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When I first walked through the front doors of Upper Deck for the first time two years ago, I was in awe. Being an avid and passionate sports fan from New England, Upper Deck is something like a Mecca. As I drove up to the building, I never imagined it would be so large. When I entered the lobby, my eyes automatically widened, and I couldn’t help but be excited. The 20 foot ceilings, the tall curved staircase, the Michael Jordan motorcycle, the glass cases of unique memorabilia; I was suddenly like a kid in a candy shop. That is how yesterday started for Presidential Predictors Sweepstakes winner Logan Millard.
After he threw out the first pitch at the San Diego Padres game the night before, I had the pleasure of escorting Logan and his wife, Janelle, through the different departments of Upper Deck to give them a look inside the trading card business (and what a typical day is like for me). Although it was difficult to get him to leave the lobby (too much cool stuff), we made our way to what we call our Creative department, where the graphic designers build the card templates and packaging art for all our sports and entertainment products. As you walk by each desk, you can tell a lot about the person who sits there; what their favorite sports are, who their favorite team is, favorite current player, retired player, and the list is endless. Logan could not believe the items that some people decorated their cubicles with: signed MJ posters, Ken Griffey Jr. autographed memorabilia, bobblehead dolls of every professional athlete you can imagine, and UD All-Star Vinyls (to name a few). We stopped at the desk of John Vineyard, baseball designer, where Logan saw hundreds of different cards on display. “Do you get to open all these packs?” Logan asked. John then pointed to a box of 2009 UD Series 2 Baseball cards that he just cracked open. “Yeah, we regularly open new product to check the quality of the cards. We just opened these the other day.” I could feel Logan’s excitement as it radiated off of him. It made me realize what a truly unique experience this is and how I’m a bit desensitized to my surroundings.
Our next stop was to visit photo editor, Rob Ford, where Logan had the opportunity to turn a picture of Carlos Zambrano into his own trading card. “How many people get to do this?”, I thought. Logan sat down at the Mac, cropped and set the photo in the frame and he later got to take that card home with him to show his father, a graphic designer himself. I’ll never forget Logan’s serious facial expression as he studiously sat at Rob’s desk. Logan was amazed at the detail that goes into producing a trading card, while his wife was standing by wondering why they haven’t moved to San Diego. Great minds think alike!
I have to say that my favorite part of the tour was our next stop at our GUE room. For those who don’t know, GUE stands for “Game Used Equipment”. This secluded room kept in our back warehouse is one of the coolest places in the building. The room is lined with shelves twenty feet high, containing all of the game used jerseys, balls, bats, and other items that are cut and inserted into trading cards. I almost thought that Logan was going to faint when we entered the gate. Logan’s eyes immediately locked onto the four foot long Kobe Bryant Lakers’ jersey hanging on the shelf. I had to get a picture of this! The jersey was nearly as tall as Logan and his smile wide from ear to ear. On our way out, Logan noticed a collage of various signatures scotch taped to the wall. “What’s this?” Logan asked as he took a closer look. Mark Shaunessy, our GUE manager, explained that sometimes signatures we receive are too large to put on a card. At some point, the team started taping them to the wall and now it sort of reflects a wall of fame. It’s just something fun that has transpired over the years. For me, it was fun to witness Logan’s enthusiasm; he could not believe that employees haven’t staked a claim to all of these famous signatures taped to the wall.
One of our last stops was our Sports Marketing/Product Development department. We got to chat with our very own Chris Carlin, Sports Marketing Manager. Chris was in the middle of updating Upper Deck’s Facebook page, but took the time to show Logan a few cool promotional items that will be reaching some our Hobby Shops very soon. Chris also gave Logan the names of a few special shops in his local area of Salt Lake City, Utah, so he can start collecting the 2009 Michael Jordan Legacy Set. Watch out, he’s on a mission!
All in all, it was an amazing experience for Logan, Janelle and I. In all the daily hustle and bustle that is Upper Deck, it’s reassuring to witness the appreciation and passion of someone who loves our cards. This will serve as a daily reminder for me as to how great this business is! Thanks Logan and Janelle!