By Ruth Eddy
Gold, silver, blue, purple plastic pillars, and crystal bowls glisten in large corner windows on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, and Brazee Street. The Bardy Trophy showroom is hard to miss, but the business’s production goes mostly unseen and it’s legacy goes back 95 years.
Walter Bardy, Sr. began the business in the niche market of hand engraving silver and metal awards. The current owner, Greg Gruszczynski, knew nothing about the trophy industry when he answered a help wanted sign at Bardy, then located at 15th and Broadway. “I sandblasted glass, built trophies, put plaques together, and magnets of the back of name tags. I did it all,” said Gruszcynski. He liked working with his hands, living close to his job, and the sense of completion that came with each order. When the Bardy brothers were ready to retire, they sold the business to Greg and two other employees. For the past 15 years, he has been the sole owner.
When people ask what he does, Greg says he “makes people happy.” Clients want to show their appreciation with a variety of products, not just trophies. The business includes custom apparel, keychains, clocks, thermoses, and chairs. Offices’ walls have transformed into cubicles and company logo jackets have replaced walnut plaques, but the message is the same. Greg knows that “It’s this mutual respect and admiration that you don’t always use words for. It’s a way of substituting words – to give somebody something and hope that translates into ‘I mean something to you’.”
As a business owner, Greg opts to bring donuts to show his employees he appreciates them rather than plaques. As a business, Bardy Trophy has a few trophies of its own, celebrating its contributions to its community both locally and in the trophy industry. A framed Trail Blazers jersey with the name Bardy on its back hangs their showroom, a gift from a repeat customer within the Trail Blazers organization. 95% of all orders come from Portland.
Trophies are symbols of the values people have and a way to reinforce those values. Bardy Trophy is about making literal trophies as much as it is about helping customers celebrating milestones, recognizing accomplishments and making people feel worthwhile. Sometimes a handwritten card can send the message, but Bardy Trophy is for when you need something shiny to do the trick.