewelry," Kor said. Beth and Jamie Marcotte were the first owners of Awards Plus.
In 1998, the Marcottes sold both the jewelry store and Awards Plus. Kor took over Awards Plus and John Full bought Marcotte's Jewelry.
Kor's first career was as sales manager for Coca-Cola, where he worked for 15 years.
"I think I was able to take the experience with Coca-cola and use it for this business," Kor said.
Customer service has been Kor's No. 1 priority since he began at Awards Plus 11 years ago. It's something he's instilled in his employees. His project accounts manager will go out and meet with the client personally, he said.
"That's where the customer service comes in," Kor said.
Kor said Awards Plus added promotional products in 1999. Originally, the business just supplied trophies and plaques.
"We started doing a lot of programs for business, such as safety awards, service awards, sales awards, which we would customize to the particular business," Kor said.
And business has been good, Kor said.
"We've shown growth every year," Kor said. "We're on pace for this year."
In 2005, Awards Plus bought Signature Logos Solutions, an apparel decoration company.
"With that business, we were able to move into the company, business and fan apparel and actually do the decorations locally," Kor said.
Kor said his clients include businesses, schools, athletics and community groups and individuals. Awards Plus also does a "player of the week" program in which the business recognizes student athletes.
Then the downtown location got too small for the growing business, Kor said.
"We actually outgrew the building we were in," Kor said.
Kor had a facility designed and built that fit Award Plus' needs, which included an area to pack and ship merchandise across the country. The new location, on Minnesota Highway 23 was built in 2005.
"We are a full-service fulfillment business," Kor said.
Kor said some of his clients are as far away as California and Florida.
Awards Plus has also grown with technology upgrades, Kor said, which helps production.
"We're able to handle just about anything thrown at us," Kor said.
For example, Kor said, a customer in Iowa may want 200 trophies made.
"It's in the door and out the door," Kor said.
Awards Plus' Web site has a full shopping cart capability, Kor said, where customers all over the world have access.
"You don't have to be in Marshall, Minnesota, to do business with us," Kor said.
But, Kor said, a majority of his business does come from a 50-mile radius of Marshall.
Kor said he's looking forward to the years to come.
"I plan on retiring from this business," Kor said. "It's a viable business, if we sell it or the second generation of Kors move in..."