Thank You, Customers: This Year’s Am-Tran Holiday Card

Discover the meaning and work behind this year's handmade Am-Tran holiday card!

As December unfolds, marking a time of reflection for the Am-Tran team, there's a unique tradition that unfolds alongside it. Helen Hobbs, the talented spouse of Am-Tran president Jim Hobbs, takes this moment to carefully handprint the annual Am-Tran holiday card with an abundance of love and care. Using a small platen press, she skillfully designs and produces a new card each year. What makes this tradition even more special is that the holiday card is not just a standalone creation; it's inspired by a theme that encapsulates the essence of the year gone by.

Anticipating our annual holiday card has become a cherished tradition for us. This practice is more than a routine; it serves as a means to foster connections and strengthen relationships with our valued customers. Helen's dedicated effort in creating this tangible gift for the company reflects our commitment to a personal touch, an essential element we believe defines outstanding customer service.

Artist Q&A

We sat down with Helen to talk about the tradition. 

Q: Can you introduce yourself?

I'm Helen, Jim Hobbs's wife, and I make the Am-Tran holiday card each year. I’ve been doing this every year for about 10 years, and it's a lot of fun. It's also a huge adventure because you never know what you’re going to create!

Q: Tell us a bit about the theme of this year’s card

This year we're celebrating the customer, which is very exciting. We take it very seriously that our customers depend on us and that there would be no Am-Tran without our customers. In honor of our 20th anniversary this year, we wanted to pay homage to them. 

Q: What’s the image on this year’s card and how does it tie into the theme? 

I've printed Santa Claus standing in a doorway with an Am-Tran package in his hands, as seen from the inside of the house. I can't resist a little Santa, he’s the ultimate courier! Anyway, Santa is delivering a present as a way of saying thank you to our customers. The inside of the card reads, “A big thank you to our customers for 20 years of business.” The inside and the outside of the card are totally connected. The gesture on the front is really explained by the message within. 

Q: What is the process like for this year’s card?

I’m printing three rounds this year, meaning each card is printed three separate times for each color. Green goes first for the background, then red for Santa, and finally black for details and highlights. The first round is done by hand because this year’s cards are bigger than my printing press. After that, I fit that block into a tiny press, and finally print the image into the two remaining colors.

Q: How is making the card similar to work at Am-Tran?

What sets Am-Tran apart is how careful everyone is, drivers, dispatchers, even managers. We drive safely, we take the time to connect with our customers. Being careful is really important when you’re printing too. If you rush, you’ll make mistakes and those cards will go in the trash which is no good. So I think about Am-Tran a lot as I’m taking the care to print slowly and carefully. 

Q: What was your greatest challenge this year?

Ink has been a huge challenge this year. Ink not sticking, ink separating. My greatest education has been that ink goes bad. I thought I had a lot of ink, but what I had was a lot of bad ink. When I went back and bought fresh ink, things were a lot smoother. 

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