For family, Morton Grove trophy business is prized possession
Scott Ahlstrand, owner of Classic Design Awards, poses in the shop for a portrait Aug. 24. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
NAME: Classic Design Awards
SPECIALTY: Awards, plaques and trophies
ADDRESS: 6128 Lincoln Ave., Morton Grove
INFORMATION: classicdesignawards.com, (847) 470-0855
Updated: October 1, 2012 6:18AM
MORTON GROVE — Scott Ahlstrand and his brother, Gary, make awards, plaques and trophies that people look upon with pride and treasure their entire lives.
In 1978, their father, George, started Classic Design Awards in Skokie, and in 1988 they moved to their current location at 6128 Lincoln Ave. in Morton Grove.
The company specializes in making trophies, plaques, awards and signs, and engraving the products so the memories make as lasting an impression as possible.
Ahlstrand said the store has various types of customers such as corporations, schools, hospitals, park districts, little leagues, youth-soccer teams and more.
Locally the village of Morton Grove, the Police Department and Fire Department purchase items from Classic Design Awards such as retirement plaques, years-of-service awards, employee-of-the-month awards and others.
“I know a lot of people behind the scenes,” Ahlstrand said. “It’s a good community. They’ve really tried to help the small-business guy out because of how tough the economy is.”
Ahlstrand’s late father George had a woodworking career for 35 years, and he also did work for Chicago’s R.S. Owens & Company, which is the manufacturer of the Oscar and Emmy statuettes. When George took the family’s dogs to a dog club for training he began making awards for the club, and that’s what launched his love for designing awards. He and his wife, Judith, successfully ran the business from the basement of their Skokie home, and in 1988 they opened their store in Morton Grove.
Going far beyond Morton Grove, Ahlstrand ships items, such as door name plates, to businesses across the country.
Customers can bring in a special item, such as a knife from their wedding day or a charm, and have those meaningful items engraved at Classic Design Awards.
“I can engrave almost anything,” Ahlstrand said.
The company’s online catalog features a wide variety of items, such as corporate trophies, sportswear, glass and crystal awards, award clocks, award ribbons and medallions.
Ahlstrand said the business has gained many customers overseas through its online catalogue.
The philosophy of the business is that just because a design is “classic” that doesn’t mean that it stays stagnant. Since the award market is constantly changing, their goal is to continue using proven designs while also offering new and unique awards.
A longtime Morton Grove resident, Ahlstrand lives in town with his family. He has three daughters, including one who attends Maine East High School.