Utah Report Part 5 – Grand Vacation Day 4

The day started at 4am (YES 4am!!) and there was plenty of action to come, in what is now known as ‘the longest day ever!’  By 5.30am we were on the bus headed for Salt Lake City Airport (an hour away from the resort).  There, we boarded our plane to St George in Southern Utah – now I can say OUR plane because Stampin’ Up! chartered the whole plane!!  Crazy fun having a whole plane full of demonstrators all chatting excitedly!  The plane landing in St George was such a big deal that we even made the newspapers – you can read it here.

After the hour long flight we boarded buses again for the 2 hour drive to Kanab – we briefly crossed the state line into Arizona before cutting back in to Utah.  Here is some of the fabulous scenery from the drive – that’s Zion National Park you can see in the distance:
IMG_4116 IMG_4122 And this is what all of the travel was for – to get to Stampin’ Up!’s manufacturing facility.  Once again we received a very warm welcome from all of the staff:IMG_4133First up was a wonderful BBQ lunch:

IMG_4142And then it was time to break into groups for a tour of the factory.  First stop was watching inkpads be made.  First step is weighing the ink into the mixer with the firm foam pads:

IMG_4165Then they are mixed for a set amount of timeIMG_4168And this is how they come out ready to be added to the stamp cases.IMG_4171One person adds adhesive to the case, and another person adds the pad.  The completed inkpads are then sent to the labeling machine before being shrink-wrapped.IMG_4179Next was the cardstock section.  First they take the enormous sized sheets and trim all the edges before cutting it into the required sizes.  The guillotine machine cuts 400 sheets of card at a time!

Once cut to size the cardstock heads to the sorting machine which counts the number of sheets into correct pack sizes – it also sorts by colour for the colour collection multi-packs

IMG_4198Then they head along the line for shrink wrapping.  At the end of this line are 2 ladies who visually inspect EVERY pack of paper off the line and if necessary they will open a pack and remove a single sheet that is marked/bent/inferior and send the rest of the pack back for correction!IMG_4203And then came the really interesting part – how they make the rubber stamps!  The first step is to take the magnesium cast for a particular stamp set and burn several matrix plates.  The matrix plates are then used to ‘cook’ the stamp images into the rubber:

IMG_4212This is what the rubber looks like in its raw state:

IMG_4189The rubber is then cut to size depending on what stamp set is being produced. It gets laid over the matrix plates:

IMG_4218And then it heads into the oven.  Once cooked, the rubber is peeled off the matrix plates and left to cool while the next set of rubber gets fed into the oven:

IMG_4222Once cooled the rubber is trimmed and then adhered to the foam backing:

IMG_4241Next step is die-cutting all the stamp images, and I got to try my hand at this step, so here’s a little video:


The final step is packing up the stamp sets into their cases.  They let me loose on this bit too so apologies in advance if you receive a set with the wrong blocks!  At each part of the factory we were given a gift each – an inkpad each at the inkpad station, a pack of cardstock each at the cardstock section, and a stamp set each at the stamp section – so many fabulous goodies!

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What was most remarkable to me in the factory, was just how labour intensive the whole process is.  Most of the processes could easily be automated, but Shelli takes the role of 3rd largest employer in the town very seriously and automating would leave many families without an income, so they continue in this traditional way.  The staff are all lovely, lovely people – they love what they do, and were genuinely so happy to work there and to share what they do with us.  I will never look at my stamp sets in the same way again – knowing that they are handmade by these wonderful people makes them even more special!  This sign outside the entrance really sums it up:

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Having finished in the factory, we headed upstairs to check out ‘the apartment’.  This is where Shelli, her family, corporate staff etc stay when visiting the plant.  As expected, Shelli has certainly left her mark with her love of antiques evident throughout:

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Before boarding the buses again there was just enough time to get our pic taken with ‘the other rock’

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Before starting the long trek back to Salt Lake City we were taken to Kanab’s playground which was donated to the community by Shelli & Sterling Gardner a few years ago.  Around the bottom is all the offcuts of rubber from the stamp making process – it makes for a nice soft landing!  Whenever the factory is ahead of schedule and doesn’t have work to do, the staff spend the time maintaining the park/ cleaning around the streets of Kanab/serving others and Stampin’ Up! continues to pay them – just another example of how SU put people first and why I am so proud to represent this company!

The 2 hour drive back to St George was super fun with SU President Rich Jutkins acting as tour guide, giving a history of the area as well as telling some great stories.  This was followed by bus bingo where we all won several prizes (Stephen has quite the stash of Stampin’ goodies now!).  Then it was back onto the plane (which was HOT after sitting on the tarmac in 40C all day) – we taxied out onto the runway and then sat there for 45 minutes while the pilots overcame some technical problems!  Finally we made it back to SLC and were handed these cute boxed dinners to eat on the bus on the trip back to the resort:

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It was close to 11pm when we finally made it back to our room – to be greeted by another pillow gift!  I can’t show you pictures of this one as it was a big sack full of products from the up-coming Holiday Catalogue!

So, a VERY long but absolutely awesome day.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to see how our products are made and meet the people who make them.  I have always loved our products, but now I will really cherish using them each and every day!

3 thoughts on “Utah Report Part 5 – Grand Vacation Day 4”

  1. wow how cool being able to see the products you sell being made!!!
    what a cool story to tell as you have your parties!!!

    love the fact that S has SU goodies…so will he be co-hosting parties now?????

    Like

  2. Thanks heaps for sharing about the making of some of the SU products. Really enjoyed reading and seeing what happens.

    Like

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