Monthly Archives: October 2013

Reflections on my Past Five Years

This month marks my fifth year anniversary since taking the reins of Dixon. Last week, I took my employees and valued business partners on an inspirational journey – a voyage up the St. John’s River.  As we were inspired by the beauty of the river, we celebrated Dixon Ticonderoga Company.  I thanked them for their years of hard work, dedication and thinking outside the pencil box.  I acknowledged that over the past five years, I had to make some significant and sometimes painful changes to chart a new and profitable course for Dixon, but they supported me every mile of that journey.  The riverboat cruise, like our past five years, was steady, determined and inspirational.

Ours is a company based on family values.  The result of those values is evident in our high quality products, service levels, and respect in the marketplace.  We’ve grown from “that pencil company” to offer award-winning arts and writing instruments including the Prang, Lyra and Das brands.  Browse through our website and you’ll learn a great deal about the world famous No. 2 and the people who make us No. 1.

We’ve sharpened our online image so that customers can have more access to us and we can have more access to them.  We can now interact with our customers like never before.  More than 100 Mommy bloggers and others have discovered us.  We’ve doubled and tripled our Twitter and Facebook fans.  Our Prang Power Membership has increased by 2500% since its inception 18 months ago. We can now hear your opinions and thoughts on our new products, programs and campaigns (and coupons.)

Thank you for these past five years. I’ve only just begun, and you’re in for some surprises.

Pencils in the Digital Age

As CEO of a 218-year-old company, I’ve become somewhat of a student of history – especially when it comes to pencils.  I’ve learned some fascinating facts about communication. Centuries ago, creative herders in England realized that graphite was useful for marking sheep. If you know pencils, you know that it’s graphite, not lead, that is the core of our pencils. By the 19th century, artists such as Vincent Van Gogh were using pencils to create now priceless pieces of art while Ulysses S. Grant sketched strategic battle plans with his. But what is the role of the pencil in the 21st century? Pencils have always been used to communicate information and artistic vision, and now we are joining the digital conversation.

Dixon Ticonderoga Company recently unveiled our new website. Many of you know of our world famous yellow #2 pencil, but did you know that Dixon Ticonderoga Company also has award winning arts & crafts lines consisting of the Prang, Lyra and Das brands? Did you also know that Dixon sells a whole line of industrial marking tools? That we are the #1 solution for customized writing and art supplies in the promotional products industry? Being accessible through the web and social media allows you to learn something new about our company and discover our culture. Yes, we are a 218-year-old company, but besides being historic, we are also innovative, philanthropic, and engaging! All of this information and more can be found by discovering us online.

The role of the pencil is ever changing, as is the role of art instruments. While they continue to be tools of inspiration, sketching, and creating, now the digital world allows you to share that information faster than you ever have before. See what we’re sharing today by checking us out on Twitter and Facebook, and stay tuned to our website. We’d love to have you join the conversation.

How Do You Support Breast Cancer Awareness Month?

When I was asked by our CEO Tim Gomez to write a guest post on this blog, I was truly honored. The truth is, I have a special connection to National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, as I know many others do. Let me first introduce myself, my name is Margaret Harman and I’m a marketing coordinator here at Dixon Ticonderoga Company. My story is personal and I’m pleased to share it with you.

My Aunt Margaret (yes, I was named after her), was one of the smartest and strongest women I have ever known. She graduated from school four years early, raised her younger brothers and sisters, and worked at a time when it wasn’t common for women to do so. Her children grew up to be doctors, lawyers and teachers. Tough as nails, she was the kind of lady who said what she meant and meant what she said. But she always provided you with a safe haven when the world was crashing down on you.

Aunt Margaret was diagnosed with breast cancer. Twice.

In true Aunt Margaret fashion, she was able to beat the cancer both times, partly due to the efforts of people and organizations who are participating in the fight against breast cancer. I am proud that the company that I work for is one of those organizations. One of the ways Dixon helps is by manufacturing a Breast Cancer Awareness Pencil that can be purchased all year long. A portion of the proceeds from this pencil are donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Breast Cancer is a disease that affects millions of lives each year. Please join us in the fight to find a cure.

I love you, Aunt Margaret, and I strive to live up to your good name every day.

Where Do You Find Inspiration?

Sometimes the smallest things in life can inspire you to greatness. I recently had the pleasure of corresponding with a man named John Siela. John had a dream to write a novel, but as he grew older and life wore on he gave up on this dream and filed it away as an impossibility. But one day, John was sitting at his desk and he noticed a Dixon Ticonderoga pencil and a solitary pad of paper. These two tools sparked a fire within and gave him the courage to start the novel he always wanted to write. For me, this too is a bucket list item that I want to accomplish in my life, which is why John has inspired me so much. He dared to go for it and I congratulate him for this accomplishment.

I would like to share a note from the author that he recently sent me:

“First I needed a name for the main character and a setting for the story.  I turned my pencil over in my hand and looked at the engraving that I had seen a hundred times before, “Dixon Ticonderoga”. . . and so was born the main character, Dixon.  The name, Ticonderoga, made me think of a deep, dark forest in Canada.  The name and setting were perfect for my novel. . . Maps to Death, The Ticonderoga Experience.

Thank you, Dixon Ticonderoga Company, for inspiring me.  I have used your product throughout my life . . . as a child at school; as a young man writing love letters to my wife while serving in the military; as an adult in the workforce; and now, as a retiree, writing my first novel.  The longevity of the Dixon Ticonderoga Pencil proves their product is a quality pencil, produced by a quality company.”

I hope you can find some inspiration today. If you are having trouble, maybe pick up a Ticonderoga Pencil and let yourself dream.

 If you want to know more about John Siela or read his book,  Maps to Death, The Ticonderoga Experience, click here.