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Gifts to send to long time customers and vendors. What have you done?


Feb 11, 2013
Northeast USA
At the end of the year we usually send something small to our longtime customers and vendors, pens or calendars and things like that.

One time a salesman from a metal supplier showed me a clock that a machine shop had turned and anodized and given him as a gift, about 3" diam and 4" long

It inspired me and I want to do something like that this year for our best customers and vendors.

I'd love to see pictures if you've done something like this before
My dad helped someone years ago tool up to make flashlights, mini mag lights were popular at the time.

This was before LED's and mini keychain lights, etc. I am thinking of making some smaller flashlights with higher end lighting materials. I could have them laser marked to personalize them. Annodized to show off what my vendors can do, etc.

I think it might actually be profitable with my older screw machines. I cant stand shitty flashlights with dollar store batteries, and everyone has them cause they are cheap. Throwaways I call them, one time use.
A customer brought to us the remnants of what was left of their parent's fireplace tool caddy, and tools. They were in the parents home in Paradise CA and were one of the only things salvaged from the fire when it happened.
I restored what could be worked with, and fabricated everything else that was originally there, using old pictures as references.
Didn't charge anything for it all. It was a gift from the shop, something that we were able to offer to them after that nightmare.
That christmas, the son came in with a present from the parents, a painting of the tools and caddy next to their new fireplace that the father had painted.
That painting still hangs up in my office.
One time a salesman from a metal supplier showed me a clock that a machine shop had turned and anodized and given him as a gift, about 3" diam and 4" long
I've posted this before - clocks. Turn it, mill it with engraving, bolt a cheap battery movement in it. If you make it attractive and personalize it they'll love it. Even better if you can make it look like a product, either yours or theirs. 6" round is big enough.
Been thinking about this here lately. Thinking about a case of fruit like oranges/grapefruit for mine this year? Something a little different than pizza or sweets that a lot of companies drop off around the holidays. Case is enough to let a bunch of people in the office/shop get a chance to enjoy them.
A word of warning. Make sure it doesn't have a made in China label underneath, unless you're sending it to China that is. Apparently they handed out a trophy at the Australian manufacturing show in Sydney one year for the best booth. Winner was DMG while he was up on the podium listening to the MC waffle on he turned it over and there was a Made in China sticker underneath. Apparently he absolutely exploded and they haven't been back since. Ironic actually as they are more than willing to sell you a made in China machine.

A nice giveaway was those laser cut stainless bottle openers with your company logo. Could probably mill them also.
I hate to be the spoil sport but, since I was once on the receiving end of these:

Remember that people who work in government roles, or for companies that do work in defense (even if they're personally doing commercial work) are forbidden to accept gifts. I've forgotten the numbers but, I believe if the value was under $10 or they were handed out at a mixed public event where "refusing the gift would have been awkward" (mostly referring to seminar handouts and lunches), they were okay. Anything more had to be refused or returned.

I bring it up because I had numerous suppliers I liked working with and I wouldn't even let them buy me Starbucks. "Hey, I don't want anyone ever saying I accepted a gift or gratuity from you." No, didn't take coffee cups, shirts or anything else they offered.

Related: I was at IMTS and a woman came up to me completely cold, handed me a wallet and said "I think you dropped this." I patted my pocket, nope, not mine. I tried to hand it back. "No, I don't think you understand, it's yours." This time I open it. I think there was a $10 bill in there or something and a bunch of coupons and business cards from companies she represented.

The light bulb came on over my head, I showed her my badge and employer. Her eyes got really big. I said, "Look, I appreciate the gesture. How about you take the money back and I keep the cards and coupons?" She realized the predicament I'd have been in, apologized profusely and took the cash back.

Seemed like an odd way to do marketing. As I typed this, it's just as likely that she was some agent looking for contractors violating the rules. Don't be offended if you put some effort into cool gifts and some of your customers refuse them. They might actually want them but value your business relationships more than the value of a gift.