Highlight on Our Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, Facility
When the temperatures start to drop and the sun sets before 5 p.m. each fall in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota, things start heating up at our production facility. That’s because, as the largest producer of promotional calendars in the United States, we annually produce around 70 million calendars – 65% of them in the final quarter of the year!
Some might be surprised to learn that while the factory is laser-focused on getting 2022 products out the door, plans are already in the works for 2024. Yes, 2024! Once January rolls around, we start selling our 2023 products, and production of stockline 2024 calendars begins. It’s a delicate balancing act of trying to even out the workflow for all the different departments in the facility. Many of our Sleepy Eye employees like to joke that once they started working there, they ironically could never remember what year it was!
A Helping Hand
Our Sleepy Eye Team is pretty impressive. With an average tenure of over 16 years, there’s no lack of knowledge in the building. In fact, of the 375 employees at the site, there are 60 who have been with the company for more than 30 years! Even with all that talent, our acquisition of HotLine® calendars in February 2021 has kept the site hopping. Throw in raw material shortages and labor challenges with the busy season, and the team hasn’t let up.
As is the case every year, employees from many departments throughout the facility have pitched in to help the Manufacturing Team. When more hands were needed, a call went out to office staff across our four facilities asking for volunteers to spend part of their day in manufacturing, not just in Sleepy Eye but also in Red Wing, Minnesota, and Clearwater, Florida. Over 70 team members stepped up.
Over the past several weeks, members of the Sales and Leadership Teams have been learning the ropes in Sleepy Eye, some even working on products for their own clients. It’s just one shining example of our People Power: One Team!
For the newbies, it has been an unforgettable experience. Many had never toured the Sleepy Eye facility, let alone worked on the production floor.
Sandy Gordon, Regional Account Manager, explained, “Helping out the Sleepy Eye Manufacturing Team was seriously such an educational experience. I have a much better understanding now of how to explain our capabilities to customers. I think it’s something all sales reps should have under their belt so we can work in a more consultative manner with our clients. I saw how hard everyone at the Sleepy Eye facility has been working to fulfill our promises. It pushed me to work harder/faster so they could get a well-earn weekend off. I called it #WorkingForAPurpose .”
Francine Dupuis, Chief Legal Officer and Chief Human Resources Officer, took a turn on the manufacturing floor, too. She describes her experience this way, “My week was an amazing, humbling, eye-opening experience. Everyone at Koozie Group should take a turn in our facilities to see firsthand how hard the work is and how our employees do it day in and day out without complaint. The jobs are not easy. These individuals put in long hours, and they do it with pride and dedication. Sleepy Eye has a great group of people, and I was honored to work alongside them.”
Appreciation for the Extra Help
As for the do-what-it-takes fulltime and temporary employees at the Sleepy Eye facility? They were patient with the rookies and appreciated their help.
“I like the idea of the Sales Team pitching in. It helps them understand what we are doing and how it is done.”–Cathy Lang, Tinning
“It’s so fantastic that management takes a role in production to support the employees and find out what we do. We were very appreciative!”–Luayn Ruch, Tinning
“OMG! They were fabulous! They were here to work but also ask questions about how we do things. They probably got a whole new appreciation for the calendar process.”–Brenda Sandberg, Manufacturing Supervisor
Our customers took notice, too. When Beth Nadata, President, REM Products, found out about the team effort, she sent lunch to Sleepy Eye. She had this to say about her company’s relationship with Koozie Group, “This past year has been particularly difficult for the promotional products industry due to product shortages and supply chain interruptions. Fortunately, REM Products has been a Koozie Group customer for over 40 years, and we are extremely thankful for the exceptional service they continue to provide even during these challenging times. REM Products strives to provide the utmost in customer service, and partnerships with suppliers like Koozie Group allow us to uphold our standard.”
The cyclical nature of calendars makes them unique in the promotional products industry. Once this season wraps up, the next one begins almost right away. Everyone at the Koozie Group facility in Sleepy Eye takes pride in the fact that we’ve been awarded the ASI Counselor Distributor Choice Award for Calendars for 20 years in a row. Here’s to another 20 years of unparalleled teamwork!
Koozie Group Calendar Fun Facts
- Our Manufacturing Team uses proprietary machinery that allows them to produce 3 plus calendars every second.
- Our Triumph®, Good Value™, and HotLine® calendar lines include licenses from well-known names like “The Saturday Evening Post,” the Hautman Brothers, Norman Rockwell, Tim Cox, and David Maass.
- We work with over 150 artists and photographers to source images for our calendars. Scenic themes are the most popular with almost 50 different styles to choose from.
- Start to finish, our popular Jewish calendars take over six months to design. Multiple steps and vendors are needed to create the Hebrew copy, source images, research the candle-lighting times, and proof everything to make sure it’s accurate.