And now (drum roll), the moment you've all been waiting for… the winner of the Cult Pens Supplier of the Year! And it goes to…. (very long silence… think Strictly or Great British Bake Off … bit more silence as heartbeats speed up… bit more… OK)… Uni Mitsubishi!! Whoop whoop! (lots of clapping and whistling). Look, bear with me will you? It's difficult writing noise. Back to Uni. They win because they're all-round good eggs. Next day delivery means just that; they very rarely make any mistakes and they're quick to respond to queries. Miranda's customer service is second to none (she's on the left in the photo above), Paul is always supportive and Emilie is enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and rarely bats an eyelid at some of our more crazy ideas. Do they get a prize? Um… well, no. Just our appreciation - and continued custom of course! Funds won't run to a gold-plated bronze statuette unfortunately.
But that's not all! Oh no. We had so much fun putting together a list of likely recipients that we ended up creating a few more awards.
So… the Purchasing Award, as decided by Matt, Mark and Matty, otherwise known as the Three Ms (not really, I just thought I'd throw that in. So many people's names at Cult Pens start with either M or A we're seriously debating whether to note this as a requirement for future employees, just to maintain consistency you understand. But I digress.) Anyway, the winner is Caroline at Exaclair, who supply us with brands including Rhodia, Clairefontaine and Herbin. She's efficient, quick to respond, and as Matt put it, is "alright for a Liverpool fan". (Have a look at the June issue of Penorama if this statement seems a bit out of left field). They also thought that Rebecca at TWSBI deserved a mention, too: she's always helpful, she never makes mistakes, and deliveries - despite coming from Taiwan - are always Speedy.
And now for the Accounts Award, as voted by Martin. And it's… Simon at Stabilo! He's extremely helpful, prompt in replying to queries, and went above and beyond the call of duty for us over the Christmas and New Year period.
Next we have the Customer Service Award, as decided by Helen, Louise, Amy and Beth. It goes to Tricia at Cross, for her willingness to go the extra mile with printing jobs (she even sent ushers' gifts direct to the customer at very short notice - they were ordered just one week before the wedding!)
The award for Most Improved (sounds awful, but it isn't) goes to edding. We're not implying that they used to be bad; it's just that we've noticed that deliveries don't take as long and there aren't many errors. And they're just nice people!
What else? Oh yes. Sometimes we get little extras in our parcels. And no, I'm not talking about exotic spiders - they usually go for bananas, not pens. Karas Kustoms always leave us messages on the cardboard in their boxes (well, they are American, and they're a friendly sort of people), and Stabilo's delivery notes are on coloured paper, but the winner is Christine and Phil at Diamine, because they sent us this…
It's a chip man! And they even drew a face on it for us!
Oh - just in! (Rustle of envelopes and strange noises from microphone as Mark rushes onto stage with last-minute message). We have a nominee for the rarely-granted Wooden Spoon Award. Now, everybody makes mistakes - even us, sometimes - and we do occasionally get sent the wrong product. Usually we just send them back, the supplier obliges with what we actually wanted in the first place and we say no more about it. However, this is a cracker and worthy of mention. Lime Stationery wins hands down. We ordered a Troika Construction Pen, and received… a light-up egg timer. It's quite cool, actually. Maybe we should branch out into kitchenware. Cult Pans.
Last, but certainly not least, is the Lifetime Achievement Award. As you know, these types of awards usually go to outstanding individuals in their field, and this is no exception. We're very pleased to announce that the winner is… (yes, more drum rolls, applause and whistling, etc, etc)… Steve at Staedtler! What sets him apart from our other suppliers is his sheer effrontery. His briefcase, when he comes to visit, has the odd pen in it to show us, but the stationery pales into insignificance when compared to the quantity of bribes in there… of the dog bone / chewstick variety. More than anyone, Steve appreciates that the way to a customer's heart is through their dog.
And that's it. The Cult Pens Supplier of the Year Awards ceremony is over for another year. Now, off you go table-hopping. Don't stare, that's not Kylie, it just looks like her. Don't forget to take your glass with you. Oops, you appear to have chocolate cheesecake down your tie, but don't worry, the paparazzi have moved on. Look, bear with me will you? It's difficult writing post-awards ceremony people movement.