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Gifts that Keep on Giving

It’s the end of another long paving season and now it’s time to give your employees, associates and yourself a gift. There’s an art to giving a gift that it not too personal or too obtrusive (too bright, too tacky or too complicated to use).

Here are nine gifts that I gave prior to selling my paving company almost five years ago.

  • Socks - $15 to $20. This one sounds a little strange, but its not. I gave my crew three pairs each of Smartwool Light hiking socks. If you’ve never worn good socks, you have to try them. You may never want to wear tube socks again. They allow your feet to breathe as well as stay up on your leg, and if your crew has happy feet, they will be more productive.
  • Flashlights - $10 to $30. Who doesn’t need a good flashlight? No cheap plastic stuff and remember the batteries.
  • Insulated lunch cooler bags - $25 to $40. As an executive you may not carry lunch, but you want your crew to bring their lunch so they’re not driving around looking for lunch while on the clock. A good soft sided insulated cooler bag with your company logo silk screened on it is a great gift. I gave these away one year and four, five years later, I still had employees asking me if I had any more.
  • Quality jacket with an embroidered logo - $50 to $100 or more. I liked to give away a nice jacket that my associates and I will proudly wear. It’s a good time to introduce a special occasion like an anniversary year or a product launch. Don’t get too carried away and make it look like a billboard, those tend not to get worn.
  • Bib overalls - $50 to $80. These are great for those of you that do winter work. They can be logoed or left plain but your crew will love them for those cold mornings or long nights of snow plowing.
  • Point and shoot cameras - $ 80 to $150. The fun part about giving a camera to your crew is to have a computer set up where photos can be downloaded to an employee album and once a month have a give away for the best company-related photo. It’s a great way to build a company photo album.
  • GPS units - $100 to $250. A great gift that employees may want to use for work as well. Just be carefull that your truck drivers don’t always follow the GPS directions and end up on a weight limited street or a no truck route.
  • Distance measuring device - $400 to $800 for your salespeople, foreman or superintendents, this is a great gift that saves a ton of time and makes them more productive, while you look like a hero giving it to them. The FastMeasure unit works great, it’s cost effective and simple to use.
  • Netbook Computers or iPads - $400 and up – these are great for the staff to take home for the family. If your employees have family or kids in school, someone will always make good use of these.

A few things to keep in mind - be equal – I always like to find things that the office staff, salespeople or the shovel man will all enjoy and all be happy with. Don’t get gifts by class or employee level - remember you would be nothing without the employees in the trenches doing the dirty work. This is a good time to build team unity.

Ernie Kaplan, owner of Kaplan Paving for 28 years prior to selling in 2007, is currently in the electronics manufacturing business.